No progress in arson of veteran’s house


Navajo Times | Cindy Yurth
Edward Silversmith shows a phone video someone sent him of his home burning to the ground on Feb.8.

An elderly veteran says there is plenty of evidence in the Feb. 8 arson of his home in Navajo, New Mexico, and yet neither the Navajo Nation Police nor the FBI have made any progress solving it.

Edward Silversmith, 69, said evidence in the case includes “footprints all over the place,” an abandoned backpack filled with vodka bottles, even a good description of a suspicious young man with a white dog who hung around and watched the house burn until he heard the sirens.

“I could probably solve it myself if I just knocked on a few doors,” Silversmith said. “I keep saying I want to go out there and find the guy myself, but my sister says, ‘We’re Christians. Leave it up to God.’”

Silversmith said he and his wife were in Farmington running errands the evening of Feb. 8 when his nephew called about 6 p.m. to say he had seen smoke coming from Silversmith’s double-wide.
By the time the Silversmiths had raced home, firemen had responded, but the house was completely consumed, along with everything the couple owned.

“I had stacks of pictures, scrapbooks, albums,” Silversmith said. “Nice chairs and tables, two refrigerators, my beer stein collection and a lot of old stuff, jewelry and wedding baskets.”

According to Silversmith, police investigators confirmed the fire was started from outside and turned it over to the FBI. With all the evidence at the scene, Silversmith was confident investigators would get to the bottom of the crime. But he says he hasn’t heard a thing from either Criminal Investigations or the FBI.

On Friday, no one answered the phone number Silversmith was given for criminal investigator Fayetta Dale, and Albuqueque FBI Public Affairs Specialist Frank Fisher did not return a phone call.

Silversmith had insurance on the home, but it only paid off his mortgage, leaving nothing to start over. He is currently staying at his mother’s house and his wife has gone back to her family in Black Mesa, Arizona.

“I don’t even know who to call to help me haul away the metal frame of the house,” he said.

He said the arson was not the first time he’s been a victim of crime.

“I’ve been burglarized four or five times,” he said. “They stole rifles, computers, flat-screen TVs. The police, all they do is make a report.

“Something has to be done,” he added. “It seems like they just let the criminals go.”

Silversmith is appealing to his neighbors in Navajo.

“If you know who burned down my house,” he said, “please call Criminal Investigations. I’d offer a reward, but I don’t have anything left.”

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Categories: News

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at