‘Scum’ steals from the dead

ARLINGTON — Now that he’s out of prison for stealing a wheelchair from a disabled woman, police believe an Arlington man is sinking to new lows.

He’s now stealing from the dead, they say.

“He’s scum of scum,” Snohomish County sheriff’s detective Jess Sanders said Thursday.

Detectives investigating a string of burglaries raided the man’s property last month and found four old bronze urn markers discarded in a doghouse. All were traced to an Everett mausoleum.

The nameplates memorialized Inga Meyer, 1895-1969; Emily Louise Lods, 1887-1967; Marie E. Hesby, 1895-1968; and a marker shared by Alberta Harno, 1881-1954, and Otto P. Harno, 1879-1969.

Police believe the nameplate for the Harnos also was an urn that likely contained ashes. The urn was broken and the ashes are gone.

Sanders believes the man, 37, was going to attempt to recycle the markers for cash.

Detectives tracked the nameplates back to the View Crest Abbey Mausoleum in Everett.

Evergreen Funeral Home and Cemetery manages interments at the mausoleum. They were unaware the plates were missing until sheriff’s detectives contacted them recently, said Preston Flanary, general manager.

The stolen nameplates have been replaced, Flanary said.

“We really want to find the relatives to let them know their family has been taken away,” Sanders said.

A search of The Herald’s archives found an obituary for Otto P. Harno. He was born Oct. 18, 1879, in Germany. He lived in the Everett area for 68 years and was a mason. When he died at 90, he left behind two daughters and at least 11 grandchildren. His funeral was private, as was his cremation.

Hesby lived in Everett for 32 years. She was active in civic organizations and church, a member of the First Baptist Church, Everett; the Altrusa Club; the Toastmistress Club; and the Civic Music Association.

When she died at 73, she left behind two daughters, four sisters, a brother and at least five grandchildren.

Hesby’s daughter, Alda Woodman, 83, of Bellevue, hadn’t heard about the theft of her mother’s memorial nameplate until a reporter called her Thursday.

“It got me thinking again about different things, things I haven’t thought about for a long time,” she said.

Woodman said her mother ran a bakery out of her home, selling wedding cakes and baking bread for neighborhood shops. Her father delivered the cakes.

“Any way to make a living back in those days,” she said.

The family moved to Everett in 1936 from a small Minnesota town across the state line from Fargo, S.D., she said. They were looking for work and her mother had family in the area.

Her mother died after a battle with cancer, Woodman said.

She said a funeral home chose the View Crest Abbey Mausoleum for her parents and she hasn’t visited for some time.

“It’s been years,” she said.

After hearing about the criminal history of the man who was found with her mother’s urn marker, she said “Oh, for goodness’ sake.”

The man has felony convictions for drugs, theft and burglary, dating back to 1988.

He stole a $6,000 motorized wheelchair and a walker from an Everett woman in 2004. Somebody called the woman and made her pay ransom to get her wheelchair back. Police later learned that the man had stolen the chair and spray painted it in an attempt at disguise. They also found two credit cards belonging to a recently deceased man, according to court documents.

The suspect in the grave-marker thefts was sentenced to two years in prison for the wheelchair heist. Since his release, police believe he’s been on a stealing spree.

Detectives learned of a rash of burglaries in October.

One neighbor reported that someone broke into his shed twice and made off with horse tack and numerous tools. The victim discovered tracks from an all-terrain vehicle leading to the suspect’s property in the 19500 block of Eight Avenue NW.

The neighbor checked with others on the street who also complained about property stolen by the suspect.

One neighbor confronted the suspect but left when the suspect’s mother came outside the house and began yelling, Sanders wrote in court documents.

Police later stopped the man and his wife and found what they believed was a stolen bag and wrench. They searched the man’s mobile home and found property belonging to at least seven of the suspect’s neighbors, including antique dishes, a miniature train set, tools and fishing rods. The property is worth up to $7,000.

Detectives also found a bag containing a small, portable methamphetamine lab, along with credit cards and prescription medication in other people’s names.

The man was arrested for investigation of first- and second-degree possession of stolen property but has since posted bond and been released from jail.

Snohomish County prosecutors are reviewing information from detectives and expect to make a charging decision soon, deputy prosecutor Janice Albert said.

Catching one prolific thief can make a big difference, sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said.

“These are the kind of people we’re really pursuing. If we stop one, we help reduce a lot of property crime,” she said. “That means a lot to neighbors.”

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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