Category Archives: Fire Investigations

Trooper Killed in Zillah Fire Trained in Bremerton

This morning we were greeted with the news of a tragic fire that killed three Washington State Patrol employees in Zillah. And it so happens that Trooper Kristopher Sperry, one of those killed, did some of his training in Bremerton.

While all state patrol troopers go through the academy in Shelton, they do “field training” around the state.

Trooper Kristopher Sperry completed his assignment with an FTO in Bremerton prior to graduating from the academy and being assigned to District 3. Here’s his bio, provided by WSP:

“Trooper Kristopher Sperry, 30, was hired in 2008 and graduated with the 97th Trooper Basic Class in June 2010. His hometown was Eureka, MT. While in the Academy received the Top Fitness award as the most physically fit cadet in his class. Sperry was living with the Millers while his own home was being built.”

Along with Sperry, WSP Communications Officer Anne Miller-Hewitt and her husband, Trooper Gary Miller were killed as well.

“Ann and Gary were long-time employees, and were the best of the best,” State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste said in a press release. “We were just getting to know Kristopher, but he had excelled at the Academy and had a very promising future with our agency.”

I might add from the state’s press release this tragic note: “The State Patrol has never lost three employees in a simultaneous event, either on or off-duty.”

The investigation into the fire continues.

The Aftermath of Bremerton Arnold’s Home Furnishings Arson


There’s a few more details in the Bremerton Arnold’s Home Furnishings fire that I think are of note.

The 17-year-old defendant had his sentencing hearing Dec. 11 in Kitsap County Superior Court. Our stories had already pointed out the time he’ll spend in juvenile prison — 25 to 32 months — but here’s how that time works. It’s up to the juvenile prison’s administrators to determine how much time within that range he’ll spend there.

Restitution in the case — which could be in the $12 million range — will be set at a future hearing.

As we previously reported, the prosecution’s case that led to the conviction of the 17-year-old involved three suspects. But those remaining two suspects will not be tried due to lack of evidence, according to deputy prosecutor Todd Dowell.

Arnold’s is currently rebuilding at the site where their gallery burned to the ground in July.

Kitsap Sheriff’s: No New News in Homicide, But …

20091101-205403-pic-125675228_t600Kitsap County Sheriff’s detectives continue to hunt for a suspect or suspects believed to have killed Paymela Faye Long in Illahee Shores last weekend.

Scott Wilson, sheriff’s spokesman, put out a new release Thursday night. You can read it below.

Long story short: there’s not any new information outside of what we reported. But sheriff’s detectives would like to recirculate a call for tips if anyone does know anything about the killing.

“Sheriff’s detectives are pursuing all investigative leads,” Wilson said in the release.

Looks like any help they can get would be greatly appreciated.

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We Have Sex Offender Registries … What About one For Arsonists?


Washington was the first state to create a sex offender registry so the community would know when such offenders would be released from prison. I’ve often wondered if there are other serious crimes that our lawmakers might require offenders to register for upon their release from prison.

Turns out there already is one: Arson.

According to the Associated Press, California, Illinois and Montana already maintain a database of convicted arsonists that helps law enforcement keep track of them. Not quite a community notification system, but a definite clampdown on those convicted of a specific crime nonetheless.

Following some devastating California fires, the state’s senators are proposing a federal registry to keep an eye on serial arsonists.

“It’s not going to solve every arson-related thing. It’s not meant to do that,” William Soqui, chief of the fire department in Cathedral City, Calif. told the Associated Press. “It’s meant to give investigators another tool, to help them narrow down the list of suspects and to keep track of these people who have been convicted of a crime.”

Photo by Larry Steagall of the Kitsap Sun. (No, it’s not an arson fire.)

Woman’s Tragic Death Continues Strange Kitsap Trend


We’re learning more about Linda Malcom, the woman who was apparently stabbed to death sometime before a fire at her Sidney Avenue home early Wednesday.

According to the Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill., who talked to Linda’s sister, Dianna, Malcom attended Southeast High School and joined the Navy in the early 1980s. Stationed in Washington, she remained here after she was discharged, the paper reported.

We also know she worked at the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office, according to former deputy prosecuting attorneys Robert Naon and Stan Glisson, for whom she once served as legal assistant. The courthouse is just a few blocks from where she lived on 1147 Sidney Avenue.

Following her time at the prosecutor’s office, she worked for Ron Ness’ law firm, also in Port Orchard, for three years. Recently, she’d been employed by Bob Houle, a Belfair attorney, Ness said. Her sister and a neighbor have said she had planned to move and was headed for a job at the Social Security Administration.

Picking up on an earlier blog, Kitsap really doesn’t have very many homicides (after a particularly grim 2005 with eight, there were three in 2006 and one in 2007.

The most unusual thing about the ones we have (at least recently) is that they’ve all been stabbings.

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A Rash of Arsons?

The announcement that yet another blaze in Poulsbo was an arson added to an already lengthy list of suspicious fires — at least for a county our size.

Poulsbo Fire Marshal Jerry Cooper told me this morning by phone that nothing else could have set the Poulsbo-area fire, just to the north of Bond Road near the North Kitsap Medical Center. He suspects that some recent burglaries at the home may be tied to the arson.

From molotov cocktails to lighting up the lingerie aisle, there have been several arsons in Kitsap recently. Here’s a few of the growing rash.

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Who Started the Fire?

As temperatures have been rising this summer, so too have the number of “tones” I hear on the emergency channel scanner (which I listen to religiously while on the job).

The general rule is the longer the tone, the more emergency vehicles are dispatched. And around here, that means fires require lengthy tones.

I didn’t hear the one the tones that went out over the scanner late June 24, as flames danced and destroyed a massive Bainbridge Island home not yet completely built.

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