Suspect in Rolling Bay blaze charged with burglary
By RICHARD D. OXLEY
Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer
March 2, 2012 · Updated 4:28 PM
A man believed to be a transient has been arrested and charged in the fire that burned down a waterfront home in Rolling Bay.
Police arrested Benjamin M. Padgett, 23, at approximately 3:30 p.m. Thursday, nearly five hours after firefighters responded to the fire on Rolling Bay Walk. Padgett was charged in Kitsap County Superior Court Friday afternoon, on one count of second-degree burglary.
He was not charged with arson, prosecutors said, because it was unclear whether the fire was intentionally set.
Padgett has a court date set for March 15 and another for March 29. His bail has been set at $75,000.
Witnesses who first saw the smoke were able to describe a man matching Padgett's appearance, after observing someone wearing a black coat and dark pants quickly walking away from the burning waterfront house.
Witnesses also noted that they had seen the same man hanging around the vacant home over the last few days.
Later that day, a local woman reported to police that she felt her boyfriend might have set the blaze after he left a threatening note that included a mention of setting a fire. The woman told police that her boyfriend sometimes squatted in the vacant home on Rolling Bay Walk. Police were able to identify the boyfriend as Padgett.
Police were able to track down Padgett Thursday afternoon and he admitted to setting the fire, according to police reports. He was booked into the Kitsap County Jail.
The BIPD report includes Padgett's account of what happened, though he offered two conflicting stories. In one account, Padgett said he knocked over a candle, starting the fire that he was unable to extinguish.
He also told police of another man staying in the vacant home. Padgett said he awoke to the fire and no sign of this other man. Before he fled, he tried to put the fire out but was unable to, he said.
Contact Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer Richard D. Oxley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 842-6613.