Iowa Woman Charged For Second Time For Same Series of Crimes
A western Iowa woman has been charged with the same crimes for a second time after initial charges were dismissed.
40-year-old Melissa Dopheide has been accused of arson, involving a fire at the Wall Lake home she lived in back in the winter of 2020. That's just the first of many charges levied against her.
According to the Bee Herald, crews responded to a fire at the home Dopheide, her fiance Andrew Wempe, and her 2-year-old son were renting at approximately 7 a.m. on January 9, 2020. Suspicious of the fire, authorities contacted the fire marshall.
An investigation at the scene found a loose gas line to the furnace. It is believed a candle was used to start the gas line on fire. Police say her son was in the house when the fire began.
The Bee Herald also alleges that all of Dopheide's belongings had been moved to a detached garage the night before the blaze.
Finally, Dopheide had previously been provided an eviction notice. It was to take effect on January 9, 2020... the day of the fire. The landlord of the property filed a complaint the month before that stated Dopheide owed nearly $2,700 in rent and other fees.
Dopheide was first arrested on April 13, 2020. She was charged with First-Degree Arson, First-Degree Criminal Mischief, Insurance Fraud, Neglect of a Dependent, Ongoing Criminal Conduct, and three counts of Perjury. She pleaded not guilty to all of the charges in late May of 2020. Then came a big twist.
In early September of 2020, the cases against Dopheide and Wempe, who also faced the same charges, were dismissed. Sac County Attorney Ben Smith told the Bee Herald he originally thought the federal government would pick up the case, which is why charges were dismissed. He said, "The case wasn't dismissed out of convenience. The federal government can't take a case if there's already state charges."
Iowa law allows charges to be dismissed and re-filed and after no federal charges came to pass, that's exactly what Smith decided to do. Earlier this week, Dopheide was arrested in Scranton, where she lives now. She faces the same series of charges that were originally filed more than two years ago. Thus far, Wempe has not been charged again.