Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

Cause of Logan Street house fire a mystery

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Firefighters knocked down a blaze on the 1400 block of Logan Street in Centralia on July 16.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – Authorities have failed to find a cause for last month’s daytime fire that destroyed a vacant house on Logan Street, but the blaze remains in the suspicious file as far as police are concerned.

“We have an origin point, but we don’t have a cause for the fire as of right now,” fire investigator Rick Mack said today. “We’ll leave it undetermined. That leaves the door open in case we get more information.”

Mack, assistant chief and fire marshal for Riverside Fire Authority, said they completed their forensic examination and there was no evidence sent off to be tested.

“We’re hoping to get more information from anyone who saw anything,” Mack said.

Firefighters responded about 4:15 p.m. on July 16 to reports of a fully involved structure fire in a residential neighborhood at the north end of town.

Burning was a one and a half-story wood-frame home built around the turn of the century. The blaze extended to a detached garage in back.

Investigators concluded the fire originated inside the back portion of the house, Mack said.

According to Mack, some of the circumstances that make it feel odd are the lack of what commonly causes house fires: There was nobody living there who had a cooking accident, for example, he said. And it couldn’t have been an electrical problem because the power had been turned off a some point prior.

“Whether there was somebody who was in the residence doing something they didn’t intend to happen, I don’t know,” he said.

Exactly how long the home had been vacant or even who owns it isn’t clear.

Centralia Police Department detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald said police had contact in April with tenants living there.

County records show the owner as Dan Henderson, the Centralia city council member.

But Henderson says he surrendered the house in May of 2010 as a result of a bankruptcy.

Henderson said he believes it’s now owned by a loan servicing company in Colorado, and that neither they nor the previous bank that had the mortgage have properly recorded the change of owners.

The ensuing confusion even resulted in a nuisance infraction being issued to Henderson in late June, following a complaint about a large pile of garbage and a non-running vehicle on the property. But the police chief told him today the department was asking that to be dismissed, according to Henderson.

Henderson did say he has since been made aware there were some “petty burglary folks” squatting there as well as someone whose children were removed by Child Protective Services.

Police and fire authorities got one report the day of the fire of an individual walking away from the area, but that hasn’t been substantiated, according to police Sgt. Fitzgerald.

He said police are actively seeking people with information.

“It’s suspicious,” Fitzgerald said. “Houses do not spontaneously catch on fire.”

Mack and Fitzgerald are asking for anyone who knows anything or learns something about the cause of the fire to call them. Mack 360-330-9854. Fitzgerald 360-330-7614.

East county murder conviction overturned for third time

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

For the third time an appeals court has reversed a conviction in a Lewis County shooting death at a campground from more than a decade ago.

Kenneth L. Slert has three times been convicted of second-degree murder in the death of 53-year-old John Benson, a truck driver and father of five from Eatonville.

Slert claimed self defense in the October 2000 shooting off Skate Creek Road in between Packwood and Ashford.

The opinion filed yesterday by the Washington Court of Appeals remanded the case for a new trial based on a violation of a public trial right.

Specifically, four prospective jurors were excused during a closed door meeting between the judge and attorneys, according to the opinion.

One judge on the three-member panel dissented.

According to the court record, Benson went to Slert’s campsite where the two drank whiskey, argued over politics and fought.

Slert claimed he went into his tent to retrieve his gun and shot Benson who tried to come into the tent, and then shot him a second time when Benson was laying on the ground and reached out and grabbed at Slert.

The former carpenter who lived in Tacoma has been in prison since after his first trial in 2004.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer doesn’t yet have an answer whether his office will go for a fourth trial in the case.

Meyer previously represented Slert while working as a defense attorney, so two of his senior deputies will be making the decision.

Adna home-alone-kids’-burglary suspect admits breaking in

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 50-year-old Olympia woman pleaded guilty as charged in the Adna burglary that last month sent three home-alone children to hide in their bedroom.

Darlene J. Lockard was sentenced today to almost two and a half years in prison, the high end of the standard sentencing range for her for residential burglary.


Darlene J. Lockard

The 29-month sentence will be served concurrently with the lesser time she was handed down for  possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor theft.

Thirteen-year-old  Braydon Carper was babysitting his brothers, 7 and 5 years old, when they heard knocking on the door of their Penning Road home on July 12. Just the night before, his parents had a conversation about what to do if anyone came to the house while their parents were out.

Braydon took his brothers in their bedroom and when they heard banging on the door, locked that door and called his mother. Something prompted the intruder to leave right away.

Lockard was stopped by an arriving deputy about a quarter mile away with a crowbar in her van as well as costume jewelry from the house.

Lockard pleaded guilty this morning pursuant to a plea agreement in Lewis County Superior Court and was sentenced by Judge James Lawler.

Defense attorney David Arcuri said there was no evidence  his client knew the children were there but prosecutors threatened to enhance the charges if she went to trial, to include committing a burglary when someone is home. If convicted, a judge would have been free to sentence her up to 10 years in prison.

She decided to accept the plea agreement.

For background, read: “Jehovah’s Witnesses visit: A dress rehearsal for home invasion burglary” from Thursday July 19 2012, here

Male body found on Mount Rainier

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Melting snow on Mount Rainier revealed the body of a male who could be one of the four climbers lost during the January storms.

A party descending from Camp Muir yesterday spotted the individual within sight of the trail, at the 8,000 foot level, according to a public information officer for the Mount Rainier National Park.

It appeared the body had been under snow for some time,  according to spokesperson Patti Wold.

He was brought down the mountain by rangers today and his identity will be determined by the Pierce County Medical Examiner, according to Wold.

Searchers encountered white-out conditions, winds 60 mph and higher as well as snow drifts up to 50 feet when they looked for two parties who were overdue in mid-January.

The body was found on the lower reaches of the Muir Snowfield, about a half mile above Pebble Creek, according to Wold.

The missing subjects are Mark Vucich, 37, of San Diego and Michelle Trojanowski, 30, of Atlanta, Georgia who were planning to winter camp on the Muir Snowfield. Also missing during the same storm was a second party, Sork (Erik) Yang, 52, of Springfield, Ore. and Seol Hee Jin, 52, of Korea, who were on a summit attempt via the Disappointment Cleaver route, according to Wold.

Warm weather is expected to continue rapidly melting snow in the area over the next month or two which could uncover evidence related to the missing climbers, Wold said in a news release. The park is interested in hearing from anyone who sees any items that could be associated with the missing individuals, Wold stated.

