A Seattle teenager who was trapped inside his family’s house in Rainier Beach when fire tore through the residence early on Jan. 22 died at Harborview Medical Center four days later, according to Seattle police.
On Tuesday, a week after the boy’s death, Seattle police arrested his 38-year-old father in Shoreline and booked him into jail on investigation of domestic-violence homicide, accusing him of intentionally setting two fires inside the house, says the probable cause statement outlining the police case against him.
The man waived his first appearance hearing in court Wednesday, when a King County District Court judge found probable cause to hold the man on investigation of homicide and arson, said Casey McNerthney, a spokesperson for Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. A bail hearing is scheduled for Thursday and prosecutors are expected to file criminal charges Friday, he said.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the boy as 14-year-old Jabriel Isaq. His cause of death is pending further investigation.
The Seattle Times is not naming the boy’s father because he has not yet been charged. He and his son have different last names.
According to the probable cause statement:
Just before 4 a.m. on Jan. 22, Seattle firefighters responded to a house fire in the 9300 block of 39th Avenue South and found the residence fully engulfed in flames. Five of the house’s seven residents were outside the house in their nightclothes when firefighters arrived. The family told firefighters a 14-year-old boy was trapped inside.
Firefighters found the boy in the master bathroom on the house’s second floor and carried him outside. The seventh member of the household – the teen’s father – was nowhere to be found.
Investigators found evidence an accelerant was used to start fires in two spots on the house’s first floor, and two partially melted gas cans were found on the patio outside.
One of the relatives told investigators he had seen the boy’s father, who lived in the attached garage, inside the house around 1 a.m. the morning of the fire, the statement says.
Police obtained surveillance footage from the neighborhood that showed the man walking north on Carkeek Drive South, just southeast of the house, less than two minutes before the first Seattle Fire Department trucks arrived.
Inside the garage, investigators found a cap to a gas can. One of the residents pointed out that a gas can stored in the garage was missing and told investigators one of the gas cans found on the patio hadn’t been there earlier in the day.
Police say family members repeatedly tried to contact the boy’s father to alert him about his son’s condition at Harborview but got no response. The family told police it was unusual for him to disappear, the statement says.
In a search of Seattle police reports, investigators located a July 2018 case in which the man allegedly threatened to burn down the family’s house with everyone inside, the probable cause statement says.
During the arson investigation, the family told police the man had been behaving erratically and they suspected he was using drugs and may have mental health issues.
Following his arrest, detectives informed the man his son had died.
“He showed no reaction and did not respond to investigators’ questions except to ask for water, a cigarette and a Coke,” a police detective wrote in the probable cause statement.
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