Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

New earthquake analysis leads to lowering Riffe Lake reservoir

Friday, February 17th, 2017
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Mossyrock Dam on the Cowlitz River sits at the west end of Riffe Lake. / Courtesy photo by Tacoma Power

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Recently revised earthquake predictions, which portend failure of the spillway gates of the Mossyrock Dam have prompted the the dam’s owner to begin considering seismic retrofits.

In the meantime, Tacoma Power plans to keep less water in the reservoir which is Riffe Lake to reduce the amount of downstream flooding if a big one should strike.

Tacoma Power announced this week the changes it is implementing.

They want to keep the level of Riffe Lake 30 feet lower than normal, according to Chris Gleason, the community and media services manager for Tacoma Public Utilities.

The United States Geological Survey recently revised its earthquake predictions for the Cowlitz River basin, information that was passed along to the owner of the hydroelectric dam in November, according to Gleason.

Riffe Lake, more than 23 miles long, is 778.5 feet when full.

The probability of a large earthquake is low, and the issue isn’t the dam itself, according to Tacoma Power.

But, preliminary analysis concluded that specific seismic events could render the spillway gates useless, which could cause considerable downstream flooding, according to the utility.

A spillway is the part of the dam that water flows through. The four spillways are located high in the middle of the dam.

According to Gleason, they’ve submitted their plans to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission which will review and accept or modify the proposal.

They are required keep the lake below 745.5 feet during December and January, so it’s currently close to their lower level proposed, and they will maintain it there for the foreseeable future, according to Gleason.

The new lower level is expected to be in place into the next decade.

Mossyrock Dam, a concrete structure completed in 1968 is the state’s tallest dam. It produces enough electricity for 78,000 homes.

No concrete arch dams have failed due to earthquakes, according to Tacoma Power.

Boating, swimming and fishing will remain possible on Riffe Lake, but access could be limited.

Two Tacoma Power-owned boat launches are anticipated to be usable during the summer, but two others will be closed. They are considering a new swim beach at Mossyrock Park.

The seismic retrofits they are beginning to consider won’t take place for years. The development and implementation of possible solutions involves substantial analysis, planning and federal approval, according to Tacoma Power.

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On the east side of the dam are the piers that hold the spillway gates in place. / Courtesy photo by Tacoma Power

Centralian accused of taking advantage of multiple younger women

Saturday, February 11th, 2017
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Keith D. Keene prepares to go in front of a judge in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 49-year-old Centralia man was charged yesterday for allegedly molesting three women on separate occasions who he allowed to use his bed when they were either nodded off after using heroin or sleeping while withdrawing from drugs.

Keith D. Keene told a detective when he was arrested he knew their fathers or parents and never touched them.

Keene was arrested on Thursday night when detectives went to the Scammon Creek Apartments in Centralia and spoke to the third alleged victim and then him, according to court documents.

A detective searched Keene’s bedroom and reportedly found a glass smoking device and a small baggie, both with white residue. He was not charged with any drug crime.

When Keene was brought before a judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court, Deputy Prosecutor Joel DeFazio asked for $100,000 bail, suggesting a public safety risk.

Temporary defense attorney Rachael Tiller requested the amount of bail be lower, as Keene has no felony history, resides locally and is employed locally by Sterling Breen. His only non-traffic misdemeanor was a fourth-degree assault from 1997.

Judge Joely O’Rourke chose $25,000 bail and signed sexual assault protection orders that require Keene not to go within 1,000 feet of the alleged victims.

Charging documents in the case indicate an inmate at the Lewis County Jail asked to speak with Centralia Police Department detective Adam Haggerty last July, and told him of at least four females who may have been sexually assaulted by Keene.

The documents go on to give the following account of interviews he subsequently conducted:

Later that month, the detective talked with a 21-year-old who at first said nothing happened and she wasn’t a snitch. “(Her) eyes welled up with tears and she looked away,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm wrote.

However, the young woman contacted the detective later that night and said she would talk.

She said it happened in mid-May when she and a friend went to Keene’s fifth-wheel trailer and she injected heroin and nodded off. When she came to, her friend was gone and Keene told her she could use his bedroom and rest while she waited.

