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Breaking news: Teen lost in Chehalis River

Saturday, June 14th, 2014


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Responders are looking for a 17-year-old Tacoma boy in the Chehalis River at Rainbow Falls State Park.

He and his friends had been camping and decided to swim near the falls when he went under, came up flailing and was pulled under again, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Fire Chief Tim Kinder said he responded with a thermal imaging camera to assist but the current was too swift.

The initial call came about 3:20 p.m.

“My understanding is another teen grabbed a hold of him, but was not able to hold on,” Kinder said.

A diver was on the way to the scene about 6 p.m.

The swift water rescue team from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has been searching and are still out there this evening, sheriff’s office Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said at about 8 p.m.

More to come as information becomes available.

Update Sunday June 15, 2014: The young man’s body was recovered this morning in the same area where he went under, a teen originally from Nigeria, only in Washington for eight months on his first-ever camping trip, according to the sheriff’s office.

Lewis County Fire Districts 16 and 11 along with the sheriff’s office swift water rescue team and a diver from Thurston County reconvened this morning after a search last night that went until dark, according to Brown.


CORRECTION: This has been updated to correct an error made in relating a statement made by Chief Kinder.

Centralia heroin death leads to criminal charge for person who allegedly supplied the drug

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Tyson Anderson holds his then-3-year-old daughter Kaylee at an Easter egg hunt a week before he died.


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 36-year-old Chehalis man who police believe sold some heroin to last year to a Centralia man who died of a drug overdose that night, was ordered held yesterday on $200,000 bail.

Robert T. Lusk was already in the Lewis County Jail when he was arrested on Monday for controlled substance homicide.

He is blamed for the death on April 22, 2013 of 23-year-old Tyson J. Anderson in Centralia.

Anderson had been staying with his girlfriend at an apartment on the 500 block of Iron Street. Before that, he lived for a short time at a place called the Funny Farm – a sober living home – in south Lewis County, according to Ashlee Harris, the mother of his now 4-year-old daughter.

He was an awesome person, Harris said of the young man she was with from the time they were 16 years old until about a year before he died.

“There’s more to him than just that,” she said of the drug overdose. “That’s not him.

Anderson was the designated barbecuer at family get togethers, he enjoyed bow hunting with his many relatives, and worked as a mechanic, she said.

“People don’t understand that it’s a disease,” Harris said. “I want the fact that he was an amazing father, an amazing son, an amazing friend to define who he was; not the mistakes he made.”

Harris had little to say about his drug use, saying it’s a sensitive topic for Anderson’s family and she didn’t want to add to their grief or upset.

But he had apparently been trying to quit using and he managed to get into Lewis County Drug Court, an alternative for some people arrested for drug crimes.

He was in phase one of the program, so relatively new, according to the program’s manager, Jennifer Soper-Baker.

“Tragic situation,” Soper-Baker said.

When police were called just before 2 o’clock that morning about a possible drug overdose, they found an unconscious male later identified as Anderson. Arriving medics worked on him, but he was pronounced dead a short time later, according to authorities.

Centralia police came to learn that Anderson and his girlfriend Sarah McCutcheon had gone to dinner at Country Cousin, where Anderson had made a brief phone call or sent a text to arrange to buy them some heroin, according to charging documents.

McCutcheon told police after they got home, they each injected some and then went to Wal-Mart, eventually returning home where they injected more, charging documents state.

“McCutcheon stated after she was injected the second time, she passed out,” the documents relate. “And when she awoke, she was laying on top of Anderson who was unresponsive.”

She was confused and nervous, so she called 911 and then cleaned up the apartment by hiding the drugs, she told police.

Anderson’s cause of death is listed as acute opiate (heroin) intoxication, following injection.

Exactly why he died or why it killed him isn’t known, according to the Centralia Police Department.

There’s a variety of reasons it happens, more often than not because an individual is exposed to a more potent dose than they’re accustomed to, detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald said.

Perhaps they’ve gotten it from a new supplier who has cut it, diluted it, differently, or less than expected, Fitzgerald said.

“There’s a myriad of reasons,” he said. “In this case, we don’t know.”

Fitzgerald said this is the third or fourth case of controlled substance homicide for the department, indicating it’s a charge some other agencies may or may not pursue as aggressively. For example, he said, the Bellevue Police Department only last year had their first case, even though it’s unlikely that city has never before had a fatal drug overdose.

Controlled substance homicide doesn’t have anything to do with forcibly making another person ingest drug, according to Lewis County Senior Prosecutor Will Halstead.