Dogs that kill

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Bailey the kitty is back home after three days at the vet.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – The Centralia Police Department is investigating an early morning attack on a pair of cats that left one dead on Ham Hill Road.

Owner Cheryl Oakley said she awoke to barking so loud she thought it was inside her house. When she went outside, she saw two dogs in her yard, one of them with what looked like a possum or mole in its mouth.

Then she realized it was her 9-month-old Siamese kitty, she said.

“I screamed at them,” Oakley said. “When I saw it was her, I screamed louder and they ran away.”

Bailey the young cat was covered in blood. Her companion Roscoe the tabby was nowhere to be found, she said.

The strictly indoor cats had apparently pushed through a window screen and gotten outside, according to Oakley.

It was about 3 o’clock last Monday morning.

Oakley said a police officer showed up, then left. Five minutes later he returned with two dogs in his car which she identified as the ones she’d seen in her yard, she said.

When daylight came, Oakley found Roscoe dead across the road.

By mid-week, Bailey was home from the veterinary clinic and on the mend. But Oakley is left wondering what will become of the dogs.

“I don’t understand why they brought them back to the owner,” she said.

Police issued a citation – a civil infraction actually – to Felipe Loa-Vargas for dog at large, meaning a dog caught roaming off it’s owner’s property. The fine can be as high as $250.

But an animal control officer with the city is investigating further.

Boe Wohld, as the city’s special services officer, has dealt with animals in Centralia for more than 30 years.

Wohld said maybe seven or eight times a year they’ll get a report of an unprovoked attack by a dog on a domestic animal that ends in death.

Whether an offending dog gets impounded immediately for killing has to do with whether the act is witnessed, he said.

He checked on the two dogs this week, and saw they were not only in their pen, but chained up inside it, he said.

The city code about dogs that bite is patterned after state law.

In general, a dog gets one “free bite”, Wohld said. After that, if it does it again, the “dangerous dog” rules kick in.

And that’s a big deal, Wohld said.

If a dog is designated “dangerous”, the requirements put upon the owner are strict and expensive, according to Wohld. So strict, that when it occurs, most owners choose to give up their pet, he said.

Wohld guessed there are only about four or five such animals living in the city.

Among the requirements, according to Centralia’s code, are being kept in an enclosure with a secure top, proof of special liability insurance and in some cases having to wear a muzzle when taken for walks.

The “free bite” pass doesn’t apply if a dog inflicts severe injury on a human or kills a pet while off its property in an unprovoked attack.

Bailey the kitty was lucky.

Although the veterinarian surmised she was violently shaken, while her hindquarters were trapped in the dog’s jaws, she had no broken bones and didn’t require stitches for the tears along her backside.

“If you saw her when I brought her in, you would not think she would have made it,” Oakley said.

The vet kept her for three days, concerned about a deep wound in her groin, and possible spinal cord injury, according to Oakley.

She was sent home Wednesday with antibiotics and pain medication.

Roscoe has been buried. This weekend Oakley planned to bolt the window screens so her kitty can’t escape again.

“What if it was a kid?” Oakley asks, and then teared up. “It was a kid. It was mine.”

Wohld expected the animal control officer’s investigation could be finished as early as Monday.


Bailey, left, and Roscoe, right.

Suspect pleads not guilty to modified charges in Mossyrock sexual assault of girl

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Prosecutors have amended the charges against a Winlock man accused of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl in a Mossyrock-area campground five years ago.

Reginald L. Juntunen, now 24, was arrested and charged last week after he was identified through DNA as a suspect, according to authorities.

Charging documents in the case initially alleged the child was anally raped by a dark-skinned male wearing a hoodie and a stocking cap who forced her into the public restroom.

However, count one of first-degree rape of a child was altered earlier this week to include “or in the alternative, first-degree child molestation.”

The difference is penetration or just bodily contact, according to Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joely O’Rourke.

They did it to cover their bases, O’Rourke said.

“It’s a precaution on our part, in case there’s any discrepancies in the victim’s statement,” she said.

The victim was young when she was interviewed, she added.

Juntunen is also charged with first-degree rape, and now, or in the alternative, indecent liberties with forcible compulsion, with a similar distinction. He remains charged with first-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation.

He denied to detectives being in the park in 2007 when he was 19 years old.

He pleaded not guilty yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court and remains held on $500,000 bail.

A trial is scheduled for the week of Sept. 17.

Fo background, read “Prosecutors: Winlock man ID’d through DNA charged in 2007 campground rape of child” from Friday July 27, 2012, here

Maurin homicide: “He definitely did not do it”

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Ricky Allen Riffe sits as his lawyer addresses a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court.

Updated a 6:10 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS -  After Ricky Allen Riffe appeared briefly in a Chehalis courtroom his afternoon, his lawyer said his client looks forward to clearing his name in the 1985 kidnapping and slaying of Ed and Minnie Maurin of Ethel.

“He definitely did not do it,” attorney John Crowley said.

Riffe, 53, was arrested earlier this month at his home in Alaska and brought back to Lewis County where he is charged in the decades old case.

Normally someone booked into the jail would have made a first appearance before a judge much sooner, but Crowley was out of town on another case last week.

Today’s appearance was only to set a date for arraignment and address bail conditions. Riffe’s attorney however did not ask for any reduction in his client’s $5 million bail.

Riffe did not speak.

His mother, father, brother and two other family members were in the courtroom, but chose not to talk with the news media.

Also in the courtroom was Elaine Amos of Toledo and her sister.

Her brother-in-law is a primary witness in the case, Amos said.

“I haven’t been able to sleep, worrying about my brother-in-law,” she said. “We’re worried he’s going to get off.”

Riffe and his brother John Gregory Riffe – both former Lewis County residents – moved to Alaska in 1987.

The Lewis County sheriff says they have long been suspects in the case. Sheriff Steve Mansfield has said detectives felt many witnesses did not come forward out of fear of the Riffe brothers.

Authorities believe the elderly couple was kidnapped from their home on U.S. Highway 12, forced to drive to their bank and withdraw money, before being shot in the backs and dumped near a logging road west of Adna. Their bodies were found days later on Christmas Eve in 1985.

Ed Maurin was 81 years old, his wife 83.

The Seattle-based defense attorney was adamant about his client’s position when he spoke outside the courtroom this afternoon.

“I want people to know whenever Ricky Riffe gets his opportunity to testify, he’s going to take that opportunity,” Crowley said.

