Edna Bennett doesn’t change plea in Newberg inferno

Edna Bennett, 75, faces manslaughter, arson charges

Edna Bennett in Yamhill County Circuit Court, July 7, 2016 (KOIN)
Edna Bennett in Yamhill County Circuit Court, July 7, 2016 (KOIN)

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (KOIN) – Edna Bennett, the Newberg woman accused of buying gasoline so her friend could kill herself, decided in Yamhill County Circuit Court to not change her plea.

Bennett, 75, was arrested after investigators looked into the inferno that erupted around 6:10 p.m. on June 1. She is charged with 1st-degree arson, criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree arson, and second-degree manslaughter.

The last charge was added after a grand jury indictment last month.

On Thursday, her criminal defense attorney told the judge that because they were still getting copies of evidence, they needed more time to evaluate. The case will go before a judge on August 25 for a change of plea hearing.

New court documents

Ana Frigine-York was reported missing Nov. 20, 2015 (COURTESY NDPD)
Ana Frigine-York was reported missing Nov. 20, 2015 (COURTESY NDPD)

According to the indictment, Bennett “unlawfully and intentionally” aided Ana Frigine-York to commit suicide.

In newly unsealed court document, there was an explosion and a fire at a mobile home park in Newberg just off East Second Street.

When firefighters arrived, they found the body Frigine-York inside.

Police confirmed that Bennett, Frigine-York and Frigine-York’s daughter were all living inside the trailer.

Neither Bennett nor Frigine-York’s daughter were home at the time of the fire.

mobile home fire
A mobile home at the Mountain View Mobile Home park in Newberg burned on June 1, killing one person. (KOIN)

During the investigation, detectives found a two gallon size gas can that was found in the back bedroom of the residence. The cap was not on the can and it was partially melted and still had gasoline inside.

While firefighters were working to put out the blaze, Bennett showed up and gave a police officer two letters “she said wrote as Frigine-York dictated them to her.”

One of the letters was address to police and the “other was labeled for the media.”

Inside the letters were copies of Frigine-York’s ID, her wishes after her death and statements about her life and beliefs.

During a police interview, Bennett told detectives she had purchased and filled a total of six, 2-gallon size gas cans during the week leading up to the fire and then brought them to the house. Bennett told investigators that she filled the gas cans at different gas stations.

Edna Bennett was booked into the Yamhill County jail on June 2 on charges of conspiracy to commit 1st-degree arson. (Yamhill County Jail)
Edna Bennett was booked into the Yamhill County jail on June 2 on charges of conspiracy to commit 1st-degree arson. (Yamhill County Jail)

According to police, Bennett knew Frigine-York had planned on using the gas to light herself on fire.

“Bennett said she knew Frigine-York’s plan was to pour the gasoline out inside of their home, on herself and light herself on fire,” according to court documents.

Bennett and Frigine-York had known each other for 18 years. They had been living together for roughly 8 years.

Bennett remains out of custody while her case makes its way through the system.

Bennett and her family declined to comment. Her criminal defense was not immediately available for comment after her hearing.

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