Surveillance video recovered from the rubble of a Vancouver fire that destroyed four businesses shows a man follow a convenience store employee into the back of the shop and emerge with apparent blood on his shirt before lighting coffee filters on fire, according to court documents.
The Sifton Market employee, 47-year-old Amy Marie Hooser, was found dead in the burned out building Sunday morning.
Her death was ruled a homicide caused by blunt force trauma and smoke inhalation.
Mitchell Heng, 21, was arrested Thursday night on first-degree charges of murder, arson and robbery.
A probable cause affidavit states police used surveillance images to identify Heng as the suspect.
Surveillance shows suspect
A DVR recovered at the fire scene showed Hooser arriving at the market at 5:10 a.m. Sunday. The affidavit states she unlocked the front door to allow for a delivery of newspapers and left the door unlocked as she prepped the store.
At 5:20 a.m., a man walked in, asked for a key to the restroom and followed Hooser to the back of the store. Court documents state Hooser was not seen again in the video.
When the man emerged, his white shirt had a dark-colored stain on the front that appeared similar to blood, according to a probable cause affidavit. The stain was not seen when he first entered the store.
The affidavit states the man took a carton of cigarettes and used a lighter to set coffee filters on fire. As smoke filled the store, police said the surveillance video showed the man head to the back of the store for two more minutes before returning to the front of the business with his outer shirt buttoned up.
The video stopped recording before the man left the store.
Suspect identified, admits being at store
Police contacted another Sifton Market employee with a surveillance image of the suspect and learned he was a frequent customer who was also believed to spend time at a nearby marijuana shop.
Court documents state an employee of the marijuana shop identified the suspect as Heng.
Police looked at Heng's Facebook page and said he had photos wearing the same "NY" baseball hat and similar earrings as the suspect in the surveillance footage, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Heng was contacted at a family member's home Thursday and taken into custody.
A probable cause affidavit states Heng was shown a surveillance image from Sunday at Sifton Mark and immediately said "That's me," while admitting he was at the store that that morning.
Heng stated he knew Hooser and followed her to the back of the store to rob her, according to court documents, and he was armed with a gun.
Heng told officers he stole $80 and a carton of cigarettes, according to court documents.
A probable cause affidavit states Heng admitted setting the business on fire, but refused to say how Hooser was killed.
Police said the trauma she sustained included at least four distinct blows, likely causing skull fractures.
Heng appeared in court Friday. His formal arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 1. Bail was set at $2 million.
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