On July 20, 2018, a fire killed five people at the Iconic Village apartment complex in San Marcos. Nearly five years later, a suspect has been arrested in connection with the incident, authorities confirmed Wednesday.
Thirty-year-old Jacobe De Leon O Shea Ferguson, then a Texas State University student who lived in the complex, has been charged with arson causing bodily injury or death, a first-degree felony that could result in life in prison. Officials haven't given a motive.
The fire killed Haley Frizzell, 19; Dru Estes, 20; Belinda Moats, 21; David Ortiz, 21; and James Miranda, 23. Several others were injured. The fire destroyed one building and damaged several others nearby.
Ortiz was a Pasadena native, who was a resident at off-campus housing, and a student at Texas State University.
His family created the David A. Ortiz Foundation in his name to prevent fire-related deaths. The foundation awards Pasadena Memorial High School seniors with plans to attend Texas State $1,000 scholarship and a free smoke detector.
"Five a.m. phone calls are terrible and no parent ever wants to receive one," Brian Frizzell said at a press conference Thursday morning.
He said he was glad people were still working on his daughter's case.
"I know six or seven months ago, this sure seemed like it was ready to be a cold case forever," Frizzel said.
San Marcos Fire Chief Les Stephens said Thursday the department never stopped investigating.
"We followed up on every single lead," he said.
Stephens and San Marcos Police Chief Stan Standridge created a task force last year to investigate the fire. It held its first meeting in October.
Fire Marshal Jonathan Henderson, a member of the task force, said this new group gave a "fresh set of eyes" to the investigation.
“If I was a loved one or a close friend of one of the victims that were killed or injured, I would wonder what took so long,” he said. “Please know that the investigators have felt this way as well.”
Henderson said investigations often take longer than expected, and they had several setbacks. He said there was no specific tip or new information leading to Ferguson's arrest.
The task force used the original reports from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and from the Fire Marshal's Office Members also re-interviewed people involved in the case. Ferguson was among those interviewed during the initial investigation.
Frizzel said he wasn't expecting results from the task force but was relieved to hear news of the arrest.
"We are eternally grateful for all of those that kept looking and kept re-looking when everybody else said ‘We can't find anything,'" he said.
Ferguson was booked at the Hays County Jail on Wednesday. No bond has been posted.
Houston Public Media’s Spencer Plato contributed to this report.