PORT ANGELES — When Todd Fischer paints the stars on his mural at the Banbury Corner Children’s Center, three will shine brighter than the rest.
The Port Angeles artist plans to create three special stars to represent the memories of Lilly Kambeitz, 9, Emma Kambeitz, 6, and Jayden Kambeitz, 5, who died with their mother, Valerie Kambeitz, 34, in an alleged quadruple murder at the Welcome Inn RV Park on July 6.
“It’s a sad event, but hopefully we can turn something positive out of it,” Fischer said Friday.
“I’m just honored to be able to inspire happy thoughts with my artwork.”
Matthew Timothy Wetherington, 34, is being held in the Clallam County jail on $5 million bail in connection with the killings. There are no other suspects.
Angeline Parrish, Banbury Corner Children’s Center owner, hired Fischer to paint a mural in the parking lot of her business at 305 N. Eunice St. in June.
She decided to dedicate the mural to the Kambeitz family after the killings. The Kambeitz children had attended day care at Banbury Corner.
“It really messes with my head that it happened,” Parrish said.
“It was just horrifying.”
A plaque with the names of Valerie Kambeitz and her children will be installed at the mural before a dedication ceremony Aug. 18.
Elaine Jones, a longtime Banbury Corner employee, said she took care of Emma and Jayden Kambeitz.
“They were happy kids,” Jones said.
Valerie Kambeitz was described as “soft spoken, loving and gentle” with her children.
“She was a good mom,” Jones added.
“Her kids were well behaved. We just loved having them here.”
Fischer’s mural, which has not yet been named, depicts mountains on a moonlit night and rolling waves during the day.
Parrish said Valerie Kambeitz enjoyed the water and the mountains.
“I love that Val connected with that, and that just happens to be the whole theme of this mural,” Parrish said.
Valerie Kambeitz was said to enjoy spending time with her children at Port Angeles City Pier, where more than 100 mourned at a vigil for the family Monday.
Wetherington is charged in Clallam County Superior Court with four counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson.
He will be arraigned Friday.
The Port Angeles Fire Department extinguished a fast-moving fire at the RV park after it destroyed two trailers and multiple vehicles at about 2:30 a.m. June 6.
Four bodies were found in the charred remains of one trailer. Investigators believe the bodies are those of Valerie Kambeitz and her children.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted autopsies on the bodies Thursday, Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney/Coroner Mark Nichols said.
The autopsies will determine the cause and manner of the deaths and reveal whether the victims died before or during the fire.
“We do not have a result yet,” Nichols said of the autopsies, which he observed in Seattle.
“The pathologist is going to need some time to put together their report.”
Positive identifications of the bodies will require DNA testing, Nichols said. Those test were expected to be completed this week.
“We’re working as quickly as we can to expedite the result on all fronts,” Nichols said.
Wetherington was arrested July 6 at a Lincoln Park campsite not far from the RV park.
Clallam County prosecutors have said Wetherington is a registered sex offender who had past convictions for burglary, attempted robbery, assault and unlawful imprisonment, all with sexual motivation.
Speaking on behalf of the Kambeitz family, longtime friend Holly Wright told reporters Monday that Valerie Kambeitz had forgiven Wetherington for his past and “seemed happy.”
“There was a violent past, but she was one that was very forgiving,” Wright said.
“She didn’t look at him for his faults.”
Wright added: “She had the most gigantic heart of gold.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].