WOODLAND, Wash. (KOIN) — For the second straight day, homicide detectives are at a Woodland house that was intentionally set on fire to investigate the death of a man inside.
Donald William Howard died from blunt force head injuries, the Cowlitz County coroner’s office said late Wednesday night. The 62-year-old man’s death was ruled a homicide. Late Tuesday afternoon, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the death and arson at 2145 Dahlia Street
“They got here, got the fire out really quickly, which minimized the damage,” said Charlie Rosenzweig, the chief criminal deputy for Cowlitz County. That, he said, “preserves a lot of valuable evidence for us. I’m sure that will be crucial and important for us in the future.”
Neighbor Ed Patterson said he saw “smoke back there and evidently a fire inside the house.” But he added he did not see anyone coming or going.
Neighbors told KOIN 6 News a man they knew as “Don” lived in the home and had been the victim of a multiple break-ins over the past year or so.
The man didn’t trouble anyone, they said.
“He was a class act guy, was very nice,” Patterson said. “He basically sold fishing supplies. He would make weights and stuff. That’s why he had small propane tanks in there (in his home) because he would sell weights and stuff.”
Deputies provided security at the house throughout the night, and detectives and were at the house throughout the day Wednesday.
Investigators said they’ve spoken to multiple people of interest but it’s too early in the case to know who may have killed the man.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Cowlitz County Detective Sgt. Brad Thurman at 360.577.3092. Tips can also be made anonymously through an app called Tip411 — County residents text their tip from their cellphone to 847411 and begin their message with “CCSOtip.”