Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

One dead, two injured after Centralia police pursuit ends with wreck

Monday, October 24th, 2016

Acura landed in front yard on West Sixth Street, Centralia. / Courtesy photo by Centralia Police Department

Updated at 8:25 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 19-year-old driver was killed after speeding away from an attempted traffic stop, losing control of his car and striking a house in Centralia overnight.

Two women in their 20s were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries, according to authorities.

Firefighters called about 2:15 a.m. to the 300 block of West Sixth Street along with the officer initiated CPR on the Centralia man but he died at the scene from his injuries, according to the Centralia Police Department. He had been ejected, as had one of the passengers, according to police.

The Washington State Patrol will be conducting the investigation.

Centralia police say the officer had attempted to stop the car for a minor traffic violation near the intersection of Oxford Avenue and Marion Street.

The car sped westbound over the Sixth Street viaduct, continuing through intersections at North Tower Avenue and North Pearl Streets, ignoring stop signs, according to Officer John Panco.

Just west of North Pearl, the the driver lost control, the vehicle left the roadway, hitting the residence and came to rest in its front yard, Panco stated in a news release this morning.

Panco says the small import car was traveling so fast, the pursuing officer couldn’t keep up and observed some of it from the top of the Sixth Street viaduct.

The driver ejected from the vehicle landed in the roadway, according to Riverside Fire Authority. Police this morning did not know the identities of the two female passengers, according to Panco.

Centralia detective Sgt. Carl Buster indicates “some” structural damage to the house.

The fire department was assisted by members of Lewis County Fire District 6. Centralia police were joined at the scene by the personnel from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the state patrol.

Family seeking payment for injuries from SWW Fair spooked horse incident

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Helen Morgan at her father Jake Morgan’s bedside. / Courtesy photo

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Claims for as much as $5 million in damages have been filed against Lewis County on behalf of two of the several people hurt when a runaway horse and carriage plowed through a crowd at the Southwest Washington Fair.

A lawyer representing John H. Morgan, 38, from Toledo, states that his client suffered a severe brain injury, multiple broken bones and contusions and has already undergone several surgeries.

“John is out of work for an unknown period of time and may not be able to return to work in the same capacity, if at all,” Tacoma attorney Lincoln Beauregard writes.

His 4-year-old daughter Helen Morgan – who was not moving after being struck, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office – suffered five facial fractures under her eyes and has permanent scarring, according to Beauregard. Her left arm was injured as well, he wrote.

The incident happened on the afternoon of August 19, a Friday during the six-day annual fair.

Authorities initially said only that a spooked horse took off running down the midway and four individuals were taken by ambulance to Providence Centralia Hospital. A fifth person went to the hospital in a private vehicle, according to the fire chief, and a recently released report indicates the owner of the horse was also hurt.

Lewis County owns and operates the fairgrounds and the fair.

A Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputy compiled a report, for informational purposes and as assistance to fire and aid personnel.

Deputy Jeffrey Humphrey wrote he was standing near the sheriff’s office’s booth when he heard a horse pulling a buggy and it began trotting fast. He wrote that he saw people get hit, he gave chase and saw another person on the ground.

Then-Chief Deputy Stacy Brown, who had been with Humphrey, reported she also ran after the animal, noting the carriage was careening out of control behind it. She observed several injured people, she wrote.

Jennifer D. Adkinson later told the deputy she didn’t see it coming until the last minute, and pushed one of her small sons out of the way. Adkinson’s ankle was possibly broken, struck by what the Rochester woman suspected was the carriage, when she was interviewed at the hospital.

Brown and others were able to contain the horse near the north end of the midway, according to Brown’s narrative.

Chief Brown walked with the owner of the agitated horse to its stall and ensured it was confined there.

The owner, Carrie Swearingen, said her leg hurt from trying to stop the horse and carriage, but she was okay and declined aid, according to the incident report. Swearingen is from Dalles, Oregon, and was at the fair to give buggy rides to people, according to authorities.

The claims were filed with the Lewis County Risk Management office on Sept. 28, according to Risk Manager Paulette Young. Young said earlier this week, they’ve turned the claims over to the horse carriage company, for its insurance.

The Morgans were treated at Providence and also Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to their lawyer. He estimates damages for each in an amount between $2.5 million and $5 million.

Beauregard wrote that Lewis County’s liability is under investigation, as it may have contributed to the accident by “not installing proper safety measures.”

Chief Brown’s narrative gives some insight as to what may have occurred to startle the horse.

Brown wrote the horse, carriage and operator were standing in their normal location just north of the sheriff’s office’s booth.

“I observed the horse get spooked and jump, causing the carriage to rock back and forth behind it, which seemed to spook it even more,” Brown wrote. “The horse hit a large raised flower bed, causing it to fall over, which might have scared it even more.”

The horse owner told Brown she was standing next to her horse, Duramax, when a forklift drove by, spooking it, according to Brown. She said she wasn’t able to get the reins over the horse and couldn’t stop the horse as it bolted, according to Brown.

Brown further related that she saw a county forklift throughout the day carrying gates and other items, but she didn’t specifically recall seeing it next to the horse when the horse got spooked.

It’s unclear how many people were hurt during the incident.

Deputy Humphrey and Chief Brown’s reports list four known victims, plus the owner and no other witnesses. One of the four is a county employee.

The only other victim in their report is Thomas T. Mars, from Chehalis, who is also identified in the same report as Andrew T. Mars. He had a laceration near his elbow as well as scratches and/or road rash on his arms, back and both knees, according to Humphrey.

The Morgan family’s lawyer also submitted a claim for the same amount for wife and mother Emily Morgan.

“She continues to suffer from loss of consortium due to the severe injuries of her loved ones,” Beauregard wrote. She’s missing time from work to care for them and it’s unknown when she will be able to return, he wrote.

For background, read “Two of spooked horse victims on the mend, after fair accident” from Saturday August 27, 2016, here

Centralia home invasion: Third suspect gets deal for cooperating

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Brian A. Carreon, right, and his lawyer Shane O’Rourke face Judge James Lawler today in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 17-year-old Centralia boy who admitted to being one of three males captured in surveillance video at a roughly 45 second home invasion that ended with a pet dog shot dead got a break.

Brian A. Carreon appeared before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to six months in jail.

The judge said he would allow the term to be served on electronic home monitoring.

