More information is emerging in the wake of Sunday evening’s suspected arson and attempted murder at the Lynnwood home of David Morgan, as those who knew the couple and their children come forth to share their stories.
Morgan is accused of attempting to kill his ex-wife Brenda Welch and then setting fire to his home to cover up the crime. He is being held in the Snohomish County Jail in lieu of $2 million bail while the prosecutor prepares formal charges.
My Edmonds News spoke with Susan Smith (not her real name — she requested anonymity out of fear for her safety). Smith’s daughter attended Meadowdale High School with Brenda’s oldest daughter, and both graduated in 2013.
“I got to know the family, and was over to their house regularly to drop off and pick up the girls,” Smith said.
At the time there were three children in the household, two older girls from Brenda’s former marriage, and a younger girl of Brenda’s and David’s.
“I could always feel tension when I was there,” said Smith. “David would never look me in the eyes, and I always felt like I had to walk on eggshells around him.”
A full-time mom, Welch often took odd jobs to help with expenses related to her two older daughters from her previous marriage. According to Smith, David Morgan “doted on the younger girl and gave her everything” but resisted paying for the upkeep of Brenda’s other two children. “I had the impression he was very possessive and controlling,” she said.
“It’s been awhile ago, but I would occasionally babysit Brenda’s youngest so she could work,” Smith said. “I did this in my home. David creeped me out. It was really just a gut feeling.”
Smith says she was “not surprised a bit” when she heard the news of the house fire, Morgan’s arrest, and the evidence pointing to his alleged involvement in Welch’s attempted murder. “I was listening to the first reports and as soon as I heard the street name, I just sort of knew,” she said.
She describes Welch as “the sweetest person I’ve ever known,” but as time went on she became “withdrawn” and Smith got the strong feeling that Welch was “depressed and broken.”
Welch remains hospitalized at Harborview, admitted with what medical personnel described as “life-threatening injuries including multiple burns and a skull fracture.” At the request of her family no updates on her condition are being released.
“I have spoken with her oldest daughter and her first husband,” said Smith. “They say it’s bad, and to keep her in your prayers.”
According to the probable cause papers filed in Snohomish County, which we have uploaded here, police say that they spoke with Morgan, who stated that he fell asleep in a chair upstairs after he got home from work and was awakened by someone striking him in the head. He said that it was dark and he didn’t see anyone, but he thought he remembered hearing a voice, possibly Welch’s, saying something. “He somehow fell to his knees and was struck in the head again,” the report said.
Morgan told police he believed he lost consciousness, and when he awoke he smelled smoke. He went downstairs and saw Welch engulfed in flames. Morgan said he pulled her burning sweater off her and used it to extinguish her hair, which was also on fire. He then ran outside and found that his hose was frozen, so he filled a bucket with water. “He fell down and spilled the water, so he just lay there,” the police report said.
Police observed that Morgan’s hair was slightly singed, but that he did not have any other injuries consistent with being in close proximity to a fire. “His hands were not burned as would be expected if he pulled a flaming sweater off of Welch and used it to put out the fire on her head,” the report said. In addition, he had dried blood on the backs of both of his hands, which he could not explain. He also had several superficial cuts across the inside of his right wrist, which he could also not explain. In addition, he had a small lump on his forehead, even thought he had stated that he had been struck on the top of his head.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel