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Prosecutors: Now-former caregiver made more than 200 unauthorized transactions with client’s bank card

Thursday, October 8th, 2015


By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The caregiver of a bedridden Centralia woman is accused of taking her client’s credit card and running up more than $10,000 in purchases and cash advances before getting caught, returning the card and apologizing.

Tamara A. Hagerman, 44, of Pe Ell, told a detective when she gave the card back, she told the woman and the woman’s husband she would pay the money back, according to court papers.

They called police the following day.

Hagerman is charged in Lewis County Superior Court with first-degree theft as well as three counts of unlawful factoring of credit card or payment card transactions.

She was summonsed to appear before a judge yesterday afternoon and signed a $5,000 unsecured appearance bond. Her arraignment is set for next Thursday.

According to charging documents, Hagerman began working for Debra Zillmer in July of last year, and helped with the bills and writing out checks because of Zillmer’s difficulty with fine motor skills.

The Zillmers became aware of the situation when an employee from the Doty store called and asked if someone had permission to use the card on July 1; Hagerman had reportedly told her son to use the blue card from her purse and get her a few things, the documents relate.

Centralia police detective Patty Finch found more than $5,500 in unauthorized charges and more than $4,700 in cash advances over a five month period, according to the charging documents.

Among the things Hagerman allegedly told detectives was she initially took the card, without permission, because she didn’t have enough gas to get home, but after a few days, put it back because she felt bad taking it.

She allegedly said she took it again, because her daughter needed groceries.

Finch stated in her report Hagerman used the card more than 200 times between February and July. Hagerman said she used it for gas, groceries and clothing.

“She said she didn’t use if (sp) often at first, but began using it more and more the longer she had it,” Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher wrote in charging documents.

Among the spending noted in the allegations were to pay her cell phone bill, to put money on a jail inmate’s phone, to eat fast food, order Netflix and rent movies.

The Zillmers told Centralia police Hagerman was a former caregiver when they reported the theft on July 3. Bruce Zillmer also advised the officer he’d contacted their bank who would send paperwork to sign about the unauthorized charges.

When asked by detective Finch if she had had the means to repay the couple, “Tamara said that her mother offered to pay the money back,” Meagher wrote.

The court yesterday ordered Hagerman to get finger printed and photographed at the Lewis County Jail by 5 p.m. next Wednesday.

Reached by phone, Hagerman declined to comment. She is represented by Centralia lawyer David Brown.

Police: Heroin house on Southwest Cascade Avenue

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Christopher C. Tortorici is brought before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Chehalis couple was arrested yesterday following a search at their home that turned up drugs and suspected items for dealing them.

Thirty-five-year-old Dawn M. Morningstar-Barnett allegedly told detectives it was mostly her, but they had been selling heroin for several months, to about 10 people a day, according to court papers.

The search warrant was served at their shared residence at the 700 block of Southwest Cascade Avenue.

Numerous items were found in her boyfriend’s pockets, as the two said they thought the visit was from her community corrections officer who could not search him, so he gathered up everything, the documents state.

Christopher C. Tortorici, 36, had $160 in his pockets, along with two small plastic ziplock bags containing a brown powdery substance, a bindle with suspected methamphetamine, a pipe, syringes, two methadone pills, and a prescription bottle containing Suboxone strips and buprenorphine hydrochloride, according to his charging documents.

The documents relate that twice since Aug. 24, Morningstar-Barnett was the target of so-called controlled buys from police informants.

Both were charged in Lewis County Superior Court today with possession of heroin with intent to deliver and delivery of heroin. Morningstar-Barnett was charged with an additional count of delivery.

Judge Nelson Hunt, noting Tortorici was a graduate of drug court, set his bail at $100,000.

Hunt granted a temporary no-bail hold for Morningstar-Barnett, after prosecutors said she wasn’t able to leave the jail to come to court because she was having withdrawal.

Defendant escapes courtroom in Chehalis, captured on street

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015


Updated at 10:45 a.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A defendant remanded into custody following a jury trial fled a courtroom and reportedly fought with a corrections officer down the stairwell and out into the street in Chehalis yesterday.

Responding deputies assisted in detaining the man outside the building, on Main Street near its intersection with Chehalis Avenue, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

John C. Baker, 49, of Chehalis, was on trial in Lewis County Superior Court, on the fourth floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center.

Sheriff’s Cmdr. Dusty Breen said the incident began about 10 minutes before 5 p.m. in Judge Richard Brosey’s courtroom.

The corrections officer ordered Baker to stop, and when he caught up with Baker, a physical altercation ensued during which the officer was assaulted, Breen said.

Baker was taken to the jail where he was booked for new offenses of first-degree escape, resisting arrest and custodial assault, according to Breen.

He had been free on $10,000 bail, but was convicted yesterday of harassment, stalking and other charges.

“He was facing a substantial sentence,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Sheila Weirth said.

Escape is a class B felony, with a maximum sentence of 10 years if convicted, according to Weirth.

The Lewis County Law and Justice Center at the corner of Main Street and Chehalis Avenue contains courtrooms on the top two floors and the sheriff’s office on the main level. The Lewis County Jail is adjacent to it at street level.

Searchers comb Centralia lake for fisherman

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Part of the dive team is stationed on the west edge of Plummer Lake as one member get sonar pictures from a Chehalis Fire Department boat.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – A dive team is looking for a man who vanished beneath the water at Plummer Lake in Centralia today.

Police and firefighters responded to an approximately 11:55 a.m. call to the large pond just east of Interstate 5.

A Centralia resident had been in a boat fishing and a witness saw him swimming toward his life vest and then go under water, never resurfacing, Centralia Police Department Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald said.

After an initial search by Centralia firefighters using the missing man’s boat, Chehalis firefighters brought their boat over and have been working this afternoon with members of the Thurston County Dive Team.

“They’re doing a grid search in the water,” Fitzgerald said.

Chehalis Fire Chief Ken Cardinale said the lake is very deep, and visibility good for only about 14 feet, so they began taking pictures with a sonar.

At least one woman who said she went to school with the victim was among the responders and guests of the Lakeview Inn who watched and waited on and near the motel’s lawn at the south shore.

Sixty-five-year-old Kermit Wood said when he saw the individual out there, it looked like he was splashing and trying to swim toward his life preserver. His empty boat was floating away, he said.

“Honestly, there was nothing we could do, and it was very difficult,” his wife Jackie Wood said.

Fitzgerald said he would be at the scene until the dive team left. They don’t work after dark, so depending on how it goes, they could return in the morning, he said.

Detective Dave Clary recalled the last time anyone drowned in the lake was in 2007, when 45-year-old Frank Mako died.  His body was actually found just beyond the north shore, closer to Hayes Lake, he said.

Just this past May 30, another Centralia resident, 26-year-old Jessy Hamilton, drowned on the other side of Interstate 5, at Fort Borst Park near where the Chehalis River meets with the park’s pond.

Writer of threat to “kill people” at Centralia High School still unknown

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Seniors Jared Lee, Javier Corona and Andrew Waddell sit across the street from their school watching and waiting as fellow students are inside getting interviewed by deputies.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – Law enforcement officers don’t know if a threat a student was going to kill people at Centralia High School’s homecoming assembly this afternoon was genuine and was thwarted, or if it was something else.