The other two men involved were sentenced last week to 10 and 12 years in prison.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher and Carreon’s defense attorney spent a great deal of time this afternoon addressing the different levels of culpability and the reason they agreed he could resolve his case with a conviction for first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

When the teen was charged in adult court last year, he faced one count of first-degree robbery.

Centralia attorney Shane O’Rourke praised the year and a half long process of getting to the bottom of what happened.

His client didn’t go to the home with the intent to commit armed robbery, he said.

Meagher focused on the issue that without Carreon’s cooperation, authorities would not have known who committed the crime.

“The guy that came clean from the get go is sitting right over there,” Meagher said, pointing to Carreon.

It happened the night of Feb. 19, 2015 at a small house on the 1200 block of Marion Street in Centralia.

The victim and his girlfriend were home with their two dogs when about three males barged through the door demanding money and weed, and fired numerous shots killing their pit bull Misty. Officers found nine shell casings and two bullet jacket fragments at the scene.

Meagher said there was one gun involved.

He told the judge today that Deandre J. Perry of Portland, then 26, kicked the front door in.

Meagher said Hennessy R. Turner-White, then 22 and also from Portland, shot the dog.

Meagher said Carreon provided his cell phone to law enforcement while the Portland suspects as recently as this summer still claimed an alibi.

“So all in all, we think this is a fair resolution,” Meagher said. “It’s probably light handed, but we make no apology for that.”

Turner-White was given 12 years last week for first-degree attempted robbery, first-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree assault and one count of first-degree animal cruelty. Perry was given 10 years for the same convictions, minus the animal cruelty.

Meagher reminded the judge Carreon had been to house before, and had taken a video of himself trimming the victim’s medical marijuana plants. O’Rourke told the judge his client shouldn’t have talked about the marijuana grow, and shouldn’t have been hanging out with the two men.

“This is someone who’s 17, dealing with adults,” O’Rourke said.

Carreon has been free on bail, working and attending Centralia College.

His lawyer asked that he be allowed to go to work and go to classes while he’s on house arrest.

On of the two victims, Dustin Palermo, was present in the courtroom for today’s hearing.

Carreon apologized when it was his turn to address the court, but he did so facing the judge.

“I would like to apologize to Mr. Palermo as well,” Carreon said. “I’m sorry. A dog is definitely part of your family.

“I sincerely apologize.”

Judge James Lawler agreed with the two lawyers deal they’d worked out, noting to the defendant that he wasn’t required to.

“Make something of yourself and don’t come back here,” Lawler said.

Carreon has until 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 to get signed up for electronic home monitoring, or he must report to the Lewis County Jail.

Palermo outside the courtroom was surprised by the short amount of time Carreon got. The last he was aware, prosecutors were seeking a year, he said.

“I’m very upset with it, because he’s the one that brought them to our home,” he said. “Without him, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Carreon’s sister, Taina Duncan, from Portland, is expected for a hearing tomorrow. She allegedly drove the three to Palermo’s home.

Meagher said she’s planning to plead guilty to first-degree rendering criminal assistance, and he’s prepared to recommend she be sentenced to six months.


For background, read:

• “News brief: Second Portland man gets prison for Centralia home invasion” Thursday October 13, 2016, here

• And, Two arrested, two sought in February Centralia home invasion” from Thursday July 9, 2015, here

Bail set at half million dollars for suspected Chehalis shooter

Monday, October 17th, 2016

Andrew C. Skyberg looks toward his mother who was sitting in the benches in Lewis County Superior Court today.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Andrew C. Skyberg was brought before a judge this afternoon, charged with first-degree assault for allegedly firing twice towards a woman standing on a Chehalis porch following an early morning argument.

Skyberg, 36, was arrested on Friday, a day after the criminal charges were filed in Lewis County Superior Court and a judge issued a $500,000 arrest warrant for him.

Prosecutors allege back on Oct. 7, there was arguing heard outside a house on the 600 block of Southwest William Avenue and Skyberg pointed his handgun in the air and fired off two to three rounds then shot twice toward Jerry Lynn Peterson. Nobody was injured.

Authorities have not offered a motive, but stated in charging documents the Chehalis man had been to the home in previous days and there was an ongoing dispute between he and residents there.

A stolen Ruger .380 pistol believed to be the weapon he used was recovered at a nearby home, and a resident there arrested for rendering criminal assistance.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joel DeFazio this afternoon asked that bail remain at a half million dollars. Temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke asked that argument on the amount be reserved for a future date.

Judge James Lawler agreed.

First-degree assault has a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Centralia attorney David Arcuri was appointed to represent Skyberg.

His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday morning in Lewis County Superior Court.

For background, read “Southwest William Avenue shooting incident suspect apprehended” from Friday October 14, 2016, here

Wind and Rain: When is that storm coming?

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The strongest winds today in the southwest interior are expected late this afternoon and early this evening, according to the National Weather Service.

A high wind warning will be in effect until 11 p.m. for most of Western Washington.

In the western half of Lewis County, we could see winds coming from the south at 20 to 35 mph with gusts near 60 mph, according to the NWS.

Weather watchers advise people to secure outdoor objects such as lightweight furniture before the storm.

High winds can topple trees onto roads, vehicles and even roof tops. The NWS reminds the public that falling trees or large branches have been known to cause fatalities. Widespread power outages are possible.

The most severe part of the storm is expected to occur here between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

No wind warning is in place for the eastern portion of Lewis County.

The only flood warning continues on the Skokomish River in Mason County, with minor flooding.

The very strong Pacific storm system with the potential also for heavy rainfall is the remnants of Pacific Typhoon Songda.

A coastal flood watch is in place for the central coast of Washington, with seas expected greater than 20 feet.

The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office has recommended citizens stay off the beaches and out of the woods because weather conditions could be treacherous.

They suggested others avoid traveling to the county for clam digging or deer hunting this weekend altogether.

• Report power outages to Lewis County PUD at 360-748-9261 or 360-496-6100

• Report power outages to Centralia City Light at 360-736-7040

To get the latest weather information straight from the primary source, go to the  National Weather Service Forecast Office in Seattle page, here

Southwest William Avenue shooting incident suspect apprehended

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies assemble outside a home across from Chehalis Middle School’s football field to make an arrest. / Courtesy photo by Janis Koplin


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 36-year-old man Chehalis police have been trying to catch for a week was booked into the Lewis County Jail this afternoon for first-degree assault.

Andrew C. Skyberg is the suspect in an early morning incident in which shots were fired outside and into the front porch railing of a house on the 600 block of Southwest William Avenue.


