Reward Goes To Father Of Arsonist -- Keller Gets $25,000, Donates It To Church

The father of arsonist Paul Keller today received a $25,000 reward for turning in his son to help solve a series of fires in the Seattle, Everett and Ellensburg areas last year.

The reward to George Keller of Everett was made by the Washington Insurance Council and administered by the Arson Alarm Foundation.

Keller's son, Paul, set more than 75 fires between August 1992 and January of this year, causing about $16 million in damage.

"If Mr. Keller had not agreed to help, prosecutors might only have secured as few as three or four convictions instead of the 75 obtained," said the council.

Keller said he intends to donate the money to Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood to aid victims of arsons and help the church to rebuild. Trinity Lutheran was destroyed by a fire set by his son on Aug. 9, 1992.

"After family discussion and prayer, the idea surfaced to contact Pastor Richard Rouse," Keller said.

Other recipients of the reward, which was donated by local insurance companies and totaled $46,300, are:

-- Bonnie Spurrier of Cle Elum, $6,000, who saw Keller at a bank cash machine in Cle Elum on Nov. 17, 1992, after a fire and provided a partial license number;

-- Michael Wagener, $3,000, and Marla Rae Towles, $2,500, both of Seattle, for providing an initial description of Keller's car after an Oct. 6 fire in Seattle;

-- John Johnson, Seattle, $3,800 for giving a description of Keller after a fire in Mountlake Terrace;

-- Jon and Sharon Pettit and Karen Packebush, all of Snohomish, $1,500 each for providing a description of Keller's car after a November fire in Snohomish;

-- Lisa Cotler, Seattle, $1,500, who gave a description of Keller and his car after an October fire in Fremont.