The body of one of two brothers found after firefighters were called to a Renton blaze earlier this month may have been laying in the yard — unreported and undiscovered — for at least two years, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s parcel maps.
The first body, believed to be that of Lawrence Steinert, 65, was found lying inside a small, fenced patio just outside the house in the 16000 block of 146th Avenue Southeast when firefighters extinguished the flames, sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West said.
The second, believed to belong to his older brother, John Steinert, 68, was discovered days later in the house after crews were able to enter the badly damaged home, she said.
The accidental fire appears to have been caused by an electrical heater in the older brother’s bedroom where his body was found, she said.
Because the two appear to have perhaps been the last members of their family and were said to have kept to themselves, it took investigators some time to put the pieces of the story together.
According to West, detectives believe that the older Steinert brother, who was described by neighbors as having a mental disability, lived in the 2,220-square-foot, four-bedroom home with his father, who died in 2013.
After that, neighbors told the Sheriff’s Office, the younger brother moved from Oregon to care for the property and help his older brother, who did not drive a car and rarely left the home. The younger Steinert was not seen by neighbors after 2015, West said.
“We don’t know whether the brother went outside and had a heart attack or died inside and was dragged out by his brother, but there didn’t appear to be any trauma or foul play,” West said. “He wasn’t reported missing and there was no official report. (The older brother) might not have known what to do.”
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has not released the official cause of death for either brother pending scientific identification of the bodies.
To add to the oddness of the case, West said, the sheriff’s office got a tip that a body might be visible in a 2015 aerial image publicly available within the King County Parcel Viewer. The form — which lies where the younger brother’s body was found — is not visible in the county’s 2013 aerial view.
West said the older brother may have been surviving on pizza delivered to the home as there were “a lot of empty boxes in the house.”
“We don’t know for sure, but the timeline is consistent with the last approximate sighting of Larry,” West said. “It’s a strange and sad case and there doesn’t seem to be anyone left to give these guys a memorial.”