Andrew C. Skyberg

Authorities have said the events of Oct. 7 followed a days-long dispute between Skyberg and residents there.

Today at about 12:45 p.m., police got a tip Skyberg was at a home on the 800 block of Southwest 20th Street, and his presence there was confirmed, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

He was taken into custody with assistance from the Lewis County Regional SWAT Team, the Centralia Police Department and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, according to department spokesperson Linda Bailey.

Bailey indicated in a news release that “gas” was deployed into the residence.

Nearby Chehalis Middle School and Olympic Elementary School were placed on lockdown as a precautionary measure, according to Bailey.

Two other occupants of the house exited at the request of police, and one of them was booked for a warrant on an unrelated matter, Bailey stated.

On Monday morning, three Chehalis schools were placed on lockdown for a period of time when police acted on a report Skyberg was spotted in the area of the 100 block of Southwest Sixth Street.

Two people were arrested last Friday, one for for allegedly helping hide Skyberg’s handgun and the other for allegedly giving him a ride out of the area.

Charging documents in their cases include information about the approximately 3 a.m. shooting incident.

Police were told by witnesses Skyberg was on the sidewalk outside the house when he pointed his handgun in the air and fired off two to three shots then shot twice toward Jerry Peterson, who was standing on the front porch, according to court documents.

Nobody was injured.

Neither police nor prosecutors have offered any insight as to the nature of the dispute.

For background, read “Details emerge about Southwest William Avenue shooting incident” from Tuesday October 11, 2016, here

Packwood: Local drug detectives and feds interrupt drug trafficking

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Shelton woman and a Packwood woman were arrested outside a pizza restaurant in Packwood yesterday as one was allegedly about to exchange cash for two half-pound packages of methamphetamine from the other.

Torina M. Lorenzano, 46, from Yakima, and Dawn M. Cooper, 43, from Shelton, were arrested by members of the local drug detective team and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

They were booked into the Lewis County Jail and brought before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer told the judge Lorenzano admitted to supplying three to four pounds of meth and more than a half pound of heroin each week to people in Lewis and Thurston counties.

Cooper acknowledged buying two of those pounds of meth each week from Lorenzano, Meyer said.

Both were charged today with numerous felonies. Judge James Lawler set bail at $100,000 for Lorenzano, and $150,000 for Cooper.

Law enforcement found more than $4,800 cash in Cooper’s truck, most of which she said was to purchase the meth, and the rest for a past debt, according to charging documents.

According to charging documents, detectives with the local Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team began to follow Cooper as she drove throughout county yesterday, based in part on monitored phone calls from the Lewis County Jail in which she and an inmate discussed drugs and money in veiled language.

JNET announced this afternoon their three-county investigation began in July, in coordination with the DEA, U.S. Marshals and the fugitive apprehension team with the state Department of Corrections.

The trafficking organization they began looking into deals in both heroin and meth, according to JNET.

According to JNET, they identified Cooper as the person they believed was continuing business for her significant other, a 41-year-old Centralia man who was arrested Sept. 29 for allegedly possessing and delivering meth.

Five ounces of meth were seized in connection with the arrest of William “Aaron” Barge, according to authorities. Charging documents state over $12,000 cash was confiscated as well.

“While investigating Cooper, numerous ‘workers’ and customers were identified as well as her main supplier,” JNET wrote in its news release. “This investigation is ongoing and several more suspects are being sought by JNET.”

On Monday, JNET learned Cooper was staying in a motel in Tumwater, and although she fled, law enforcement subsequently allegedly found under the mattress in her room approximately 68 grams of meth and 28 grams of heroin, according to court papers.

Yesterday in Packwood, law enforcement watched as Lorenzano carried a bag from her truck and got into Cooper’s vehicle, which contained the pound of meth in two burrito-sized packages as well as a white smaller package that contained five ounces of heroin, according to court papers.

When  Lorenzano’s truck was searched, another half pound of meth plus three gram of cocaine were found, the documents state.

Inside Cooper’s vehicle, officers located six to 10 grams of meth, a digital scale and numerous “clean” baggies, the documents relate.

The street value of the seized drugs is estimated at $150,000.

Their arraignments are set for Oct. 20.

The overall investigation is being reviewed by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Assistant United States Attorney’s Office for charging considerations, according to JNET.

Details emerge about Southwest William Avenue shooting incident

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Felicia D. Lane, left, and Bryan K. Butts, right, appear in Lewis County Superior Court on charges of rendering criminal assistance.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A days-long dispute between residents at a south Chehalis home and 36-year-old Andrew C. Skyberg preceded the early morning incident in which he allegedly fired two shots towards one of them while she was standing on the front porch, according to court papers.

The events just before 3 o’clock in the morning on Friday led to the arrests of two people who reportedly assisted Skyberg afterward and a manhunt that was still ongoing as of this afternoon.

Documents filed in Lewis County Superior Court state that police were told by witnesses Skyberg was on the sidewalk outside the house on the 600 block of Southwest William Avenue when he pointed his handgun in the air and fired off two to three shots then shot twice toward the female victim.


Andrew C. Skyberg, wanted

Callers to 911 reported hearing arguing outside and the sound of gun fire.

The woman was not hurt, but officers recovered one bullet lodged in the wooden front railing and two .380 caliber shell casings on the sidewalk, according to authorities.

Skyberg had reportedly been to the house over the previous few days.

Chehalis police have not disclosed any details related to motive.

Arrested on Friday and charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with first-degree rendering criminal assistance were Bryan K. Butts, 32, and Felicia D. Lane, 28.

Charging documents in their cases suggest that police came to learn Skyberg had been at Lane’s nearby home, became upset, left and then a short time later she heard gun shots.

Lane resides on the 100 block of Southwest Sixth Street. Court documents give the same address for her boyfriend, Butts, although Chehalis police initially described him as  Cinebar resident.

Police were told Skyberg then came running back into her home, said he needed a ride out of there and handed Lane a cloth-wrapped object containing a firearm that she hid in her room, according to court documents. Officers recovered a Ruger .380 pistol.

The gun had recently been stolen in a vehicle prowl, according to police.

A detective was told Butts gave Skyberg a ride to McFadden Park.

Yesterday morning, police were told Skyberg was seen around 100 block of Southwest Sixth Street and three schools in the area were locked down while officers from multiple agencies scoured the area.

When Butts and Lane were brought before a judge yesterday afternoon, he set bail for each of them at $100,000. Their arraignments are scheduled for Thursday.

For background, read “Manhunt underway near Chehalis schools” from Monday October 10, 2016, here


Chehalis police use a saw to collect evidence from in front of the targeted house on Southwest William Avenue on Friday morning.

Centralia home invasion case in which pit bull was shot coming to a close

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Hennessy R. Turner-White faces a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – One of three suspects in a Centralia home invasion in which a pet dog was shot and killed early last year apologized to one of the victims today, just before he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Hennessy R. Turner-White of Portland was 22 when he was arrested last summer as police began to piece together what led to incident at the 1200 block of Marion Street, at the north end of town.

Officers had arrested a 17-year-old Centralia boy, Brian A. Carreon, and subsequently arrested another Portland man, 26-year-old Deandre J. Perry.


Marion Street, Feb. 19, 2015

Carreon’s sister from Portland, Taina Duncan, was arrested and charged with rendering criminal assistance for allegedly driving the others to the house.

On the night of Feb. 19, 2015, Dustin Palermo and his girlfriend had just settled into bed to watch a movie, when about three males barged through the door demanding money and weed, and fired numerous shots killing their pit bull Misty.

The former Navy corpsman had a small, and legal, amount of medical marijuana plants growing inside, for himself and another patient. It turned out, prosecutors alleged in court papers, the teenager had been there before and took a video of himself trimming the plants.

Turner-White in a plea deal pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted robbery, first-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree assault and one count of first-degree animal cruelty.

His lawyer asked the judge to go along with the agreed recommendation of 144 months in prison.

“He made a horrible decision, that will affect his life forever,” Robert Quillian said. “Fortunately, he will be a relatively young man when he is released.”

Turner-White’s mother was the only person present in the courtroom to support him.

Palermo addressed the judge, saying the hardest part has been that his children’s friends can’t come around, because he was labeled a drug user.

Before he was sentenced, Turner-White turned to face Palermo and said he was sorry. He told him he didn’t shoot his dog to be mean, but only out of fear.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler agreed to the deal the lawyers had worked out.

The defendant had no criminal history.

Lawler told him his incredibly stupid and bad decision is why he was getting so much time.

“You’re a young man, if you want to have a life, you’ll have to do things differently,” Lawler said. “But first you’ll have to pay the penalty.”

Perry has already pleaded guilty and is going to be sentenced on Wednesday.

Carreon is scheduled to be in court on Oct. 19, expected to plead guilty and be sentenced.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said he’s still trying to get Duncan back up here from Portland. Her trial is still on the court’s calendar for the week of Nov. 14.

For background, read “Law enforcement finds Centralia robbery suspect in Vancouver jail” from Thursday October 1, 2015, here

Correction: This had been updated to reflect the correct date of Brian A. Carreon’s upcoming court hearing.

Manhunt underway near Chehalis schools

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Wanted: Andrew C. Skyberg

Updated at 2:24 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Three Chehalis schools are in lockdown this morning while police search for a suspect from an incident last week.

Chehalis Police Department spokesperson Linda Bailey said that around 8:36 a.m. today, officers got a report that 36-year-old Andrew C. Skyberg was seen in the area of the 100 block of Southwest Sixth Street.

They, with assistance from other law enforcement agencies are in the area trying to locate him, Bailey said.

St. Joseph School, R.E. Bennett Elementary School and Cascade Elementary School went into lockdown as a precaution, she said.

Skyberg is wanted as the primary suspect in an early morning incident on Friday in which multiple gunshots were fired outside a home following an argument at the 600 block of Southwest William Avenue.

Nobody was injured and police said on Friday afternoon they recovered what they believed to be the handgun used.

Chehalis police at about 12:40 p.m. today said officers were unable to locate Skyberg this morning, but asked for help from the public.

Officers were told this morning he was wearing a brown hoody and blue jeans.

Anyone with information about Skyberg’s location or information about Friday’s incident is asked to call 911 or, to remain anonymous, call the Thurston County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


For background, read “Chehalis: Two arrested, primary suspect outstanding from early morning shooting” from Friday October 7, 2016 at 5:04 p.m., here

Chehalis: Two arrested, primary suspect outstanding from early morning shooting

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Officers collect evidence from outside a home on Southwest William Avenue.

Updated at 5:22 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Police have recovered the handgun they believe was used in this morning’s shooting incident and arrested two people for “aiding and abetting” but are still trying to track down their suspect.

Officers responded to the 600 block of Southwest William Avenue after receiving multiple calls just before 3 a.m. from people hearing four or five gunshots following an argument outside a small house.

Nobody was struck and nobody was hurt but one bullet lodged in the railing along the front porch, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

Department spokesperson Linda Bailey said the individual with the gun was outside when the shots were fired.

Several people reside there, but Bailey said she doesn’t know how many of them were home at the time. The suspect and victim or victims were acquaintances, she said.

Bailey said she doesn’t have information this afternoon about a motive.

Next door neighbor Sharon Edwards said she didn’t know what was going on, but stayed put after hearing gunfire.

“I didn’t get up, I was frozen on the couch,” Edwards said.

When daylight came, she saw detectives outside, placing as many as 10 yellow markers, she said.

Officers recovered only the one round, according to Bailey.

The suspect police are looking for is 36-year-old Andrew C. Skyberg, his whereabouts are unknown, according to the police department.

Bailey said she didn’t know where the .380 handgun was found, but it had recently been stolen in a vehicle prowl.

Arrested today for aiding and abetting and booked into the Lewis County Jail are Bryan K. Butts, 32, from Cinebar and Felicia D. Lane, 28, of Chehalis, according to the police department. Bailey had no specific details about whatever help they are alleged to have provided.

Skyberg is described as a white male with very short hair, 5-feet 10-inches tall and weighing 175 pounds. He has tattoos on both arms.

Anyone with information about Skyberg’s location or information about this incident is asked to call 911 or, to remain anonymous, call the Thurston County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

For background, read “Argument leads to multiple gunshots in south Chehalis” from Friday October 7, 2016 at 7:26 a.m., here


Chehalis police prepare to leave the crimes scene on William Avenue this morning.

Case closed: Chehalis Main Street shooting ends with prison, jail for married couple

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Hillary Harader, far left, faces Judge Nelson Hunt while her husband, in red, speaks with his attorney.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – With almost two dozen family members, friends, co-workers and even their pastor and employer occupying the row of benches behind them, a Centralia couple pleaded guilty to their roles in an incident which included a bullet ending up lodged in the side of the Dairy Bar on Chehalis’s Main Street.

