Four family members helped by Lewis County relief agencies and businesses after a fire destroyed their home are suspected of setting the blaze to collect $500,000 in insurance money.
Jeremy Raymond Radford, 29, of Napavine was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail on Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree arson after he allegedly admitted to setting the fire by placing a towel over a portable heater.
Three other family members are being referred for charges, a sheriff's office news release says.
Radford reportedly told detectives he hoped to collect about $500,000 from Safeco Insurance and planned to build a 4,400-square-foot home with the money.
After the fire, Crime Stoppers and Safeco received tips that the family had been moving furniture, photographs and other personal items out of the home a week before the fire. Detectives learned that the family had been planning the arson since January, according to the sheriff's office.
Several items that had been removed from the home before the fire have been found in a rental home in Napavine, police said. Detectives also recovered about $2,000 in gift cards and items from businesses and relief agencies that were donated to the family after the fire.
The estimated payoff for the home, which sat on 27 acres, was to be $300,000 to $500,000. The family still owed about $75,000, police said.
Firefighters responded to the home in the 900 block of North Military Road on April 19.
Radford allegedly said he watched the fire start and left the residence, headed for Seaside, Ore. Immediately after the fire, officials were unable to locate the homeowners, who were in Seaside.
Online reporter April Chan writes for The Olympian. She can be reached at 360-754-5406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.