A mobile home with a notorious reputation was gutted in a weekend fire near Kalona.
The trailer home that became a horrific crime scene nearly a year ago has been torched. Last week, Roger Bentley was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping, raping and killing Jetseta Gage and dumping her body in a trailer home near Kalona. This weekend, the trailer home went up in flames.
Neighbors like Max McCoy say they won’t miss the trailer. “It’s a reminder of probably our inability, of our helplessness that we couldn’t help a little girl out,” McCoy says. Neighbor Jenean Arnold says the trailer was a terrible reminder of how Jetseta died. “I’m glad it’s gone, but I think it would have not been there very long anyway,” she says. Now all that’s left at the scene to remind neighbors about the murder is a cross.
Some neighbors have complained about the memorial that Jetseta Gage’s family erected on the site, but for now, it remains. Even if there were no reminders of Jetseta, neighbors like Arnold say the murder would still be on their mind. “Eventually, I think it will feel less harsh.” Arnold says. “But, in the short term, I think the feelings will still be there.”
McCoy says whether the trailer is on the site or not, the community still knows what happened there. The woman who owns the land and the trailer now lives in Florida. Ann Enck says she had lots of sentimental documents and photos in that trailer and had planned to come pick up those items next week. Enck says she’ll press charges if the person responsible for the fire is caught.
Robin Walker had planned to acquire the land where the trailer stood. She wanted to build a retreat area for handicapped and mentally challenged children. Now she’s not sure if that will ever happen. “I don’t know if it’s going to be over for a long time. There’s a lot of people with strong feelings about what happened to that little girl and what happened on that land,” Walker says. There’s also hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax liens against the property, which Walker says makes it tough for her to take it over.