Suspicious house fire leads to discovery of body in Graham

GRAHAM, Wash. - Investigators are at the scene of a suspicious house fire where a victim was found dead of unnatural causes Wednesday morning in Graham, fire officials said.

Crews responded to the scene, in the 19300 block of 89th Ave. E. in Graham, at about 6:50 a.m. after a neighbor called 911 and reported seeing light, gray smoke coming from the home, said Steve Richards of Graham Fire & Rescue.

The first firefighters on the scene entered the home and quickly extinguished the fire. A second crew searched the home and found the victim on the floor.

"We're deeming it a suspicious death at this time," said Richards. "And we also believe the fire has possibly been intentionally set, so we're going to be investigating that, too. ... The fire is definitely suspicious."

Investigators from the Pierce County Sheriff's Office and the county fire marshal have both responded to the home, located in a new, quiet neighborhood populated mostly by younger families with children.

The name, age and gender of the victim were not immediately available.

Neighbors say the man who lives in the home has caused problems in the past, and police have been called to his home multiple times.

"It's been a lot of issues back and forth with this guy ... it's always been a concern," said Harshiem Ross, who lives next door to the home that burned. "The police have been out several times, so it's not surprising something happened, actually."

He said the home's occupant once yelled at Ross' wife and accused her of stealing his cell phone. He also reportedly shot at dogs in his neighbors' yards with an air gun.

Another neighbor, Joey Taylor, said the occupant of the burned home would get into confrontations with neighbors, asking them what they were doing.

"He'd pull up and say, 'What's your name, what are you doing here?' ... He's told us that he works for the CIA. We found his Facebook and Twitter feed, and he talks about being related to Princess Diana."

Taylor says he wasn't surprised that a fire had broken out and a body found in the home.

"It's kind of a close, tight neighborhood," he said. "It's something you wouldn't think would happen around here. But, like I said, because of the situations that have happened before - I know the police have been over to his house previously - I wasn't really surprised to hear that, even though we haven't had confirmation (that the victim is him) yet."


This is a developing news story. More information will be posted as it becomes available.