Wife, neighboring couple killed before both houses set ablaze
COQUILLE, Ore. – A 65-year-old Coos County man has been arraigned on charges that he killed his wife and a neighboring couple, and set fire to both their houses.
Edward Lawrence Nelson appeared in Coos County Circuit Court in Coquille on Monday on six counts of aggravated murder and three counts of arson.
Judge Richard Barron set bail at $6 million. Nelson did not enter a plea.
The judge appointed an attorney for him, Geoffrey J. Gokey, of Redmond, Ore. Gokey did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.
Nelson is accused of killing his wife, Kathleen, and his neighbors, retired teacher Renae Cottam and his wife, Lola, both 73. There was no immediate word on how they died, but District Attorney Paul Frazier said they were dead before the fires were set. The area is in timbered hills outside the rural community of Bridge in Coos County.
Authorities say someone called in the fires Saturday night and spotted Nelson’s vehicle driving away from the scene. State police arrested him a couple hours later on Oregon Highway 42 in neighboring Douglas County.
An autopsy was scheduled for today. The grand jury meets Thursday to consider indictments.