A suspected serial arsonist charged with starting 18 fires in mostly occupied homes in Tacoma and Ruston last week has a checkered past.
Sarah Jane Ramey, 42, is being held on $3 million bail following her arrest on Friday. Pierce County prosecutors, who pleaded for a high bond because they consider Ramey an extreme community safety risk, are expected to file criminal charges on Wednesday.
At a hearing on Monday, Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner Craig Adams found there was probable cause to detain Ramey on suspicion of eight arson charges, residential burglary, possession of stolen property and theft. of identity.
Tacoma police have not said what led them to Ramey, but a department spokeswoman said multiple divisions are focusing on the fires to find the suspect before anyone is injured.
Ramey is suspected of deliberately starting a dozen fires late Jan. 25 and early Jan. 26, mostly in central Tacoma and northern areas of the city. One was in Ruston.
Other home, detached garage and vehicle fires were being investigated. Police have not released a list of all the fires for which Ramey is believed to be responsible.
The fires have put the city on edge, with many residents worried about when and where the next fire will occur.
Ramey has had previous run-ins with the law but does not appear to have been caught setting the fire illegally. His crimes centered more on residential burglaries.
In 2012, she pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and prosecutors dismissed other charges of third-degree possession of stolen property and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia. In her guilty plea, Ramey wrote, “I maintain my innocence of this offence”, but acknowledged that a jury would likely convict her.
Ramey broke into a Bonney Lake garage and stole keys, later returning to the same scene. The owner spotted her and chased her off the property. A K-9 lead led sheriff’s deputies to where Ramey was hiding and she was taken into custody.
Three stolen rings and a drug pipe were found on her at the time of her arrest.
Members of the Bonney Lake family who were victims of the burglary said the incident put them in danger in their home.
The father said he was sure Ramey would have attacked him with one of the many weapons in the garage had he entered the room where she was hiding. A 7-year-old girl has written MPs a thank you card expressing her gratitude for ‘helping me stop having nightmares at night’. The mother said she was worried about what would happen when Ramey was released from prison.
“When I mow the lawn now, I always look, if she could break into our garage in daylight with people working 100 feet away… what is she capable of doing?” the mother wrote in a victim impact statement.
Ramey was sentenced to three months in prison for the burglary. Prosecutors sent her case to a debt collector after she failed to pay one of her $1,400 financial legal obligations.
Ramey also had problems in family court.
His mother filed for custody of Ramey’s three children in 2011, saying in her petition that Ramey “has mental issues which prevent him from caring for the children”.
The two girls and a boy had not lived with either parent for months because the father was in jail, and Ramey had just been released after his mother posted bail, court records show. At the time, Ramey was living in his vehicle and surfing on his couch.
Ramey and the children’s father abandoned them and have a history of domestic violence, records show.
In October 2011, Ramey wrote a letter to the court saying she wanted temporary custody granted to her mother because she feared she would end up with her ex. Ramey claimed her ex physically and emotionally abused her and sometimes hit their children.
It seems she quickly entered another abusive relationship because in August 2013 she filed for a protective order against a boyfriend who she says hit his head against a wall and victimized her. of a concussion.
The protective order was thrown out the following month when neither Ramey nor her boyfriend showed up for the hearing.
This story was originally published February 1, 2022 1:03 p.m.