2011 Apple Valley arson: Jury finds father guilty of second-degree murder in baby's death

·4 min read
Victorville Jury finds the father of 11-month-old Bradley Dingman guilty of his murder over 10 years ago.
Victorville Jury finds the father of 11-month-old Bradley Dingman guilty of his murder over 10 years ago.

Nearly a decade after 11-month-old Bradley Dingman died of injuries suffered in an arson fire in Apple Valley, a jury found his father guilty of second-degree murder.

Lucas Noble Dingman, 36, a former Apple Valley resident, was found guilty on Friday in Superior Court in Victorville. He is scheduled for sentencing on May 6, court documents show.

After the fire, Dingham moved to Iowa. He was arrested there in 2015 and extradited to California, where he pleaded not guilty to murder.

During court proceedings, DIngham remained at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, with bail set at $1 million.

'Justice for Bradley'

Brittany Sorenson, who babysat Bradley for nearly nine months, was in tears when she told The Daily Press that the jury’s verdict meant “justice for Bradley.”

“I hope he gets the maximum sentence for what he did to Bradley,” said Sorenson on Friday night. “I hope this low life will spend the rest of his days in prison.”

Sorenson, 30, described Bradley as one of the “happiest” babies she’d ever seen, full of life and very active.

“My 2-year-old daughter would get down on the floor and crawl and play with Bradley,” Sorenson said. “She would call him ‘Handsome Bradley’ and he would follow her everywhere.”

Sorenson said Bradley’s death left her traumatized, the main reason she moved out of state.

“To hold and care for Bradley then know that he suffered and died was too much for me to handle,” said Sorenson, who created a “Remembering Handsome Bradley” Facebook page nearly seven years ago.

The fire

Lucas Noble Dingman, 36, a former Apple Valley resident, was recently found guilty in the second-degree murder of his 11-month-old son, Bradley, in 2011.
Lucas Noble Dingman, 36, a former Apple Valley resident, was recently found guilty in the second-degree murder of his 11-month-old son, Bradley, in 2011.

In the early hours of May 20, 2011, sheriff’s deputies and the Apple Valley Fire Protection District responded to an apartment fire in the 20300 block of Broken Bow Road, sheriff’s officials said.

The neighborhood, mostly filled with apartments, is located north of Highway 18 and east of Rancherias Road.

Witnesses told authorities that Dingman and his girlfriend, Bradley’s mother, were outside the two-story apartment as a neighbor tried to battle the blaze.

Bradley, who suffered smoke inhalation and burns to 70% of his body, was taken to a hospital but was declared dead the next day, authorities said.

Lucas Dingman's sister, Angela, told The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, an Iowa newspaper, in 2015 that her brother was also injured in the fire.

She said after waking up to the sound of a smoke alarm, her brother grabbed a bucket of water and threw it on the baby and screamed for help, The Courier reported.

“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.”

But Sorenson told The Daily Press: “I wasn’t awake that morning, but a lot of people told me they heard Bradley’s mom screaming ‘my baby, my baby’ as her boyfriend just sat there acting odd.”

Homicide, bomb and arson personnel were called to assist with the investigation and determined the fire to be arson, sheriff’s officials said.

After many interviews, the case went cold for years until February 2014, when Cold Case Team detectives reopened the investigation.

Extradited from Iowa

In May 2015, Waterloo Police Department officials and investigators with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department arrested Dingman, 29, in Iowa on a California warrant charging him with murder and child abuse resulting in death.

Dingman pleaded not guilty and denied committing the crime during an appearance at the Black Hawk County Jail, according to The Courier.

Lucas Dingman’s relatives have maintained his innocence.

A native of Minnesota, Dingman moved to California when he was young. Following the fire, he, his sister and mother moved to Iowa, where he got a job driving trucks.

His sister said he paid child support for a daughter in California, helped pay bills for the rest of his family and looked after his niece.

“I’ll always remember Bradley, my sweet little boy,” Sorenson, the former babysitter, said. "The pain and sadness are still very raw and I don't think it will ever go away."

Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz

This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: 2011 Apple Valley fire: Lucas Dingman found guilty in son's death