Both entered into plea deals with the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

Matthew W. Harader, 27, admitted he fired a shot toward an occupied pickup truck.

Hillary M. Harader, 23, admitted she subsequently took the gun from her husband and helped destroy it.

The couple went before a judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court in connection with the events that occurred around 3:15 a.m. on Aug. 28.

Chehalis police responded to the area of the gas station at the 600 block of Main Street, to a report of a shooting. The clerk said two men and a woman had been inside the store there, although they arrived in separate vehicles, according to court documents. She then saw what looked like one male outside who appeared to fire toward a pickup truck heading westbound, court documents related.

When police spoke to the two men from the truck, they indicated they’d left the store and one of two men there began to yell and chase them, before firing a weapon.

Nobody was injured. Police recovered two .45 caliber casings at the scene.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told the judge his office has not heard back from the victims. He revealed there actually were four people inside the truck.

He said he watched the surveillance video from the Jackpot the following day, and saw of them inside the store, but didn’t see any contact between them.

“Something happened outside,” Halstead said. “We believe words were spoken from the victim towards a female.”

He said obviously it was a spur of the moment crime that occurred, that Matthew Harader was probably high on meth.

Matthew Harader pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree assault.

The standard sentencing range for his offenses is between 111 months and 147 months, and Halstead asked for 147.

His lawyer Katherine Gulmert said her client is extremely remorseful

Judge Nelson Hunt agreed to the prison term of twelve years and three months. He said the three years of community custody following release should include a drug treatment program.

When it came time for Hillary Harader to plead guilty to second-degree rendering criminal assistance and tampering with evidence, the judge volunteered he knew her well.

“I’ve known her since she was a child, she was a good friend of my daughter’s,” Hunt said, adding she was also involved in recovery court.

He asked Halstead and her lawyer if either objected to him presiding. They didn’t.

Halstead said when the vehicles left the gas station, Matthew Harader got out of the vehicle he was in and ran back to the car his wife was in, giving her a handgun to dispose of.

Her attorney Robert Brungardt told the judge that his client authorized him to approach prosecutors the very day of her arraignment.

“She knew she had a duty to acknowledge and accept the consequences,” he said.

The two sides recommended to the judge that Hillary Harader serve 60 days, with the option of doing it on electronic home monitoring. And also that $6,000 worth of fines be suspended provided she has no law violations.

Judge Hunt agreed.

He ordered her to report to the Lewis County Jail by Oct. 25, or show evidence she’s on the home monitoring by then.

For background read “Chehalis shooting: Firearm still missing, one round recovered from Dairy Bar” from Friday September 2, 2016, here

Teen admits to theft of police car, reckless escape up I-5

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Dashaud D. Cummings, right, and his lawyer face a judge this morning in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The teenager who stole a police chief’s car, knocking down a trooper as he drove away and was finally caught in the woods off Interstate 5 was given a 29-month sentence today.

Dashaud D. Cummings, 17, was charged in adult court for the events of Aug. 10 that began with a pursuit down Interstate 5 that reached speeds of 100 mph, reached a golf course in Chehalis where he climbed into the Chehalis chief’s car while law enforcement officers looked for him, according to prosecutors. After striking the trooper as he backed up, Cummings drove north on Interstate 5, hitting two cars along the way and finally ditching the unmarked patrol car on the side of the roadway.

His passenger told police he didn’t have a license; he told police he was running because he didn’t want to get arrested for a warrant, according to charging documents.

“There was no reason for it,” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told the judge today.

Now Cummings has four felonies, he said.

The Lacey resident pleaded guilty this morning as charged, to second-degree assault, attempting to elude and theft of a motor vehicle as well as hit and run.

The trooper was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, having been hit with the side of the car because its wheels were turned and landing on his hands and knee, according to authorities.

A plea deal was struck in which both sides would recommend Cummings get the top of the standard sentencing range and pay restitution for all the damage he caused, whether or not it was charged, according to Halstead.

Defense attorney David Brown noted to the judge his client has been respectful and wants to make some changes.

Judge James Lawler agreed with the 29 months.

Cummings’ family members sat behind him in the courtroom in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis.

“I would encourage you when you get out to do things differently,” Lawler said. “You’ve got people here supporting you, but that’s not going to go on forever.”

He alluded to some defendants who eventually end up in criminal court alone.

“Family can only take so much,” he said.

For background, read “Lacey teen gets adult court in theft of police chief’s car case” from Wednesday August 31, 2016, here

Dogs chained in forest near Morton belonged to homeless man

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Richard D. Carlile faces a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – When Richard D. Carlile spoke with a sheriff’s deputy as he tried to retrieve his dogs from the animal shelter on Friday, he believed they’d broken their chains and wandered away from the camp where he lived in the woods outside Morton.

The 29-year-old said he’d searched for them for about one day and then packed up and moved to another location, according to court documents. He told the deputy he was homeless and had been living in the woods for quite some time.

He asked the deputy where was his elderly pitbull Fat Man and was told the dog was collected by a good samaritan almost a week earlier and the deputy himself picked up the two now at the shelter the following day.

Carlile said he couldn’t understand, because all his dogs were present and accounted for when he was with them at the camp Monday and Tuesday, court documents relate.

Carlile was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with one count of first-degree animal cruelty and two counts of second-degree animal cruelty.

The case began on Saturday evening Sept. 24, when a woman called the sheriff’s office to say she’d discovered a dog chained to a tree in the forest. She believed it was left to die there.

The elderly pitbull couldn’t walk and could barely lift its head, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The following day, Deputy Ezra Andersen, with the woman, returned to the area because she’d heard other dogs barking. There were two vacant tents and four other pitbulls tethered to trees.

Andersen found one bag of dog food, but it had water in it and a a significant amount of mold, according to court documents.

One of the dogs, a white and tan pitbull whose name was later learned to be Harley, appeared to be malnourished, with exposed ribs on both sides and defined vertebrae down his back, according to charging documents. His chain was no more than 18-inches long and while there was a water bucket, it contained a myriad of algae and other debris, the documents relate.

A white female pitbull, whose name turned out to be Chronic, was very skinny and the four to six-inch lead from her chain barely allowed her just barely to move from a standing position to laying down, according to the documents. She had a a skin irritation and redness around her face and ears, with oozing fluid around her eyes, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joel DeFazio wrote.

She also had “copious” amounts of dirt on her spine,  causing her to lose some hair and a raw spot on her tail, he wrote.

