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

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

This week’s Herald Super Kid is Nathan Nicholson of Snohomish High School. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
‘The future is biotech,’ but for now he’s busy with everything

Snohomish senior Nathan Nicholson is a student leader and media master.

Most Read