Crime

TVCC student who lit himself on fire survived 2012 attack by his former in-laws

A 22-year-old Treasure Valley Community College student fighting for his life at a Utah burn center survived being shot in the head and back three years ago by his former father-in-law.

Ramon Fry on Wednesday poured what Ontario, Ore., police said appeared to be gasoline on himself and lit the fuel with a lighter. After being engulfed in flames, Fry tried to put out the fire by jumping into a courtyard fountain at the Ontario college.

Fry, a Garden Valley resident, was flown to the University of Utah Burn Center in Salt Lake City. He suffered severe burns across his body and was being treated for life-threatening injuries.

Police do not believe Fry, a two-time state high school wrestling champion from Garden Valley in 2009 and 2010, was trying to kill himself, though they were unsure of his intent in lighting himself on fire.

Police Chief Mark Alexander said officers learned shortly before the incident that Fry was having some mental health problems. The department was trying to put him in touch with health professionals.

Alexander said Fry and his ex-wife often came to Ontario City Hall to exchange their son for visits, so officers were familiar with him.

The attack by Fry’s ex-father-in-law occurred in a garage that a prosecutor called a death chamber.

According to news accounts, in February 2012, Fry’s former mother in law, Erlene Reger, lured Fry into the garage of her Ontario home. Fry was returning his young son after a visitation under terms of his divorce settlement with Reger’s daughter.

Reger’s husband, Lester Reger, was in the garage. Fry later told investigators that Lester Reger faked an arm injury, concealed a gun in a sling and asked Fry to pick up three pieces of wood from beneath a work bench. Reger fired once, striking Fry under his skin at the base of his skull. As Fry ran off, Reger shot him a second time, with the bullet lodging in his kidney.

The garage had been lined with plastic sheets to hide evidence, and a vehicle was readied to remove the body.

“In 26 years of violence, very few things have scared me as much as walking into that garage that night,” Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norris said at the time.

Lester Reger, now 65, was convicted of attempted aggravated murder, criminal conspiracy, second-degree assault and illegal possession of a firearm by a felon. He is serving his sentence at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, where he is scheduled to be released in September 2023, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections.

Erlene Reger, now 53, was convicted of conspiracy to commit attempted aggravated murder. She is serving her sentence at the Coffee Creek Correction Institution, also in Salem. She is scheduled to be released in April 2020.

Two other men were implicated in the attack. John Fritz, now 58, was convicted of second-degree assault and is scheduled to be released in 2018. Todd Mulvaine, now 45, was convicted of conspiracy and is scheduled to be released in 2019.

Lester Reger served time after he was convicted in a 1985 plea bargain for the beating death of his then-wife, Simone Reger. Her body was found in the Snake River.

Alexander said Friday that his office had not received an update on Fry’s condition at the Utah hospital. The hospital did not return a call from the Statesman seeking information.

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