A pail with water about six feet away was in the same condition as Harley’s, according to DeFazio.

The deputy put the two dogs in the back of his patrol car and took them to the Lewis County Animal Shelter. The other two couldn’t be collected at that time because of their agitated and aggressive behavior and when deputies returned the following day, were gone, according to DeFazio.

The camp was about six miles from state Route 508, on Forest Service Road 73.

The animal shelter posted about the two found dogs and got a response from someone who said they belonged to her brother and he would pick them up on Friday.

Carlile went to retrieve them, and was arrested.

Carlile asked about Fat Man, the reddish, rust-colored male, and was told the woman who found him agreed to take care of him. He was emaciated, seemed to be suffering and had dirt and debris inside his mouth, DeFazio stated in court documents.

DeFazio wrote that Fat Man passed away two days after he was picked out of the woods. He suffered from slight malnutrition and dehydration as well as fleas an possible cancer, according to DeFazio.

In Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon, temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke described her client as living on social security disability payment, with no other income or assets.

As bail was discussed, the two lawyers noted he has no felony history, but had been arrested and convicted this year for driving under the influence.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello asked the judge to hold Carlile on $5,000 bail.

O’Rourke asked for a $25,000 signature bond, co-signed by Carlile’s father. Carlile would go to live with his father and sister in Onalaska, she said.

His arraignment is set for Oct. 13.

For background, read “News brief: Dogs found chained to trees in forest outside Morton” from Monday October 3, 2016 at 10:01 a.m., here

Facebook: Onalaska resident arrested after photo alleged to be with underage girlfriend surfaces

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Cody M. Cothran faces a judge in Lewis County Superior Court during a bail hearing yesterday.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children forwarded to a local detective led to a 15-year-old Lewis County girl who had uploaded images of herself to her Facebook account, showing her unclothed private parts.

Of particular interest to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office was a photo of the girl with a penis in her mouth, and Facebook text messages between her and a 21-year-old that suggested an intimate relationship.

Sheriff’s detective Jamey McGinty this week went to the girl’s address and spoke to a relative who said she hadn’t been home in two weeks, but had a boyfriend who lived in Onalaska.

McGinty found the girl there and interviewed her, learning she and Cody M. Cothran, 21, were boyfriend and girlfriend and that he allegedly took the picture in question, of the two of them, according to court documents.

She told McGinty that Cothran knew she was only 15, according to court documents.

“She said Cody told her to be careful who she told about their relationship and that he could get into trouble if their relationship was discovered,” court documents state.

McGinty placed Cothran under arrest and read him his Miranda warnings, Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher wrote.

That was on Wednesday. Yesterday afternoon, Cothran was brought before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court.

He is charged with one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, an offense with a maximum penalty of 10 year in prison. He is also charged with third-degree rape of a child. That crime can bring as much as five years behind bars.

Charging documents don’t indicate if Facebook had removed the photos from the girl’s page. They don’t state if the text exchanges between the two were viewable by the public, or if they were private messages that the detective somehow accessed.

There is no indication the girl is in trouble.

Temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge Cothran is unemployed and qualified for a court appointed lawyer.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joel DeFazio said Cothran has no prior criminal convictions of any sort.

Judge Nelson Hunt allowed Cothran to remain free pending his trial, based on a $25,000 unsecured bond co-signed by his grandfather.

Judge Hunt ordered Cothran to turn over any computer he has to his newly appointed lawyer, David Brown by his arraignment.

Prosecutors: Winlock store clerk and suspect faked robbery

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Cheryl D. Oleachea waits to leave the courtroom after her bail hearing today in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The clerk from Winlock’s Handi store has been arrested in connection with the robbery there earlier this month.

Police arrested a 45-year-old Winlock man for the Sept. 6 incident and charged him with second-degree robbery and second-degree burglary. Tamrick A. Torres told them he and the clerk had conspired to rob the store because she was unhappy with her wages there, according to prosecutors.

And last week, when an officer ran into him, stopping him for speeding, Torres reportedly shared further details, according to court documents.

“Torres stated that his attorney would be mad at him for providing this  information, but that he didn’t care,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.

Torres allegedly said he had the mask he used that night and also a BB gun that looked like a pistol which the clerk provided him to make it look more realistic, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello wrote.

When police were called to the nighttime incident on Kerron Avenue, they were told a person wearing a skeleton-type mask, had a handgun, demanded money from the till and the clerk handed it over. She said the subject had reached toward his waistband where she saw what looked like the black handle of a firearm, but Torres subsequently told police he didn’t use the BB gun during the robbery because he thought it was a bad idea.

On Monday, the clerk, Cheryl D. Oleachea was contacted by law enforcement and continued to deny any involvement, according to Masiello. But she underwent a polygraph examination and the results show she was not truthful, according to Masiello.

Oleachea, 53, was arrested yesterday and booked into the Lewis County Jail. She was charged today with second-degree theft in Lewis County Superior Court. The owner reported $1,589 in cash was missing.

Judge Nelson Hunt allowed her release on a $10,000 unsecured bond. Her arraignment is next week.

For background, read “Robber with black and white Scream-type mask hits Winlock store” from Wednesday September 7, 2016, here

Final suspect in drug-related robbery going to prison

Thursday, September 29th, 2016


By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The final of four suspects in a Centralia heroin-related incident this summer that resulted in a fight inside a car with a box cutter and bear spray was sentenced yesterday to one year and a day in prison.

Kiana J. DeLaRosa, 18, of Chehalis, was convicted by plea of second-degree robbery, but didn’t show up earlier this month for her sentencing hearing.

She and prosecutors had a deal in place in which she would have gotten only six months in jail, given she had no criminal history.

Yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court, she pleaded guilty to bail jumping and the cases were combined for the longer sentence.

Prosecutors alleged a set up of a drug deal; the two victims told police of a request to get some heroin for DeLaRosa who claimed to be “drug sick.” It happened at the 1600 block of North Scheuber Road in Centralia at about 6:45 a.m. on Saturday, July 30.

A purse and a backpack were taken and two of the subjects admitted to finding a small amount of heroin and using it before they were contacted by officers.

DeLaRosa’s attorney Chris Baum told the judge his client made bad choices and compounded her issues by not coming back to court.

DeLaRosa told the judge she wants someone to help her with her drug addiction.

“I just regret my mistake that I made, and I take full responsibility for them,” she said.

Judge Nelson Hunt imposed the agreed upon recommendation of Baum and the prosecutor’s office.