Riffe wants to clear his name and will strongly deny any involvement or knowledge of the murders on his part or his brother’s, according to Crowley.

John Riffe died last month died just a week before detectives purchased tickets to travel King Salmon, Alaska to arrest the brothers. He was 50.

Sixteen pages of charging documents describe numerous people who were interviewed both after the deaths and over the years since. None of the witnesses are named.

A truck driver who was contacted in 1991 pointed to Ricky Riffe and offered several pieces of information, including how he gave a shotgun to Ricky Riffe which he asked him to cut down so he could carry it on the job, according to charging documents. He said he had trouble getting it back, until two or three months after the murders, the documents alleges. The gun was later tossed in Mayfield Lake, according to one witness.

The unnamed truck driver spoke of Ricky Riffe having no money and then suddenly buying a commercial-type fishing boat, as well as getting an odd call from Rick Riffe’s wife Robin Riffe, who said, “You wouldn’t believe what Rick’s done,” the document states.

Another man who came forward in 2004 told detectives he saw the Riffe brothers in a car with the Maurin couple near their Ethel home, but was afraid for his life because they threatened him if he told, charging documents state.

Crowley said today his client feels bad for the people who were killed, but to his knowledge, nobody has identified Ricky Riffe in photos to detectives.

There’s no physical evidence and no DNA evidence, Crowley said.

Riffe worked as a heavy equipment operator in the small fishing community, but hasn’t been able to work for about a year because of a breathing disorder. He has COPD and uses oxygen, Crowley said.

Lewis County Prosecutor Will Halstead said he wanted to set the arraignment the week after next, but Crowley won’t be a available.

That is scheduled to take place on Aug. 23, at 3 p.m.


For more background, read “Maurin homicide: Accused murderer’s lawyer says no new evidence in old case” from Thursday July 26, 2012, here

Chehalis man admits starting fire in his apartment, will go to prison

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Chase Ettner, right, and his lawyer Ken Johnson appear in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 27-year-old man charged with arson after setting fire to his own Chehalis apartment two weeks ago pleaded guilty today.

Chase N. Ettner wanted to apologize for his actions, recognizing the potential seriousness of the situation, his attorney told a judge this afternoon.

“He has no prior record, he’s not criminally inclined,” Chehalis attorney Ken Johnson said. “He’s seriously embarrassed by this incident, and he’s remorseful.”

Police and firefighters called the night of July 16 to the 100 block of North Market Boulevard found residents had evacuated the brick building and a resident or residents working on extinguishing the flames.

Ettner had jumped out the window of the ground floor apartment he shared with his wife and was laying on the ground extremely intoxicated, surrounded by an unruly crowd, according to responders.

A gas can was found inside the apartment; the oven and stove were turned on, police said. The carpet and a futon were damaged by fire, according to the fire department.

Chehalis police initially said Ettner may have been trying to harm himself or possibly his wife. He also told police, according to charging document, he made sure everybody was out before he “torched the place.”

Ettner and his wife had argued, but she had left, according to attorneys.

Residents from five apartments in the 21-unit brick building had to find somewhere else to stay temporarily.

Both lawyers and Ettner agreed alcohol played a large role that night, and indicated because of that, it’s really not clear what his intentions were.

Johnson suggested the household had alcohol issues.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead recommended Ettner be sentenced to two years in prison following a plea agreement.

The standard sentencing range for the crime – first-degree arson domestic violence – for Ettner is 21 to 27 months.

Halstead additionally requested he be ordered not to consume alcohol.

Ettner’s voice broke when he addressed Judge James Lawler this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

He said it’s been years without hard drugs, but the alcohol came back and he wants to put it behind him.

“I never thought I would do anything to send myself to prison,” he said.

“I really don’t know what came over me that night,” he added.

Judge Lawler agreed with a two-year sentence.

“I hope you can make that change, because if you don’t, you know what’s waiting for you,” Lawler said.

A no-contact order was entered on behalf of Ettner’s wife, but Johnson said his client who’s spent most of his life in Tennessee may go back there and also thought it best if they went their separate ways.

For background, read:

• “Police: Intoxicated Chehalis man arrested after starting fire in his apartment” from Monday July 16, 2012 at 9:22 a.m., here

• “Prosecutors: Drunken apartment resident tried to hurt self, get back at wife with arson” from Tuesday July 17, 2012 at 9:51 a.m., here

The unclaimed dead of Lewis County

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

The Lewis County coroner displayed the urns of the unclaimed dead for the news media in hopes a bit of publicity might turn up relatives.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Anyone out there missing a grandmother? A cousin? Maybe a great uncle?

More than a dozen individuals who have died with no family to claim them for burial remain in the custody of the Lewis County Coroner’s Office.

Over the past 14 years, each unclaimed person has been cremated, their ashes placed in a a temporary plastic urn or even just a cardboard box, and then shelved.

Many of them were older when they died, although David J. Robertson, for example, was just 48 when he passed away at a Centralia nursing home in June of 2010.

Two local men who passed away earlier this year are among them.

Some may have been estranged from their family, or simply had no living relatives, according to Coroner Warren McLeod.

“One gentleman we spoke to his neighbor, he said no, he doesn’t have any family,” McLeod said.

It’s been somewhat distressing to McLeod and employees at the coroner’s office that so many have not gotten a proper burial.

“It’s frustrating,” McLeod said. “I mean, these folks have been stored in the back store room.”

“You gotta figure somebody somewhere loves them,” he said.

When McLeod took over as elected coroner in January 2011, there were many unclaimed sets of cremated remains being stored in the office.

Last year, volunteers worked with the coroner to take the military veterans among them to be buried at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent.

Since then, McLeod’s deputy coroners have checked and re-checked and found relatives of just a few.

Just last week, they matched up an urn containing a woman’s remains with her son who lives in Olympia, according to McLeod.

“When he was contacted, he said, oh, I thought someone else in the family took care of her,” McLeod said.

Five families have been found in the past several months, he said.

Now that virtually all avenues have been exhausted, the 16 remaining individuals will finally go to their final resting spot.

Claquato Cemetery west of Chehalis has donated a plot. A burial service is in the planning for next month.

The 16 urns will be placed in a shared concrete liner in a part of the cemetery known as the county section.

McLeod said he was told that’s where the county buried people who were unclaimed from the 1930s until the mid-1990s. He said he didn’t know why that practice ended.

Just in case in the future, a relative turns up who wants to retrieve their loved one, each urn will be sealed separately with a copy of the death certificate.

