Missing keys led him to try to burn down the house on the Fourth of July, charges say

A Pierce County man tried to burn down the house on the Fourth of July because he thought his wife had hidden the keys to his truck and motorhome, charging papers say.

The 39-year-old pleaded not guilty at arraignment Friday to second-degree attempted arson, harassment and third-degree malicious mischief.

Charging papers give this account of what happened:

Sheriff’s deputies responded to a home between Buckley and Bonney Lake after the man’s wife called 911 to say that he had threatened to burn down the house. He had poured gasoline around the back, she said.

The man was intoxicated and soaking wet when the deputies arrived.

The deputies spoke with the wife, who said they’d argued and that he’d been drinking a lot of whiskey. He said he was going to divorce her and move to Idaho and wanted the keys to his truck and motorhome in order to leave.

He thought she hid them and told her she was going to “burn in hell.” Then he poured gasoline around the outside of the house and bent down with a butane lighter.

The wife sprayed him with a garden hose before he could start a fire.

She told the deputies she had no idea where his keys were and that she wouldn’t have given them to him while he was intoxicated if she did.

Alexis Krell covers local, state and federal court cases that affect Pierce County. She started covering courts in 2016. Before that she wrote about crime and breaking news for almost four years as The News Tribune’s night reporter.