The 21-year-old said she woke up to her pants being pulled down to her ankles and Keene next to her in bed, with his finger inside her. She jumped up, fixed her clothes and left.

For that, prosecutors charged him with second-degree rape, an offense that has a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Detective Haggerty next interviewed a 20-year-old who described a somewhat similar scenario she said occurred in November 2015, a visit with friends to the fifth-wheel trailer. She said she woke up and Keene was behind her – clothed in boxer shorts and a wife beater T-shirt – rubbing himself against her. She said she got up and immediately went outside.

On Thursday night, detectives got a tip a recent victim of Keene’s was at the Scammon Creek Apartments, and found she had an outstanding warrant. Members of the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team and state Department of Corrections went there, arrested her and then Haggerty interviewed her. The 29-year-old said that in early February, Keene told her she could lay down on his bed and sleep as she was coming down from a several day drug binge.

The 29-year-old said she woke up to find Keene spooning her, rubbing himself against her backside and had one hand inside her panties.

For those incidents, Keene is charged with indecent liberties, crimes with maximum penalties of 10 years in prison.

“Detective Haggerty told Keene that he needed to speak with him about a serious matter,” Bohm wrote in the charging documents.

Before the detective could ask a question, Keene blurted out that a girl accused him of touching her and it was not true, the court documents relate.

Keene’s arraignment is scheduled for next Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court.

Two arrested in Centralia rooftop burglary cases

Friday, February 10th, 2017
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Alexis Cardenas, left, and Morelia V. Ayala Garcia await their turn to go before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Centralia College student and his 19-year-old girlfriend were charged today in connection with a string of fast food establishment burglaries, two of which the thieves broke in by cutting a hole through the roof.

Alexis Cardenas, 26, of Centralia, came to the attention of local police after he was caught red-handed breaking in to the Taco Bell in Olympia the other night, according to Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead.

In one case, the intruders had the combination to the safe, Halstead said.

His alleged accomplice, Morelia V. Ayala Garcia, 19, also of Centralia, was a manager at the McDonalds in Centralia, according to authorities. She no longer works there, police said.

Both were arrested on Wednesday and held in the Lewis County Jail until charges were filed today in Lewis County Superior Court.

In one case, about $2,800 was stolen, in another it was $5,700, according to Halstead. He wasn’t certain this afternoon of the amount in the third case. The incidents all happened in the late spring of 2015 in Centralia.

Arby’s on the 1200 block of Belmont Avenue was hit on April 14, 2015. In that case, some broke out a window to get inside, according to charging documents.

Thieves struck at McDonalds on the 1200 block of Lum Road on May 28, 2015. Then they struck again at the Centralia Wendy’s on the 800 block of Harrison Avenue on June 13, 2015. In both cases they got inside by by cutting a hole in the roof, according to police.

Police are looking for four other suspects they believe were involved.

Cardenas is charged with three counts of second-degree burglary and three counts of first-degree malicious mischief.

Halstead told a judge this afternoon that even though Cardenas was incarcerated when the McDonalds break-in occurred, they believe he directed it.

Ayala Garcia is charged in only the McDonalds case.

Halstead said the crimes involved a high degree of sophistication. He asked that Cardenas be held on $300,000 bail, out of concern about  interfering with the administration of justice by trying to contact witnesses.

While he was released on $20,000 bail in Thurston County after the Olympia burglary, Halstead said that amount was “a joke.”

Temporary defense attorney Rachael Tiller argued for a lesser amount, noting Cardenas is a student at Centralia College, employed at a local auto dealership and resides in Centralia. Lewis County Superior Court Judge Joely O’Rourke said she considered him a very serious threat to community safety and ordered the high bail.

Halstead asked that Ayala Garcia be held on $25,000 bail, noting her situation was different in that she allegedly participated only in one burglary and had nothing more than a speeding ticket on her record. He also said Ayala Garcia didn’t appear to be a citizen, but may have a work permit.

Tiller noted to the judge Ayala Garcia has a 7-month-old baby, works as an insurance agent, had family in the courtroom and wasn’t a flight risk. O’Rourke set her bail at $25,000, noting she was not concerned about Ayala Garcia returning to court as ordered.

