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NEW INFORMATION: Second suspect charged in connection with Rustic Mill fire

By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email
By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) – Investigators have arrested a second suspect in connection with the fire that destroyed the Rustic Mill Restaurant in July 2011.

A complaint filed last month was unsealed today. It charges Tyler Keck, 21, of Riverside, CA with Arson of a Building, as a Party to a Crime.

Jackson County Sheriff Duane Waldera says Keck was arrested in California Thursday night. Keck’s father owned the restaurant. He’s being held in Riverside, CA. Waldera says Keck will return to Wisconsin, but must go through the court process in California and extradition must be waived first. He says it’s too early to tell when Keck will go before the judge in California.

A complaint filed against Kyle Rott, who’s also charged in the case, shows that Keck told police the owner, Brian Adkins, offered Rott $10,000 to burn the place down, but that Rott said he'd do it for two cartons of cigarettes. Rott later admitted to using gasoline to burn down the building, police said.

The complaint filed against Keck shows that Rott called Keck on July 8, 2011 and sent him a text that said “it’s up.” Keck told investigators that he had thought Rott was joking. He later talked with Rott on the phone, telling Rott to stop contacting him, and to delete all the calls and messages that involved Keck from his cell phone. The complaint goes on to say that Keck called Adkins, told him he was “freaking out,” and asked what he should do. It says Adkins told Keck to go to the fire scene and act normal.

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EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - After more than a year of investigation, deputies said they finally have their man in a historic business fire in Jackson County.

Nineteen-year-old Kyle Rott of Black River Falls was charged Tuesday with felony arson in the fire at the Rustic Mill restaurant in Black River Falls.

The Rustic Mill was spotted on fire just after midnight on July 9, of last year. Because utilities had been shut off and the restaurant had closed just two weeks before the fire, many, including investigators grew suspicious.

"It's been part of the heritage of Jackson County for generations. And now unfortunately it's gone," Jackson County District Attorney Gerald Fox said.

The long investigation eventually lead to Kyle Rott, a former employee.

According to the criminal complaint, the owner, Brian Adkins' son, Tyler Keck told police Adkins offered Rott $10,000 to burn the place down but Rott said he'd do it for two cartons of cigarettes.

Rott later admitted to using gasoline to burn down the building, police said.

Investigators said they could quickly tell it was not an accident.

"We knew the gas and power had been turned off, we knew that the business had been in bad shape financially two plus two equals four. We didn't make any assumptions but based on the nature of the fire it didn't take long to realize that it was a set fire. But that's only about five percent of solving the crime," Fox said.

Rott was released on a conditional bond but has a court date set for Oct. 22.

He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - A suspect in the Rustic Mill Restaurant fire is now charged with Arson.

Prosecutors filed the charge against Kyle Rott, 19, of Black River Falls on Tuesday. Court records show that he is free on a signature bond. Jackson County District Attorney Gerald Fox says Rott once worked at the Rustic Mill.

The restaurant was destroyed in a fire in July 2011. In May 2012, investigators announced that they considered the fire to be suspicious.

The Rustic Mill had been around since the 1860s, and was an operating grain mill at one time.

Fox said there may be other arrests in the case. During a news conference Tuesday, he suggested that people avoid the scene of the fire, which he calls dangerous.


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