Their names won’t be engraved on any headstone, but the grave will be marked, and the cemetery will keep a listing as well as copies of the death certificates on file, according to McLeod.

The burial and a non-denominational memorial service is tentatively set for the week of Aug. 20.

If any of them do have a family member who wants to claim them, there is still time. The coroner thought publishing a list could possibly turn up more relatives.

Some of them still have friends in the area, just not family who could legally claim their bodies, according to the coroner’s office.

“Once we have the date, if people from the public want to come, they’re welcome,” McLeod said.

The following individuals are scheduled to be buried at Claquato:

• Lawrence T. Erickson, Centralia: 7-10-1915 to 5-4-1998

• Richard Farrell, Randle: 3-31-1943 to 10-26-1999

• Delores Fletcher, Centralia: 10-11-1928 to 3-24-2000

• Mary Katherine Gibson, Chehalis: 5-17-1936 to 3-31-2000

• Gladys Vivian Pitts, Centralia: 10-5-1915 to 10-6-2003

• Hiram Mahlon Coleman, Pe Ell: 7-22-1935 to 1-18-2004

• Edward M. Dombrowe, Chehalis: 4-22-1924 to 7-15-2004

• Harry Edwin Fields Jr., Chehalis: 8-25-1946 to 10-17-2004

• Stella Richardson, Centralia: 3-7-1928 to 8-12-2006

• Michael S. Edin, Centralia: 2-20-1944 to 10-5-2009

• David J. Robertson, Centralia: 6-7-1962 to 7-27-2010

• Eugene Briese, transient Chehalis area: 7-1-1943 to 12-6-2010

• Gary M. Ward, Centralia: 8-23-1961 to 6-15-2010

• William Dane, Centralia: 8-17-1942 to 3-1-2011

• Richard Fisher, Centralia: 12-16-1938 to 1-14-2012

• Curt Lynn Allison, aka Curtis Hughes, Curtis: 11-17-1950 to 4-7-2012

Breaking news: Passenger vehicle and train collide near Tenino

Saturday, July 28th, 2012


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Aid was called this afternoon to a train versus vehicle collision near Tenino.

A family of four were in a pickup truck which was hit by an Amtrak passenger train just north of Tenino, according to responders.


Courtesy photo by WSP

Trooper Guy Gill says they are very lucky to be alive.

Three were injured. Two individuals were transported by medics with advanced life support capabilities and one person was transported with basic life support personnel, according to Thurston County Fire District 12.

It happened in the area of McDuff Road near 143rd Avenue Southeast, according to Fire Chief Robin Duncan. Gill described the location as McDuff Road and Fenton Avenue.

It was a 2004 Ford F-150.

The train struck the front area of the pickup, Gill said on Twitter. “Three feet the other way and we would be dealing with multiple fatalities right now.”

The trooper said the two adults and two children are going to be fine. The driver is Thomas G. Hertter, 52, of Olympia, according to Gill.

The train was traveling approximately 79 mph.

Duncan said he thought the call came around 2:45 p.m., but couldn’t be sure as the fire department had three calls at about the same time.

The town’s Oregon Trail Days celebration is going on this weekend.

Bungled bank robbery spree leads to prison for Centralia resident

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Robert T. Hendrickson listens as his lawyer addresses a judge about the March holdups.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It’s off to prison for a 23-year-old Centralia man whose short-lived bank robbery career included trying to hold up a credit union that keeps no cash in its drawers.

Robert T. Hendrickson admitted to making off with money from Chase Bank on South Market Boulevard the morning of March 17, and moments earlier attempting to do the same at the nearby Twin Star Credit Union.

When he asked for all the cash in the drawer there, an employee said there wasn’t any, but he could get some out of their ATM.

Hendrickson and the driver of the getaway car were captured less than 30 minutes later after a high speed chase and a wreck on Cooks Hill Road in Centralia. Hendrickson was taken to the ground by a police dog when he tried to run.

“This is extraordinarily uncharacteristic of his general demeanor,” his attorney told a judge. “My client has admitted a drug problem.”

Hendrickson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five and a half years on Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court.

The charges included a bank robbery the night before in Olympia at a U.S. Bank branch inside a Safeway store.

Chehalis defense attorney Chris Baum said he worked with other lawyers to get the two cases combined for the plea agreement.

Baum suggested to Judge James Lawler in court on Thursday afternoon that his client was influenced by his partner.

“(Robert) Hughes sat in the car,” Baum said.

The attorney noted Hendrickson was never armed and never threatened anyone with a weapon.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead recommended five and a half years, the middle of the standard sentencing range for the crimes.

Hendrickson, who has no previous felonies on his record, told Judge Lawler he’s going to use the time to change his life.

Hughes, 32, of Tenino, pleaded guilty last month and was sentenced to five years for the incidents in Lewis County. He faces more potential time for the Thurston County bank robbery, Halstead said.

For background, read: “Foiled Chehalis bank heists lead to serious charges for local pair” from Monday March 19, 2012, here


Twin Star Credit Union was closed temporarily after an attempted robbery the morning of March 17.

Freeway cardiac arrest victim heads home with healthy heart

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Jeff Calcagno, his wife and grown sons stop briefly in Chehalis today after spending more than a week in an Olympia hospital.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Jeff Calcagno is tired, but he’s alive.

The 55-year-old Battleground resident finally left the hospital today, nine days after his heart stopped as he was passing by Winlock on Interstate 5.

Calcagno had been driving home from Kent, where one of his business’s four warehouses is located.

He doesn’t remember much at all about the entire day, but several local troopers, firefighters and medics likely won’t forget.

It was about 3:30 p.m. on July 18, when his Subaru Legacy twice drifted into a semi truck in the next lane, struck the inside concrete barrier and then veered off onto the right shoulder into a ditch.

Two passing motorists, both emergency room nurses from the Portland area, stopped, found him with no pulse and pulled him from his car to begin CPR.

Soon, they were joined by a sheriff’s deputy, trooper, paramedics from Lewis County Medic One and firefighters from Winlock and Napavine.

Resuscitation efforts continued on the shoulder of the freeway. Medics shocked him and administered drugs until his heart was beating again.

Calcagno was rushed in an ambulance to Providence Centralia Hospital, and then transferred to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia with its specialized cardiac care.

Paramedic Clayton Skinner spoke of how unlikely that sort of outcome is, crediting the immediate CPR started by the nurses.

Lewis County Fire District 15 Assistant Chief Kevin Anderson noted how the nurses were in the right place at the right time for the patient.