A note found on a teacher’s desk this morning stated as such and prompted a lockdown that lasted all day.

Hundreds of family members descended upon the church and its parking lot across the street waiting for their children to be released.

More than two dozen deputies, police and troopers from the area responded to the 800 block of Eshom Road, after the school resource officer was informed of the message at approximately 10 a.m.

The investigation continued all day, and the last students were let go at about 4 p.m.

“We were interviewing kids, searching kids – with a wand,” Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. “Escorting them to the bathroom and giving them snacks and water.”

No weapons were found, however, there are still backpacks left at the school that have yet to be searched, according to Brown.

Without going into details, Brown said a person wrote the note, telling of what another person planned to do. Deputies don’t know who left the note, or who the other person is, she said at the end of the day.

Centralia High School sits outside the city limits and is in the sheriff’s office jurisdiction.

Centralia School District spokesperson Ed Petersen said it threatened a specific action at a specific time and place, prompting an intentionally slow and meticulous process.

The homecoming assembly didn’t take place. The homecoming football game scheduled for tonight at Tiger Stadium has been postponed, as has tomorrow’s homecoming dance.

The school district notified the public and the news media at about 11 a.m., but information was already circulating on social media.

Parents were informed they could wait at the Centralia Community Church of God at the corner of Borst Avenue and Eshom Road across from the school’s main entrance.

James Guyer was among those who rushed over, and then waited for hours. His 16-year-old daughter was keeping him somewhat informed, texting periodically and lamenting her classroom was at the back of the school and would be the last to be let out.

“She also sent me a text saying they are patting down each student,” Guyer said.

Guyer chatted with another father, Corey Williams, who sat in the back of his pickup truck with his teenage son.

A large crowd was lined up in the church lobby, signing in with school staff, so they could subsequently be matched up with their youngsters.

“We were already in there about an hour,” Williams said.

He and his 17-year-old, Eli Williams, were waiting for Eli’s 16-year-old brother to come out.

They were told the busses would be bringing students over in groups of 20, but the first one dropped off only five or six kids, he said.

Eli Williams, a senior, said he’d been up in Tumwater at his construction trades class, when the lockdown happened and then he learned about the threat.

“I don’t really know anyone that would do that,” he said. “But a lot of things happen; someone seems really nice and goes crazy.”

Some adults stayed in their cars in the lot, several of which were parked cattywampus suggesting their minds were on more pressing matters than taking up two parking spots.

The mother of one freshman boy was contemplative as she sat with her 6-year-old and their dog.

“They were saying on the news last night, national news,  that things get stirred up, like copycats,” Lori Raab said.

Raab, a radio news director, had spent yesterday coordinating coverage of the unfolding tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Roseberg, Oregon, in which at least nine people were fatally shot.

Sitting on a curb, directly across from the fenced off school, were three seniors who had also been elsewhere before the campus was shut down.

Javier Corona, 17, had been at the football stadium just a few blocks to the east, doing a run through for the halftime event with his leadership class. Corona is a finalist for homecoming king.

He said he watched the police cars arriving, the first ones just driving up and the rest with lights flashing.

Jared Lee, also 17, and another student had been out shopping with his mother, a school district employee.

“We were getting scepters and flowers, and I think crowns for the king and queen,” Lee said.

Andrew Waddell, 18, said he walked into work and was told what was happening. HIs first thought was a bomb threat, he said.

“But I thought, that doesn’t make sense,” Waddell said.

Centralia School District Superintendent, Mark Davalos and Centralia High School Principal Josue Lowe periodically gave briefings, reassuring those present that everything going on was to ensure the safety of students.

At one point, a student had messaged someone a fuzzy picture rumored to be a shooter inside the building, but law enforcement figured out it actually was a snapshot of a security monitor showing one of the law enforcement officers with a rifle.

“The only weapons that have been found on Centralia High School campus today are in the hands of law enforcement officers,” Lowe told the crowd.

District spokesperson Petersen said the high school has about 1,000 students. He wasn’t certain late this afternoon exactly how many were in classes today.

Neither he nor Chief Deputy Brown knew for sure why a  Washington State Patrol bomb squad truck was on the scene. Petersen said he thought it might be part of protocol.

The state patrol did bring dogs into the school to sniff around.

They weren’t searching for bombs, they were searching for something else, Petersen said. “There was absolutely no concern for bombs or explosive devices.”

Chief Deputy Brown said although the school was cleared by about 4 p.m., she suspected the investigation would continue.

School staff would be going through the backpacks and items students left behind, she said. And there are lots of interviews to go through.

“It was a very methodical process, but it was absolutely what we needed to do to ensure their safety,” Brown said. “In light of everything that’s going on across the nation, it was imperative to handle it as we did.”

Peterson echoed her sentiments.

“Yes, it took a long time to get everyone out,” he said. “But everyone went home safe, and that’s the best we can hope for.”

To read ongoing posts and comments from the community about today’s events, go to Lewis County Sirens on Facebook.


Corey Williams and his son Eli Williams decided they preferred to wait outside today.


Principal Josue Lowe offers an update on Eshom Road in between the high school and the church.

Breaking news: Threat puts Centralia High School on lock down

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Chehalis Police Officer Warren Ayers and school staff stand along the fence at Centralia High School as parents congregate at the church across the street waiting.

Updated at 4:05 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia High School is in lock down now.

“Due to a specific type of threat of violence at the high school, I’m not going to release what that is now,” school district spokesperson Ed Petersen said at 11 a.m. today.

Nobody is hurt, he said. Law enforcement is on the scene.

They will be releasing students in the next hour or so to the nearby Church of God, he said.

Parents should not go to the school, he said. Parents should not go to the church either, until they are notified by the school to do so, he said.

Asked if they would be making notification through the school alert system, Petersen said yes and social media and every other way.

A joint news release issued at 11:37 a.m. stated students will be released as soon as appropriate.

“This morning at approximately 10 a.m. the Centralia School Resource Officer was notified of a note located in a classroom, which stated a student was planning on killing people during a school assembly, scheduled for the afternoon.”

At this time it is unknown if any weapons are actually at the school and the school remains in lockdown until further notice.

Students will be released to go home on the bus or be picked up by parents. Parents may wait at Centralia Community Church of God, located at Borst and Eshom.  Students who drove will be allowed to leave when appropriate.

As of about 2 p.m., only a few students had been released from the school back to their parents.

A Washington State Patrol bomb squad truck was seen leaving Tiger Stadium shortly after that. Tonight was supposed to be the homecoming game.

A large crowd has gathered at the church, mostly just waiting. Busses have dropped off students there, five or six at a time.

Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza and Centralia Police Chief Carl Nielsen made a brief appearance, standing back as announcements were made that officials hoped to speed the process up.

Before going back across the street to the school, Snaza said only, “We’re getting additional information.”

“We’ll have more information for the news when the kids are out,” he said. “Stacy (Chief Deputy Brown) put something on Facebook.”

Centralia High School on Eshom Road sits outside the city limits and is in the sheriff’s office jurisdiction.

Law enforcement has issued no updates as to its investigation into what occurred, if any weapon or weapons have been located or if they even know who is the student who may have had some plan to kill people.

A school official did include in his announcements to those gathered at one point during the day, that: “The only weapons that have been found on Centralia High School campus today are in the hands of law enforcement officers.”

