A Hamilton couple hopes to turn their grief into action with the help of others.
It’s coming up on a year when Scott and Kelly Earl learned their daughter, Shandell, was one of three people who perished in an early-morning arson fire that gutted a four-plex on Corvallis’ Main Street.
There have been no arrests in the case.
“The most devastating thing that can happen to you is to lose a child,” Kelly Earl said. “Especially for a mom. You have carried that child and raised them to become an adult that people care about.”
Shandell Vogel-Dewey was two weeks shy of her 27th birthday when she died. She had just told her father that she had taken a home pregnancy test and it was positive. She planned to follow up with a second test with the doctor at the beginning of the week.
“She never got that opportunity,” Scott Earl said. “We were told that because this was a murder investigation that it might take a little longer. Now we are at 10 months and there’s nothing.”
The couple wants to do what they can to find justice for their daughter and the two others who died in the fire.
Earlier this week they and others started a GoFundMe site with the hopes of raising $10,000 as a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for arson. The site can be found at bit.ly/3ho0Hm9.
“We are reaching out into the community to see if people would be willing to help,” Scott Earl said. “Somebody knows something. Maybe this reward would be a way to encourage them to come forward.”
The fire killed Shandell and her husband, David Dewey. A 53-year-old man in the apartment also died. The only survivor was a 57-year-old woman who jumped from the second-story window. She was severely injured by the fire and the fall.
Shandell and David’s badly burned bodies were found near the window of their apartment.
The Earls said the couple had stayed at their home for a couple of days before the fire after someone attempted to start a fire earlier on their doorway. They’ll never forget their daughter’s fear.
“She had called us to say that they wanted to stay at our house for a little while,” Scott Earl said. “She said someone had tried to burn down their apartment that morning. We set up an air mattress and they slept here in the living room.”
By the weekend, David wanted to return to their home.
“I remember that she was afraid,” Earl said.
On Monday morning Scott Earl was in the middle of a Bible study when the sheriff’s car pulled up to his home. They told him about the fire and that his daughter had died.
Kelly Earl was already at work at a Corvallis preschool. She had driven by the four-plex that was a street off the main drag and hadn’t noticed that there had been a fire. A cook told her about it. When she saw her husband appear, she knew immediately what had happened.
“Mother’s Day wasn’t easy this year,” she said. “And now the date of the fire is coming up soon. And then her birthday after that. None of it’s easy.”
The couple received their daughter’s ashes in a small heart-shaped box. They were surprised by the large crowd that turned out for her funeral.
“Shandell left a legacy,” Kelly Earl said. “People have let me know that. She was so sweet and kind to people. People loved her and knowing that fills my heart.”
The Earls have lived with their own fear since that day. They have installed security around their home.
“This has put the fear of God in a lot of people,” Scott Earl said. “People have lived for 10 months in fear. We hope that this might be a way to help resolve this.”