More charges for suspect in county obit burglaries

EVERETT — Prosecutors have added five more felony charges against a Lake Stevens man accused of taking part in a series of burglaries that occurred while families were at the funerals of loved ones.

Tyler Chase, 32, now stands accused of three counts of second-degree burglary and two counts each of trafficking in stolen property and possessing stolen property. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

He previously had been charged with stealing $400,000 in items from the Marysville home of John and Danutsia Burgy. The couple were attending a funeral for John Burgy’s mother.

On Friday, a judge allowed prosecutors to add charges alleging Chase broke into the home of a Snohomish couple when they were attending the March 12 funeral of the husband’s mother and an Arlington area home of a man who was attending his wife’s funeral March 17.

Prosecutors believe that burglars would target family members of people who had recently died and whose funeral information appeared in obituaries.

Typically, the thieves would steal televisions, jewelry, firearms and “items that were easily and quickly disposed of on the black market,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson wrote in court papers. “Approximately 10 residential burglaries were identified as being part of this scheme.”

Four other people have been arrested for investigation of related allegations, such as possessing stolen property.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent on Friday ruled that prosecutors could file the additional charges as part of a case scheduled for trial July 20.

Defense attorney Donald Wackerman argued that prosecutors were too late in providing police reports to new allegations. He said the new information would make it difficult to prepare thoroughly for trial while still respecting the defendant’s right to a speedy trial.

More charges are possible. If that happens, they will have to be filed separately from the pending case, Okrent said.

“This is an ongoing, complicated case,” Matheson said.

Stolen goods have been recovered from pawn shops in Washington and Oregon. Some of the loot was found in a storage unit rented under Chase’s name in Vancouver, Wash., according to court papers.

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

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