$5,000 reward offered in SW Bend arson case

Former Lake Place shelter was vacant, closed in 2011

POSTED: 6:21 PM PST December 29, 2012    UPDATED: 12:33 PM PST January 31, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered in hopes of solving an arson fire that heavily damaged a former transitional housing facility in southwest Bend just over a month ago, police said Thursday.

Police and firefighters were dispatched the morning of Dec. 29 to a report of smoke coming from the former Lake Place sobriety residence for women, a vacant two-story building at 1290 SW Silver Lake Blvd., said Sgt. Nick Parker.

Investigators quickly determined the fire, which caused several thousand dollars worth of damage, was intentionally started< Parker said.

“Unfortunately, investigators have not been able to identify the suspect(s),” Parker said Thursday.

The International Association of Arson Investigators Inc. is offering a reward of up to $5,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to a successful conclusion of the case. You can contact Bend police through Deschutes County dispatchers at (541) 693-6911.

You also can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-877-876-TIPS or use the form on KTVZ.COM’s Crime Stoppers page. You can remain anonymous, and you could receive a cash reward.

The fire and subsequent investigation shut Silver Lake Boulevard between Garfield Avenue and Blakely Road for about six hours, Sgt. Todd Fletcher said that day.

 Firefighters searched to make sure there was no one was in the building, and there were no injuries, said fire Capt. Don Segal.

“The vast majority of the damage to the building was smoke related,” Fletcher said, adding, “At the request of the investigators, we’re not getting into where it was started, because that’s important to their case.”

Utilities had been shut off to the building for some time, as was the sprinkler system, Segal said, noting that the building was a retirement home before it became a transitional home for women and children that shut down about a year ago.

“This was a locked-up building,” Segal said, “but you don’t know at that point who may be inside of it that’s squatting in the building, especially when we saw in the snow with tracks going in and out. We don’t know what the situation is, by windows and doors that were already jimmied open.”

Lake Place had been promoted as a temporary alcohol- and drug-free home for women and children escaping domestic violence and homelessness, women recovering from addition, and parolees re-entering society, The Bulletin reported in October 2011.

As Lake Place began evicting women and preparing to shut down in August of 2011, some current and former residents raised concerns about ongoing problems, the newspaper reported. NewsChannel 21 also received calls from residents who alleged the facility’s director drank with residents and that her husband, a convicted felon, harassed some of the women living there.

The 26-room facility had opened several years earlier and was in foreclosure, with the property owners owing nearly $90,000 in county taxes.

Staff at several government agencies told The Bulletin that Lake Place was outside their purview because it was a private, for-profit business that apparently had not received any major government grants. Public funds some of the women used to help pay rent don’t carry restrictions on where they can be used, officials said.

Police had been called to Lake Place 54 times over a six-month period last year, the newspaper said. The facility charged residents $300 a month for a 12-by-12-foot room, with a $100 non-refundable cleaning deposit and a $20 background check. The rent rose by $20 a month for each child, The Bulletin reported.