Double Murder in Vaughn

A catastrophic house fire led to the discovery of the two victims and to the arrest of their grandson for murder.


Firefighters discovered two bodies inside a burning house on the north side of Vaughn Bay during the evening hours of May 17. A third resident was missing.

Units from the KP Fire District, District No. 5 and Kitsap County responded to the two-alarm fire after neighbors reported several explosions in the residence. Firefighters detected the presence of large amounts of accelerant, as well as evidence of homicides committed before the fire was started.

Pierce County Sheriff’s Department detectives searched for the third resident, the 26-year-old grandson of the deceased couple, and a vehicle belonging to the victims.

The vehicle was spotted at a Lakewood apartment complex around 4 a.m. May 18. The suspect was arrested and booked into Pierce County Jail on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson.

There was no reported motive as of press time.

Editor’s note: The names of the deceased are Ted Ralston, 71, and his wife, Joanna Gormley, 73, active community volunteers and part of our Key Peninsula News family. We will tell their story in full in our July edition, once we have had time to collect the facts and to begin to grieve.