Bend man arraigned on murder, arson charges in fatal stabbing; DA says he was houseguest of victim
(Update: Hummel confirms victim was fatally stabbed)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A 35-year-old Bend man was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on murder and arson charges, a day after a 53-year-old Bend man’s body was found in the burning townhome where the victim lived and the suspect had been a houseguest, authorities said.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday that the suspect, Thomas Jule Craig, knew the victim and was a houseguest in his apartment when he fatally stabbed him.
Police notified family and identified the victim as Glen Allan Ely, the resident of the unit at the Daggett Lane Townhomes, police Communications Manager Sheila Miller said.
Craig was arrested on second-degree murder and first-degree arson charges, as well as failure to register as a sex offender and a warrant out of Colorado, Miller said. He was lodged at the Deschutes County Jail Tuesday afternoon and held without bail.
Craig appeared by video from the Deschutes County Jail for Wednesday's brief hearing, during which Circuit Court Judge Alycia Sykora ordered that he remain held without bail. Attorneys in the case waived reading of the charges.
Another hearing is scheduled for Craig next Wednesday on an expected formal indictment. as well as an extradition status hearing on a fugitive from justice charge due to a Colorado warrant on a charge of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, a Class 4 felony, court records showed.
Hummel also issued a statement Wednesday crediting alert neighbors with leading to a quick arrest in the case.
While firefighters were in Ely's apartment were in the apartment, police were "outside on the street a few blocks away," talking with Craig, after "residents of the neighborhood had called the police to report Craig's suspicious actions," Hummel said.
The DA said stab wounds on Ely's body and other evidence led to Craig's arrest on the murder charge.
“I commend Mr. Ely’s neighbors for promptly calling the police when they were concerned about Mr. Craig’s unusual activities," Hummel said. "The quick calls from neighbors, coupled with Bend Fire and Bend Police’s speedy response to the scene, were the keys to solving this case.”
Police and firefighters responded shortly before 2:30 a.m. Tuesday to multiple reports of smoke and activated sprinklers in an apartment complex at Daggett Townhomes in the 2000 block of NE Daggett Lane, Miller said.
They arrived to find smoke pouring from a two-story unit of a multi-unit complex and flames on the second floor, she said.
Firefighters entered and found Ely on the first floor of his apartment, Miller said. Police detectives were called to the scene.
The fire is under investigation on suspicion of arson, Miller said.
During the investigation into the fire’s cause, Craig, initially identified as a person of interest, was located several blocks away and is currently in police custody, Miller said.
An investigation in the cause of Ely's death is underway, the police spokeswoman said.
“There are no outstanding suspects and there is no ongoing danger to the public,” Miller said in an initial news release earlier Tuesday.
Several neighbors declined formal interviews but said the occupant of the unit was a male in his 50s. One said they had seen someone leave the apartment Monday night.
It took firefighters about an hour to control the blaze. Miller said the American Red Cross is assisting neighbors whose townhomes received water damage when the sprinkler system activated. A neighbor also told NewsChannel 21 the adjacent apartment was flooded.