Calcagno and his wife Pam Calcagno today said even the doctors teared up when they heard the story.

“The cardiologist said 95 percent of people don’t have that outcome,” Pam Calcagno said.

For the first few days, he was in an induced semi-coma state and then recovering, the couple said.

Their 25-year-old son Christopher flew home from where he was working in Afghanistan. Their 21-year-old son Nicholas came and the family stayed in Olympia.

The Calcagnos were told it was just a chance occurrence. His heart just went into an irregular rhythm and then stopped, they said. It was possibly a rare consequence of a heart attack he had a couple of years ago, according to Calcagno.

Yesterday, doctors installed a mini defibrillator in his chest. About the size of a pager, with wires, the device will “kick start” his heart if something happens again, the Calcagnos said.

“It’s like a little team of paramedics in his chest,” his wife said.

His heart is strong and healthy, she said. He did have six fractured ribs, but medical personnel at the hospital just called that “very effective CPR.”

Calcagno said he’s just beginning to realize what happened.

The family said there’s no words to express their gratitude for strangers who saved his life.

“We can’t say how much we appreciate these people and want to meet them,” Pam Calcagno said.

Her husband feels the same way.

“There’s amazing people out there,” Calcagno said. “You don’t know it till you’re on the other side of that coin.”

Nicholas said he plans on taking a CPR class now.

Assistant Fire Chief Anderson notes the incident should serve as a reminder to the critical role people can play in their communities if they are trained in CPR.

District 15 wants folks to know they can get more information about obtaining training in CPR and first aid, by contacting them at 360-785-4221.

For background, read: “Passing nurses help revive driver whose heart stopped on Interstate 5″ from Wednesday July 18, 2012, here

Prosecutors: Winlock man ID’d through DNA charged in 2007 campground rape of child

Friday, July 27th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A judge this afternoon ordered a 24-year-old Winlock man held on $500,000 bail following his arrest for a sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl in a Mossyrock-area campground almost five years ago.

Reginald L. Juntunen was identified only late last month as a suspect through DNA, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

He was in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday on an unrelated matter when he was taken into custody.

Temporary defense attorney Bob Schroeter told the judge Juntunen is a graduate of Winlock High School and a life-long resident of the South Lewis County town.

Charging documents in the case allege the child was anally raped by a dark-skinned male wearing a hoodie and a stocking cap who forced her into the public restroom.

The girl, who is now 12, said she rode her bicycle to the nearby bathroom when she saw the man.

She said he told her he had a knife and to stop screaming, and he left in a yellowish car, according to the documents.

Deputies at the time collected a tissue the girl had wiped herself off with when she returned to the family’s motor home, the documents state.

On July 2, the sheriff’s office received a report from the   Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory declaring a match with Juntunen.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joely O’Rourke said his DNA would have been entered into the system from a previous felony.

Juntunen told detectives yesterday he’d been to the park camping with his family when he was nine years old and two years ago fishing with a friend, but not in 2007 when he was 19 years old.

“When asked by Detective Callas if he could explain how his DNA was recovered from semen found on a female child, Juntunen’s eyes got very large, he appeared to be in shock, and he simply said ‘no’,” charging documents state.

O’Rourke said she has not yet spoken with the victim, and doesn’t know where she is from.

Juntunen is charged with first-degree rape, first-degree rape of a child and  first-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation. Each offense carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The Winlock man is currently in Lewis County Drug Court, having entered in connection with a case in which he allegedly sold jewelry to a Centralia boutique that had been stolen in a February burglary in Winlock.

Yesterday he was in court to plead not guilty to burglary and theft related to a case in which he and another individual allegedly were involved in a May break-in at another Winlock residence and a stolen banjo and guitar were sold to a pawn shop.

He has a 2008 drug conviction.

Juntunen is represented by Chehalis attorney Chris Baum.

He will return to court next Thursday morning to make his plea in this new case.

Maurin homicide: Accused murderer’s lawyer says no new evidence in old case

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS -  Ricky Allen Riffe’s mother and father came to court this afternoon, but their son who is accused in the 1985 kidnap and slaying of an elderly couple won’t been seen by a judge until next week.

Riffe, 53, was brought back yesterday to Lewis County from his home in Alaska where he has lived since 1987.


Rick Riffe

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer this morning said Riffe would go before a judge today, but Riffe’s attorney requested a postponement until Tuesday, because he is out of town.

The former Lewis County resident was arrested earlier this month at his home for the deaths of Edward and Wilhelmina Maurin of Ethel more than a quarter of a century ago.

Riffe is just a hard working family man who was shocked by his arrest, his attorney John Crowley said.

“He knew the people had been murdered and the police investigation followed a number of leads,” Crowley said. “And on many occasions they had talked to Rick and his brother John.”

Riffe lives in King Salmon, Alaska, a small fishing community where he helped raise his two step-children, and worked as a heavy equipment operator, according to the attorney. One of the grown sons is in his third-year of law school, he said.

“From everyone that we’ve talked to, his character was that of a gentle nature, he has no criminal history,” Crowley said of his client.

The Seattle-based attorney said he’s concerned about some of the reports he’s read in the news, especially a commentator who wrote the only way Riffe wouldn’t be found guilty would be by a confused jury.

“Mr. Riffe is concerned the people might think the same thing,” he said. “All he wants is a fair trial, with evidence, he knows he will be found not guilty.”

The Lewis County sheriff and prosecutor held a well-attended press conference the day after local detectives made the arrest, saying Riffe and his younger brother John Gregory Riffe had long been primary suspects in the old case.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield described how the sheriff’s office felt it had a strong case back in the early 1990s, but for whatever reason wasn’t able to persuade a prosecutor to file charges.

Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer – new to the office 18 months ago – likened it to a puzzle in which he realized they had all the pieces they needed.

The case has been the sole assignment of one of the sheriff’s detectives for the past four months, according to Meyer.

Sixteen pages of charging documents describe numerous people who were interviewed, after the bodies were found and then witnesses who turned up in the early 1990s.

One of “Minnie” Hadaller’s sons, Dennis Hadaller, hired two private investigators who spoke with new sources in 2004. Many of the witnesses listed were reinterviewed by sheriff’s detective Bruce Kimsey in recent years.

John Riffe died of ill health a week before detectives purchased tickets to travel to Alaska to arrest the brothers. He was 50.

Ricky and John Riffe formerly lived in the Salkum area toward Mayfield Lake and Adna, according to the sheriff’s office.


