Snow College's football team will be without three of its players, including two key contributors, when the Badgers take on Butler Community College in today's Zions Bank Top of the Mountains Bowl at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Troy Cummings, Stephon Thrash and Andrew Castaneda have been arrested and booked by Ephraim police into Sanpete County Jail in connection with a string of burglary and arson incidents in three counties that resulted in at least $275,000 in damages.
According to Ephraim Police Chief Ron Rasmussen, the charges involve burglaries at the Splish Splash Car Wash and the Malt Shop on Main Street in Ephraim, at car washes in Manti and Fairview in Sanpete County, and burglaries at other places in neighboring Juab and Sevier counties. Ephraim police, Snow College police and the Sanpete County Sheriff's Department all assisted in the arrests.
Castaneda, a freshman wide receiver from Caldwell, Idaho, was booked Wednesday on six counts of burglary, six counts of theft and four counts of criminal mischief. His bail was set at $76,724.
Thrash, a freshman safety from Crestview, Fla., was booked Wednesday on five counts of burglary, four counts of theft and four counts of criminal mischief. His bail was set at $61,724.
Cummings, a sophomore wide receiver from Las Vegas, was booked Friday on one count of burglary with a bail of $10,000.
Cummings, who is being recruited by Oklahoma State, has 14 catches this season for 136 yards and three touchdowns. Thrash has intercepted three passes, and Castaneda has recorded one reception for Snow.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, all three football players were still in jail.
The burglary and subsequent arson at the Ephraim car wash occurred between 3 and 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 9, according to the Sanpete Messenger. The Ephraim Fire Department put out the blaze after a witness reported that the building was burning. The paper reported that police discovered vending machines and a bill changer had been vandalized. A metal door leading to an office with electronic car wash operating equipment was damaged.
The fire, the paper reported Rasmussen as saying, was set to allegedly destroy evidence. "That's the only thing we can come up with," he said.
The business was insured, but destruction of the equipment that helped operate the car wash's four bays was estimated to be worth $260,000. That figure was based on new equipment being installed at a car wash under construction by the same owners in Mt. Pleasant, according to the report.
The Malt Shop was also broken into that same night. Burglars forced entry through the back door between the time the fast-food shop closed at 10 p.m. Nov. 8, and when it opened at 10 a.m. on Nov. 9.
Owner Karl Nielsen told the Messenger a drawer containing $20 was removed from a cash register. Damage was done, but no money removed, from a second register.
"Something must have scared them off," Nielsen told the paper.
During the break-in, a cash-register system valued at $12,000 was destroyed. The system included linked registers and tape printers, including one in the kitchen.The restaurant was shut down for two days, including during a busy weekend in which Snow College hosted a football game.