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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Arson

Arson targets Browne’s Addition garbage can

A garbage can in Browne’s Addition was the target of about four fires starting on Saturday morning.

Ray Ekins lives nearby and was walking his dog Duchess around 7 a.m. when he saw the first set of flames inside the barrel at Second Avenue and Chestnut Street. The same garbage can was on fire again about an hour later, he said.

“Poor garbage can,” Ekins said. He ended up calling 911 to report three of the fires.

Fire crews from Station 4 kept responding to the reported garbage fires and a Spokane Police officer parked nearby to keep an eye on the can, Spokane Police Sgt. Dan Ervin said.

The officer saw a man, later identified as Philip B. Lewis, 47, walk up to the can and allegedly light it on fire around 4 p.m, Ervin added.

Officers took Lewis into custody for two counts of second-degree arson and the fire was extinguished.

Ex-Shock player in solitary confinement

Judy Reisner wants her son, Kevin Ellison, to get mental health treatment, but he sits in the Spokane County Jail. (SRPhoto/Dan Pelle)

A former pro football player arrested for arson in June remains in solitary confinement at the Spokane County Jail, and his mother says his mental health issues will worsen without treatment.

Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was a starting linebacker and defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, has twice been denied release from jail for mental health treatment. His lawyer appealed U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno’s last decision, but U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko rejected the appeal Aug. 1, citing in part an altercation Ellison had with jailers last month.

Ellison’s mother, Judy Reisner, traveled from Los Angeles to Spokane to visit Ellison in jail on Wednesday. He’s not doing well, she said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

June 20: Kevin Ellison to stay in jail without bail

June 14: Shock player says God told him to start fire

Watch me talk about this story with KHQ's Dave Cotton:

Kevin Ellison to stay in jail without bail

A pro football player who claims God told him to start a fire at his apartment complex in Liberty Lake will remain in jail amid concerns about his mental health.

Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was dismissed from the Spokane Shock arena football team after his arrest June 14, repeatedly claimed to be Jesus Christ, including to an elderly woman who was at the hospital when Ellison was treated for smoke inhalation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed.

“He may have some mental issues,” Ahmed said.

Ellison also told Shock general manager Ryan Rigmaiden “that he was Jesus Christ, and that he was part of the rapture, and that God told him to start the fire,” Ahmed said. “He did not believe it (the fire) was going to harm him because God told him he'd protect him.”

Ellison told Rigmaiden he started the fire with a marijuana blunt.

Ellison, a former standout defense back for the University of Southern California Trojans, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a grand jury indictment charging him with malicious use of fire to damage commercial property. He faces five to 20 years in prison if convicted.

His public defender, Kim Deater, asked for Ellison to be allowed to leave jail and live with his mother and brother in Los Angeles, though she said they wants him to undergo mental health treatment.

“They think that might be an issue,” Deater said.

Deater described Ellison as “a good friend, a good teammate, a good son, a good player.”

She said his success in football shows he can work toward a goal with a large group of people.

“That takes cooperation, that takes a bond, and that takes character,” Deater said.

She also said Ellison did not tell the elderly woman at the hospital that he was Jesus - he simply grasped her hand and prayed with her.

But Imbrogno ordered Ellison to stay in the Spokane County Jail after Ahmed described a series of bizarre behavior that included statements from a Shock dancer who said she fears Ellison.

“She became afraid of Mr. Ellison after he texted her specifically that he was Jesus Christ,” Ahmed said.

The woman, who was not identified, also said Ellison asked her to marry him just moments after meeting her.

He said Ellison's roommate, Chris Tucker, told investigators that Ellison told him he'd been Baptized just a few days before the fire. Tucker also said Ellison had offered him Vicodin to ease his pain while at an away game in Chicago recently.

It was Tucker who first realized there was a fire in the apartment he shared with Ellison.

The defensive lineman for the Shock told investigators he first thought the smoke was from burning food. He even took the batteries out of the smoke detector in his bedroom before he realized the fire was coming from Ellison's room, Ahmed said. He alerted Ellison to the fire, but Ellison told him “I'm good.” and didn't leave.