Halstead asked the judge to sign an order allowing DNA samples to be taken from the suspects.

The Olympia Police Department Tweeted on Monday they caught a burglar during the night trying to break in to a safe, noting an alarm, the sounds of a grinder being used and foot prints in the snow which led to a rooftop ladder and their suspect at Taco Bell.

Their arraignments are set for next Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court.

Glenoma fire, death investigation continues

Friday, February 10th, 2017
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A woman who said she was the daughter, sister of victims and her companions enter the home after investigators leave.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

GLENOMA – Investigators didn’t find any particular surprises as they examined the scene of a house fire with three deaths in Glenoma yesterday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said the home on the 100 block of Frost Creek Road was occupied by a husband, his wife and adult son. Three adult bodies were removed by the coroner’s office and autopsies will be conducted, he said.

The small house built in 1940 sits on a moderate-sized parcel just north of U.S. Highway 12  with neighboring homes close by. The community of Glenoma is just seven miles east of Morton, both of which are surrounded by the foot hills of the Cascade Mountains.

Dan Powell who lives across the street said he was awakened by one of his neighbors beating on his door, saying he couldn’t get through to 911.

Powell put on his pants, grabbed his 25-pound fire extinguisher and headed over. Another neighbor from up the road, a volunteer firefighter, was already on the scene, he said.

“He told me he went around and tried to rouse someone from the windows, but he didn’t get any response,” Powell said.

Already they could see flames from the kitchen and living room area, as well as a window on the opposite side of the house.

“Like I said, we couldn’t get close to it,” Powell said.

There were multiple 911 calls that came in around 3:23 a.m. yesterday. Four fire departments responded to put out the blaze.

The house is still standing, but Breen late yesterday afternoon pointed to area to the right of the front door, where the kitchen’s wall would have been, next to the garage-carport area. Pieces of metal roofing hung in front of the carport.

Where specifically the fire seems to have originated, they aren’t yet saying, Breen said.

“They do not have a definite conclusion yet,” Breen said as detectives and a fire investigator prepared to clear the scene.

Their task yesterday was to conduct two investigations, one for what caused the fire and another for what caused the deaths, Breen said.

He said they spoke to family asking questions about the electrical and what the residents used for heating, he said.

“They had propane at one time, but that’s shut off,” Breen said. “It sounds like they had electric heaters.”

Investigators didn’t find any smoke detectors, he said.

The victims were found in different areas of the home, Breen said, a bedroom, the hallway and the living room.

Powell and his fiancee, Judy Nelson said the elderly couple had lived there more than a decade. Neither one of them drove, he said.

It wasn’t too long ago the son came to live with them, Powell said. And they lost their daughter about a year ago, he said.

“He was very helpful with his parents, like he built a ramp for them,” Nelson said.

Powell knows fires well, as he is the chief for Lewis County Fire District 4, which protects the area surrounding Morton.

He’s been with his department 45 years and during that time, they’ve never had a fatal fire, he said.

“I just hope they went to sleep and slept right through it,” Powell said.

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Nelson said.

Once identification and next of kin notification are made, the victim’s identities will be released by the Lewis County Coroner’s Office.
•••

For background, read, “Three dead in Glenoma residential structure fire” from Thursday February 9, 2017, here

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Deputies and fire investigator left tape blocking the front yard of the Frost Creek Road home.

Three dead in Glenoma residential structure fire

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Three people have been found dead after a house fire early this morning in Glenoma.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said personnel are on the scene and just now getting inside to examine the situation.

“We’re just getting in there now to look around in what remains of the structure,” Breen said.

They know three people live at the single-story house on the 100 block of Frost Creek Road and responders have confirmed three bodies inside, Breen said.

There were multiple 911 calls that came in around 3:23 a.m. and firefighters from Glenoma, Randle, Morton and Mossyrock responded, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Lewis County Coroner’s Office and a fire investigator are there now, along with fire personnel and sheriff’s detectives, according to Breen.

“This is a tragic situation, and we are working diligently with our public safety partners to find answers for the family and our community,” said Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza stated in a news release.

Identification of the deceased has not yet been confirmed, Breen said.

