Local Man Burns Mattress, Claims Bed Bug Infestation
Health inspectors found no evidence of bed bugs in rooms at the Franklin Motel even after an alleged infestation caused a local man to burn a mattress.
The man, Fred Fehrmann, 48, of Marshalltown, burned the mattress after a coworker called him to the motel for assistance, and he and his wife discovered the mattress was rife with bed bugs.
Tuesday's incident marks the third accusation of bed bugs at the motel, 1108 Iowa Ave. W., since May 31, according to Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. Inspectors found no evidence of bed bugs in any of the three inspections.
Still, Laura Fehrmann, Fred's wife, tells a different story.
When she and her husband went over to aid the coworker, she said, she couldn't believe how bad the parasitic infestation was.
"I was so dumbfounded. I was at a loss for words," she said.
Even after her husband got home from burning the mattress, she made him take his clothes off outside their home and leave them in a bucket of oil, she said.
David Werning, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, said his department treats every complaint as if it were legitimate and requires the owner to show proof that he or she has called in an exterminator, something Franklin Motel owner, James Hostetter, had not done for the two previous complaints.
After the Thursday inspection, Inspections and Appeals required the owner to provide monthly invoices from a pest control agency showing that he is taking the appropriate measures.
"We aren't taking anyone's word for it," Werning said.
Although the inspector found no evidence of bed bugs, Werning acknowledged that the insects are nocturnal and hard to spot during the day.
Fehrmann said she put her husband up to burning the mattress because she was concerned for the welfare of the residents' 2-year-old child.
"The manager didn't care at all," she said. "He said 'you guys brought them in and you need to take care of them.'"
Franklin Motel's manager declined to comment for this story.
An incident report at the Marshalltown Police Department confirms Fehrmann's husband, Fred, started the fire, which, according to the report, could land him a reckless use of fire charge, a simple misdemeanor.
"It's not legal to burn a mattress," said Fire Marshal Deb Lundgren.
The fire was relatively small, Lundgren said, and only took firefighters a few minutes to extinguish.
As of Friday morning, MPD reports do not indicate police have arrested Fred Fehrmann.
Fehrmann said she and her husband will deal with any consequences. In fact, she was the one who called the police and fire departments. Whatever the fallout it will be a far shot better than letting the family sleep on the floor, which is what she said they had been doing for some time.
"People need to know how bad the situation is," Fehrmann said of the numerous complaints about bed bugs at the motel.
The mattress belonged to the owner of the motel, who is in the process of evicting the couple, Werning said.
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