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Woman stabbed to death before house fire blaze; 15-year-old boy charged with murder and arson

Friday Harbor
Friday Harbor's Sharon Hammel, 49, died early Sunday morning after a fire erupted in a back bedroom of her Park Street home.
— image credit: Contributed photo

A 15-year-old male has been arrested in the stabbing death of a woman found in a residential fire on April 3.

— Editor's note: the article below includes statements from San Juan County Sheriff Rob Nou, released at 3:20 p.m. Thursday, regarding the death of Sharon Hammel and the arrest of a 15-year-old boy on charges of murder and arson as a result of the investigation of the predawn fire at Hammel's Park Street home on Sunday.

On Sunday, April 3 at about 2:11 a.m. there was a reported residential structure fire in the 1000 block of Park St., Friday Harbor. A woman believed to be Sharon Hammel, age 49, was found dead inside. Coroner Randall K. Gaylord said that the body will require examination of dental records to confirm her identity.

Hammel, a Town of Friday Harbor employee since 2004 and lead caretaker of its parks department, died at the scene of Sunday's early morning blaze. Her body was removed early Sunday evening from a bedroom at the back of the home that was consumed by flames.

Her 15-year-old son and a man in his mid-20s, who rented a room at Hammel's home, escaped the inferno which lit up the rear of the single-story home.

San Juan Island Fire Chief Steve Marler requested the assistance of a certified fire investigator through the Region 3 Arson Task Force. A fire investigator from the Island County Sheriffs Office responded to assist. The fire scene investigation revealed an undetermined cause of the fire at the area of origin.

On April 5, an autopsy was performed at the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s office.  Based on preliminary autopsy results, Hammel died of multiple stab wounds. Sheriff Rob Nou began a homicide investigation into the circumstances leading up to the death and fire.

The investigation culminated on April 7 with the arrest of a 15-year-old male on charges of murder and arson. His name has not been released. The investigation is continuing.

Assisting in the investigation are members of the Region 3 Arson Task Force, the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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