Former social services manager gets three years in prison for theft of money

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
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April K. Kelley says her goodbyes while a corrections officer waits to escort her down to the Lewis County Jail.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 35-year-old married mother of two and former county employee was dressed in black as she tearfully received hugs from arriving supporters in the hall outside the courtroom.

She knew prosecutors would be asking the judge to sentence her to 10 years in prison for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from an association in which she served as treasurer.

April K. Kelley knew her attorney would request a special sentence available for first time offenders, which could amount to 90 days in jail.

Seven rows of benches behind her were filled, when Kelley sat before Judge Andrew Toynbee this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

“I’m not proud of what I did by any means, but I’m proud of how I handled it,” Kelly said as she stood reading from a piece of paper. “What I did was a terrible thing; I wake up every morning shocked that it happened.”

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. When a new treasurer took over last year, the books were reviewed and money was missing. She was arrested in September after an investigation conducted by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

She pleaded guilty last month to  eight counts of first-degree theft, committed over a less than four-year period ending in the spring of 2014.

The standard sentencing range for her crimes was 22 to 29 months.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer addressed the court, saying there are times when that would be appropriate, but this was not one of those times.

“The defendant admitted she violated a position of trust,” Meyer said.

ACHS is a non-profit group with members who provide or administer programs related to chemical dependency, mental health and developmental disabilities. Kelley was  social services manager for Lewis County.

Meyer estimates Kelley stole about $143,000.

“Something that sets Ms. Kelley apart, is she stole from every taxpayer in the state of Washington,” he said. “She spent it on lavish things that she was not willing to work for.”

Meyer noted over $1,000 in tickets to events, and shopping in Las Vegas, Canada and California.

She stole 90 percent of ACHS’s revenue during one year and about 75 percent of it in another year, he said.

The prosecutor suggested the judge should not give much weight to a letter in her court file that says she is bipolar, nor should he offer leniency because of an impact on her children.

Meyer raised the issue of a letter of support from Lewis County Commissioner Bobby Jackson, which he called inappropriate.

“It shows the manipulative nature of the defendant,” he said.

Defense attorney Shane O’Rourke acknowledged to the court it was a lot of money and there was no good or acceptable explanation for his client’s conduct.

“I think we’re in a difficult position, me and Ms. Kelley,” he said. “Not from a sympathetic perspective.”

O’Rourke pointed out there was no loss of life, no violence.

“Ultimately, we’re considering a property crime,” he said.

O’Rourke and Meyer had both submitted written briefs ahead of time, and he spoke to some of the comparisons to other cases involving large thefts of money in recent years.

His client is saying she’s sorry because she is sorry, he said. And she voluntarily paid $10,000 back the day before, which is as much as she possibly could, he said.

O’Rourke requested she be given 90 days in jail, which would be a punishment for someone who has never been to jail, he said.

Toynbee considered aloud the various aspects he would or would not consider, noting her sentence could be as little as zero days or as long as 80 years. He noted she has no criminal background.

The judge acknowledged the defendant has incredible community support, but that individuals don’t get a break because they are a good person.

“People are sentenced based on their actions, not their value in the communities eyes,” he said.

Toynbee concluded by telling Kelley he was sentencing her to 36 months with the Department of Corrections.

The parties agreed to return to court at 1 p.m. tomorrow, to fill out and file the written judgement and sentence. Kelley was to be taken down to the jail at the end of the hearing.

The judge left the bench and eventually a corrections officer arrived to retrieve her. For more than 10 minutes, Kelley accepted hugs from her supporters who lined up in the aisle.

Kelley was escorted, unhand-cuffed, by a corrections officer out of the room just before 2 p.m.

Lewis County Commissioner Jackson outside the courtroom declined to comment on his Dec. 28 letter submitted in support of the now-former county employee, in which he asked for leniency.
•••

For background, read “Ex-government employee admits stealing thousands from account she managed” from Friday January 20, 2017, here

Centralia house fire sends family to hospital

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
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South Oak Street, Centralia. / Courtesy photo by Daniel Hansen

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A family of five was hospitalized after a house fire in a Centralia neighborhood overnight that almost completely destroyed the residence.

