Murder, arson charges filed against man in Seattle fire

Anchorage man was charged Friday with two counts of murder, arson and three counts of assault.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — A deadly fire that sent people jumping from a fourth-floor window at an apartment building-turned motel in Seattle in July was apparently set in retribution over a stolen laptop, King County prosecutors said.

Jesse Puff, 24, of Anchorage, Alaska, was charged Friday with two counts of murder, arson and three counts of assault in connection with the July 13 early-morning blaze prosecutors say was started in the building’s rear stairwell with jugs of gasoline.

After two people died from their injuries at Harborview Medical Center, Puff was arrested Tuesday in Seattle, The Seattle Times reported.

He remains jailed in lieu of $2 million bail. It wasn’t known if he has a lawyer.

Rosanna McCurry, 32, died July 17, likely from inhalation of carbon monoxide, with burns to her body contributing to her death, the charges say. Shadrack Baird, 24, died July 22 from a combination of inhalation injuries that burned his airway and sepsis from an infection to burns on his body.

One woman is “battling for her life,” and has yet to regain consciousness, and two men are still being treated for serious injuries, the charges say.

Puff has been in Washington for the past two months, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Terence Carlstrom wrote in the charges.

Seattle police determined Puff called 911 on July 11 and reported that his van had been broken into and he’d tracked his stolen laptop to the motel on Aurora Avenue North, where he said he looked through windows and saw drugs inside, charges said.

Puff “clearly planned the attack and targeted the unit on the upper floor where the victims were, charges said. By his admission he estimated there were 10 to 12 people inside,” Carlstrom wrote. Puff brought containers of gasoline with him and hung around the motel until he was able to gain access to the rear stairwell, charging documents said.

The fire, which started 30 seconds later, is still being investigated.

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