Bail set for 2 people arrested for arson, murder in Skagit County fire

KING 5

A Sedro-Woolley man and woman who were arrested for arson and murder made their first court appearance Monday.

The 31-year-old woman and the 24-year-old man are accused of setting fire to a home, killing two children, a 6-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl.

Bail was set at $2 million for both suspects.

The state has until July 19 to file formal charges against the suspects.

Five people were in the home when it caught fire about 2 a.m. Saturday. Jacob Motz, who was renting a room in the home, woke up to the fire coming in through windows near the porch, according to documents.

Motz and one of the homeowners, Bryan Bachofer, tried to put out the fire while the other homeowner, Jessica Starr, went upstairs to get her two children, according to documents.

Starr told investigators she pushed open a screen window to escape, and she fell through the window from the second story. The children didn’t make it out.

Bachofer told investigators he suspected the man and the woman of setting the fire, because they were former tenants, and he had them evicted on Tuesday. He said the woman was threatening him and acting violent, claiming she would “sue [Bachofer] or burn your house down.”

“She got into a fight with Jess and was chasing her around the house,” Meagan Bellus, a friend of the homeowners, said, adding that she doesn’t "think [the 24-year-old man] had anything to do with it.”

Bellus went to high school with the 31-year-old female suspect and called her “insane.”

“We know her. We’ve seen what she’s done before. We have all seen her pound the crap out of her boyfriends. Arson – she’s done arson before. She lit up JP’s house, a mutual friend’s house, while people were in the house,” Bellus said.

The female suspect has a previous arson conviction from 2014. She lit her ex-boyfriend’s clothes on fire after he cheated on her, according to documents.

Deputies found the car in which the man and woman were last seen, and there was a gas can in the backseat.
Initial testing at the site showed gasoline was used in the arson.

Defense attorneys called the evidence “pretty slim,” saying investigators cannot link the accelerant used in the fire to their clients.

The man and woman claim they were asleep in a tent behind a home in Sedro-Woolley when the fire took place, and did not wake up until law enforcement arrived Saturday morning.

The suspects are expected to be arraigned on July 27.

© 2017 KING-TV


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