Firefighters called to the 400 block of South Oak Street about 12:45 a.m. found the home heavily involved in flames and threatening two adjacent homes, according to authorities.

“Crews deployed hose lines for suppression of the affected residence and protection of the adjacent properties,” Riverside Fire Authority Capt. Scott Weinert stated.

The residence to the north was also occupied by a family of five, but both families got out prior to the arrival of firefighters, according to Weinert.

The five occupants from the primary house affected were transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, and then three of them transferred to a Seattle Hospital, according to Weinert. Airlifted were a man, a woman and a 17-year-old boy. The remaining two are children believed to be younger than 10, he indicated.

Weinert did not indicate what type of injuries they sustained.

Riverside Fire Authority was joined by members of the Chehalis Fire Department. The cause is under investigation.

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South Oak Street, Centralia. / Courtesy photo by Riverside Fire Authority

Sheriff’s Office: Performing above and beyond

Friday, February 3rd, 2017
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Deputy Jeff Godbey, center, flanked by nominees for Field Operations Bureau Employee of the Year.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – When Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza stood at the pulpit in preparation to recognize outstanding employees, he began with a moment of silence to honor law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty last year.

Fifteen officers nationwide met the same fate so far this year, a number that increased by two between the time Snaza prepared his remarks and yesterday afternoon when he gave them.

Sheriff Snaza got teary-eyed, and said so aloud.

He told the gathering how each night as he goes to bed, he checks to make sure his phone is working.

“And I think about you guys, and I hope that I don’t get that phone call,” he said, his voice breaking.

Members of the sheriff’s office met yesterday afternoon at the Bethel Church of the Assemblies of God in Napavine, for the annual event. They were joined by family members and some members of the community.

Snaza spoke to all his employees, telling them not to feel left out one bit if they weren’t called to the stage.

“Every one of you are role models, team players,” he said. “I look up to you each and every day.”

Guardian Awards
• Special Services Bureau – Detective Jamey McGinty
• Corrections Bureau – Capt. Chris Tawes

Employee of the Year Awards for 2016
• Services Bureau – Accountant Sandy Lupo
• Corrections Bureau – Support Technician II Jennifer Teitzel
• Corrections Bureau – Corrections Deputy Jeremy Engel
• Field Operations Bureau – Deputy Jeff Godbey

Top Performer Awards for 2016
• Deputy Skylar Eastman
• Corrections Deputy Kimberly Crook

Sheriff’s Award
• Sgt. Alan Stull

Sheriff Life Saving Medal
• Deputy Tyson Brown

Citizen Life Saving Award
• Matt Mohney
• Chad Smith
• Teresa Smith
• April Brathovd

Citizenship Award (United Way, Shop with a Cop)
• Debbie Campbell
• Linda Raschke
• Linda Lee
• Angela French
• Sue Muller

Pe Ell coach’s rape conviction is reversed

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
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•••

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – He’s already served his prison time, but Pe Ell resident Todd Phelps got good news in the form of the Washington Court of Appeals reversing his convictions for third-degree rape and second-degree sexual misconduct.

The jury trial stretched over nearly two weeks in the spring of 2012 and the former Pe Ell High School softball coach and log truck driver was given a sentence two days shy of six years.

The attorney for the 52-year-old painted a picture of a coach who became close to a 16-year-old team member because he was worried she was cutting on herself and might commit suicide. The prosecution told jurors of a man who gradually seduced a girl already troubled with low self esteem and depression.

Phelps lost an appeal in 2014, but filed a personal restraint petition. In its decision published last week, the appeals court said the prosecutor committed misconduct by introducing and arguing facts not in evidence about sexual grooming.

“… (T)his misconduct was prejudicial, flagrant, and ill intentioned and that there was no likelihood that this error could have been cured by a proper instruction,” the three-member panel wrote.

The panel held the error resulted in prejudice.

“You cannot get back the six years in prison, but he corrected what he found in error,” Seattle-based attorney Suzanne Lee Elliott said of her client.

Exactly how much time Phelps actually served isn’t clear, as he would have gotten early release with credit for “good time.”

Elliott  said the issues that led to this decision for her client have been an ongoing topic in the appeals court and the state Supreme Court and led to some high profile cases being overturned because of overreach on the part of prosecutors.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said his office plans to ask the appeals court to reconsider its decision.