Ellison escaped the fire by jumping from a window of the third-floor apartment. The fire caused about $100,000 in damage. Ahmed emphasized that children live next door to Ellison's apartment.

Ellison was drafted in the sixth round by the San Diego Chargers in 2009. He was released by the team following a May 2010 arrest in San Diego on a controlled-substance charge after police reportedly found 100 Vicodin tablets in his car without a prescription. The charges was dropped.

Ellison joined the Seattle Seahawks but was released shortly before the 2010 season opener.

Shock player: God told me to start fire

A pro football player who leapt from his burning third-floor apartment in Liberty Lake Thursday said he started the blaze with a marijuana blunt because God told him to, authorities say.

 Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, a starting linebacker/defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, initially told firefighters that he’d been smoking in bed, but evidence collected at the scene didn’t match that explanation, said Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Kevin Miller.

Read the rest of the story here.

Serial burglar leads to 7 more arrests

Investigators arrested seven people while searching three locations last week connected to suspected serial burglar Dean M. Blackford.

The properties at 1928 W. Glass Ave., 12607 N. Freya, and 7722 N. Altamontwere identified after detectives talked to Blackford about his burglary ring.

Large amounts of stolen property, from motorcycles to guns to Oxy-Acetylene tanks were located. Detectives seized more than 3 1/2 ounces of meth and some marijuana.

The investigation is ongoing and more charges are expected.

Arrested at the locations for meth possession were Steven R. Vandinter, 41; Lindsey M. Pearson, 22; Kevin M. Heaton, 35; Randy E. Hewson, 25; and Danica M. Wood, 27.

Michael Thorne, 36, was arrested on six felony warrants.

Jesse T.J. Gust, 26, was arrested on a warrant for arson. Gust was identified as a suspect in the arson fire of a truck that was part of a love triangle involving meth addicts.

A man first identified as suspect, Jesse J. Icard, was cleared of wrongdoing and his charges have been dismissed. Witnesses appear to have mistaken Icard for Gust, according to new court documents.

‘Middle-finger salute’ preceded fire

A man accused of trying to light his apartment complex on fire gave a surveillance camera the middle-finger salute before doing so, fire officials allege.

Ian W. Godfrey, 29, said he was angry with a flier being distributed at the HiFumi En Apartments, 926 E. 8th Ave., when he lit one on fire and walked through the building, according to the Spokane Fire Department.

The smoke triggered the apartment's overhead sprinklers. Fire officials suspected arson, and the apartment manager recognized Godfrey from the surveillance video.

Godfrey was arrested that day for attempted first-degree arson. He was released on his own recognizance after appearing in Superior Court Wednesday.

Boy faces arson charge for house fire

A 13-year-old boy has been arrested allegedly setting fire to a vacant home in north Spokane last month.

The boy was booked into Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center after being arrested at Glover Middle School. He was to appear before a judge on Monday, officials said.

Investigators with the Spokane Fire Department say the boy confessed to setting fire to a home at 4218 N. Ash St. on March 30. Crews quickly extinguished the blaze, which was confined to one bedroom and the roof area above that room. The rest of the home suffered extensive heat and smoke damage.

The suspect faces a charge of first-degree arson.

Reward targets truck fire arson suspect

A man suspected of setting fire to a truck in exchange for methamphetamine as part of a love triangle has a reward being offered for tips that lead to his capture.

Jesse James Icard, 43, is wanted on an arson charge for burning a 1975 Ford truck outside the Maple Tree Motel, 4824 E. Sprague Ave., on Feb. 6.

Police believe Odean B. Chappel, 44, gave Icard methamphetamine in exchange for burning the truck with a Molotov cocktail. Chappel was upset with the truck's owner, Donald S. Goergette, for staying with his ex-girlfriend.

Chappel remains jailed on $50,000 bond for arson and harassment charges. Icard, 5-foot-8 and 135 pounds, is wanted on a $30,000 warrant.

Crime Stoppers on Thursday offered a reward for tips that lead to his arrest.

