Man sentenced for his role in ‘obituary burglaries’

EVERETT — When the police came calling, Nathan Shields was bedecked in stolen silver.

On Monday, he became the third member of a criminal ring sentenced to prison for preying on families that were attending loved ones’ funerals.

Shields, 24, insisted in Snohomish Count Superior Court that he didn’t break into any of the 10 homes targeted by the so-called “obituary burglars.” The ring would scan newspapers for funeral listings and ransack homes when the coast was clear.

The Lake Stevens man did, however, know he was receiving pilfered jewelry and a stolen big screen TV. He pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing stolen property.

Judge Thomas Wynne sentenced Shields to 1½ years in prison, the top of the sentencing range under state law.

“I think you are a predator,” Wynne told him. “I think the people you were involved with are predators.”

When he was arrested, Shields was wearing around his neck a solid silver chain that had been stolen from the Marysville home of John and Danutsia Burgy. It had been a gift to Danutsia Burgy from her father.

The Marysville couple were attending a funeral for John Burgy’s mother March 23 when their home was hit and two safes and valuables worth roughly $400,000 were stolen. Among the loot was a piece of the uniform Danutsia Burgy’s father, a Polish resistance fighter, was forced to wear as a Nazi prisoner at the Buchenwald concentration camp during World War II. The tan fabric, stenciled with his prisoner identification number, reportedly was flushed down a toilet when the crooks decided they needed to shed evidence.

The monetary and emotional toll has been enormous, Danutsia Burgy said.

“We lost our financial safety net,” she told the judge.

John Burgy said the burglaries “hit a raw nerve in the community” and were “wrong on so many levels.”

Court-appointed defense attorney Tom Cox said Shields has struggled with drug addiction. He asked for an alternative sentence for his client that would have allowed him to get drug treatment. A prison sentence would amount to “a very short warehousing” but doesn’t address the drug problems, he said.

Craig Matheson, a deputy prosecutor, said charges are pending against one more defendant tied to the burglary ring.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

More in Local News

Man suspected of robbing Rite Aids

Mill Creek police released a sketch Monday evening of the suspect.

Police looking for Lynnwood bank robber

The robber did not flash a weapon to the teller at a U.S. Bank.

Here’s how much property taxes will rise to pay for schools

The owner of a $350,000 home is looking at a property-tax hike of nearly $300 this year.

Everett man accused of causing his baby’s brain damage

He told police he shook his son to get him to stop crying, and the boy slipped out of his hands.

At one point she dropped out; now she’s graduation-bound

Anita Bradford-Diaz has had her share of setbacks, but they only seem to increase her motivation.

Employee threats caused lockdown at Arlington elementary

Arlington Police said all students and staff were.

Residents are helping turn Casino Road in a new direction

An initiative backed by a $700,000 grant goes to the community for solutions to the area’s challenges.

With an immigrant’s help, kids reach out to Filipino children

Marysville students drew and sent portraits. Thanks to a video, they got to see the reaction.

Live in Edmonds? Hate speeders?

Edmonds has $35,000 to address local residents’ concerns about speeding in their… Continue reading

Most Read