COUNCIL BLUFFS — A man found dead in a fire-gutted house on the east side of Council Bluffs was facing trial, accused of assaulting his estranged wife.
Mark VanderWoude, 43, until recent months had lived at the home. His body was found on the second floor of the burned-out structure Monday, according to Council Bluffs Police Sgt. Chad Meyers.
Council Bluffs Fire officials suspect arson in the blaze because of previous incidents at the residence, the amount of damage done to the structure and the possible use of an accelerant.
A fire spokesman declined to say Tuesday whether they believe VanderWoude set the fire.
VanderWoude was identified Tuesday morning. An autopsy had been performed by the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny.
Authorities had been investigating VanderWoude on suspicion of stalking his wife, Lori VanderWoude, said Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber. He is suspected of opening the gas lines in the couple’s home and stuffing exhaust vents to block them, Wilber said. VanderWoude had not been charged in that incident.
A domestic abuse assault case was scheduled to go to trial against Mark VanderWoude on March 19. He was accused of using a vehicle to try to run his wife off the road, Wilber said.
VanderWoude’s body was found after firefighters were called about 3:15 p.m. Monday to 46 Norwood Drive, where the two-story home was in flames.
The blaze caused extensive damage to the house. The heat also damaged the siding on the house next door.
After 5 p.m., firefighters found the body on the second floor, said Council Bluffs Police Sgt. Dave Dawson. Lori VanderWoude and the estranged couple’s three grade-school-aged kids were not home.
The house and property are valued at $201,609, according to the Pottawattamie County assessor’s website.
Dustin Congdon, who lives nearby, said the couple were separated and Mark VanderWoude hadn’t lived at the house for a few months. Neighbors said that when firefighters arrived, a van for the plumbing business that employed Mark VanderWoude was in the driveway with the engine running.
This report includes material from the World-Herald News Service.