San Bernardino Man Charged With Murder and Arson for the Old Fire of October 2003

Arrested: Rickie Lee Fowler

Arrested: Rickie Lee Fowler

It was just about six years ago, on October 25, 2003, that the Old Fire broke out at Old Waterman Canyon Road and Highway 18, ultimately resulting in the evacuation of 30 communities, including the Big Bear Valley, and the burning of 91,000 acres, damage to nearly 1,000 homes and six deaths from heart attacks, five of those said to be directly related to the stress of the fire. San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos, who referred to the Old Fire as “the most devastating in the history of this county” in a press conference yesterday, also had some other news: as of Tuesday, 28-year-old Rickie Lee Fowler of San Bernardino has been charged with arson and five counts of murder, and could face the death penalty. (The deceased, in the aftermath of the Old Fire are Charles Howard Cunningham, James William McDermith, Chad Leo Williams, Robert Norman Taylor and Ralph Eugene McWilliams.) Fowler, a resident of San Bernardino, has been in prison since the Old Fire for a burglary conviction, and though questioned after the Old Fire, there was not enough evidence to arrest him until yesterday. He has been serving time in Lancaster State Prison, and will be transported to San Bernardino County to be arraigned on the arson and murder charges. In a statement from DA Ramos, he says, “This has been a long, arduous process. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has worked tirelessly on this investigation. There were many avenues of investigation to be followed and my office has worked closely with the detectives in developing this case of arson and multiple murder, which we intend to prove in court. We also thank our partners from the U.S. Forest Service, CalFire, San Bernardino County and City Fire Departments, and the Running Springs Fire Department for their tireless efforts in suppressing the Old Fire. Finally, our hearts go out to the thousands of people who were affected by this horrific fire.”

Related posts:

  1. Fowler Guilty Of Murder, Arson In 2003 Old Fire Trial
  2. Rickie Lee Fowler Pleads Not Guilty to Arson and Five Counts of Murder in Connection With 2003′s Old Fire
  3. Arson Suspect Charged