Arlington area man’s arrest in alleged burglar’s killing a shock to many

ARLINGTON — People who know Keira S. Earhart say he is gentle man.

Earhart, 38, is suspected of killing Ryan A. Rzechula, a 25-year-old Stanwood man who allegedly burglarized Earhart’s home north of Arlington on Monday.

Earhart has served four years on the Arlington Kids Kloset board of directors and is the nonprofit’s board secretary. Kids Kloset provides clothing and school supplies to children from low-income families in the Arlington, Lakewood and Darrington school districts.

“We are talking about a very compassionate man,” said Julie Morse, president of the nine-member Arlington Kids Kloset board and spokeswoman for the organization. “His entire career has been as a social worker, especially working with foster children.”

Earhart resigned in September from a job with the Stillaguamish Indian Tribe, the tribe’s acting executive director, Eric White, said. Earhart previously worked recruiting foster families for tribal children.

“All of us on the board are involved in working with kids,” Morse said. “We would not volunteer if we did not care about people.”

Kids Kloset board members and employees were shocked by the news of Earhart’s arrest and at the high bail amount, set Thursday at $1 million, Morse said.

“He’s not a flight risk by any stretch of the imagination,” she said.

He’s the father of two elementary-school-age children and he and his family are devastated, Morse said.

“This is really awful. Keira is scared and is just beside himself right now,” Morse said. “This whole thing just surprises all of us. He is so gentle. In my heart I know he was just protecting his family and his home.”

In a police affidavit, Earhart reported that he received an alert on his cell phone Monday that was triggered by his house alarm. He rushed home, saw a man running out and chased him. Earhart told Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies that his wife’s jewelry was missing and that he had been burglarized before and was frustrated by the crimes.

A few hours later, Earhart again called 911 and told deputies he was looking for the burglar in an area near his home. Neighbors reported hearing shots fired.

On Wednesday, a neighbor called 911 to report finding Rzechula’s body in a nearby creek bed. Rzechula has a criminal history. The jewelry found in his pockets matched what was taken from Earhart’s home.

Earhart has no criminal history. He has a concealed-weapons permit and is a registered gun owner. Records show he was the victim of previous burglaries and thefts.

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