“Let’s not forget, the appeals court originally upheld the conviction,” Meyer said yesterday. “And if we have to retry it, we will.”

Phelps was represented by Centralia defense attorney Don Blair in the 2012 case in Lewis County Superior Court. The state’s case was presented by Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Debra Eurich and Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead. Judge Nelson Hunt presided.

In its more than 30-page opinion, the appeals court notes that the state contended its argument about grooming was based on reasonable inferences from the record. The appeals court however held that expert testimony is required if the state intended to rely upon “grooming” to argue and prove its case.

While the issue of grooming was discussed during jury selection and at length during closing arguments, by the deputy prosecutor, there were only two instances during the trial when the term grooming was mentioned in witness testimony, Justice Jill Johanson wrote.

The opinion issued on Jan. 24 was authored by Johanson, with Justices Thomas R. Bjorgen and Linda Cj Lee concurring.

Prosecutor Meyer said yesterday if he doesn’t get the hoped for result in the request for reconsideration, he’ll have to make a decision about asking the state Supreme Court to look at the case.

“If necessary, we’ll retry it, we’ll work with the victim on retrial,” Meyer said.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Appeals judges reject each of Pe Ell man’s claims on rape conviction” from Wednesday June 18, 2014, here

Truck stop heist: Microsoft cargo spirited away

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A semi truck and trailer loaded with Microsoft products was stolen from a Napavine truck stop along Interstate 5 last night.

The good news is it was found a few miles away about 20 minutes later. The bad news is, it was minus its load, according to authorities.

Napavine Police Department Chief Chris Salyers said he doesn’t yet have a dollar amount for the lost merchandise.

The driver called from Love’s Travel Stop on the 1200 block of Rush Road, where he had parked his big rig, according to authorities.

“He went inside to take a shower, came out and it was gone,” Salyers said.

It seemed as though the thief or thieves used a slim jim to get inside, he said.

While law enforcement was looking for the stolen truck, a citizen called 911 to report suspicious activity at Mary’s Corner, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

They observed two tractor trailers plus a gold or tan pickup truck arrive to a parking lot, saw several males in the back of a trailer and then watched one of the semis take off at a high rate of speed, sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said.

The parking lot sits near the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and Jackson Highway.

When officers arrived just after 10:15 p.m., they found the missing truck, but without its cargo, Breen said.

The truck is owned and operated by Ancor Transport Ltd out of British Columbia, according to Breen.

They said it was the second time an Ancor truck had been jacked with Microsoft products, Breen said.

The description of the second semi was a greenish Peterbilt with a sleeper and a refrigerated semi-trailer, according to the sheriff’s office.

Salyers said Microsoft wanted the found truck impounded, but no local tow company had enough space to keep it, so it was turned over to the driver.

Breen asks that anyone who has any information on the incident to please call the sheriff’s office.

Centralia apartment arson suspect held on $10,000 bail

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
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Kathrin L. Turner, seated, waits for a corrections officer to escort her to the Lewis County Jail this afternoon.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Centralia woman who authorities believe cut her own throat and wrists after setting small fires at an apartment complex last fall was taken into custody after responding to a summons to appear in Lewis County Superior Court today.

Kathrin L. Turner, 44, is charged with first-degree arson, for an incident in early November at the apartments where she lived and was manager.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer told the judge he felt some bail was appropriate even though Turner showed up for court this afternoon.

Temporary defense attorney Rachael Tiller requested a $5,000 unsecured bond, noting her client did come to court as she was ordered, has no felonies in her past and has very close ties to the community.

“She’s resided here almost her entire life, has family here today and also has serious medical needs,” Tiller said.

Judge Joely O’Rourke said after reading the allegations, she believed Turner is a serious threat to community safety. She ordered Turner to be taken into custody and set her bail at $10,000.

Turner, with some kind of medical tubing visible outside her clothing, was asked to take a seat near the rear exit of the courtroom to wait for an escort down to the Lewis County Jail.

Centralia police investigated after two small fires were set on two consecutive mornings at the the 1100 block of Scammon Creek Road. Turner was manager there and told responders she used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames that damaged an approximately 15 square foot area of exterior siding on Nov. 3.

