Elmer Nash at his plea hearing for first-degree murder at the Snohomish County Courthouse on March 25 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Elmer Nash at his plea hearing for first-degree murder at the Snohomish County Courthouse on March 25 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

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Arrested: Arsonist in fatal 1987 fire who skipped sentencing

Elmer Nash pleaded guilty to the death of Everett firefighter Gary Parks, but didn’t show up to his sentencing.

EVERETT — The day after he was a no-show for his own sentencing, the Everett man who pleaded guilty to the fatal 1987 Everett Community College fire has been arrested.

Elmer Thomas Nash was 12 years old on Feb. 16, 1987 when he lit a matchstick and dropped it on a pile of books and papers on the floor of the college’s library, igniting a fast-moving inferno that claimed the life of Everett firefighter Gary Parks.

Parks, an engine driver and Air Force veteran, was 48.

The Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force spent all night tracking Nash, according to the Everett Police Department. He was arrested around 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The arsonist’s identity remained a mystery for three decades, until Nash reluctantly confessed on camera in a 2017 interrogation.

Now 47, Nash pleaded guilty to murder at his March 25 arraignment in Snohomish County Superior Court, in a deal that called for 3½ years in prison. Attorneys argued the sentence should take into account the defendant’s age at the time of the crime.

Nash has spent much of his life behind bars. He has been convicted of more than a dozen felonies as an adult, mainly for drug and property crimes, as well as 58 adult misdemeanors. He was 10 when he was first convicted of a felony, a burglary.

At the arraignment, Superior Court Judge David Kurtz allowed Nash to go free on a promise to attend his next court hearing. No bail was required.

When it was time for Nash’s sentencing on Friday, he never showed up. Kurtz approved a bench warrant for Nash’s arrest.

A new sentencing date has been tentatively set for next Thursday.

The defendant’s decision not to appear might hurt his chances for a lenient sentence. Deputy prosecutor Robert Grant said on Friday that he expects to seek more prison time.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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