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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Feb. 28, 2024

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Suspect in arson at Vancouver mayor’s home accused of burglarizing it night before

By , Columbian staff reporter

A transient man who allegedly set a fire at the Vancouver mayor’s home Sept. 12 is now also accused of burglarizing her house the night before.

Aidan Michael Murray, 28, appeared Thursday in Clark County Superior Court on a new allegation of residential burglary.

Murray appeared last week on suspicion of first-degree arson, second-degree malicious mischief and third-degree theft in connection with the fire. He’s also charged with second-degree burglary in a separate case. He is being held on $500,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 29.

Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle and her husband, Terry Ogle, reported to Vancouver police that they left their house in the Shumway neighborhood the evening of Sept. 11. They returned home the next morning to find that someone had shattered the glass in the back door and rummaged through their cabinets inside, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The couple also discovered that one of their three security cameras was stolen, another was damaged and the third was unplugged. The internet cable for their Wi-Fi was also unplugged. Several items were stolen, and someone had left feces in the kitchen sink, court records state.

Investigators viewed footage recovered from the memory cards in the two remaining security cameras. The video shows that 11 minutes after the couple left the house, a man, later identified by police as Murray, approached the house and rang the doorbell. He is then seen standing in the driveway, surveying the house, according to the affidavit.

Eventually, Murray is seen wheeling his bicycle around to the back of the house. About 25 minutes later, the garage door can be seen lifting about a foot before closing again, police said, indicating he gained access to the house and garage. Officers said they also heard noises in the video that appeared to come from inside the house, the affidavit states.

Then, at 9:37 p.m. Sept. 12, police and the Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the mayor’s home for an arson investigation.

McEnerny-Ogle said her husband was on the phone with their son about fixing their Wi-Fi and telephone, which had stopped working. Their son suggested Ogle check the cables outside, the mayor said. That’s when he saw a man, later identified by police as Murray, setting a fire near the garage.

Ogle confronted Murray, 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 Murray was not immediately located.

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

Employees at a nearby Safeway told police they’d helped a man, who matched officers’ suspect description, find lighter fluid in the store earlier that night. They couldn’t recall seeing him pay for it, 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. The same bike was found at an intersection near the mayor’s house. It also matched the one seen in the footage of the burglary, according to court records.

Murray was arrested Sept. 14 after Vancouver police responded at 12:03 a.m. to El Burrito Mojado, 808 Harney St., for a report that a man was seen on surveillance video attempting to burglarize the restaurant. Officers arrived to find the glass front door was broken and a man, later identified as Murray, was inside, according to police and court records.

After officers arrested Murray, they recognized him as the same man seen on surveillance video at the Safeway and leaving the arson at the mayor’s house, court records state.

At the time, investigators believed the burglary and arson at the mayor’s house might be related, but they hadn’t yet confirmed whether Murray was the suspect in both.

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