More to come. To read ongoing posts and comments from the community about this, go to Lewis County Sirens on Facebook.


Parents and others wait for students to be brought to them at a church across the street from Centralia High School.

Law enforcement finds Centralia robbery suspect in Vancouver jail

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Deandre J. Perry looks back toward the courtroom benches during his first appearance in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The third of three males suspected of a home invasion in north Centralia earlier this year was brought before a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court.

Deandre J. Perry, 26, is from Portland.

Centralia police and a deputy U.S. marshal have been looking for him since mid-July and found him in the Clark County Jail.

Perry was there on “an unrelated matter, I think maybe a probation violation or something,” Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor said this afternoon. He was transported to the local jail in Chehalis yesterday.


Hennessy Turner-White

Perry is charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree assault in connection with the events on the night of Feb. 19, when a group of males kicked in a door at the 1200 block of Marion Street, demanding cash and weed.

Dustin Palermo said he and his girlfriend had just settled into bed to watch a movie when they showed up, shot up his room and killed his dog. Charging documents in the case don’t relate what was actually stolen but Palermo had a small indoor medical marijuana grow.

Meagher asked that Perry be held on the same $100,000 bail listed on the July 15 arrest warrant. Judge Nelson Hunt agreed.

Temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge Perry is currently unemployed and qualified for court appointed counsel.


Brian A. Carreon

Arrested and charged in early July with one count of first-degree robbery was a 17-year-old Centralia resident, Brian A. Carreon.

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

Hennessy R. Turner-White, 22, from Portland, was picked up less than two weeks later and remains in the Lewis County Jail on $500,000 bail, charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree assault.

Charging documents state that Carreon told detectives Turner-White is his other Portland sister’s ex-boyfriend.

Charging documents offer the following as to how law enforcement came to focus on Perry as the third suspect:

Police were looking for the one who kicked in the door, known to Carreon only as “Dro”. A deputy U.S. marshal ran Turner-White’s name through their database, looking for his associates, and came up with Perry. Carreon identified Perry as the third person from a photo he was shown.

According to police interviews with Carreon, he had once been at Palermo’s home, and trimmed Palermo’s plants for him. He told police he’d taken a video of himself doing that, and had once shown it to Turner-White. Carreon said he received a phone call from Turner-White telling him, he knew had a connection to get weed, and was headed up.

Carreon said he felt pressured to take them there, and when one of them pulled out a gun and said they weren’t going to pay for the marijuana, he was behind them telling them to stop.

Officers found nine shell casings and two bullet jacket fragments at the scene.

Perry’s arraignment was put on the court schedule for next Thursday, when he will be represented by Jacob Clark.

Turner-White’s trial is scheduled for January.

Neither Carreon’s nor Duncan’s trials have yet taken place. The two of them have been released on unsecured bonds.

All three have pleaded not guilty.

For background, read “Suspected gunman in Centralia home invasion held on $500,000 bail” from Wednesday July 22, 2015, here

Appeals court says Toledo lottery theft sentence is too long

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Winlock woman who helped herself to thousands of dollars worth of lottery tickets while she worked at the Flying K store and gas station in Toledo partially won her appeal, that the judge imposed a clearly excessive exceptional sentence.

Katrina M. Bowen was sent to prison for four years, twice the amount of time prosecutors recommended.

Bowen was fired in September 2013 after the owners analyzed their books and confronted her. She was charged in early 2014 with first-degree theft, and pleaded guilty soon afterward, not in connection with any plea deal.


January 2014

Bowen, then 37, stole nearly $140,000 over a period of time, saying she had a gambling problem. She also won $40,000, but the state lottery reimbursed the business owners for that portion, according to court documents.

Lewis County prosecutors included an aggravating factor that it was a major economic offense, meaning a judge would be free to hand down an exceptional sentence..

Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg recommended to Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey in March of last year that Bowen get two years. She asked for leniency based on her acceptance of responsibility for the crime. Her attorney asked that she get 90 days, the top of the standard sentencing range for a person with no criminal history.

In its opinion issued last week, the Washington State Court of Appeals acknowledged the judge was not bound by the prosecutor’s recommendation, but said the 48-month sentence was grossly disproportionate to the standard range of zero to three months.

Justice Thomas R. Bjorgen, writing for the unanimous three-member panel, wrote that the judge abused his discretion.

“We hold that the exceptional sentence was manifestly unreasonable, vacate it, and remand for resentencing,” Bjorgen wrote.

The unpublished opinion was filed Sept. 22.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh said once she gets the mandate the appeal is final – which can take as long as 60 days – she will bring Bowen back to Lewis County for resentencing.

According to the state Department of Corrections, Bowen is currently incarcerated at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Belfair.

Beigh said today that in her five years of handling appeals for Lewis County, she can’t recall a case of the appeals court saying a Lewis County judge manifestly abused his discretion.

The prosecutor’s office won’t be petitioning the state Supreme Court for a review, but still will seek an exceptional sentence, Beigh said.

It was less than four years earlier when another Winlock resident was caught stealing lottery tickets at a local grocery store where he was a longtime trusted employee and store manager. Judge Brosey gave Benjamin C. Macy 14 months in prison as Macy attempted to repay the debt. The losses to Cedar Village IGA were said to be close to $1 million.

Bowen was represented in her appeal by attorney Jodi R. Backlund from Olympia.

Backlund also argued the guilty plea was involuntary because there was not a sufficient factual basis for it, but the appeals court disagreed.

For background, read “Winlock woman owns up to stealing thousands of dollars from her employer” from Thursday January 30, 2014, here

Outdoor burning allowed again, sparks brush fire in Ony

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Onalaska firefighters work to put out grass fire off Jorgensen Road. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 1

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Just because the outdoor burn ban has been lifted, it doesn’t necessarily mean wildfire danger is over.

That’s the message from the Onalaska Fire Department who spent about an hour yesterday afternoon extinguishing a fire that popped up in a field.

Crews were called just before 2:30 p.m. to the 800 block of Jorgensen Road where they found grass burning an area of approximately 150 feet by 50 feet, according to Lewis County Fire District 1.

Assistant Fire Chief Rhonda Volk said the landowner said he was burning a stump this weekend out in the middle of a field that hadn’t been used for awhile, and thought he got it all put out.

“What happens, is fire burns down into the roots, and they can smolder for months,” Volk said.

She believes the gusty winds helped reignite it.

A crew of five saturated the edges of the area and dug down to make sure the entire stump and its roots were extinguished, she said.

The outdoor burning restrictions that were put into place in mid-June in unincorporated Lewis County were lifted on Saturday morning.

“After careful review, of the current and extended weather forecast, the Lewis County Building Official-Fire Marshal, has determined that current weather conditions within Lewis County have improved and will lift the restriction to allow outdoor burning, subject to an open burning application and permit,” Lewis County Community Development Director Lee Napier stated in a news release on Friday.

Still, officials urge residents to be attentive.

The county reminds people to supervise any outdoor burning until the fire has been extinguished and to have fire extinguishing equipment on hand.

Four large wildfires broke out in Lewis County last month in the midst of an exceptionally hot and dry summer, three of them in Onalaska. The 102-acre fire off Gish Road and the Gore Road chicken farm fire at 175 acres were bigger than any seen in three decades in areas near homes.

