Tacoma church day care arson suspect enters plea

Staff writerOctober 19, 2013 

A woman charged in connection with a fire inside a church day care in Tacoma last year pleaded not guilty Friday to first-degree arson and second-degree conspiracy to commit arson.

Pierce County Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered Darcy Chase, 30, released on her own recognizance. Chase was arrested Thursday, three days after a bench warrant was issued for her.

Tacoma police are still searching for Alvin Lee, 26, and Eugene Henderson, 27, who have warrants out for their arrest. Also charged in the case are Kenneth Baines Jr., 24; Jonathan Hazel, 26; and Mitchell Knapp-Patterson, 21.

The six are charged with various crimes that include arson, theft of a motor vehicle, attempted arson and conspiracy in connection with the May 2, 2012, incident at Church of God in Christ center on Pacific Avenue.

A large rock was placed on the gas pedal of a stolen van to crash it into the day care center just before it opened, according to court records.

Less than a day later, someone lit three small fires inside the day care after breaking out a window to gain entry.

No one was hurt in either the fire or the crash.

Several defendants told investigators the incidents were part of an insurance scam, but authorities have declined to elaborate on the scam or who would benefit.

Chase is accused of driving two of the men to a gas station in an unsuccessful attempt to torch the stolen van.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653 stacia.glenn@ thenewstribune.com

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