Bainbridge man charged with felony after alleged attempt to set house on fire because of damaged recipe book

A 58-year-old Bainbridge Island man was charged with second-degree arson and threatening to kill his wife and burn their house down after he found out she had removed a few pages from one of his recipe books.

James Leander Powell Jr. was charged with two felony counts of arson and harassment in Kitsap County District Court on Monday, June 16.

According to court documents, Powell got into an argument with family members just after 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 13.

The family, along with some relatives who had traveled to Bainbridge Island for this weekend's high school graduation ceremony, had gathered for dinner Friday.

Powell was known as an avid chef and, according to court records, kept hand-written books where he meticulously detailed his recipes. His wife, however, had used a few pages from one recipe book so other family members could write words of encouragement and congratulations on the pages to the couple's son, who was graduating from high school.

"When Powell found out that one of his books had been trifled with, he went into a rage," a Bainbridge police officer wrote in his investigation report.

Police allege that Powell became furious and threatened to kill his wife, and said that since something valuable to him had been destroyed, he would destroy something that his wife valued.

A family member allegedly saw Powell retrieve a gas can and walk into a room of the home that was used as an office. The family member said Powell poured gasoline on the floor and said he was going to burn the whole house down. Seven people were inside the home at the time, including a sleeping 2-year-old.

A family member stopped Powell from carrying through on his threat and wrestled the gas can from his hand. He also took away matches that Powell had in his possession.

According to the police report, Powell then got a sledge hammer but that was soon taken away. He then grabbed a large aluminum ladder and used it to smash the rear windshield of his wife's Nissan.

After officers arrived, the man's wife told police she had found one of her husband's recipe books but saw that it was mostly empty. She took four pages of the book that had been written on and put them in another recipe book so she could use the rest of the book for the graduation messages.

Another family member told police that he had also heard Powell threaten to burn the house down, and said Powell had told him to get his 2-year-old son — who was upstairs sleeping — out of the house before it was set on fire.

Family members also said that Powell works in Thailand and had not lived with the family for the better part of seven years. He had been living in the family home for approximately one month.

His family also said that Powell had been drinking while cooking dinner and may have been upset about bad news about his medical condition he had gotten from his doctor during an earlier phone call.

Officers found Powell siting in a white Toyota Celica in the home's driveway when they responded to a 911 call made by family members.

When they approached, Powell allegedly tried to get away, and drove through the front yard of the home and then behind the house toward a wooded area until trees blocked his path.

When asked why he was running from police, Powell allegedly said he was moving his car into a meadow on his property so he could go camping. Officers did not see any camping gear in the vehicle.

Powell was arrested and booked into Kitsap County Jail just after 1:30 a.m. Saturday. Bail was set at $100,000.


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