Bowling alley owner pleads guilty to arson

Kristine Goodrich, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
·2 min read

Apr. 12—ST. PETER — The owner accused of burning down his own bowling alley in St. Peter last winter is pleading guilty.

A proposed sentence for Dwight Lee Selders, 48, of Le Sueur, includes six months in jail and restitution.

Selders allegedly set fire to KingPins in St. Peter on Feb. 16, 2020. He co-owned the bowling alley with a woman who had ended her romantic relationship with Selders and told him she wanted out of the business, according to court documents.

Selders was charged with first- and second-degree counts of arson and was scheduled to go on trial starting Monday.

He chose to plead guilty to the second-degree charge last month, said Nicollet County Attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer.

A plea agreement was filed Friday in Nicollet County District Court.

The agreement calls for Selders to spend six months in jail with release to go to work or do community service.

Additional time in prison would be waived if he successfully completes the other terms of the sentence, including 10 years of probation. He also would be required to pay restitution, the amount of which has not yet been determined.

A Nicollet County judge will decide whether to approve the agreement at a sentencing hearing now scheduled for May 18.

Surveillance video reportedly showed Selders look back toward a fire as he left the bowling alley and went home without calling 911, court documents allege. The building was nearly engulfed before firefighters arrived after someone else saw and reported the blaze.

Selders reportedly gave conflicting accounts to investigators, including initially claiming he was never in the building that morning and lastly stating he panicked after accidentally starting a fire while fixing equipment.

Selders' ex-girlfriend and co-owner Jessica Tonsfeldt told authorities the bowling alley was not making a profit and days before the fire she told Selders she wanted out of the business. Selders sent a text message to Tonsfeldt stating he "might as well just shut it down and let it go then."

Character references submitted to Judge Allison Krehbiel last week describe Selders as devoted and proud of his bowling alley but also someone who was struggling with stress and grief.

"He ... wanted his business to grow and be the best place where people could come as a family," wrote ex-wife Kay Selders. "What I do know is that Dwight was under a lot of stress with his relationship with Jessica, he was working a lot of hours trying to keep the business running while working his other job and he is struggling with his mother's death."