Even campfires were prohibited for a few weeks.

Outdoor burning in unincorporated Lewis County is limited to only natural vegetation. Always prohibited is burning any kind of garbage, paper of other refuse.

To obtain an Open Burning Application and Permit, individuals may apply on-line at or in person at the Lewis County fire marshal’s office.

For further information concerning outdoor burning, Lewis County Building Official-Fire Marshal Doyle Sanford can be reached at 360-740-1146. The fire marshal’s office is in the Lewis County Public Services building, located at 2025 NE Kresky Avenue in Chehalis.

The Lewis County Board of Commissioners makes the rules for  areas in Lewis County that are outside any city limits and not part of any state or federal lands. For information about any of those other locations, folks can call their fire department.

Vader man gets 34 years for toddler death

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Danny A. Wing watches as Jasper’s mother prepares to leave the courtroom following his sentencing hearing.


By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Danny Wing was ready to be sentenced today.

For his role in the abuse, neglect and death of a 3-year-old boy he and his wife took into their family last summer.

His lawyer argued for far less time than prosecutors requested, and even made a winning argument that prosecutors should give his client another polygraph test before concluding Wing violated their plea agreement.

“My client knew the parents of Jasper would be in the courtroom today,” Vancouver defense attorney Todd Pascoe said. “He knew I would make this argument. He wants to proceed as if I’d never raised this issue.”


Jasper Henderling-Warner

Wing, 27, has been held in the Lewis County Jail since last autumn, as has his wife, charged following the death of Jasper Henderling-Warner.

Firefighters and deputies responding the evening of Oct. 5 to a 911 call from the Wing’s new home in Vader, found CPR was underway. The toddler was revived, but died at Providence Centralia Hospital, according to prosecutors.

The autopsy found abrasions, bruises, facial trauma and healing fractures and labeled the cause of death as chronic battered child syndrome. Jasper was suffering from skin infections that were found to be secondary to his cause of death.

Prosecutors initially charged the couple with homicide by abuse or, in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter; each of the two were charged as either the principal or accomplice.

Conflicting stories and an inability to figure out just what occurred led to deals with the Wings this past spring which required them to truthfully describe what occurred, in exchange for guilty pleas and convictions on first-degree manslaughter and recommendations they be locked up for about 16 years.

But Danny Wing didn’t pass the lie detector test, and today in Lewis County Superior Court, prosecutors asked for an exceptional sentence beyond the standard range, citing the so-called enhancements that allowed it; that the victim was a member of his household, and that Wing abused a position of trust on a particularly vulnerable victim.


Brenda A. Wing

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead described what investigators learned. Wing’s lawyer spoke of cooperation from his client and other reasons for a standard sentence.

After hearing from Jasper’s mother, his father and a Vader firefighter who was part of the huge aid response that tried to save the child’s life, and vowed to speak forever for the little boy who was silenced, Judge Nelson Hunt imposed a sentence of a little longer than 34 and a half years.

The judge called it an incredible story of horror and suffering inflicted.

“The top of the range for the crime that was actually committed here, is what I’m going to go with,” Hunt said.

Between the statements from Halstead, and those of Pascoe, a clearer picture emerged of Jasper’s last 64 days on this earth.

Jasper’s 21-year-old mother Nikki Warner had given the couple temporary custody last summer – at the end of July – while she was homeless and looked for work out of state.

Warner, who lived in the Vancouver area, and Danny Wing were loosely related in a foster family scenario although they’d only recently met each other.

The married couple had three children of their own.

Both lawyers told the judge they did not believe the Wings set out to kill Jasper or intended for him to die.

It started on the return home from a beach trip to Oregon, Halstead said.

Brenda Wing told her husband Jasper had placed his hands over Danny Jr.’s mouth, he said, noting that turned out to be a lie.

“This set off Danny, he struck Jasper quite a few times in the back of the van as they left,” Halstead said.

The beating left the little boy with injuries to his lip and nose, according to Halstead.

The senior deputy prosecutor went on to describe the Wings as heavy heroin users without a stable home, moving from hotel to hotel.

“One of the ways the Wings decided to treat the bruises was to put hot wash cloths on them,” he said. “We all know people on drugs don’t always think rationally.”

Then they spent hours blowing a hair dryer onto the bruises, causing a massive burn one-third the length of Jasper’s upper thigh, he said.

Danny pulled the scab off, Jasper at this time was crawling around in diapers; he contracted MRSA, Halstead said.

The little boy was being hit and conditioned until he would say someone else had been harming him, he said.

“We know now one of the reasons they did not seek help is they’d had prior contact with CPS,” Halstead said. “They didn’t want CPS coming to see the kids.”

Defense attorney Pascoe spoke of a glowing report from CPS about the family, “I think it was July 1,” he said.

He spoke of the Wings love for their children and the “Cinderella affect”.

They should have given Jasper back to his mother, or taken him to the hospital, or accepted help that was offered, Pascoe said. But they didn’t.

“At the root was fear of separation from their own children,” he said.

Halstead told the judge that Jasper’s mother and the Wings had actually written out an agreement, that included that she could visit her son whenever she wanted.

“Nikki had her own personal issues she was taking care of,” he said.

She tried to see Jasper during this time, he said.

“Every time, she was denied,” he said. “She didn’t understand why.”

“Come to find out, of course, her son was slowly dying at the hands of the Wings,” he said. “She never saw her son again.”

Eventually the couple moved to the house in Vader, about two weeks before Jasper’s death, according to Halstead.

He continued to recite what the investigation and interviews revealed.

“They put makeup on him so they could go out in public,” he said.

In the end, the toddler was not eating, not drinking, was basically non-responsive and having seizures, he said.

The last week of his life he lay on the floor in a blanket, and they would periodically check on him to make sure he was still alive, Halstead said.

Halstead, with Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer beside him, told the judge the state thought long and hard about the penalty. They considered the senselessness, the couple’s attempts to blame others and the length of time Jasper suffered.

They asked that Danny Wing be sent to prison for 55 years.

Judge Hunt asked the lawyers to tell him the standard sentencing ranges that would apply for first-degree murder, for second-degree murder and for homicide by abuse.

Among the many gathered in the Chehalis courtroom was Vader’s Assistant Fire Chief Ruth Crear.

“He won’t go to school, get married, he won’t get to do anything,” Crear said. “And that man gets to still breathe.”

Casey Henderling told the judge he agreed with the prosecutors’ recommendation.

“I don’t think 15 years is even close,” he said. “They chose to kill and torture my son.”

Jasper’s mother read from a lengthy letter about the loss of the child she gave birth to at age 17.

She told of a handsome, bright boy who loved all animals and insects and whose favorite foods were Gummy hot dogs and real hot dogs.

“I did the best I could for him, then came to a point where my surroundings were no longer good for Jasper,” Warner said. “The Wings, I thought, were a regular married family with three kids.

“Brenda told me she would decorate his room with Ninja Turtles.”

She said she couldn’t understand how fully grown adults could torture a 3-year-old and how she hoped their children, for their sake, would never find out what their parents did.

“I wish you a painful, violent and slow death in prison,” Warner said.

