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Kirkland woman charged with arson after allegedly attempting to kill self and son
A Kirkland woman was charged with first-degree arson on Sept. 19 after she is believed to have knowingly and maliciously set fire to her Juanita apartment in November 2011.
Timmie Winston, 64, allegedly set fire to her second-story apartment in Kirkland nearly two years ago in an attempt to kill herself and her mentally disabled 41-year-old son, investigators contend.
Kirkland police officers and firefighters were dispatched to a structure fire at the Hunter’s Run Apartments on Nov. 1, 2011. Kirkland firefighters saved Winston, who was unconscious, and her son, who had minor head injuries and the two were taken to EvergreenHealth Medical Center.
Probable cause documents state the apartment maintenance manager discovered the apartment fire and tried to open the door, but it was locked. After several knocks and attempts to yell for Winston and her son, he pushed the door open but was met with a “wall of black smoke.”
The manager vacated other occupants from the building after Winston and her son would not respond to his calls, the documents state.
After the two were saved, the manager told police Winston’s tenancy was terminated and she was supposed to have left the day before the fire. He said there were several complaints about Winston from other tenants, with one specific complaint that alleged Winston videotaped and harassed her downstairs neighbor - a reason for the eviction notice.
The same neighbor also alleged she heard Winston say she would have to be “dragged” out of her apartment before she would ever leave.
During a walk-through investigation, police seized six items for evidence after obtaining the appropriate search warrants. The large fire caused the worst burns to the living room, kitchen and dining room, while the bedrooms were not as damaged.
Among the items collected as evidence was a disconnected, burnt smoke detector.
During the investigation, police noted two empty boxes that appeared to have sleeping pills in them and more empty pill containers in the kitchen garbage.
As Kirkland police waited for the results of the arson investigation led by the Kirkland Fire Department, several search warrants for Winston and her son’s medical documents were secured on Nov. 23, 2011. That same day, firefighters determined the cause of the fire was not from electrical malfunction or the fireplace, but was started in two separate places in the apartment.
“These two separate sources were independent of one another,” probable cause documents state. “Also, the stove showed signs of being intentionally manipulated to create a ‘trailer’ to surrounding material.”
A social worker assigned to Winston advised police that looking at the suspect’s medical records would be “insightful.” Police contacted Winston’s Intensive Care Unit nurse at Harborview Medical Center but she was fearful to discuss the comments she wrote in Winston’s medical records.
“She went to explain that she was nervous about verifying these comments due to the fact that she did not want to testify in court in front of Winston,” probable cause documents state. “She felt that Winston was just mental enough to find [the nurse] after the fact and try to hurt her.”
University of Washington Medical Center records say Winston had also apparently written a suicide note to her brother, prior to the fire.
Winston also allegedly wrote that she tried to kill herself by carbon monoxide poisoning “for four to five days” and that she would kill herself if she went to jail.
“The above statement made by Timmie Winston to [the nurse] appear to show that Timmie Winston intended to set the fire at her apartment with her son in it,” the documents continue.
But Winston was released from the hospital to live with her brother in Wenatchee and her son was placed in group assisted living. Investigators tried multiple times to speak with Winston’s son but his mental disability prevented him from answering basic questions.
Police confirmed Winston’s place of residence in March 2012 with Wenatchee police but didn’t get a search warrant to obtain the suicide letter to her brother until April.
Eventually, police went to the home of Winston’s brother and he confirmed his sister sent him a letter that said “hello” and “goodbye” along with $800 attached.
He told police that he “inferred that his sister, Timmie, had tried to kill herself and Jason that day,” according to court documents.
The court ordered an issuance of summons for Winston to appear for her arraignment on Oct. 3. She has not yet been arrested and has no criminal history.