Investigators have never said why they think someone set a fire inside a Tacoma church day care last year and deliberately crashed a van into the building.
They have said who they believe was involved.
Pierce County prosecutors have charged six people in connection with the May 2, 2012, incident at the Church of God in Christ center on Pacific Avenue. The incidents caused more than $27,000 in damages to Pathways to Learning Child Care, a day care associated with the church that was licensed for 50 or so children.
No one was hurt in the fire or the crash.
Several of the six defendants told authorities the fire and crash were part of an insurance scam, according to court papers. Police and prosecutors declined questions about the scam, including who would benefit.
Bench warrants have been issued for Alvin Lee, 26; Darcy Chase, 30; and Eugene Henderson, 27. Also charged in the case are Kenneth Baines Jr., 24; Jonathan Hazel, 26; and Mitchell Knapp-Patterson, 21.
The six face multiple charges that include first-degree arson, second-degree conspiracy to commit arson, first-degree attempted arson, theft of a motor vehicle, second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission and conspiracy to commit theft of a motor vehicle.
Police said someone placed a large rock on the gas pedal of a van and crashed it into the day care just before it opened the morning of May 2, 2012. The van had been stolen the night before, police said.
Officers followed the tire tracks and found a Seattle Seahawks knit cap, which was later tested for DNA and linked to Knapp-Patterson.
The next morning, police were again called to the church and found someone had lit three small fires inside the day care. A rock had been used to smash open a window and a gasoline-filled Starbucks coffee bottle was found inside.
According to charging papers:
Knapp-Patterson told detectives Baines had asked him if he wanted to make money on an insurance scam by stealing a car and crashing it into a church. Knapp-Patterson said he refused. Lee and Henderson visited him the next day with the same request. Knapp-Patterson said he refused the job but gave the men his Seahawks cap.
Baines admitted he arranged for Knapp-Patterson to steal a car and said he was there that night. But he contended he walked away before the fire at the day care was lit.
Hazel said he and his then-girlfriend Chase drove Knapp-Patterson to get gas in a failed attempt to torch the stolen van. Chase told police she had been on a “methamphetamine binge” at that time and could only vaguely remember driving the men to a gas station.
She recalled “Knapp-Patterson bragged about having committed the church arson that was on the news,” according to court records.
Most of the defendants have a lengthy criminal history, prosecutors said.
Lee has 24 convictions; Henderson has 13 convictions; Baines has 17 convictions and is serving a 10-year, eight-month prison sentence for kidnapping, robbery and witness intimidation; Knapp-Patterson has eight convictions; Hazel has 28 convictions and is serving a three-year, one-month sentence for failure to register as a sex offender; and Chase has two misdemeanor convictions, according to court records.Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653 stacia.glenn@ thenewstribune.com