Pascoe offered reasons he felt the judge could consider a 15-year sentence noting his client was the first of the two to take responsibility; that he turned over records and even a cell phone to investigators, without deleting its messages.

He read to the judge letters from Danny Wing’s mother, a jail chaplain and a fellow inmate who described Wing discovering a sincere desire to serve God. And he made mention of seeing an eerie parallel between Wing as a baby and Jasper as he read passages about CPS concerns from late 1998.

Danny Wing was the last to address the court.

He told the judge that whether he got 50 years or 15, he plans to teach others what drugs can cause.

“I’m not asking for leniency,” he said. “I’m really sorry; I know that doesn’t make up for what they lost.”

Wing was also given 48 months for third-degree child assault, which he also pleaded guilty to in March. The time will be served concurrent with the other.

Brenda Wing’s sentencing was also scheduled for today, but postponed because of a technical issue with materials handed over to her attorney on a CD. The lawyer couldn’t open up the CD to read it, according to Prosecutor Meyer.

For background, read “Coroner: Ongoing physical abuse led to Vader toddler’s death” from Friday November 7, 2014, here


Prosecutors and a victim advocate stand with Nikki Warner as she addresses the court about the loss of her 3-year-old son.


Prosecutor: Vader couple broke their agreement to tell truth about toddler death

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County prosecutor is claiming a Vader couple didn’t hold up their end of the deal in a plea agreement that allowed them to admit to manslaughter instead of facing a more serious charge, but wants them to be sentenced for manslaughter anyhow, and face much more prison time.


Danny Wing

Danny and Brenda Wing, both 27, have both been held in the Lewis County Jail since their arrest late last year in the death of  3-year-old Jasper Henderling-Warner who was living with their family.

Each of the two have pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and third-degree child assault. In exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge of homicide by abuse, the couple promised to share information with authorities and undergo polygraph examinations.

Jasper died last Oct. 5. from what the coroner labeled chronic battered child syndrome. His 21-year-old mother had given the couple temporary custody last summer while she was homeless and looked for work out of state.


Brenda A. Wing

Prosecutors filed motions last Friday, and Monday, asking the court to find the Wings violated the plea agreement and the state wants to make sure the agreement is enforced. Prosecutors want to add back into the case so-called enhancements and seek exceptional sentences.

Had the Wings done what they said they would, prosecutors agreed they would face standard sentencing ranges of between 146 months and 194 months in prison.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said Brenda Wing admitted some information she gave was a lie. And her husband withheld information in three of four areas, he said.

The idea was for prosecutors to find out the details of Jasper’s death, so they could hold everyone accountable who needed to be held accountable, Meyer said today.


Jasper Henderling-Warner

The Wings were initially charged on Nov. 7 with homicide by abuse or, in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter, two crimes with widely different penalties. Each of the two were charged as either the principal or accomplice.

Their sentencing hearings are currently on the court schedule for tomorrow, in Lewis County Superior Court, at 9 a.m. for him and 1:30 p.m. for her.

Brenda Wing’s lawyer John Crowley has asked for the hearing to be postponed. Yesterday, prosecutors filed a response to the defense motion.

For background, read, “Despite convictions, investigation still underway in death of 3-year-old Vader boy last year” from Friday August 21, 2015, here

Charging decision expected soon in Onalaska triple fatality wreck

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The lawyer for the driver who survived a head-on crash that killed three teenagers in Onalaska this summer still hasn’t seen the final accident report, even though his client is involved in a case for allegedly driving under the influence that night.

But the report should finally be available soon, according to Centralia defense attorney J.O. Enbody.


State Route 508 on July 13, 2015

Joseph W. Rogerson, 36, of Chehalis, appeared before a judge today for a hearing in Lewis County District Court in Chehalis.

Enbody told the judge he’d like to set over the hearing for two weeks. He said Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher asked him to make the request, while prosecutors work on their decision whether to charge Rogerson with a felony.

The parties have been waiting for the report from an investigative team from the Washington State Patrol.

Three teenagers died from the July 13 wreck on state Route 508. The initial report indicated both vehicles crossed the centerline.

Rogerson and his wife were traveling westbound in a Ford Freestar minivan. Eight teenagers were traveling the other direction in a Land Rover Discovery when the vehicles met up near Hyak Road, only two of them were wearing seat belts, according to initial reports.

Dead at the scene were the Land Rover’s driver, Arnold W. Mullinax, 17, and Taylor N. Thompson, 13, both from Onalaska. Dakota L. Dunivin, 18, from Chehalis, died the following day at the hospital.

Most of the young people either attended Onalaska schools, or had in the past.

Depending on the information in the accident report, Enbody knows his client could be facing charges such as vehicular assault and vehicular homicide.

Rogerson’s DUI case has not progressed very far, because of the possibility prosecutors could file those charges in Lewis County Superior Court, on the fourth floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center.

Enbody and Rogerson are just waiting. And a decision is expected soon.

“If it’s good news, we’ll deal with a DUI down here,” Enbody said. “If it’s bad news, we’ll deal with it upstairs.”

Rogerson has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence.

He told a deputy he’d had a beer about five hours before the wreck, and declined a portable breath test, but was taken to the hospital to have his blood drawn for testing.

The initial accident report does not include his blood alcohol level.

Among his conditions of release are that he may not drive without an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle. He may not consume any alcohol and is wearing a court-ordered alcohol monitor bracelet which will detect if he does.

Enbody told Judge R.W. Buzzard this afternoon his client has gotten a drug and alcohol evaluation. He also said Rogerson has 100 percent compliance with the bracelet and requested its removal, in part because of financial considerations.

Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Blye said the state opposed the removal. Judge Buzzard didn’t grant the request.

Today’s hearing was then postponed for two weeks.

For background, read “Surviving driver from fatal Onalaska wreck ordered to wear alcohol monitor while case pending” from Friday July 17, 2015, here

Cougar removed from Grand Mound family’s tree

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Deputy Steve Hamilton poses with the young adult female after she is tranquilized. / Courtesy photo by Thurston County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Wildlife officers captured a cougar yesterday that was discovered in a tree in the front yard of a Grand Mound area residence.

The big cat was about 12 feet up in a Douglas fir, just south of 183rd Avenue Southwest, a few miles east of Interstate 5.

Monique Hibberd, who works nights at a casino, said her husband woke her at about 11:30 a.m.

“My husband was so excited, he said, ‘there’s a lion in our tree’,” she said. “I go, ‘you mean, a cougar’? He’s like, ‘I don’t know. It’s huge.’ ”

So Hibberd went outside near her car, to take a look.

“I could see her face, she was pretty,” she said. “So we just backed out, and called 911.”

The couple stayed inside their house and watched while a team that included a Thurston County sheriff’s deputy and officers with the Department of Fish and Wildlife took care of it.

“They were so good, so gentle with her,” Hibberd said.

The cougar was shot with a tranquilizer dart and after waiting for it to take effect, an officer put a ladder against the trunk, to coax the cougar down, Hibberd said.

The Hibberds were told it was somewhat out of the ordinary for the animal to be found where it was, inside a fenced yard with no livestock.

“The deputy did say there’d been sightings on Danby,” he said.

They think their dogs treed the cougar, as they had been barking, she said.

The young adult female was put into a trailer and taken away to the forest, according to the Thurston County Sherif’s Office.