Ed and Minnie Maurin

The charging documents allege some of the following details for the charges of kidnap, robbery and murder:

Ed Maurin, 81, and his wife, 83, were reported missing Dec. 19, 1985 after guests arrived for a Christmas party at their house along U.S. Highway 12 in Ethel and found nobody home.

“(I)t appears that the defendants gained entry into the Maurin residence, closed the curtains, searched the home, uncovered bank records and forced the victims to call the bank,” Prosecutor Meyer writes.

An employee at Sterling Savings Bank in Chehalis said Ed Maurin phoned about 9:35 a.m. that day and advised he needed $8,500 cash, that “the kids” were going to help them buy a car.

Family members told investigators there was no such plan.

A truck driver who was contacted in 1991 pointed to Ricky Riffe and offered several pieces of information, including a possible reason the Maurins was targeted.

The unnamed witness recalled seeing the couple outside their Ethel home when he and the brothers drove past it about two weeks before the deaths.

He recalled mentioning they must have money, because they owned all the Christmas trees surrounding their property and their son had a successful logging business.

Another man came forward in 2004, who said he withheld information for fear the Riffe brothers would kill him or his family.

That man told of driving with his mother from his home in Mossyrock “into town” that December, when he saw the Riffe brothers in a car with the Maurin couple.

“He remembered waving and getting a good look at Greg, who was in the backseat.”

The brothers confronted him and threatened him shortly after if he spoke about what he saw.

Numerous other people are cited as having told detectives of seeing a man or men who matched the brothers’ descriptions at various key places that day, often noting one wearing a dark stocking cap, wearing an Army jacket or carrying a gun.

Ed Maurin withdrew cash from the bank, even though the bank suggested a cashier’s check.

A witness re-interviewed in June, claims to have seen the couple in their car with an unshaven “scuzzy” male passenger in the backseat on state Route 6, and then again about a mile from where the two bodies were subsequently found.

The witness had a machine shop and had been working on a “skidder” and then was going to meet it and the operator at a logging site on Bunker Creek Road.

He indicated he was following behind a westbound green Chrysler or Dodge that was traveling only about 35 mph and backing up traffic. He passed the car.

“He said an elderly man was driving and looked up at him with a scared / frantic look in his eyes.”

The younger male was sitting in the backseat, resting his upper body and arms on the back portion of the front seat.

When the witness me up with the skidder operator on Bunker Creek Road, just past Ceres Hill Road, he saw the same vehicle creeping toward him about 25 mph. He said he remarked he was amazed the old man was still driving, and the car continued up Bunker Creek Road.

The witness said afterward he went to pick up a generator at Kresky Auto around the lunch hour and saw the same man from the backseat of the vehicle walking on a berm between Yard Birds and the Lewis County Mall.

Early on the morning of Dec. 20, the couple’s car was found abandoned in the parking lot at Yard Birds. Inside were the keys, a large amount of blood stains and a man’s hat like Ed Maurin wore.

On Christmas Eve, the Maurin’s bodies were found off a logging road off the end of Stearns Hill Road, seven miles west of Chehalis.

They had been shot in the backs with a shotgun while in their car.

Crowley said as far as he can tell, it’s an old case, with no new evidence and no new witnesses. When Riffe was arrested, he thought at least there might be some DNA evidence, but he hasn’t heard of any, he said.

“For whatever reason, they decided to arrest him,” Crowley said. “Other than, they think he did it.”

Riffe is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery, as well as one count of burglary.

Numerous aggravating circumstances are alleged including particularly vulnerable victims and deliberate cruelty.

He is being held on the $5 million arrest warrant.

The attorneys and Riffe will go before Judge Richard Brosey in Lewis County Superior Court at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and likely talk about the bail amount.


For back ground, read:

• “Breaking news: Sheriff: Cold case solved in 1985 shooting death of elderly Ethel couple” from Monday July 9, 2012 at 9:13 a.m., here

• “Sheriff: It’s safe for further witnesses to come forward following arrest in deaths of Ethel couple” from Monday July 9, 2012 at 5:14 p.m., here

Read about Rochester educator dies hiking near Mount Rainier …

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports an educational assistant from Grand Mound Elementary School died on Tuesday while hiking near Mount Rainier.

News reporter Lisa Pemerton writes that Jenny Craig may have had a heart-related incident.

Read more here

Toledo teen charged in adult court for allegedly taking bat to father’s head

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Defense attorney Bob Schroeter converses with his 16-year-old client in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Toledo High School student arrested for allegedly assaulting his father early Thursday morning had come into the room where his parents were arguing about the father’s extramarital affairs when he hit his father in the head with a baseball bat, according to lawyers and charging documents in the case.

The 55-year-old father was described in critical condition when he was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He has been upgraded to satisfactory condition.

Th 16-year-old was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with first-degree assault, domestic violence; a crime with a maximum penalty of life in prison.

He appeared before Judge Richard Brosey.

Lawyers said although he’s a juvenile, because he’s charged with a serious violent offense and is at least 16, he is automatically subject to adult jurisdiction.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher told the judge the teenager observed his parents arguing, came up behind his father and struck him with the bat.

Temporary defense attorney Bob Schroeter argued for low bail, noting the boy is a good student and the father is recovering quickly.

“I think you’ll see the argument caused (him) to act out,” Schroeter told the judge. “Though I’m not going to get into the facts of the case.”

Schroeter said the father is about to be released from Harborview and transferred to a Longview hospital and has conversed with family members.

“He’s doing phenomenal,” Schroeter said.

The lawyer proposed the teen has two adult brothers – one in Chehalis and one in Kelso – willing to take him in, since there will be a no-contact order in place between the boy and his dad.

Judge Brosey disregarded Schroeter’s request and set bail at $75,000.

“The mere fact that he was struck in the back of his head, that’s the kind of injury that easily could have been fatal,” Brosey said.

Charging documents describe the police call to the home on Oak Street where Leslie Bagley was laying in the middle of the living room floor with a large pool of blood.

Police stated the mother Tena Bagley had been drinking and appeared intoxicated.

“Tena Bagley, Leslie’s wife, reported she and Leslie were talking about Leslie’s extramarital affairs when (their son) came into the room and hit his father in the head with a metal baseball bat,” charging documents state.

Afterwards, he apparently took a beer and left the residence, charging documents state.

The teenager was arrested later in the morning, when police returned to the home and found him hiding under a bed, according to charging documents.

He was taken to the  Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center but has been transferred to the Lewis County Jail.

