The Denton fire marshal has named a person of interest in the Jan. 26 conflagration that destroyed the main building at Selwyn College Preparatory School.
Luther Joe Romines, 43, a maintenance man who lived in an apartment at the school on West University Drive, has not been charged in connection with the fire, but he stands charged with two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon on school property. He is free on a total $30,000 bail on the second-degree felonies.
Fire Marshal Rick Jones confirmed that Romines is a suspect in the fire previously determined as arson, but said he could comment no further.
“I can’t comment on the evidence,” Jones said. “This investigation is by no means concluded.”
Selwyn headmaster Connie Miller did not respond to a telephone message for comment left Thursday, and David Biles, president of the private school’s board, could not be reached for comment.
About 6 a.m. that January day, flames began jumping above the roof of the oldest building on the large campus where about 180 children attend school. Firefighters who arrived on the scene shortly afterward were limited to protecting the other buildings nestled close by and were not able to save the academic offices and classrooms for lower grades.
About three weeks later, lab results from material taken from the kindergarten room and hallway of the building showed that a flammable liquid had been poured there.
According to Denton County court records, Romines has three convictions for driving while intoxicated, the last one being a felony. His arrest record also shows a 1998 arrest on an arson charge and a 1999 arrest on a burglary charge. Neither of those cases ever went to trial, however.
According to court documents used to obtain an arrest warrant, fire marshal investigators learned a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22-caliber rifle were in Romines’ apartment on the school campus. Laws prohibit carrying weapons on school grounds and also prohibit felons from possessing firearms.
Jones said school officials cooperated with the investigators in getting the guns off campus.
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.