THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — The man in custody after a Wednesday night blaze at a Thief River Falls home that left one dead was under police surveillance for alleged drug dealing.
Devon James Pulczinski, 23, who was arrested on suspicion of arson and second-degree murder, was suspected of selling meth and heroin from his apartment and had sold drugs to a confidential informant, according to Pennington County court documents.
Thief River Falls Police Department Chief Dick Wittenberg said officers had been to the residence at 307 ½ Arnold Ave. S. before, though didn’t say exactly when or what for. A roommate and several others were arrested when police raided the second-floor apartment last week, but Pulczinski was not present at the time, documents show.
Police would not say if the raid, fire and death were linked. The home is split into two apartments, one on the upper and lower level. After firefighters extinguished the flames, they found a woman’s body in the upper-level apartment, according to a Minnesota Department of Public Safety news release on Thursday, March 28.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner will release details about the cause of death after the woman’s body undergoes an autopsy, the release said. Her identity has not been released.
Thief River Falls Fire Chief Marty Semanko said crews worked throughout the night to ensure hot spots wouldn’t reignite the flames. He said crews were still on site Thursday morning cleaning up. A woman who witnessed the fire from across the street said a man driving by in a pickup truck stopped and rushed to save three children from the bottom floor.
“He just swerved to the side and ran into the house,” said Danielle Holmes, who said the man emerged from the building carrying two children as another followed.