Updated:BELLINGHAM, Wash. —
Detectives attempted to arrest a woman accused of stealing more than $100,000, but she was found dead in her burning Maple Falls mobile home.
Belinda Barnett was charged with stealing from the company she worked for, Swan's Moving and Storage, and KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Deborah Horne spoke with the general manager. He said that he uncovered the theft.
The general manager said Barnett was the company’s bookkeeper for a year and half and stole money.
“She was a suspect in embezzlement, and so they developed enough information that they needed to interview her and actually had enough to make an arrest for first-degree theft,” said Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks.
When detectives arrived at Barnett’s home Wednesday morning, she wouldn’t come out of her home. When officers left, Barnett’s home caught on fire.
Fire crews found Barnett’s body near the front door.
“It sounds like a pretty extreme ending for this. If it was intentional, if she did commit suicide, that’s obviously an extreme measure, something we didn’t expect,” Parks said.
KIRO 7 spoke with Barnett’s neighbor, Burton, and he said firefighters tried to rescue Barnett as flames shot through the window.
“We tried to get in the door and everything,” Burton said. “It was the back bedroom, and it was coming out."
KIRO 7 spoke to Belinda Barnett’s brother in California, and he did not know the allegations against his sister. He said she was a kind, caring person who was willing to help anyone in need.