Shortly after 3:30 a.m. Sunday, a blue, 1997 Jeep Cherokee registered to Matthew Moore, 19, was pulled over by Sgt. Shane Haug of the Minot Police Department in the 400 block of West University Avenue, according to a police affidavit filed by Det. Jason Sundbakken. Moore was arrested for driving under the influence and for unlawful consumption of alcohol.
But his clothes, according to the affidavit, "smelled strongly of gasoline."
At 4 a.m., unofficial police records indicate that a building on the southeast section of the Burdick Job Corps property on West University Avenue is "fully engulfed," and that the grass nearby was catching fire.
This building, as seen Monday afternoon, was reported as “fully engulfed” in fire at 4 a.m. Sunday, according to unofficial police reports. The suspects for the alleged arson fire made their initial appearance in court Monday afternoon.
Upon hearing of the fire, Moore's clothing was taken as evidence and the police had a lead.
Moore, along with his co-defendant, Brady Goulet, 22, Minot, appeared in Northwest District Court at the Ward County Courthouse in Minot Monday afternoon for their initial appearance on charges of arson, a Class B felony. Bond was set at $10,000 cash or corporate surety for each.
"Arson, by its very nature, is a crime of violence," said Judge Gary Lee at the hearing. "A very serious charge."
Both men were considered to have a tenuous relationship with the community of Minot at best, and that was a deciding factor in setting bond. Moore is currently homeless, something he attributed, by video feed from the Ward County jail, to having been evicted from his home.
"I don't see any reason to deviate" from the previous bond, said prosecutor Christene Reierson, an assistant State's Attorney for Ward County, when Lee was tasked with setting bond for Goulet, who appeared next.
They were each also told not to have contact with a minor female identifed only by the initials, "M.K."
Moore and Goulet are both seeking a court-appointed attorney.
Sundbakken's investigation of the office building, which was unoccupied at the time of the fire, revealed extensive fire damage to the main floor, which was filled with computers, with damage spreading up to the second floor. A look at the building following the initial appearance Monday showed black smoke damage blooming outward from blown-out bottom windows. The building was surrounded by yellow caution tape.
Sundbakken also noticed that a back door leading to the basement appeared to have been pried open and that there was "a pattern going up the staircase that may be a pour pattern from an accelerant."
At the scene, Sundbakken reports that he was approached by a director of the school and told that a student, the minor "M.K.," had information about the fire. The minor allegedly reported that Moore and Goulet were responsible for the fire and that she had been receiving threatening messages from Kacie Youngman not to tell on "'Matt and Brady'" or that Youngman "would kill her."
Youngman also appeared in court by video feed Monday on a Class C felony charge of terrorizing related to those text messages and alleged threats.
Despite initially "pleading the 5th," Moore eventually gave a statement to Sundbakken, who also obtained a statement from Goulet.
Some cell phones and other items associated with the investigation were obtained with search warrants.