“The best part is knowing she had a good outcome,” Hibberd said. “The best part is knowing she is able to be released out onto the land.”


Wildlife officers load female cougar into trailer so she can be taken out into the forest. / Courtesy photo by Dave Hibberd


Centralia woman arrested for the child assaults she blamed on her grown daughter

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Victoria A. Cheney looks back to the benches in the courtroom as attorneys discuss her bail in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – After weeks of investigating how two little boys ended up bruised and swollen, and arresting and then releasing the girlfriend of their father, authorities arrested the girlfriend’s mother.

Victoria A. Cheney, 44, of Centralia, was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with  two counts of second-degree child assault.

Authorities came to believe the injuries occurred on July 22, while the children, ages 2 and 3, were staying with Cheney and her husband at their home on Little Hanaford Road, according to court papers.

Cheney’s daughter, 22-year-old Chandra M. Munsey, was arrested on July 23 and charged in the case, but prosecutors have since dismissed the charges against her after numerous interviews confirmed her alibi, according to the documents.

The boys stayed a few nights at the Cheney’s, and when their dad Casiano Baldovinos got a phone call telling him to come pick them up, he found both with bruises on their faces, the little one’s left eye almost swollen shut, according to court documents. He reported it to the sheriff’s office.

The boys were taken into protective custody and remain in foster care, the sheriff’s office said yesterday.

Charging documents allege Cheney gave varying accounts of what happened or may have happened, blaming her daughter and describing abusive behavior she said she’d witnessed.

Her husband Don Cheney said he saw the injuries when he returned home from work on July 22.

Cheney is charged also with three counts of witness tampering, as she told detectives she wasn’t even home the day the boys were assaulted, she’d gone to visit friends in Bucoda early that morning and came home to discover the injuries. The friends told detectives Cheney arrived around 1 p.m. and she allegedly asked them to tell detectives she’d shown up much earlier, according to the documents.

She also allegedly asked one of them to write a letter saying he’d witnessed Munsey assault the children.

Detectives spoke to the 3-year-old twice, and when he was asked who hurt him and his brother, both times he said “Grandma Vicky,” according to the documents.

Cheney is also charged with malicious prosecution, for attempting to incriminate her daughter.

“Based upon the investigation, it appears the only person who was with the victims during the time they were assaulted was Mrs. Cheney,” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead wrote in charging papers.

When she went before a judge yesterday afternoon for a bail hearing, defense attorney Joely O’Rourke argued for lower bail, noting Cheney had a felony case in 2014, but her other history with the law was much older.

While she is currently unemployed, O’Rourke said, it was just two years ago Cheney worked for the county, driving a dump truck and snow plows. She’s a life long Lewis County resident, O’Rourke said.

Judge Richard Brosey set her bail at $100,000, and gave her a court appointed lawyer.

Her arraignment is scheduled for next Thursday.

For background, read “Lewis County Sheriff’s Office investigating child assault, one arrested” from Tuesday July 28, 2015, here

Winlock man confessed to trying to kill former girlfriend, gets 18 plus years

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Joseph M. Lowery looks over court documents with his lawyer at his sentencing hearing yesterday.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The prison sentence he was given is almost as long as he is old.

Before the judge made the decision, Joseph M. Lowery, the 20-year-old who grew up in Winlock, turned toward his ex-girlfriend sitting in the very back of the courtroom and apologized for shooting her in the back.

“I hope you recover to the best of your abilities,” Lowery said. “I’m sorry for what I did, you didn’t deserve it. I truly am.”


Joseph M. Lowery

Shyann Gallimore, also 20, and also a resident of the small South Lewis County town, chose not to make a statement to the court.

Lowery was arrested in July after the shooting on the outskirts of Winolequa Park in Winlock.

Prosecutors said Lowery and a 16-year-old boy found Gallimore on a Saturday evening; she was alone, sitting next to a stream and talking on her phone with a friend she’d asked to pick her up.

Authorities said Lowery leaned into some bushes from some 50 feet away and took aim with a 22 caliber pistol, pulled the trigger and then ran off.

“She underwent a procedure to have the bullet removed,” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said. “She won’t know what the long term consequences are until time passes.”

Halstead told the judge, yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court, the defendant made a full confession.

He was cooperative with the sheriff’s office, going through a videotaped reenactment of what transpired, defense attorney David Arcuri said.

“What I thought was most striking, was the matter of fact, honest way Mr. Lowery just admitted it,” Arcuri said.

His client was contrite from the beginning, Arcuri said.

Lowery pleaded guilty last week to attempted first-degree murder. As part of the plea deal, Halstead dropped a firearm enhancement, which would have added five years to the sentence.

Halstead and Arcuri both recommended to the judge he be given 220 months – 18 years and four months.

Judge Richard Brosey agreed.

Before Lowery was taken back down to the jail, Brosey ordered him to have no contact for life with the victim. He also gave him three years of supervision following his release from prison.

Lowery’s mother and other family members were in the audience during yesterday’s hearing, but declined to comment.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office in its investigation conveyed to prosecutors Lowery had grown tired of his former girlfriend disrespecting the “Juggalo family.” They said he identified himself as a Juggalo, a name for fans of performance artists called the Insane Clown Posse.

Arcuri after the hearing said he wouldn’t discuss what he understood to be the reason his client did what he did.

For background, read “Prosecutors: Winlock park shooter grew tired of ex-girlfriend disrespecting gang” from Tuesday July 21, 2015, here

Chehalis parking tickets out of step with Washington courts

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The city of Chehalis discovered it’s been assessing a delinquent penalty after only 72 hours on parking tickets even though a state court rule say cities must allow recipients a 15 day grace period.

The fee for not responding timely to a parking infraction is $25.

Chehalis Municipal Court Administrator Becky Fox said a review in July of legislative changes and the city’s ordinance is what brought it to her attention.

Fox said since learning the city was out of compliance, they have not charged people the delinquent fee until the appropriate amount of time has passed.

The issue was brought before the city council last night, which voted to revise its ordinance to bring it into line with what is required. Fox said they have an approved and updated form now, ready to use.

A standard parking ticket is $5, according to Fox. Certain types are more, she said.

The Washington State Court Rules Infraction Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction provide that a person served with a notice of infraction must respond within 15 days of the date the notice is personally served or, if the notice is served by mail, then within 18 days of the date the notice is mailed.

Fox said she doesn’t know how much the city has collected from those who were penalized even though they responded within 15 days. She said she’s not certain how long the city has been out of compliance.

There are no plans to reimburse anyone.

The city contends its local ordinance trumped state court rules and there was nothing incorrect or illegal about the way it imposed charges or penalties.

The memo to the city council about the issue, from Fox and Police Chief Glenn Schaffer, reported the parking infraction form being used was also out of compliance because it had not been reviewed by the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts.

The new ordinance passed unanimously last night by the city council. The council suspended the usual requirement for two readings – two subsequent votes – on the measure.

The Washington State Court Rules’ IRLJ govern the procedure in courts of limited jurisdiction – municipal courts and district courts – for all cases involving infractions. Infractions are noncriminal violations of law defined by statute.

The newly adopted city ordinance also added a prohibition against one vehicle taking up two parking spaces.

