Nearly two years after the fire that saw Timmie Winston and her son hospitalized, King County prosecutors have charged the 64-year-old in the blaze at the Hunter's Run Apartments, located in Kirkland's Juanita neighborhood.
Investigators contend Winston was trying to kill herself and her son when she set fire to the second-floor apartment they shared. Both were rescued by firefighters and hospitalized due to injuries sustained in the fire; several emptied sleeping pill containers survived the fire, and Winstons is alleged to have sent a suicide note prior to the blaze.
The fire broke out shortly before 10 a.m. on Nov. 1, 2011, drawing police and firefighters to the Northeast 134th Place apartment complex. Smoke and flame billowed from the apartment when crews arrived.
Describing the scene to investigators, the building manager said he faced a wall of black smoke when he opened the apartment door after spotting the fire, a Kirkland detective told the court. He yelled for Winston and her son and, hearing no reply, began evacuating the building.
Firefighters retrieved Winston and her now 41-year-old son from the home, which was left severely charred. The man had a head injury in addition to fire-related injuries, while Winston was unconscious.
Winston and her son were facing eviction at the time, in part because of complaints against Winston, the detective said in court papers. Police previously responded to the complex following reports that Winston was threatening other residents; a neighbor told investigators Winston claimed apartment managers would have to drag her out of the unit before she would move.
Arriving at Evergreen Medical Center in Kirkland, the detective attempted to interview Winston's son without success. Due to the man's developmental disabilities, he was unable to describe what had occurred at the apartment.
Examining the scene, investigators discovered a burned smoke alarm that appeared to have been disabled prior to the fire, according to charging documents. Two boxes that had held sleeping pills were left on the kitchen table.
Investigators concluded two fires had been set in the home, and that the apartment's stove had been caused to aid in the blaze.
Writing the court, the detective said he learned a month after the fire that Winston had written a suicide note to a relative. As it turned out, the detective continued, Winston sent a greeting card reading "goodbye" inside and carrying $800 to a relative days before the fire.
The detective reviewed Winston's medical records and found she told staff at Harborview Medical Center about the arson. According to charging papers, Winston told a nurse at the Seattle hospital's intensive care unit she tried to kill herself through smoke inhalation, and that she would die before going to jail.
In court papers, the detective asserted Winston's statements indicate she set the fire intending to kill herself and her son.
Interviewed by police, Winston's son was unable to answer basic questions. The detective noted the man appeared happy and enjoyed bumping fists with officers; he was removed from his mother's care following the fire and placed in a group home.
Contacted by investigators following the fire, Winston requested an attorney and declined to answer questions. Winston subsequently moved to Wenatchee to live with a relative.
Winston has since been charged with first-degree arson. She has not been jailed in the case.