1 arrested for murder after man found dead in burned treehouse near Orting

A man was found dead in a burned treehouse along the Carbon River near Orting on Monday, March 12, 2018. Deputies have arrested one man in his death. (Photo: KOMO News)

ORTING , Wash. -- A complicated tale has emerged from the woods along the Carbon River in Orting that involves a woman who was shot in the foot, a burned treehouse and a dead, burned man.

In the end, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department tracked down a suspect and his pitbull, taking the man into custody and jailing him for investigation of murder, assault and arson.

The events began about 3 a.m., a man who lives on Pioneer Way East in the Orting area awoke to someone banging on his door. It was the man whom deputies would later arrest.

He told the homeowner that he needed help with an injured woman.

The two crossed the river in an inflatable boat in the predawn darkness and found the woman, who had been taken to the river's edge in a wheelbarrow. The 911 caller took her back across the river. The man who was later arrested returned to the woods.

The homeowner returned and called 911, alerting the Pierce County Sheriff's Department before 3:30 a.m.

A deputy arrived and found the woman, who had been shot in the foot. She told the deputy that she and a man had been shot with a rifle by a second man in a treehouse on the other side of the Carbon River.

The treehouse was known to the Sheriff's Department. Transients have used it, and search and rescue teams have been called out about missing or stranded people who tried to cross the river to get to the treehouse, the Sheriff's Department said.

The Sheriff's Department assembled a team of deputies, detectives, SWAT officers and swiftwater rescue specialists. Officers had to be taken across the river by boat, then hike to the treehouse.

Teams started crossing the river at daybreak.

At 7 a.m., the SWAT team found a wheelbarrow with a pistol inside it. A half-hour later, officers found the treehouse. It had been burned, and inside were a man's body and a rifle. The man's body had also been set on fire.

Just before 8 a.m., search and rescue officers spotted a man with hip waders and a dog along the river. He was eventually taken into custody after heading into the brush and hiding behind a tree.

The dead man has not been identified, but the Sheriff's Department said he may have been killed in an argument over stolen property.

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