Everett arsonist sentenced to decade in prison for deadly 1987 fire

EVERETT, Wash. — Thirty-four years after an Everett firefighter died in an arson case, the man who confessed to setting that fire is finally headed to prison.

Elmer Nash will serve a 10-year prison sentence. Additionally, he faces a lifetime of community supervision once he’s released from prison.

During his sentencing, Nash was overcome with emotion as he addressed the family of firefighter Gary Parks.

Nash’s attorneys argued he was an abused, neglected 12-year-old when he deliberately lit a fire at Everett Community College in 1987.

Parks responded to that blaze and lost his life in the process.

Based on the juvenile standard range for arson cases in 1987, Nash’s lawyers argued he should only serve three-and-a-half years in prison. However, Parks’ family strongly disagreed, pointing to Nash’s extensive criminal history.

“People in this (courtroom), they don’t know half of his crimes. I counted them … (he committed) 87 crimes, and now 88,” said Erin VanRy, Parks’ daughter.

“The man before us not only robbed us of a legendary patriarch, he’s irreparably damaged my family,” added Zachary VanRyn, Parks’ grandson.

During a particularly emotional moment of sentencing, Parks’ widow spoke of the grief she still feels to this day.

“I have lived as a survivor, missing the Christmas times we had together, the graduations and birthdays,” Kathy Parks said.

In the end, the judge based Nash’s 10-year sentence on two key things: his lengthy criminal history, as well as the fact that Nash failed to show up to his original sentencing date, setting off a regional search.