Icard has a 24-year criminal history that includes convictions for vehicular assault. He last gave an address on Highway 231 in Springdale.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Fire fueled by Molotov cocktail, meth offer

A truck fire outside an East Sprague Avenue motel was spurred by a lover's triangle and fueled by not just a Molotov cocktail but the promise of methamphetamine in return.

Donald S. Georgette was staying at the Maple Tree Motel, 4824 E. Sprague Ave., with a woman who was trying to end her relationship with Odean B. Chappel, 44, when Georgette received threatening text messages from Chappel around Feb. 5, according to court records filed last week.

Georgette's 1975 Ford truck was set on fire Feb. 6 between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

A woman who was staying in a shed at 1828 E. Riverside Ave., told fire investigators two men prepared a Molotov cocktail there using a beer bottle, rag and gasoline while they discussed doing a job for Chappel, documents say.

One of those men told investigatorshe later saw Chappel give the other man, Jesse James Icard, 43, methamphetamine as a payment for burning the truck.

Chappel has been arrested and is due in court today on arson, harassment and manufacture of an incendiary device charges.

Icard still is at large.

Cigar leads to arrest in July burglary

A cigar left at a burglary scene last summer led detectives on Wednesday to arrest a 21-year-old man as a suspect.

DNA on the cigar that was sent to the state crime lab matched DNA that Trevor Codi Frantz provided when he was convicted of a felony first-degree theft in April 2010, according to court documents.

Detectives seized the cigar while investigating a burglary in the 8500 block of East Cataldo Avenue in Spokane Valley July 30. They believe the burglars used the cigar to try to light the home on fire.

A career criminal now serving life in prison, Larry A. Powell, fired shots at a neighbor who tried to stop the burglary. Powell was arrested shortly after the shooting. He already was wanted for not showing up for the end of his trial for a different robbery case.

Frantz was booked into jail Wednesday about 1 p.m. on charges of attempted first-degree arson and first-degree burglary.

Alleged ‘10 murder accomplice charged

William F. Hanel's burned body was found inside this home on Oct. 12, 2010, after firefighers responded to a blaze there. (SRPhoto/Jonathan Brunt)

A man accused of helping a killer torch his victim's home in 2010 is wanted by police.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that lead to the arrest of Eric Andersen, 46, whose last known home address was in Grant County.

Detectives believe Andersen helped Ryan D. Corkery, 28, burn William Frazier Hanel's home at 12036 S. Player Drive on Oct. 12, 2010.

Corkery strangled Hanel, 56, to death with an electrical cord a couple days earlier and enlisted the help of Andersen and Mark A. Hoffman, 24, to cover the crime, prosecutors say.

Andersen was arrested a week after Hanel's body was found in the burning home, but prosecutors moved to dismiss the charges about two months later.

Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy said today that he filed charges again on Jan. 18 after a new witness became available. He declined to comment further.

Corkery, who claimed Hanel molested a relative, was sentenced in December to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Hoffman was sentenced in January 2011 to six months in jail for first-degree rendering criminal assistance and residential burglary.

Andersen is wanted on a $40,000 warrant charging him with first-degree arson, residential burglary and first-degree rendering criminal assistance. His last known address is in the 100 block of N.W. Quincy Place in Soap Lake.

Anyone with information on Andersen's current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Police: Man tried to light wife on fire

An unemployed Dalton Gardens man allegedly doused his wife with gasoline and tried to light her on fire during a dispute at their home last weekend.

 Daniel Joe Zehm, 52, of 6103 15th St., was taken into custody by Kootenai County sheriff's deputies following an altercation that began Saturday night and culminated with the alleged attempt to incinerate Sondra Zehm, 58.

According to sheriff's reports, the argument began when Daniel Zehm told his wife he thought a nurse at his mother's assisted living place was attractive.

Daniel Zehm allegedly pinned his wife on their bed and threatened to kill her, her dog and her family. He then drenched his wife with a bucket of gasoline when she had her back to him while making coffee the following morning.

Sondra Zehm, who deputies say still smelled of gasoline after a shower, said that her husband was flicking the red lighter she'd given him to light a fire in his shop as he moved toward her.