Robert Plasencia, 29, of Napavine, got 22 months when he was sentenced last month for second-degree robbery.

Andrea Parker, 34, and Jon Parker, 32, of Chehalis, pleaded guilty soon after to conspiracy to commit second-degree robbery. He was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. She was given 50 months as her conviction was combined with four other cases from this year.

For background, read “Bear spray, box cutter and heroin” from Friday August 12, 2016, here

Former Mossyrock city official sorry for theft, gets prison time

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Doneia A. Santiago turns to hug family members goodbye following her sentencing hearing this morning in Lewis County Superior Court.

Updated at 6:25 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The now-former Mossyrock city clerk-treasurer is heading to prison with a five year sentence for embezzling what the mayor says comes to more than $67,000.

Doneia A. Santiago, 53, came to Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis today, free on a signature bond since her June arrest, and was taken into custody at the end of the hearing.

Defense attorney Don Blair didn’t ask the judge for a particular amount of time for his client, but noted she was cooperative after the mayor approached her and left her job without taking her final paycheck. She even borrowed a large sum of money from a friend in an attempt to begin repaying the loss, but prosecutors wouldn’t accept it as part of a deal for less time, he said.

“She got into a situation where she was short on funds and started using the city’s bank account to pay her mortgage,” Blair told the judge. “Clearly she regrets that.”

The defendant told the court she was very sorry.

Santiago was charged initially with first-degree theft, for what at first looked like less than $8,000 taken over a less than three-year period. By mid-July, documents were filed indicating investigators found evidence more than $37,000 was taken. A deal was struck in which she pleaded guilty to nine counts of first-degree identity theft earlier this month.

Mossyrock Mayor Tom Meade addressed the court, on behalf of the town’s 750 residents, he said, about how Santiago breached the public’s trust.

“She failed completely in her duties,” Meade said. “It’s an example of why people have lost faith in government.”

Meade spoke of stolen credit cards, late night transfers, false invoices submitted to the council and a scheme so complex even three audits by the state missed it.

“She was that clever, she was that good at it,” the mayor said.

Mayor Meade said some of her family members should be ashamed of themselves for what he claimed was participation in the wrongdoing.

More than a dozen apparent supporters sat in the benches behind Santiago, including family. Roughly the same number, including city council members, were on the other side of the courtroom with the mayor.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello recommended to the judge Santiago get five years, plus community custody following her release and pay various fines and fees. Restitution will be determined at a future date, he said. Masiello looked to the mayor for the preliminary number of $67,079.95.

“With the conduct in this case and the length of time it went on, we think 60 months is appropriate,” he said.

Judge Nelson Hunt agreed with the state, saying it’s his experience that almost everyone caught embezzling comes up with excuses and then apologizes.

“The jail time starts right now,” Hunt said.

Outside the courtroom, Masiello said the particular charges to which she was convicted helped the state get the amount of time it sought, and because of the sentencing guidelines, keeping the theft charges would not have resulted in a longer sentence.

Santiago started working for the central Lewis County city in August 2013 and was terminated in June.

The deputy clerk, Daydra Stewart, was confirmed by the council as acting city clerk-treasurer in July. Mayor Meade suggested they are in no hurry to make a final decision about a new clerk-treasurer.

“We’re going to let some time pass,” he said.


For background, read “Former Mossy city clerk pleads guilty to putting city funds in  personal account” from Wednesday September 7, 2016, here

Drugs, guns and an arrest in Chehalis

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Drannon B. Smythe sits with his temporary defense attorney this afternoon in from of judge in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – He said he came to the door with a loaded AK-47, but put it down when law enforcement outside verified who they were, court documents state.

Twenty-three-year-old Drannon B. Smythe was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with possession of heroin with intent to deliver, possession of methamphetamine and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

The criminal charges follow his arrest at his Chehalis home yesterday on the 200 block of Newaukum Valley Golf Course Drive, according to the documents.

Drug detectives served a search warrant there, seizing thirteen firearms from around the apartment, several of which were loaded, including a TEC-9 that was on the wall, the documents relate.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello writes law enforcement collected approximately one ounce of heroin, roughly a quarter ounce of meth, digital scales and just over $3,000 cash as well as several prescription pills. They found thousands of clean, unused baggies, according to Masiello.

Smythe allegedly told detectives the guns belonged to him and he’d obtained them through drug transactions.

He reportedly said if law enforcement had served the warrant the previous day, he’d have had pounds of methamphetamine, but he was robbed.

The case was handled by the local Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team. Further details were not readily available this afternoon.

Temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge this afternoon her client was currently unemployed and has only one previous conviction.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joel DeFazio requested bail be set at $25,000. Judge Nelson Hunt ordered Smythe held with $100,000 bail.

Former association treasurer charged with 10 felony counts for alleged dipping into account

Monday, September 26th, 2016

April K. Kelley prepares to leave the courtroom after being charged with theft and forgery today in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Prosecutors asked for $100,000 bail today for the now-former Lewis County social services manager, suggesting the theft charges against her are so serious she might not return to court.

Thirty-five-year-old April K. Kelley posted $20,000 bail over the weekend, was released from jail and then came to Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon.

The Centralia woman is accused of spending money that belonged to an association where she served as treasurer, going all the way back to 2011. The alleged amounts are in the tens of thousands of dollars.

“The more we look, the more we find,” Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said.

Kelley worked at the Lewis County Department of Public Health & Social Services, and in that capacity, served as treasurer for the Association of County Human Services. ACHS is a non-profit group with members who provide or administer public programs related to chemical dependency, mental health and developmental disabilities.

Authorities allege Kelley admitted to withdrawing money from ACHS account in person at the bank for herself, writing checks to herself and transferring money into her account directly. At least one time, she made her mortgage payment directly from the association’s account, according to Meyer.

Kelley was charged today with four counts of first-degree theft, each with an additional factor of being major economic offense and six counts of forgery.

Meyer said each of the first four counts represent a 12-month period, and numerous transactions. The most recent forgery is listed as July 5 of this year, according to court documents.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office this morning said a new treasurer last year reviewed the books and found $60,000 to $70,000 missing.

The records are now being reviewed by a forensic accountant to determine the exact extent of illegal activity, according to Meyer.

When Kelley went before Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler, temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke argued for lower bail, indicating Kelley wouldn’t be a flight risk.

“She’s married to a probation officer, they have two children, she’s lived in Lewis County her entire life,” O’Rourke said.

