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

Minutes mattered the day Pat Ward was brought back to life

The Mukilteo police and fire chaplain died at breakfast. She got a second chance thanks to a waitress.

Cool additions at an elementary school in Everett

A totem pole and new gardens grace the courtyard of Whittier Elementary School.

Kids suspected in school’s smashed windows and other damage

The cost of the damage at Explorer Middle School in south Everett is estimated to be $5,000.

Recall issued for about 1,250 pounds of meat

Camano Island’s Sausage Haus products might be contaminated.

3 women seek open seat in 39th District

The GOP nominees hope to fill the opening created by the resignation of Republican John Koster.

Lake Stevens High senior has an entrepreneurial mind

John Cramer crafts and sells designer pens to help pay for college

Marysville-Arlington fiber-optic link planned by Comcast

The high-speed internet line, to be ready next year, is seen as a boost for business development.

Front Porch

EVENTS Health fairs A Senior Healthy Living Fair is set for noon… Continue reading

Cellphone carrier substation in Snohomish vandalized

Detectives with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a… Continue reading

Most Read