Zehm was arrested on an attempted murder charge, but it was dismissed today in Kootenai County District Court. He was released from jail on $200,000 for felony charges of burglary and aggravated battery.

Fire at Wal-Mart leads to arson arrest

A man was arrested on a felony arson charge recently for allegedly lighting a fire at the Airway Heights Wal-Mart using sanitation wipes.

Stephen D. Rye, 55, was captured on surveillance video lighting the fire about 4:45 a.m. on Friday and watching it burn until Wal-Mart employees arrived to put it out, according to court documents prepared by Spokane County sheriff's detectives.

Rye was also seen taking the sanitation wipes, which are 65 percent alcohol, from a dispenser at Wal-Mart, lighting them on fire and kicking it down an aisle, igniting Wal-Mart fliers that were on the floor, police allege.

A motive for the alleged crime is unclear. Rye spent the weekend in jail and appeared in Superior Court Monday on a first-degree arson charge.

New charges in Forker Road homicide

The girlfriend of jailed Hells Angel sergeant-at-arms Ricky Warren Jenks has been charged with three felonies for her alleged role in the murder of a 22-year-old man whose body was found in the back of his burning car in April.

Britney Bjork, 30, is accused of helping burn Nicholas J. Thoreson's car and driving murder suspects Taylor J. Wolf, 20; Justice E.D Sims, 19; and Breeanna C. Sims, 20; from the scene at Forker Road near Bigelow Gulch. Thoreson is pictured left; Wolf is pictured lower right.

In addition to first-degree rendering criminal assistance and second-degree arson, Bjork is charged with conspiracy to commit perjury in the first-degree for allegedly helping Wolf craft false statements.

She pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court and was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial. She declined comment today after Jenks was sentenced in U.S. District Court to two years in prison.

Wolf had been staying at Jenks and Bjork’s home at the Knotty Pines Cottages, 13615 E. Trent Ave., since before Jenks’ arrest on federal gun charges in March, according to court documents.

Detectives Bjork sent Wolf a text message early April 13 that said to tell a friend “that everything is fine that you got lost and stranded. you thought you were around bigalow but really you were by otis orchards. clear the fact that you were anywhere near that area!”

Wolf talked to Bjork over the phone from jail after his arrest. Detectives listened to the calls and say Bjork told him, “You've been with me…this whole…time,” to which Wolf responded, “I know, I never left your side.”

But detectives say Wolf also told Bjork on April 22 he was going to shoot Thoreson but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, citing recorded phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

Wolf and the Simses are charged with aggravated first-degree murder, among other charges, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison because prosecuters are not seeking the death penalty.

Also charged in the case is the Simses' half-brother, who pleaded guilty in juvenile court to threatening a witness in the case. The teen is not being named because he was charged as a juvenile.

Emily K. Karlinsey, 19, who is accused of making threatening phone calls to a witness, is set to go to trial in Superior Court.

Past coverage:

May 20: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

Burning stolen cars spark brush fire

Two stolen cars were set on fire in the Indian Trial area Wednesday night, sparking a small brush fire.

Spokane firefighters responded to reports of flames and explosions from a remote forested hilltop east of Indian Trial Road.

Crews accessed the area through gates and narrow trail and found the car fully engulfed, with flames spreading to less than an acre of land.

The Spokane Fire Department assisted Fire District 9 in controlling the blaze. No injures were reported.

One car, a 2000 VW Passat, was stolen from a home in the 12000 block of North Hemlock Street on Sunday or Monday.

The other, a 2010 Ford Escape, was stolen from the 600 block of East Lakeview Lane on Friday or Saturday.

Both were taken from garages after the owners left the keys inside, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

The burned cars are pictured courtesy KHQ-TV.

Cops tell gang not to retaliate for arson

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — Wenatchee police have contacted a gang that appeared to be the target of a fire that killed two children and warned it not to retaliate.

Sgt. John Kruse says the gang was told retaliation would be very detrimental to solving the homicide.

Chelan County Coroner Wayne Harris says the boys, 4 and 6 years old, died of smoke inhalation.

The Wenatchee World reports the fire is being investigated as arson.

