Washougal woman pleads not guilty to arson

Her trial for allegedly setting her home on fire is set for Nov. 7

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: August 23, 2011, 5:34 PM

 

A Washougal woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to an arson charge for allegedly setting her house ablaze while facing a pending divorce and foreclosure.

Trial for Billinda Jantzer, 50, who is charged with first-degree arson, is set for Nov. 7.

Jantzer allegedly planned to torch the house while inside, according to court documents.

Her grown son, concerned over a grim text message that she sent him just before the fire, rushed to the house the afternoon of Jan. 12 and rescued her.

Firefighters were called to the fire at the home at 530 S.E. Blair Road. A large plume of smoke was reported as the call came in, and firefighters arrived to find the rear of the home engulfed in flames. The house was eventually destroyed.

Fire investigators zeroed in on Jantzer after neighbors reported seeing her and her son driving away as the house went up in flames, according to court documents.

In an interview with investigators, Jantzer said she had used gasoline to set the fire in the living room, according to court documents. She said she was upset about her looming divorce and foreclosure of the house.

No one was hurt.

The home was owned by the couple and the property is assessed at about $355,000, according to county property records.

Their divorce is still pending.

Jantzer is on supervised release. At the Tuesday hearing, her attorney, Gerry Wear, asked Judge Barbara Johnson if his client could stay with her parents pending trial. She has been staying with her adult son. The judge agreed.