Woman sent to prison for arson that killed brother
Nachtrab convicted of homicide, arson
The Deer Creek woman who started a fire that killed her younger brother at her family home in 2018 will spend seven years behind bars.
Outagamie County Judge Nancy Krueger on Tuesday, Feb. 26 sentenced Dana L. Nachtrab, 28, to three years in prison and two years’ extended supervision for homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, and seven years of initial confinement and five years’ extended supervision for arson. The sentences will be served concurrently.
Dana Nachtrab pleaded no contest to the charges in December. Krueger dismissed but read into the record a misdemeanor bail jumping charge.
Dana Nachtrab faced up to 40 years in prison for the arson charge and up to a decade for the homicide charge.
The victim, her 23-year-old brother Cody Nachtrab, had developmental disabilities and Dana L. Nachtrab served as a caregiver to him.
According to the Outagamie County District Attorney’s Office and the criminal complaint:
On March 12, 2018, at approximately 11:20 p.m., the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to the town of Deer Creek for a fire at W10721 Pine Road. This was the house of Nachtrab’s mother, where the two lived along with Dana Nachtrab’s husband, the couple’s 2-year-old daughter and Cody Nachtrab.
Earlier that night, Dana Nachtrab had been home caring for her daughter and brother when their family dog died. She texted her husband and mother to come home to help her with the dog.
When her husband returned, the two got into an argument while Dana Nachtrab was under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine. In protest, Dana Nachtrab took a clothing item and lit it on fire in her mother’s bedroom, and the flames spread to paper on the floor. The two failed to extinguish the fire using water and soda.
Dana Nachtrab exited the house with her daughter while her husband went to a bedroom and attempted to retrieve Cody Nachtrab. But after heading for the bedroom door with the husband, Cody Nachtrab turned around and returned to bed. The husband left the house without him because the smoke was building.
Cody Nachtrab died of carbon monoxide poisoning and severe burns, and the family’s house was a total loss.
Dana Nachtrab gave investigators permission to search her phone after the fire. They discovered a text message sent to an unidentified recipient at 3:11 p.m. earlier that day that stated, “So I really don’t even care if you read any of this.. I jus5 (sic) need to say it before I literally light this (expletive) house on fire.”
“This was an extremely tragic situation which was completely preventable,” Outagamie County District Attorney Melinda Tempelis said in a statement. “Arson is a crime that has the potential to destroy both property and human life. Even small fires can develop into out-of-control blazes in a matter of seconds.”
At the sentencing hearing, Krueger said she understands Dana Nachtrab did not intend to kill her brother or burn her mother’s house to the ground, but through her actions she “clearly intended to start a fire and to make a statement.”