Argument over rent led to slaying, say prosecutors

EVERETT — An Arlington woman may have been strangled and later set on fire all because she asked a tenant for overdue rent.

Prosecutors have charged the tenant, Gary A. McLaughlin III with second-degree murder and first-degree arson in connection with the death of Cynthia Goldman. McLaughlin is accused of strangling Goldman in her home and then starting a fire in an attempt to cover up the Feb. 15 homicide.

McLaughlin, 22, made a brief court appearance Tuesday afternoon in Snohomish County Superior Court. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. Judge Dave Kurtz maintained bail at $2 million. He set the defendant’s trial for May 18.

Firefighters were summoned to a report of a fire at Goldman’s home in the 18600 block of Silverleaf Place. Crews quickly extinguished the blaze. During their search of the heavily-damaged house, they found Goldman’s body in the living room. Investigators noticed the distinct smell of gasoline near where the fire started and where Goldman’s body was found.

The county medical examiner concluded that Goldman, 54, had been strangled before the fire was started.

Detectives learned that Goldman rented rooms to two tenants, including McLaughlin. They also heard from witnesses that Goldman was concerned that McLaughlin hadn’t been paying his rent.

McLaughlin initially denied being at the house for several days. He reportedly admitted that he was avoiding Goldman because he owed the landlady rent.

Investigators searched McLaughlin’s room and located a gas can in the closet. Detectives focused their attention on McLaughlin and interviewed his friends. They learned that McLaughlin reportedly admitted that Goldman died in “an accident” and he’d started the fire to cover up the accident, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Chris Dickinson wrote in charging papers.

Court papers also say that McLaughlin attempted to convince a friend to create an alibi for him for the day Goldman was killed.

McLaughlin was arrested a couple days after the homicide. He reportedly admitted to detectives that he’d put his hands around the victim’s neck during a confrontation over rent, court papers said. He allegedly said that Goldman lost consciousness and when he checked on her later, he discovered that she was dead. He reportedly admitted that he then doused her with gasoline and set her and the house on fire.

McLaughlin fled the house before firefighters arrived.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Most Read