EDMONDS — The owner of a collectible miniature doll store in Edmonds was arrested Thursday for allegedly setting fire to her shop and attempting to collect insurance money.
Connie Bigelow, 52, was indicted in U.S. District Court in Seattle for arson and wire fraud related to the April 2018 fire at her business, CJN Miniatures LLC. She could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Snohomish County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives investigated the alleged arson.
The store, which opened in September 2017 at 23030 Highway 99, sold miniatures and collectibles, consigned items and rented out space to vendors.
Bigelow was struggling to make enough money to pay rent for her business, according to charging papers. Between October 2017 and April 2018, she reportedly fell behind on payments and bounced checks as she overdrafted her bank account.
According to the charges, Bigelow allegedly set the fire on April 30, 2018, beneath three Thomas Kinkade paintings, each worth thousands of dollars.
Afterward, she told the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office that when she left, “there was no smoke, smell or anything that seemed out of the ordinary,” according to charging papers. She allegedly told her insurance representatives that someone broke into her business and lit the fire.
On May 1, 2018, she put in a claim with her insurance company. She carried a policy with State Farm covering up to $100,000 in loss of business property and loss of income. The policy didn’t cover claims involving arson.
Bigelow reopened her store almost exactly a year after her business burned down. The new shop, under Hamburger Harry’s on Fifth Avenue in Edmonds, is named Miniatures & More.
Two days before her arrest, a business reporter with The Daily Herald interviewed Bigelow for an unrelated story.
Bigelow said previously she was a personal care provider and that her daughter’s interest in crafts inspired her to start her own business.
She mentioned there was a fire at her old location but didn’t say how it started.
“I was completely devastated,” she said.
Bigelow wrote prolifically about the fire on her Facebook page, providing updates about the aftermath, complaining about how insurance wouldn’t give her money and posting photos depicting charred furniture and soot-covered dolls.
“We each did interviews with the investigators and boy did they make me feel like I was the person who started it,” she wrote on May 3. “I even told them they made me feel that way. Even though I had left the building at 5:45 and the fires were called in at 7:15.”
On May 12, she posted a photo of herself, with teardrops rolling down her cheeks.
“Finally being able to go into the store has finally overwhelmed me,” she wrote in the caption. “I am like a non-stop crying fountain most of the time. My dreams, hard work of 4 years, mine & so many others items gone has broken me. Shattered dreams are hard enough to deal with, but add on the pressure of all the items gone, dealing with investigators, & knowing everything I worked so hard for gone & I am heart broken.”
Bigelow linked several times to a GoFundMe titled “Fire Devastates Cancer Patient,” which raised nearly $3,000. Another fundraiser she linked to raised about $360.
Several people responded to Bigelow’s Facebook posts, offering their condolences.
“Is the cause known?” one person commented.
Bigelow wrote back: “arson.”
Herald writer Janice Podsada contributed to this story.