By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Report: McMinnville woman committed suicide after setting fires

Kimberly Nelson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after setting a Chevrolet Corvette and her McMinnville home on fire and shooting two dogs to death on Wednesday, Sept. 13, Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry said.

He released a 2 1/2-page report Wednesday that detailed events leading up to and including the incident that claimed the life of the 47-year-old woman.

"I have reviewed the reports along with the other investigatory materials forwarded to this office," Berry wrote in his report to McMinnville Police Detective William Christensen.

"I have yet to receive the reports from the fire investigators. They will be informative, but will not change the result of this investigation," Berry said.

He gave this account of the incident:

Nelson obtained a restraining order against her husband, James, on Monday, Aug. 7. It was served on him the following day, at which time he moved out of their residence at 2433 N. Baker St. and in with a friend who lived on the opposite side of town.

He had no contact with her prior to Sept. 13. She would occasionally reach out to him, but he avoided contact so as not to violate the restraining order.

The Nelsons were in Yamhill County Circuit Court for a hearing related to the restraining order at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 13. The proceeding lasted about 45 minutes, James said, and the order was dismissed.

Afterward, the couple discussed that he had filed for divorce, and in all likelihood, she would be served with papers the following day.

They had coffee to further discuss the divorce at the Dutch Bros. location near Citizen's Bank.

Their conversation included James indicating his desire to keep the dogs, or at the very least, be able to see them.

When they were finished talking, Kimberly asked James to come to their home to talk further. He declined the invitation, and returned to his friend's home where he was staying, arriving between 11:15 and 11:30 a.m.

At about 12:40 p.m. McMinnville firefighters responded to a reported car fire at the Baker Street address. They discovered the Corvette ablaze, and the single-story home on fire, too.

"The two fires were distinct," Berry said. "By that I mean it was clear that neither fire contributed to the other. They began separately."

Firefighters entered the home in search of victims and discovered the bodies of Nelson and the two dogs.

She was removed from the residence and pronounced dead at the scene. It was also determined the dogs were dead.

Each dog had been shot once and they were lying on a bed in the bedroom where the woman's body was found.

Law enforcement personnel responded after firefighters determined she had sustained a gunshot wound to the head.

The Yamhill County Major Crimes Team, which Berry oversees, was activated to assist with the investigation. Witnesses were interviewed and the scene was thoroughly inspected.

"Officers and fire investigators found evidence that indicated that the two fires were intentionally set," Berry said.

"Additionally, there were other areas outside that showed efforts to start additional fires that never got going."

Multiple weapons and ammunition were found inside the home. A bloodied handgun was also located.

"Ms. Nelson arrived home expecting Mr. Nelson to follow," Berry said. "No witnesses, including neighbors, saw anyone else at the home prior to the fire being reported."

He continued, "At some point, she began the process of setting up several areas to be ignited. This included the use of what she thought would be accelerants."

Small propane canisters, oil and lighter fluid were used, according to Berry.

Nelson set the house on fire in the living room. She also attempted to start two fires in the backyard, but they never took off.

The dismissed restraining order was torn apart, wadded up and found near the dogs.

"Scene, body evidence and bullet trajectory show that she sat on the floor at the end of the bed and shot herself," Berry said.

Her wedding ring was off her finger and lying next to her.

"Time was spent exploring alternatives to this conclusion, including attempts to match the evidence to other theories," Berry said.

He said investigators, during the process of working with himself, did an "excellent job" of excluding all other possibilities, and conducted a thorough investigation.

See Friday's print edition for additional details.

 

 

Comments

Bufordthe1st

This is so sad to read. Prayers to her family and ex-husband and her dogs her very own troubled soul.

cerealbowl

Dogs ? ..thankful that no children were part of this..

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