Kelley plans to hire Centralia defense attorney Shane O’Rourke.

Judge Lawler left her bail at the $20,000 already posted, noting that was because in part she showed up for court on her own.

Her arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 6.


For background, read “Thousands of dollars removed from governmental association account, Centralia woman arrested” from Monday September 26, 2016 at 8:51 a.m., here

Thousands of dollars removed from governmental association account, Centralia woman arrested

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Updated at 12:09 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 35-year-old Centralia woman has been arrested following an investigation into as much as $70,000 discovered missing from the account of an association she worked for while employed at the Lewis County Health Department.

April K. Kelley was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree theft on Friday and is tentatively scheduled to go before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said that Kelley was the treasurer for the Association of County Human Services between 2010 and 2014 while she worked at the county health department.

A new treasurer last year reviewed the books and found $60,000 to $70,000 missing, according to Breen.

The association takes in about $90,000 each year in dues from members, comprised of representatives from each of Washington’s 39 counties, according to Breen.

ACHS is a non-profit group with members who provide or administer programs related to chemical dependency, mental health and developmental disabilities. It is an affiliate of the Washington State Association of Counties, according to information on its web site.

Breen said this morning Kelley admitted to removing money from the account, saying she didn’t keep track but estimated around $90,000. She replaced $50,000 of it in 2011 with money borrowed from a family member, he said.

He said the amount stolen is currently estimated as between $40,000 to $70,000.

Kelley was hired at the Lewis County Department of Public Health & Social Services in July 2007. She is no longer employed there, as of this past Friday, according to Director Danette York.

She was the social services manager, with responsibilities for programs for housing, behavioral health, developmental disabilities, and senior services.

It appears she may have bailed out of jail yesterday, from information on the Lewis County Jail’s online roster.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, September 25th, 2016



• A 29-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle in connection with a case associated with a location at North Tower Avenue and Susan Street on Friday night, according to the Centralia Police Department. David J. Eslick was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Someone broke into a vehicle parked on the 500 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia and stole a Galaxy Note tablet computer, according to a report made to police just after 3 p.m. on Friday.


• Centralia police were called to the 100 block of South Tower Avenue about 10:40 p.m. yesterday where tires had been slashed on a parked vehicle.


• Chehalis firefighters stood by at the airport after being notified a small plane was going to make an emergency landing on Friday. Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Casey Beck said he got a phone call from Seattle air traffic control, asking for their assistance. “They said, ‘hey, we’ve got a plane having difficulty with their alternator, they think it will be fine, but they’re going to land in Chehalis’,” Beck said. He notified dispatch at about 11:30 a.m. the crew was heading to the Chehalis-Centralia Airport, he said. “Probably about 15 minutes later, it came down and landed without problems,” he said.


• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, protection order violation, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence; responses for alarm, dispute, disorderly person, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more among 280 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 48-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

Former Chehalis Chief Hamilton dies in Mexico

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Former Chehalis Chief of Police and Fire Services Randy C. Hamilton passed away on Saturday in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, at age 65.


Randy C. Hamilton
1951 – 2016

Hamilton retired from the city of Chehalis in March 2002, and went on to work for the U.S. Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center traveling the country and teaching, according to his daughter.

“He taught a lot of classes, all over the U.S. really, and even Guam,” Kalessa Markham said.

The Chehalis native moved to the Tacoma area about 10 years ago and worked as a handyman and then, as general manager of a bar in Tacoma called The Mix, Markham said.

He retired for good in August and decided he would move to a place he enjoyed visiting so much, she said.

Markham said her father’s death was unexpected, but he died peacefully with family members around him.

“I’m realizing what an impact he had, not just in our community, but everywhere,” she said. “It’s so nice to know he’s missed by so many people.”

Hamilton began his law enforcement career as a Lewis County sheriff’s deputy, spending his last five years as the undersheriff. He ran for sheriff, and lost. Then in 1987 was hired by the city of Chehalis.

Hamilton leaves behind three children, three grandchildren and other family.

A public viewing at Brown Mortuary in Chehalis is scheduled for tomorrow between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. A family graveside service will be held on Saturday.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. at the Chehalis Middle School Commons. Everyone is welcome, his daughter said.

Former Green Hill counselor gets jail, treatment in inmate sex case

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Erin Snodgrass is escorted out of the courtroom to jail after hearing in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Green Hill School counselor who engaged in a sexual relationship with a student-inmate was sentenced today to 14 days in jail plus 46 treatment sessions.

Erin Snodgrass, also known as Erin Stiebritz, was arrested in January following an investigation that began after a letter was intercepted at the state juvenile detention facility.

The student, who turned 18 during the period of time in question, told detectives they had sex a few times in her office, according to court documents.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court he and her lawyer came to an agreement to recommend she be sentenced to a lower than usual amount of time.

Snodgrass, 37, pleaded guilty to first-degree custodial sexual misconduct in July, an offense with a standard sentencing range of six to 12 months in jail.

Halstead said the reason for less time included the fact that she has taken responsibility for it and also the interview with the student was not recorded and he later denied everything.

Snodgrass began working at Green Hill in June 2013. The events investigated occurred during the latter half of 2014. She has been free and out of custody with an unsecured bond since her arrest.

Defense attorney Blake Kremer told the judge his client takes all of this very seriously.

“She made a terrible mistake,” Kremer said. “That’s what she’ll be paying for forever.”

He noted her family stands by her, although she didn’t want them to come to the hearing. Kremer pointed out three friends in the courtroom who were there to support Snodgrass.

She addressed the court, her voice breaking.

“This has really done a lot of damage to my family and my friends,” Snodgrass said.

Judge James Lawler said he’d read the pre-sentencing report and the sentencing memorandum, and it was obvious to him the defendant felt remorse. He adopted the recommended sentence.

On paper, she was given 60 days in jail, however all but 14 of those days were each converted to one treatment session.

Neither Halstead nor Kremer mentioned, nor would they say outside the courtroom, the nature of the treatment.

Green Hill in Chehalis is run by the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, a division of the Department of Social and Health Services. It’s a secure facility in Chehalis that provides older, male offenders education and vocational training.

Earlier this year, the state Department of Health suspended Snodgrass’s counselor credential for at least four years.

The judge also ordered that she serve 12 months of community custody and have no contact with the victim.

Snodgrass was taken into custody at the end of the hearing.

For background, read “Guilty plea accepted in Green Hill counselor-inmate sex case” from Wednesday July 27, 2016, here