Orcas woman charged with arson, attempted burglary

Margot Penny Mills, 32, of Eastsound has been charged with two felonies: arson in the first degree, attempted residential burglary; and one misdemeanor: violation of a post-conviction order restricting contact.

A plea of not guilty was entered into San Juan County Superior Court on Oct. 5. During her arraignment on Oct. 23, she was released and ordered not to leave Washington state without permission of the court; to wear an ankle monitoring device and alcohol monitoring device; and to comply with an anti-harassment order. An omnibus hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20.

On April 19, Detective Raymond Harvey investigated a suspicious fire on Orcas Island. After obtaining search warrants, court records, surveillance footage, cell phone tracking and witness statements, investigators believe that Mills set fire to the rental home of a person she was previously convicted of assaulting.

In July 2022, Mills was charged with assault in the fourth degree. She was found guilty in March 2023. A post-conviction no-contact order was entered after the conviction.

According to Harvey’s report, Mills drove off the ferry at the Orcas terminal on the evening of April 19, 2023. She allegedly took a photo of the victim, who was in his vehicle in line for the ferry to go off-island. She then went to a bar in Eastsound.

Based on cell phone tower pinging and the homeowners’ ring camera footage, at 9:30 p.m., Mills is seen trying to get into the front door of the victim’s house and then walking to the back of the home with a gas can and ignition source. After the building caught fire, she is seen running back to her car. She then returned to the bar.

The homeowner called Orcas Fire and Rescue, which put the fire out by 10 p.m.

During her interview with Detective Harvey, Mills explained she had “a lot to drink, blacked out and came home.” While she stated understanding the evidence presented to her, she “didn’t recall going out and setting the fire.”