LaPORTE CITY | A La Porte City man has been arrested in connection with a fire that caused the death of his infant son in California.
Waterloo police and investigators with the San Bernardino County Sheriff Office arrested Lucas Noble Dingman, 29, Friday on a California warrant charging him with murder, child abuse resulting in death.
Lucas Dingman told a judge he was pleading not guilty and denied committing the crime during an appearance at the Black Hawk County Jail on Monday.
Capt. David Mohlis with the Waterloo Police Department said San Bernardino County officers traveled to Waterloo last week and Waterloo officers assisted them in finding Lucas Dingman.
“Their investigators came to us and asked them to help us track him down,” Mohlis said.
Details about the crime weren’t immediately available, but a former acquaintance said Lucas Dingman is the father of a child who died in a fire in Apple Valley, Calif., in May 2011.
“It’s been years. I’ve been waiting for justice,” said Brittany Sorenson.
Sorenson had been a neighbor to Lucas Dingman when he lived in California and babysat his 11-month-old son, Bradley Dingman.
The child was injured in a fire that broke out in the family’s apartment and later died. Sorenson started a Facebook page to keep Bradley’s memory alive and seek justice in the case.
“Just because his family didn’t come from money doesn’t mean his case deserved to be swept under the rug,” Sorensen said.
Lucas Dingman’s relatives maintain his innocence.
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“That charge, he is not guilty of,” said his sister, Angela Dingman. “He’s been wondering what happened and why the fire happened. They’re not looking into that. They’re blaming my brother.”
She said the family has had trouble finding an attorney for her brother.
Lucas Dingman is a Minnesota native whose family moved to California when he was young. Following the fatal fire, he, his sister and mother moved to Iowa, and he got a job driving trucks. His sister said he paid child support for a daughter in California, assisted with bills for the rest of his family and looked after his niece.
She said her brother received a phone call from California authorities Friday telling him they had information on Bradley’s death and asking him to meet them at the Waterloo Police Department. He left in his work clothes because he was scheduled to go to his job later in the day.
“We were, ‘Go, Lukey. You’re going to go find out what happened.’ And they put him way,” Angela Dingman said.
When Lucas Dingman arrived at the police station he was arrested.
The sister said Lucas Dingman was also injured in the fatal fire. He had been sleeping and awoke to a smoke alarm, she said. She said he grabbed a water bucket and threw it on the baby and screamed for help.
“He was full of black smoke. I was there when we went and got him from the hospital. He had smoke inhalation,” Angela Dingman said. “He’s been brokenhearted ever since.”
Bradley Dingman had burns over 70 percent of his body and died the following day at a hospital, according to California media accounts. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office’s arson and homicide units investigated.
During his Monday court appearance, Lucas Dingman waived extradition. He will be returned to California to face the charges.