Investigation into double fatality Highway 12 crash continues

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Updated at 7:28 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 39-year-old woman and a 13-year-old boy died yesterday when the car they were traveling in was rear-ended and shoved into the opposite lane of U.S. Highway 12 in East Lewis County.

The 2000 Dodge Stratus was hit by an oncoming pickup truck pulling a camp trailer.

It happened about 9:40 a.m. at the entrance to Cascade Peaks Campground about seven miles east of Randle, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The man who was driving the car, Jeremy W. Denniston, 37, from Randle, was taken to Tacoma General Hospital and remained in critical condition this evening.

The collision is blamed on inattention by the 79-year-old driver of the semi truck, from Nevada – behind the wheel of a 2014 Kenworth with two unloaded trailers, according to the state patrol.

State Patrol Sgt. Mike Cournyer indicates the investigation would continue today, with the names of the victims to be released when their identities are confirmed.

The wreck shut down the highway in both directions until about 4:30 p.m.

According to troopers, the eastbound car was stopped to make a left turn into the campground. The semi truck behind it failed to slow and struck the rear of the car, forcing it into the westbound lane, where it was hit by the 2011 Ford F350 pickup pulling a trailer, according to the state patrol.

The pickup’s passenger, Cheryl L. Kinder, 69, from Astoria, was transported to Morton General Hospital with minor injuries, according to Sgt. Cournyer. The driver, Lewis H. Kinder, 68, also of Astoria, was reportedly unhurt.

The other passengers of the car, Kerri M. Denniston, 39, and the teenager, are also from Randle, according to the state patrol.

The semi driver, Arthur H. Harrison, 79, of Laughlin, Nevada, was also reportedly uninjured. Potential charges are pending, the investigating trooper reports.

All the vehicles were described as totaled.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office arrests man in Dallas for long-distance sexploitation of local teen

Sunday, September 6th, 2015


By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Texas man who allegedly engaged in an online sexual relationship with a 14-year-old Lewis County boy is jailed following his arrest on a $100,000 warrant.

The case was investigated last summer, charges were filed in June and law enforcement traveled to Dallas last week to pick up 31-year-old Lavon S. Sellers.

Sellers’ arraignment is scheduled for Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court.

The teen was interviewed in August 2014 after his parents discovered the long distance romantic relationship over the phone and the Internet.

According to charging documents, the boy told a deputy he’d met Sellers a few weeks prior on a site called “Hot or Not” and the two communicated using KiK Messenger and Skype.

The boy said he’d initially told Sellers he was 16 but later confided he was actually 14. Sellers allegedly had plans to come to Washington and take the boy to Seattle, with a plan in which the teen would tell his parents he was staying with a friend.

Charging documents say deputies responded to the family home for a prescription drug overdose emergency after the boy was caught once more Skyping with Sellers after being ordered by his father not to.

It wasn’t until February of this year that the sheriff’s office confirmed one of the phones taken into evidence had images substantiating child exploitation, according to the court documents.

Sellers is charged with four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, four counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes and one count of luring.

When he appeared before a judge on Thursday, Sellers’ temporary defense attorney said he worked at a foundry in Dallas – until his arrest – and had no criminal history.

The judge decided his bail should be $100,000, the same amount as the arrest warrant.

News brief: Fire destroys Onalaska garage

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

The site of the former garage. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 6

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Members of three fire departments responding just before 11 o’clock this morning to a structure fire in Onalaska found a detached garage fully engulfed in flames.

“Quick action from arriving crews kept damage to the house at a minimum, with the majority of (that) damage affecting the exterior of the structure,” Lewis County Fire District 6 Firefighter DJ Hammer said in a news release.

It happened at the 100 block of Hoyt Road.

Hammer described the garage as a total loss, and noted he was unaware of any injuries.

A fire investigator is looking into the cause.

Chehalis: Peaceful panhandling permitted, just nowhere near storefronts or most-traveled areas

Friday, September 4th, 2015

The busy retail area on the west side of Interstate 5 in Chehalis is virtually off limits for panhandling, begging or soliciting.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Those who stand on the corners of busy Chehalis intersections asking for money – typically with a handwritten cardboard sign declaring their need – may need to relocate to a quieter part of town if they want to avoid a fine.

Those whose begging practices include getting up close and personal with their targets, or even fibbing about their bad luck situation, need to take heed as well.

A new law went into effect on Wednesday, heavily curtailing panhandling inside the city limits of Chehalis.

The ordinance was passed by the city council last week. It basically puts off limits all of Chamber of Commerce Way, the arterial that takes shoppers over Interstate 5 at the north end of town to the roughly one mile north-south stretch that is home to Wal-Mart, the Twin City Town Center and other businesses. The activity is essentially banned as well all along that retail strip of Northwest Louisiana Avenue from K-Mart to beyond I-5 Toyota .

It also prohibits the act of panhandling, begging or soliciting within 25 feet of the entrance to any building anywhere in the city, or, within 25 feet of a potential “donor’s” parked vehicle while they are loading or unloading it. And after dark.

A first time violation can cost $250.

Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer said back when the city of Centralia enacted its rules on panhandling, he was asked if Chehalis ought to do the same. He said no, he didn’t see any problems, at the time.

But that’s changed over the past year or so, Schaffer said.

“We’ve started seeing trash accumulating, and getting complaints from businesses in the area,” he said earlier this week.

Sometimes it’s been about panhandlers who would return, even after being asked to leave, he said.

“And complaints from business owners and managers, who are getting complaints from their customers, who are being approached as they’re coming and going,” he said.

While a first-time violation is a civil infraction, a ticket, further offenses could prompt the issuance of a citation for a criminal misdemeanor, according to the chief.

That kind of citation would mean a mandatory appearance before a judge and, if convicted, a fine of up to $1,000 and as long as 90 days in jail.

The city council passed the new law last week at its regular meeting, claiming serious public harm caused by panhandlers.

The ordinance’s introductory section expresses the council’s desire to protect citizens and visitors from fear and intimidation from some kinds of solicitation.

It also makes note of the city’s interest in promoting business and tourism and preserving the quality of urban life as well as mentioning risk to traffic and public safety.

Certain kinds of panhandling are outlawed altogether, anywhere, anytime.

The ordinance bans what it calls coercive solicitation, which includes what some might think of as aggressive panhandling, and also includes making any false or misleading representations in the course of a solicitation.

Prohibited activity includes approaching within one foot of the person, persisting after the person gives a negative response, blocking a person or their vehicle, or engaging in any conduct that would reasonably be construed as intended to compel or force a person being solicited to accede to demands.

Chehalis’s police Sgt. Gary Wilson said the first day under the new rules went fine.

“There were none out there to be seen,” Wilson said. “So either word spread around, or maybe it was the weather.”

The issue came up back in May, when Council Member Chad Taylor asked if the city manager might look into Centralia’s ordinance on panhandling, so that Chehalis could do something similar.

At a June city council meeting, Chief Schaffer reported back, according to minutes from the meeting, explaining the city could put restrictions in place if they served a significant government interest, as long as they left open sufficient channels for the activity. An individual’s right to beg for money is protected speech under the First Amendment, Schaffer told the council.

