Police: Arson and vandalism likely retaliation for little girl's murder

by: Alison Grande Updated:

Investigators say the targets of the arson and vandalism are family friends of suspect Gabe Gaeta.

BREMERTON, Wash. - Bremerton Police are investigating an early morning arson they think is retaliation.

A Subaru Legacy was set on fire in the 3300 block of Pine Street in East Bremerton Thursday around 1 a.m.

A van was also vandalized, with writing that detectives say links it to the Janise Wright homicide case.              

Investigators say the targets of the arson and vandalism are family friends of suspect Gabe Gaeta.             

"Unfortunately, it looks like a very negative, a very destructive expression of someone having intense feelings about this case," said Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan. "With the gasoline in the car this could cause an explosion. Certainly could cause people to be injured or even killed," added Strachan.               

Seventeen-year-old Gaeta is under investigation for child rape and murder for the killing of 6-year-old Jenise Wright. He's currently at Western State Hospital undergoing a mental health evaluation.

Neighbors say Gaeta's family appears to be moving out of the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park. They say there was a moving truck at the house today. Investigators say tensions are high as the small community grieves the little girl's murder.           

The owner of the vehicles didn't want to talk about it Thursday. Neighbors told us they thought it was a car crash, then looked out and say the car on fire. Eric Perez called 911 as he watched the flames.

"It got bigger and bigger, smoke all through the car. We thought maybe there was someone inside. It was pretty scary, " said Perez.        

The community is working to sign a banner in Janise's memory to give to her family. They had a banner signed at last Friday's vigil, but organizers says suspect Gabe Gaeta signed it too.

They made a new banner and want people to come in and sign it on Friday at Signs Town USA in Bremerton from 9 a.m. to  5 p.m. They will give the banner to the Wright family at Saturday's memorial.

The memorial is open to the public and starts at 1pm at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 9256 Nels Nelson Rd. NW in Bremerton.