PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) — Bail has been set at $5 million for a man arrested in connection with a Washington mobile home fire where the bodies of four people believed to be his wife and three children were found.
Matthew Timothy Wetherington appeared Monday in a Clallam County court in Port Angeles.
“The case that we’re talking about here is horrific, egregious and the remains of potentially three children and one adult were found in the charred remains of the residence,” Clallam County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin said Monday in her request for $5 million bail.
Defense attorney Harry Gasnick reserved argument on Wetherington’s behalf, saying he needed time to speak with his client, the Peninsula Daily News reported .
Prosecutors said they will consider filing formal charges Wednesday.
The blaze started at the residential Welcome Inn RV Park in Port Angeles, a coastal gateway to Olympic National Park, around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
Police said Wetherington was seen running away just as the fire erupted. They found Wetherington at a campsite in the woods and arrested him.
The bodies found in a bedroom have been removed for autopsies and identification, police said. Valerie Kambeitz and her children ages 9, 6 and 5, lived in the home and haven’t been seen since the blaze.
The flames spread to another trailer and a vehicle before being contained by emergency crews. A man inside the second trailer escaped through a window unharmed.
Wetherington also lived in the trailer and married Kambeitz in May.
Wetherington has a criminal record that includes convictions for child molestation, unlawful imprisonment, assault, attempted robbery and burglary with sexual motivation. He is a registered sex offender in Pierce County, Washington.
Police wrote in the affidavit for probable cause that Wetherington told Port Angeles Police Detective David Arand that he loved his wife and kids and didn’t understand how he could do something like this.
“I deserve to be locked up. That’s all I’ve got to say,” Wetherington told police, according to the affidavit.
Police said Monday that the investigation continues. According to the affidavit, Tanna Langue, a fire investigator from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, smelled what she recognized as gasoline in the bedroom area where the bodies were found.
Holly Wright, a longtime friend of Kambeitz’s family, told reporters on behalf of the family that this has been a crushing blow.
“I can see it in the family’s eyes,” she said. “This is really, really tearing them apart.”