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Five Teens Charged With Vandalism, Thefts, Arson

July 17, 1987

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) _ Five boys have been charged in connection with a teen-age party in which the host’s house was vandalized, looted and set on fire while his mother was away, authorities said.

The host, Gunnar Cole, 16, was pulled unconscious from the burning home, which suffered $350,000 damage. He had passed out drunk in his mother’s upstairs bedroom early in the party, officials said.

″It could’ve been worse,″ Vicki Cole said Thursday. ″Gunnar could’ve died or the house could’ve burned to the ground. This is all so senseless.″

Ms. Cole had left her son in charge of the beachfront Browns Point home while she took a short pleasure trip to Victoria, British Columbia. She didn’t know of his plans to throw a party.

The two youths accused of starting the fire ″knew Gunnar was inside″ the burning house, said Ray Durham, Pierce County sheriff’s detective.

Gunnar, who was hospitalized six days, has not been charged. Three girls who attended the party June 30 also were not charged.

″Gunnar Cole didn’t wreck the house, steal from it or set the fire,″ Durham said. ″His responsibility extends as far as that he had these people in his parent’s house.″

Two 14-year-olds face charges of theft, malicious mischief and first-degree arson. Two others are charged with theft and malicious mischief, and the fifth is charged with possession of stolen property.

The two boys charged with the arson may face additional first-degree assault charges, which imply an intent to kill, said Walter De Puy, Pierce County deputy prosecutor. They have been released to their parents’ custody and await an Aug. 19 trial.

If convicted of first-degree arson and assault, the youths would receive consecutive sentences ranging from 103 to 129 weeks in juvenile institution.

The trouble at the party started when the teen-agers began ″slam dancing,″ according to prosecution records.

″They had egg fights and cottage cheese fights,″ Ms. Cole said. Dishes were thrown, and fireworks were set off in the living room.

″There was a Roman candle stuck in the ceiling,″ she said.

But the fireworks didn’t start the fire. Two boys allegedly set fire to a wall in the basement after they had sprayed it with a hair mousse, deodorant and other flammable sprays, authorities said.

″I didn’t care for these kids,″ Ms. Cole said. ″I’d called the police on them before. I called their parents when I saw them tearing street signs down. They once threatened to kill me and burn my house down for not letting Gunnar come out to play with them at 10 at night. I honestly think this could’ve happened to anybody’s house, but I’m sure these kids enjoyed this more because it happened to me.″

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