Arrest made in vehicle fire near teens’ memorial

Joseph Daniel Rife

A 33-year-old Salem man has been arrested in connection with a car fire linked to a memorial for three teens that died in a car crash on the Salem-Keizer Parkway.

On Tuesday, July 10, Joseph Daniel Rife was arrested on a single charge of first-degree arson when he arrived for a meeting at the Marion County Parole and Probation Office in south Salem. A search warrant was executed on his residence and a dark grey Ram 1500 pickup in connection with the case.

Damage to the victim’s vehicle was estimated to be a total loss, exceeding $12,000. Through an investigation, detectives were able to establish that Mr. Rife was present at the below described June 27th disturbance on Cherry Avenue.

Rife was being held on $40,000 bail.


On Thursday, June 27, Keizer Police was notified around 1:25 a.m. about a red 2008 Ford Explorer that was on fire in a driveway in the 4700 block of 18th Ave.

Personnel from the Keizer Fire District arrived on the scene and extinguished the flames. Keizer Police detectives began investigating the case as arson because evidence indicated the fire was intentionally set.

Detectives believe the fire is likely related to a disturbance call that both Salem and Keizer police responded to earlier in the evening on Wednesday, June 26 which the victim of the car fire and several other people were involved in a verbal dispute.

The disturbance occurred at the location of a memorial at the Salem Parkway and Cherry Ave NE. The memorial was erected by family members to commemorate a traffic crash that resulted in the fatalities of three young women on June 2.

The car fire victim was at the memorial picking up items and in doing so, attracted the attention of family members and others associated with the crash victims who then arrived at the memorial. The person told the family he was there to “clean up” and throw the items away, which they strongly objected to.

Officers called to the scene determined the man had no lawful responsibility to dispose of the memorial items and also determined the memorial was not constructed in a way that endangered the public, nor did it create an obstacle for passers-by.

Juan Carlos Palacios Rodriguez has been indicted on three counts of first-degree manslaughter, as well as other charges, in connection with the deaths of Trinity Watt, Madison Capobianco and Makayla Tryon during the June 2 crash. Palacios Rodriguez was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.

The case has been assigned to Judge Thomas Hart of Marion County Circuit Court. A status hearing is slated in late July.

Officers were able to diffuse the situation on the Salem Parkway, and the parties separated.

At this time, it is not believed the car fire victim, and those associated with the crash victims know each other. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Tim Lathrop at 503 856-3481.