A man who set a fire at the Vancouver mayor’s home Sept. 12 and burglarized her house the night before was sentenced Friday to nearly 3½ years in prison.
Aidan Michael Murray, 28, no address listed, pleaded guilty to first-degree arson, second-degree malicious mischief and residential burglary in Clark County Superior Court. As part of the plea agreement, charges of third-degree theft and second-degree burglary were dismissed.
The prosecution said Murray had no significant criminal history before the September incidents and that his drug addiction appeared to play a role. Senior Deputy Prosecutor Toby Krauel said after the hearing the investigation found the crimes at the mayor’s house were random and not politically motivated.
Murray’s defense attorney, Todd Pascoe, said his client struggles with fentanyl addiction, and loved ones had tried to get him help before the September crime spree.
Murray declined to make a statement before sentencing.
Judge Robert Lewis followed the prosecution’s sentencing recommendation of 41 months in prison. He noted the crimes happened at the residence of a public official, who didn’t know if that had any bearing at the time.
Neither Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle nor her husband, Terry Ogle, were present at the hearing or provided written statements to the court.
“In our mind, the way he went through the house … he may not have known whose home it was to begin with, but by time he went through all of the drawers, the basement, you name it, he knew whose home he was in,” McEnerny-Ogle said in a phone interview after the hearing.
McEnerny-Ogle said all of the property damage has since been repaired. However, the items stolen have never been found, she said, including old electronics, and more importantly, more than 100 love letters from her husband spanning more than 40 years, among other mementos.
“That was the part that hurt the most,” she said.
Burglary, then fire
The couple reported to Vancouver police they left their house in the Shumway neighborhood the evening of Sept. 11. They returned home the next morning to find 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 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 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 two days later 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.