More tests needed in Port Angeles killings case

Trial remains set for October in quadruple homicide

PORT ANGELES — State and federal investigators are making progress on forensic testing needed for Matthew Timothy Wetherington’s quadruple murder trial, which remains set for October, prosecutors said.

Wetherington, 35, is charged with four counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson for the deaths of Valerie, Lilly, Emma and Jayden Kambeitz, whose bodies were found in a burnt trailer at the Welcome Inn RV Park in west Port Angeles last July 6.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

“I will let the court know that a lot of the testing has been done,” said Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, in a Friday court hearing.

“We do have some testing that is currently at the WSP (Washington State Patrol) lab.

“We should be getting our certified fire investigative report sooner rather than later,” Devlin added, “but I do think at this point we’re on track for going to trial in October.”

Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney/Coroner Mark Nichols declined to comment on the case Friday, saying he would provide an update on the toxicology results this week.

Wetherington’s six-week trial is set for Oct. 5. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for April 10.

Wetherington is being held in the Clallam County jail on $5 million bail.

Port Angeles police alleged that Wetherington killed Valerie Kambeitz, 34, Lilly Kambeitz, 9, Emma Kambeitz, 6, and Jayden Kambeitz, 5, and set fire to their residence in the early morning hours of July 6.

The bodies of Valerie Kambeitz and her children were found in the master bedroom of the badly-burned trailer.

Witnesses reported seeing Wetherington running from the burning trailer after hearing a loud boom, police said.

Autopsies were performed by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office in Seattle.

Nichols, who observed the autopsies, has said additional DNA testing was needed to determine the cause and manners of the deaths.

Superior Court Judge Brent Basden signed a Sept. 6 order authorizing consumptive testing of DNA found on clothing, a match container and Wetherington’s notebook.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that gasoline and kerosene were present in the trailer where the bodies were found, police have said.

Wetherington, a registered sex offender who had an extensive criminal history, was married to Valerie Kambeitz last May 4, court records show.

He was found several hours after the fire at a Lincoln Park campsite less than a mile from the RV park.

Police said Wetherington made a journal entry at 3:28 p.m. July 5 — about 11 hours before the fire was reported — that said: “Preparations are merely complete. Just need to last another 11 hours before it really begins.”

“I don’t understand how I could do something like this,” Wetherington is alleged to have said after his arrest.

“I deserve to be locked up.”

More than 100 mourners gathered in July at a vigil for the Kambeitz family at Port Angeles City Pier, where Valerie Kambeitz often spent time with her children.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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