Chehalis attorney Chris Baum is appointed to represent him.

The arraignment is set for Thursday morning.

Injured hiker hoisted by helicopter from ravine near Packwood

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A hiker who fell approximately 100 feet into a ravine north of Packwood was hoisted out by a Coast Guard helicopter over the weekend, according to authorities.

A deputy dispatched about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday to a trail near Tatoosh Lake concluded the best way to get to the 24-year-old Astoria Ore. man was by air, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

A helicopter crew arriving around 9 p.m. from Astoria, Ore. lowered a Packwood area search and rescue team member as well as a pair of Coast Guard members to tend to the injured hiker, according to the sheriff’s office and the Coast Guard.

The helicopter couldn’t stay because of fuel limitations and another helicopter returned about 11:30 p.m., the Coast Guard reported in a news release.

The man’s uninjured hiking partner – a 21-year-old Long Beach woman – was hoisted to safety, responders said.

The injured man was hoisted by basket, according to the Coast Guard. He was flown to awaiting EMS personnel in Olympia with a broken arm, broken shoulder and possible spinal injuries, according to the news release.

His name was not released.

Just a week earlier, the Coast Guard from Astoria was called upon to help rescue a Cinebar woman from the banks of the Tilton River west of Morton who was stranded overnight with a dislocated shoulder from a river rafting accident.


CORRECTION : This has been updated to remove incorrect timing reported by the Coast Guard.

Hospital: Toledo father improving after allegedly struck in head by son with aluminum bat

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A police report sheds little new light on an incident in which a 16-year-old Toledo boy allegedly assaulted his father with a baseball bat early Thursday morning sending the 55-year-old man by helicopter to Harbor Medical Center in Seattle.

Toledo Police Chief John Brockmueller said the father – Leslie M. Bagley – was described in critical condition after police and aid were called about 1:15 a.m. to their home on the 300 block of Oak Street in Toledo.

The mother, Tena Bagley who called 911, said she and her husband were talking when the teen walked up and hit his father in the head with an aluminum bat, according to the police declaration of probable cause filed in court.

Brockmueller noted the mother had been drinking and appeared intoxicated. The father appeared “passed” out and was laying on the floor while medics worked on him, with a large pool of blood beneath his head, according to the report. The teenager had left, according to Brockmueller.

Leslie Bagley was picked up by helicopter from the Toledo Airport, according to medics, who described his injuries as  major trauma to his head.

The police chief returned to the home about 7:20 a.m. where the 16-year-old was found hiding under a bed, the police declaration stated. He was taken to the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center to be booked for first-degree assault.

On Friday afternoon, Leslie Bagley’s condition was listed as serious; better than critical but worse than satisfactory.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said the 16-year-old made an initial appearance in court Thursday afternoon and is scheduled for arraignment on Tuesday.

Prosecutors have until then to make a charging decision, Meyer said.

For background, read: “News brief: Toledo teen arrested for allegedly taking bat to father’s head” from Thursday July 19 2012, here

Jehovah’s Witnesses visit: A dress rehearsal for home invasion burglary

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Braydon Carper, left, sits with his younger brothers Trenton and Skyler.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

ADNA – It’s summertime. Braydon Carper is 13 years old and sometimes he babysits his 7-year-old brother Trenton.

Last week, while the two boys were at home alone, someone came knocking at the door of their Adna home and like he’s been told, Braydon didn’t answer it. He told Trenton to go his room and be quiet.

When their father got home from work, he saw religious literature on the porch and asked if someone came by.

The unexpected visit from Jehovah’s Witnesses was a good opportunity, according to their mother Krysta Carper, to talk to the boys in more detail about what to do if anyone they don’t know comes to the door when they’re home alone.

“I instructed them, no matter who came to the door, even if it’s a police officer, not to answer it,” Krysta Carper said.

The conversation that night paid off.

The following day, last Thursday, the Carpers for the very first time left their 5-year-old Skyler with the older boys while they went to work.

The children said they sitting on the couch watching television when a vehicle pulled up into their driveway and parked.

Trenton looked out the window and saw the foot of someone getting out of a red van.

Braydon took his little brothers into their bedroom, he said.

“We heard knocking,” Braydon said. “About a minute later, we heard slamming. Like hard slamming, so we locked the door.”

Braydon called his mother. Skyler hid in his closet. And Trenton climbed under his bed.

Their little dachshund Rider growled and barked so hard he retched, according to the boys.

Krysta Carper called 911 and called her son back to get him on the phone with a 911 operator.

The mother of three practically flew home to their Penning Road two-story. When she arrived, deputies were inside and the front door was broken. The intruder was gone.

And sure enough, she noticed some of her jewelry that had been on the counter in the bathroom was missing.

A deputy on his way to answer the call stopped a red van about a quarter mile away and detained a woman.

According to charging documents, on the floor of the van was a long crowbar type tool, next to it a pair of gloves lay.

The woman said she uses it to remove her hubcaps.

A small plastic baggie containing suspected methamphetamine was found; a meth pipe was inside her purse, according to charging documents.

The plastic diaper wipes container with a purple lid that Krysta Carper keeps her costume jewelry in was also found in the van, charging documents allege.


Darlene J. Lockard

Darlene J. Lockard, 50, of Olympia, was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail.

She was charged with residential burglary, possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor theft. A judge last Friday set her bail at $100,000.

This morning, Lockard pleaded not guilty in Lewis County Superior Court.

Her attorney asked Judge Richard Brosey to reduce her bail. She’s not a flight risk, Centralia defense attorney David Arcuri said, she has a pending case in Thurston County.

As Brosey began to recite the 16 counts pending against her – burglary, theft, possession of stolen property and so on – Lockard hung her head. He denied the request noting there were children inside the house she allegedly burglarized.

Two grown daughters of Lockard’s were in the courtroom, not in support of their mother, but hoping to make sure she didn’t bail out of jail.

“She’s been down this path for way too long,” Misty Ward said. “I think this is the right place for her now.”

The daughters said their mother is separated from her husband and has been staying with a friend in Lewis County.

“She was clean for almost two years, then she started spiraling,” Ward said.

Krysta and Chris Carper came to the courthouse as well, to see the woman they believe barged into their home, while their three young boys cowered in a bedroom.

Krysta Carper thinks it probably wasn’t their barking dog that scared off the intruder, but was instead their home telephone answering machine.

During the various attempts to get her 13-year-old on the phone with 911, a dispatcher left a message saying, “This is 911, your mom called us; you need to pick up the phone.”