He noted Chehalis the year before had repealed its former panhandling ordinance because it was unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Schaffer told the council they had received about 20 complaints since January, all related to panhandling on private property, specifically the Twin City Town Center, the Main Street Food Mart and the Jack-in-the Box. He noted the police department had gotten no official complaints regarding panhandling on public property, but there had been a number of comments such as “they make me feel uncomfortable” and, “can something be done about the trash they leave behind.”

He offered up details about Pierce County’s private property soliciting ordinance, but Mayor Dennis Dawes said it appeared there was interest on the part of the council to take it to the next step.

Earlier this month, the proposed ordinance was brought before the council, with a discussion that included how panhandlers presence in driveways and along roadways adds to the traffic hazards. Schaffer reported that 45 percent of city-wide traffic accidents during the past three years occurred in the area that is Chamber Way from State Street to Louisiana Avenue, and along Louisiana Avenue from K-Mart to Home Depot.

Specifically, in terms of locations on the map, the ordinance that passed bans solicitation within 25 feet of the entrance to any building, unless specific permission has been given by the business owner or occupant.

It’s banned at all on or off ramps to state routes or interstate highways, specifically all those along Interstate 5; at Chamber Way, Main Street and 13th Street.

It’s banned within 300 feet – think the length of a football field – from any of the three intersections along Chamber of Commerce Way: at National Avenue, at State Street and at Louisiana Avenue.

It’s banned within 300 feet of the entrances to the parking lots of all businesses from the 1200 block of Louisiana Avenue, K-Mart, to the 2100 block of Louisiana Avenue, north of I-5 Toyota.

The same goes for any driveways existing or installed in the future on the street between Wal-Mart and Home Depot known as Arkansas Way.

One part of the ordinance also prohibits any kind of selling or distributing anything to a person who is in a vehicle at any of those locations in the congested area.

Another section makes it clear that providing or delivering unrequested services or products with a demand for payment would be a coercive solicitation.

Chief Schaffer this week said he didn’t know if 25 feet meant every part of the sidewalks that run through the historic center of town on North Market Boulevard are off limits. Sgt. Wilson said he thought that might be true, but officers would have to look at each case as it comes.

The chief said he didn’t know if any of the collisions he counted in the congested areas were actually caused by panhandlers, only that there is the further distraction of people on the corners with signs, and motorists stopping to give money.

He also couldn’t address exactly what was the “serious public harm” caused by panhandling cited in the ordinance, saying those weren’t his words.

The ordinance notes the city still allows for safe and appropriate venues for the constitutionally protected activity.

“We can’t outright prohibit it,” Schaffer said. “So if people want to peacefully panhandle, as long as it’s not in the area outlined in the ordinance, they’re free to do that.”

Ordinance No. 944-B, is added as an amendment to Chapter 7.04.320 of the Chehalis Municipal Code.

As Lewis County’s fourth large wildfire expands, some still ignoring burn ban

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Alder Lake fire continues to grow and progress to the southeast, but an expected change to wet and cooler weather in Western Washington could bring some relief.

The National Weather Service indicates that tomorrow through the weekend rain will become locally heavy at times, especially in the mountains. Daytime temperatures are forecast to be lower than normal, with many lowland sites not even reaching 70 degrees, according to the weather service.


Centralia-Alpha Road, 18 acres, Onalaska Aug. 4, 2015

The conditions could help reduce the size of or even end ongoing fires in the mountains, the forecasters said this morning.

The forest fire northwest of Mineral has now consumed 225 acres and is threatening residences on or near the Pleasant Valley Road, outside of Mineral. Those living there were told yesterday afternoon to start making plans to evacuate.

The firefighting effort is being managed by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the state Department of Natural Resources. About 105 personnel remain assigned to the lightning-sparked fire that was discovered 17 days ago just south of Alder Lake.

While the end or break in the hot, dry spell is surely welcome news, Steve Mansfield of Lewis County Department of Emergency Management, cautions the public to remain vigilant about fire danger.


Gish Road, 102 acres,
Onalaska Aug. 9, 2015

“The Pacific Northwest has reached such a low moisture level, it may take weeks once the rain starts before the danger of fire is reduced,” Mansfield stated in a news release today.

Although outdoor burning is usually prohibited during the driest months of the year in unincorporated Lewis County, officials earlier this month issued a ban on even recreational fires, as did the cities of Chehalis and Centralia.

Besides the Alder Lake fire, Lewis County has seen three other large vegetation fires already this month, each increasingly bigger. Last week a grass fire in Onalaska rolled through 175 acres, decimating a farming operation and consuming 200,000 chickens with their barns.


Gore Road, 175 acres,
Onalaska Aug. 19, 2015

Still, some fire departments have been running a little ragged, responding to calls that turn out to be illegal burning.

Every time it rains a bit, that picks up, Firefighter Brad Bozarth said.

Bozarth estimated his department, Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue in Napavine, has gone to 30 such calls since the restrictions were put in place.

“Usually its recreational fires, or someone burning trash,” he said.

For a first offense, the firefighters usually just advise the people of the rules, he said.

Earlier this week, Mossyrock’s fire chief was feeling less patient about those who’ve ignored the danger.

Lewis County Fire District 3 Chief Doug Fosburg said his department chased campfires all weekend. The offenders usually claim they didn’t know of the ban, he said.


Alder Lake, 225 acres,
Elbe-Mineral area, ongoing

“People haven’t gotten the idea they can’t have open flames,” he said.

Each time he and his crews are toned out, they have to react as though it’s a working structure fire, with everyone responding, he said.

In one case, Fosburg said, the resident assumed since they’d watered their yard, it would be fine.

“I explained, you can’t control what goes airborne,” he said.

Both he and Salkum’s fire chief had to stop what they were doing at the Gore Road chicken farm to deal with illegal burns, he said.

Ignoring the outdoor burn ban can be costly even if one doesn’t accidentally burn down their neighbors house.

Acting Lewis County Fire Marshal Lee Napier said it’s a civil infraction which can bring a fine of up to $250.

On the criminal side, the sanction is a gross misdemeanor, with the possibility of a fine up to $10,000 and up to 364 days in jail.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said yesterday morning she wasn’t aware of any such citations issued this year.

Typically, reports of illegal burning are handled by the particular fire department, according to Brown.

“The fire department then goes out and evaluates the situation and typically educates the person,” Brown said. “If the person refuses to put it out or causes a problem, then we respond and use our discretion, as always, to evaluate the situation.”

Chief Fosburg said he doesn’t give people a choice. He  waits and watches the campfire getting put out, and sticks around to make sure it’s entirely extinguished.

“If I have to go back more than once, I will bring law enforcement with me,” he said.

The causes of the first three big fires are unknown, although the sheriff’s office said preliminarily the Gore Road incident was believed to have been sparked by a brush hog operating in a field. DNR is investigating them.

Outdoor burning in unincorporated Lewis County has been prohibited since mid-June, with the increased restrictions put into place within days of the Centralia-Alpha Road fire.

Those in the Mineral area have been advised to continue to monitor their local news media.

The weather service has also noted it it will likely become locally windy on Saturday due to a strong front moving across the area.

For the details about the specifics:

The Lewis County Board of Commissioner’s resolution allows for enforcement under Lewis County Code 15.05.020.  The code referencing the penalty for violation is under RCW 70.94.430(1).

For background, read “Fire evacuation alerts issued for residents west of Mineral” from Wednesday August 26, 2015, here