Three days later, Turner was found in the bathroom of a common area of the complex with life-threatening lacerations and taken to Tacoma General Hospital where she spent 45 days, according to authorities.

According to charging papers and police reports, Turner at first said she was attacked by a stranger, but then confessed to setting the building on fire. The reason she gave a detective was she was trying to get a tenant to move out and thought she could scare her away.

Her husband Kenneth Turner was among a small group of supporters with Kathrin Turner in court this afternoon.

“I don’t get any of it,” he said as he left the courthouse without his wife.

Defense attorney David Arcuri was appointed to represent Turner. Her arraignment was scheduled for Thursday.
•••

For background, read “Perplexing Centralia apartment arson case stalled” from Wednesday December 21, 2016, here

Ex-government employee admits stealing thousands from account she managed

Friday, January 20th, 2017
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Centralia woman April Kelley is allowed to leave the courtroom free on her personal recognizance after pleading guilty to first-degree theft.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The now-former social services manager for Lewis County acknowledged today she stole more than $100,000 from a bank account she was responsible for as treasurer.

April K. Kelley, 35, was arrested and charged in September after an investigation conducted by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The Centralia woman has remained out of jail on $20,000 bail.

She went before a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court, with more than a dozen supporters seated in the benches behind her.

Kelley pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree theft, committed over a less than four-year period ending in the spring of 2014. Six counts of forgery were dropped in a plea agreement struck with the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

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. The money was discovered missing when a new treasurer took over.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Andrew Toybnee asked Kelley if she understood the elements of the crime, the maximum penalty, if she had any questions and pointed out a box of kleenex as she sniffled.

“Do you understand what the prosecutor will be recommending?” Toynbee asked. “Yes,” Kelley responded.

Each of the counts carries aggravating factors with Kelley admitting to committing a major economic offense and using her position of trust and fiduciary responsibility to carry out the crimes.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said he plans to ask for a 10 year sentence.

She was allowed to leave court today, on her personal recognizance and return on Feb. 8 for that hearing. Meyer said he will be asking that day she be taken directly into custody.

The prosecutor has tallied up a bit more than $196,000 in restitution that Kelley will be responsible for. About $28,000 of that is for an audit fee and $5,000 for expert accountant fees.

At one point the defendant realized the association didn’t have enough funds to cover amounts due and got money from a family member to prevent detection of the losses, according to Meyer. The approximately $49,000 she deposited will reduce the restitution amount, he said.

Defense attorney Shane O’Rourke said he wasn’t prepared to speak about how much time he will recommend for his client, as he wants the judge to hear it from him first.

However, the standard sentencing range for the offense is 22 to 29 months in prison, he said. And under the law, an option for a first time offender is zero to 90 days in jail, he said.
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For background, read “News brief: Former treasurer set to plead guilty in theft case” from Thursday January 12, 2017, here

Centralia wife’s murder trial postponed

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Attorneys told a judge today the trial for the Centralia woman charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband should be pushed off into the future.

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Janet L. Anderson

Janet L. Anderson, 39, has been held in the Lewis County Jail since she was arrested last month. Forty-one-year-old Ty Anderson’s body was located in their bedroom wrapped in a tarp, with a bullet hole in the back of his neck and another in his lower back, prosecutors have said.

She was charged in Lewis County Superior Court on Dec. 19 and a trial date was set for the week of Feb. 13.

Centralia defense attorney Shane O’Rourke today requested and was granted the postponement, until the week of May 8.

O’Rourke said he could tell early on based on the complexities the real trial date would be further down the road. But it’s standard practice at arraignments to put it on the court schedule within the required amount of time, he said.

“I gauged this one at six to nine months in terms of total time frame,” he said today.

Janet Anderson turned herself in to police the morning of Dec. 17, said she and her husband had been arguing at their home off of West Oakview Avenue and he grabbed his gun and pointed it at her. Prosecutors have said the shooting could have occurred as long as 12 hours earlier.

She has pleaded not guilty and is being held on $1 million bail.
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For background, read “Centralia wife pleads not guilty to murder” from Friday December 23, 2016, here