“I think she might have heard that message,” Krysta Carper said. “And realized, the one bedroom door that closed, there was someone in there.”

The Carper’s advice for all parents:

“I just urge parents to have a conversation with their kids, about what you would do if somebody kicked in the door,” Krysta Carper said. “I don’t know what they would have done if we hadn’t told them what to do.”

Trial for Koralynn Fister case set for next January

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The trial for James M. Reeder won’t take place until early next year.

The attorney for the 25-year-old Centralia man requested it be set out further into the future while he waits for autopsy reports on 2-year-old Koralynn Fister.


Koralynn Fister

Reeder was in Lewis County Superior Court briefly this morning where he waived his rights to a speedy trial.

Reeder is accused in the May 24 death of his live-in girlfriend’s youngest daughter.

Prosecutors allege Reeder tortured and raped the little girl. She was pronounced dead at the hospital after Reeder claimed he found her face down in the bathtub.

According to the coroner, Koralynn died from drowning and head trauma.

The trial is scheduled for the week of January 28.

Reeder is charged with homicide by abuse, two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree child rape and possession of methamphetamine.

He has pleaded not guilty and remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $5 million bail.

Passing nurses help revive driver whose heart stopped on Interstate 5

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A motorist whose car bounced back and forth between a semi truck and the inside barrier of Interstate 5 before wrecking near Winlock was found in cardiac arrest by a pair of emergency room nurses from the Portland area who stopped to help him this afternoon.

The passersby, EMTs from Lewis County Fire District 5 as well as medics from Lewis County Medic One conducted CPR following the approximately 3:30 p.m. crash, according to paramedic Clayton Skinner.

“District 5 and medics worked on the guy, shocked him, gave him drugs and got him back,” Skinner said.

The man was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital and then on to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Skinner said.

Troopers called to southbound Interstate 5 at milepost 64 reported the 2012 Subaru Legacy was southbound in the inside lane when it drifted into the left front tire area of a white Freightliner.

The car drifted left and then back to the right where it hit the rear tire area before striking the jersey barrier and then crossing all the way to the ditch on the shoulder side of the road, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The driver, Jeffrey L. Calcagno, 55, is from Battleground, according to the state patrol.

The state patrol described the Subaru as totaled but Skinner said it didn’t look that bad. A collision memo from the state patrol stated Calcagno’s injuries were unknown and the cause of the wreck is under investigation.

The semi truck continued south without stopping, according to the investigating trooper.

Skinner said the nurses told him they found the driver unconscious and unresponsive so they started CPR.

He couldn’t say if that caused the crash or was because of it, he said.

“We did get his heart rhythm back, and everything was looking good,” he said.


Bonus surprise link

Prosecutors: Drunken apartment resident tried to hurt self, get back at wife with arson

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Twenty-seven-year-old Chase N. Ettner yesterday was ordered held on $100,000 bail, accused of intentionally setting fire to his own apartment in downtown Chehalis on Sunday night.

Lawyers say the maintenance man at the building on the 100 block of North Market Boulevard told his wife not long ago, if she ever left him he would burn the place down. Chase and Holly Ettner got into an argument earlier that evening, according to charging documents.

Chehalis police say Ettner apparently was trying to kill himself or possibly even burn up his wife.

The damage was minimal, but residents from five apartments in the 21-unit brick building had to find somewhere else to stay temporarily, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.

Responders found Ettner surrounded by an unruly crowd behind the building, laying on the ground seemingly extremely intoxicated and smelling of gasoline.

“Alcohol appears to be a major problem,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told the court yesterday afternoon.

The defendant appeared “hell bent” on harming himself or others, Halstead said.

Defense attorney Bob Schroeter said it might have been a relapse.

“He has been in treatment for a couple of months,” Schroeter said.

“Because of the intoxication, claims of what he said need to be taken with a large grain of salt,” he added.

Firefighters called just after 9 p.m. found smoke coming from the building, some residents evacuating and at least one person trying to douse the fire, according to responders.

A gas can was found in the Ettner’s first floor apartment; the oven and stove were turned on, police said.

Neither charging documents or police say how Ettner ended up outside or if he was alone in the apartment when the fire started.

Ettner was charged yesterday with one count of first-degree arson, domestic violence. The maximum penalty is life in prison

He told police, according to charging documents, he just wanted to kill himself and he made sure everybody was out before he “torched the place.”

The only injury reported by the fire department was his 32-year-old wife had cuts on her hands from retrieving a fire extinguisher. The fire damage was limited to the couple’s carpet and a wall, the fire department said.

With an income of only approximately $200 a month, Ettner was given a court-appointed attorney. He is scheduled to make his plea on Thursday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Empty Centralia house goes up in flames

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Fire breaks out in Logan Street house. / Courtesy photo by Robin Taylor


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – Members of the police department joined firefighters in north Centralia this afternoon to begin investigating after a vacant house went up in flames.

Riverside Fire Authority was called around 4:15 to the corner of Logan and Vienna streets for reports of a fully involved structure fire, according to Fire Chief Jim Walkowski.

“It’s reportedly abandoned, it’s had drug activity in the past,” Walkowski said.

At 5:30 p.m. crews were still putting water on the one and a half-story wood-frame home.

Walkowski said they were trying to confirm there was nobody inside. They had various reports, including of someone walking away, he said.

Several neighborhood residents, including young people watched from across the street at the playground of the old Logan School.

Eleven-year-old Ashley Taylor said she, her sister and a friend were at home next door when they smelled smoke.

“And next, the whole front was puking fire,” Ashley said.

Robin Taylor, 15, said they heard “bursting” and glass breaking.

“It was the biggest fire I’ve ever seen,” she said.

The girls said a family with several children used to live there, and sometimes the grown ups come back.

Walkowski said two firefighters were treated at the scene for heat exhaustion. Riverside was joined by departments from Chehalis, rural Chehalis and the Rochester area.

The front of the house was charred. The blaze extended to a detached garage in back, according to Walkowski.

An adjacent home sustained minor radiant heat damage, according to the chief.

Update: Investigators determined there was nobody inside the structure. Walkowski said the residents had moved out about two months ago.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the two firefighters suffered heat exhaustion, not smoke exhaustion.


Smoke billows above burning house on Logan Street. / Courtesy photo by Ashley Taylor



Flames pour out the front and back of the one and a half story house. / Courtesy photo by Mandy Taylor



Firefighters knock down blaze on Logan Street in Centralia.