Monday, September 26, 2022
Sept. 26, 2022

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Details emerge in arson, burglary of Vancouver mayor’s home

Suspect held on $510,000 bail

By , Columbian staff writer

A Vancouver man was captured on surveillance video grabbing a bottle of lighter fluid from the Shumway Safeway store before allegedly using it to light a fire Monday evening at the nearby residence of Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle and her husband, Terry Ogle.

Aidan Michael Murray, 28, appeared Thursday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree arson, second-degree burglary, second-degree malicious mischief and third-degree theft. His bail was set at $510,000 between two cases, and he is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 29.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Toby Krauel noted that Ogle was home at the time of the fire. The mayor was at a city council meeting.

He said Ogle went outside to check the Wi-Fi, which had stopped working, when he caught someone setting fire to his house.

“Had he not been checking the Wi-Fi, had he fallen asleep on the couch, this could’ve been, potentially, the entire house that was engulfed in flames and a deceased victim,” Krauel told Judge Suzan Clark.

Murray said during the hearing, “I do want to try to go to rehab. That is the plan. I’ve never really done things like this before.”

Murray was arrested after Vancouver police responded at 12:03 a.m. Wednesday to El Burrito Mojado, 808 Harney St., for a report that a man was seen on surveillance video attempting to burglarize the restaurant, according to a police news release.

Officers arrived to find a window in the front door to the restaurant was broken and two computer tablets had been stolen. They found a man, later identified as Murray, inside, according to a probable cause affidavit.

When police searched Murray’s backpack, they found the computer tablets, along with the cash box and an apron belonging to the business, court records state. The restaurant owner said the tablets were valued at $250 each and it would cost $3,000 to fix the window.

After officers arrested Murray, they recognized him as the same man seen on surveillance video stealing a bottle of lighter fluid from the Safeway store.

A container of the same brand of lighter fluid was found near where the fire was set at the mayor’s house, according to the affidavit.

Vancouver police and the Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office responded for an arson investigation at 9:37 p.m. Monday at the mayor’s home.

McEnerny-Ogle said her husband was on the phone with their son when their Wi-Fi and telephone stopped working. Their son suggested Ogle check outside. That’s when he saw a man setting a fire near the garage, the mayor said.

Terry Ogle confronted the man, who ran away, and Ogle was able to extinguish the blaze; he was not injured, according to police. Officers set up containment and conducted a K-9 track, but the suspect was not immediately located.

Investigators found fire damage to the two-story garage, which contains an apartment, along with the bottle of lighter fluid.

Employees at the nearby Safeway told police they’d helped a man who matched officers’ descriptions find lighter fluid in the store recently. They couldn’t recall seeing him pay for the fluid, court records state.

The store’s surveillance video shows Murray pretending to check out, but detectives said he never actually paid. The video shows him riding a bike away from the store, in the direction of the mayor’s house, just minutes before the reported arson, according to court records. The same bike was found at an intersection near the mayor’s house.

Investigators said the burglary suspect is “very clearly” the same person seen at Safeway and reported leaving the arson scene at the mayor’s house, the affidavit states.

Detectives wrote in the affidavit that they also intend to test Murray’s DNA for evidence connecting him to a reported burglary at the mayor’s house the night before the arson. McEnerny-Ogle and her husband reported that while they were away Sunday night, someone broke into their house, stole things and left feces in a sink.

Court records state investigators believe the incidents might be related, but they have not yet confirmed whether Murray is the suspected burglar.

McEnerny-Ogle has said she believes the crimes at her house were politically motivated.

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