Police say the duplex has been a target of gang activity in the past, but no one in the house at the time of Thursday's fire is believed to be a gang member.

The boys' father suffered serious burns trying to save them and is in a Seattle hospital.

Fire suspects left ‘unintended’ message

An “unintended” voice mail left on an arson victim's cell phone helped identify suspects in a Spokane Valley house fire last week.

 The home's renter, Pavel Aleksandrov, said he received what appeared to be an unintentional voice mail on July 23 in which he could hear Sergey A. Kravchenko, 27; Maksim P. Oboznyy, 21, and another man talking about how they should go to his home at 4418 E. 15th Ave., according to court documents.

The rental home was set on fire shortly after, causing $100,000 in damage, and Aleksandrov discovered his television and laptop computer had been stolen. Aleksandrov told police he was the foreman of a construction company in Louisiana in 2009 when the company could not make payroll.

Kravchenko also worked for the company, and he and another employee were upset about what they claimed were lost wages, according to court documents.

Kravchenko and Oboznyy were arrested Friday, and suspect Roman I. Ryakhovskaya, 21, of Nine Mile Falls, turned himself in Saturday. Now Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest a fourth suspect, Aleksander N. Shingarey, 23, (pictured) who is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree arson.

The three others suspects also are charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree arson; Ryakhovskaya also is charged with first-degree arson; Kravchenko and Oboznyy also are charged with residential burglary and second-degree theft for allegedly stealing a TV and computer before Ryakhovskaya allegedly set house on fire.

A neighbor identified the suspects through photo montages and said he'd fired a shot out his window to try to scare them away after they told him to mind his own business, according to court documents.

Shingarey, who was arrested last summer after a shooting on the South Hill, last gave an address in the 4000 block of East 23rd Avenue in Spokane.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Arson suspected in Valley house fire

Arson caused a fire that damaged a home in Spokane Valley early Sunday, officials said today.

The blaze at 4418 E. 15th Ave., caused more than $100,000 in damage to the home and took more than 25 firefighters to quickly contain.

The family was away camping for the weekend, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Crews were called to the home about 3 a.m. and saw smoke and flames coming from the front of the building. They believe the fire burned and smoldered “for some time” before it was reported, according to a news release by Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford, department spokesman.

Neighbors reported hearing noises and seeing a dark-colored vehicle with hits headlights off speeding away from the home, which is owned by Mandi J. Nordhagen, according to property records.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 or the Fire Department at (509) 928-1700.
  

Arsonist confesses after burning self

Authorities say a man confessed to setting a building adjacent to a downtown Spokane apartment complex on fire early Saturday as retaliation for the occupants “jumping him” a few days ago.

Israel Barrera, 29, called Spokane police to confess and ask for treatment to second-degree burns he sustained while setting the fire at 411 S. Maple St., Officer Tim Moses said in a news release.

An investigator with the Spokane Fire Department arrested Barrera at a hospital for first-degree arson. He sustained after sustaining burns caused by a “flammable vapor explosion,” from using of an accelerant, according to a fire department news release.

The home was unoccupied at the time and Barrera was the only person injured.

There is significant damage to the house due to the use of accelerant and residents will not be able to occupy it, police said. Damage is estimated at $40,000.

Arsonist, career criminal gets 10 years

A serial arsonist’s criminal past earned the wrath Friday of a federal judge who sentenced the man to 10 years in prison.

Anthony W. Sotin, 42, previously agreed to accept responsibility for setting his own car on fire on Jan. 12 and torching a commercial building at 13412 E. Nora Ave. on Feb. 9.

U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush was reluctant to accept the terms of the agreement, noting that Sotin’s first criminal conviction came at age 14.

“I have been on the federal bench from Houston, to Las Vegas to San Francisco and thousands of cases in my home district,” he said. “I don’t know that I have ever seen as an egregious criminal history as with you. A rational judge could conclude that Mr. Sotin should be locked up for the rest of his life to protect others.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

March 1: Arsonist pleads guilty after just 13 days

Feb. 19: Arrest made in building, vehicle fires

Aug. 8, 1997: Latest antics add to Sotin's long rap sheet

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