Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigating reported suicide by fire

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of an 18-year-old man at Gray Wolf Ranch residential treatment center who reportedly committed suicide by dousing himself with gasoline and setting himself on fire, sheriff’s Sgt. Brett Anglin said Sunday.

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney-Coroner Mike Haas identified the victim Sunday afternoon as Vincent J. Gilbert of California.

Deputies and East Jefferson Fire-Rescue personnel responded to Gray Wolf’s 3804 W. Hastings Ave. facility at about 5 p.m. Saturday in response to a report of suicide by fire, according to a 9:28 a.m. email from Anglin Sunday.

“Initial investigation revealed that the man had likely been doused in gasoline from a nearby equipment shed,” Anglin said in the email.

“A lighter was found near the body.”

Anglin said investigators were still interviewing residents of the facility about the death.

“The initial report is it’s a suicide. We are still attempting to confirm the cause of death and the manner of death. We’re still investigation that to determine if foul play is involved.”

Haas said an autopsy will be conducted.

Gray Wolf treats adolescent males and young men, according its website at www.graywolfranch.com.

Gilbert’s body was found by employees and residents of the facility while the fire was still going, Anglin said.

They were looking for Gilbert after he did not show up for dinner and discovered the fire burning about 50 feet from a tool shed where Anglin said gasoline was stored.

Anglin said parts of Gray Wolf are locked down while others are not.

Gray Wolf Office Manager Judy Herwer would not comment Sunday on the incident.

“Under the law, and under the way we operate, I cannot confirm or deny any information,” she said.

The facility website refers potential clients to a Seattle phone number.

Gray Wolf was acquired by Atwell Care Management LLC in January 2017.

The company, based in New York, was founded in 2016 as a behavioral health management company, Atwell said in a news release announcing the acquisition.

Its two owners have extensive experience investing in health-care and hospitality assets, according to the news release.

Gray Wolf is a 26-bed facility for males between ages 14-26 with drug and alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorders.

The facility, founded in 1997, provides “evidence-based inpatient treatment experience, a robust wilderness program, and educational center, and a wide range of other programs designed to develop and enhance residents’ life skills,” Atwell said in its release.

“Gray Wolf Ranch will be the group’s first venture in the behavioral health and addiction treatment space,” the release said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@ peninsuladailynews.com.

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