Here’s the press release just issued from the Washington State Patrol:
With deep regret, the Washington State Patrol today announced the apparent deaths of three agency employees in an early-morning house fire in Zillah.
Believed killed were Communications Officer 4 Anne Miller-Hewitt, her husband Trooper Gary Miller, and Trooper Kristopher Sperry. The Millers owned the residence. Sperry had recently graduated from the State Patrol academy and was living with the Millers.
“Ann and Gary were long-time employees, and were the best of the best,” said State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. “We were just getting to know Kristopher, but he had excelled at the Academy and had a very promising future with our agency.”
Investigators have not yet entered the fire scene, however there is no evidence that anyone survived or escaped. The State Patrol has never lost three employees in a simultaneous event, either on or off-duty.
“Right now, our priority is supporting the co-workers of Anne, Gary and Kristopher,” Batiste said. “They are understandably devastated by this tragedy and we have no higher priority than helping them get through this difficult time.”
Batiste released brief biographical details of each.
- Anne Miller-Hewitt held the rank of Communications Officer Four, the civilian equivalent of lieutenant. She led the State Patrol’s 911 center in Wenatchee, supervising 15 of the agency’s dispatchers. She was hired in 1987, and promoted to her present rank in 2007.
- Trooper Gary Miller, 55, was hired in 1989 and was commissioned in 1990. He had been assigned to the agency’s Sunnyside detachment area since that time.
- Trooper Kristopher Sperry, 30, was hired in 2008 and graduated with the 97th Trooper Basic Class in June 2010. His hometown was Eureka, MT. While in the Academy received the Top Fitness award as the most physically fit cadet in his class. Sperry was living with the Millers while his own home was being built.
The residence, on Falcon Ridge Drive north of town, was completely destroyed. The fire investigation will be handled by local fire officials, the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The State Patrol’s Crime Scene Response Team, working out of the agency’s Crime Lab, will be providing assistance in gathering forensic evidence at the scene.