Prosecutors need only prove the person delivered it, the other person used it and then the other person died from it, Halstead said.

The offense has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, except for defendants who have certain previous drug convictions, the maximum time is 20 years.

Centralia police measured the distance between the apartment parking lot and a school bus stop as 517 feet, suggesting a possible more lengthy sentence if Lusk is convicted. Lusk was also charged with delivery of a controlled substance.

Centralia police investigated the for many months following Anderson’s death, questioning his girlfriend numerous times.

According to charging documents, they learned a person named Robert had shown up in the apartment’s parking lot in a greenish Ford Explorer after Anderson got a text from the drug dealer that night.

McCutcheon said she saw it from the apartment window and that Robert was known as a white supremacist who her boyfriend had had issues with in the past.

DNA testing on the wrapping from the heroin was matched to Anderson.

Two phone numbers on Anderson’s Blackberry cell phone were found as being used during the timeframe McCutcheon had outlined to police. One of them belonged to one of his longtime friends and the friend was ruled out.

The other remained a mystery until February when police were speaking with a person who knew Lusk on an unrelated matter. Police discovered that back around the time of Anderson’s death, Lusk had been using a phone that matched the mystery number.

Police also found that Lusk owned a blue Ford Explorer and has a tattoo on his inner bicep that reads “WP”, which officers understand to be an abbreviation for “White Power.”

Harris said she knew a detective was working hard on the case, but was surprised to learn an arrest was made. She attended the hearing yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court with Anderson’s sister.

“We’re thankful, we’re happy, but it’s also opening up a bunch of wounds,” she said.

Lusk has been in the Lewis County Jail for some time, in connection with driving with a suspended license, according to his temporary defense attorney Bob Schroeter. He is wanted in Thurston County, in connection with another instance of the same offense, Schroeter said.

He hasn’t worked and has no income so he qualified for a court-appointed lawyer.

His arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Centralia arsonist admits attempted murder of mother, grandfather

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Jonathan P. Brown heads back down to the jail after pleading guilty to attempted murder.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 26-year-old Centralia man pleaded guilty this morning to two counts of attempted murder, in connection with setting a fire in his home while his mother and grandfather were sleeping earlier this year.

Jonathan P. Brown admitted to a detective to starting a fire in his bedroom, opening a window to help it “breathe” and then heading down the street planning to ignite more fires until he was caught, according to charging documents. But his lighter broke and police found and detained him that morning.

Today’s action came out of a plea agreement finalized late last week, Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said. Halstead said the details would come at sentencing, which hasn’t yet been scheduled.

The standard sentencing range for Brown, given his criminal history, is roughly 20 to 32 years.

Brown has spent time in prison before for arson.

In 2009, the then-21-year-old pleaded guilty to a string of six fires and attempted fires in the Centralia area that caused or could have caused damage to buildings including a residence and a garage. He was sentenced to four and half years.

He is represented by defense attorney Don Blair.

The damage on March 23 to the family home on the 3400 block of Prill Road was limited to the bedroom.

Charging documents alleged that he doused his bed and pillows with lamp oil. His 87-year-old grandfather John Germeau and his mother were able to get out, but his mother Deborah Brown suffered burns on her hand or hands smothering burning pillows.

Brown has been held in the Lewis County Jail on $250,000 bail since his arrest. His initial charge was first-degree arson.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler this morning accepted Brown’s pleas and modified the conditions of release to a no-bail hold.

No family or friends were present in the courtroom.

Brown is expected back in court on Thursday to set a date for sentencing.

For background, read “Prosecutors: Arsonist planned to continue lighting fires after leaving his burning bedroom” from Monday March 24, 2014, here

Chehalis pair survive wreck with passenger train

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Police and aid respond about 3:45 p.m. to the accident on Summa Street in Centralia. / Courtesy photo by Mary Orlik

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – Two people escaped with only minor injuries when their small pickup truck collided with an Amtrak train in Centralia this afternoon.

Firefighters and police responding about 3:45 p.m. to the crossing on Summa Street near South Tower Avenue found the vehicle on its driver’s side, having struck the signal pole on the west side of the tracks.

“I’ve heard a lot of wrecks here, but nothing like this,” Centralia resident Ken Peck said.

Peck said he was outside his home a block away talking with a buddy and the sound of the impact was thunderous. He looked over and saw a pickup flipping through the air, he said.

“The train literally lifted it up and it did a twist like that,” Peck said as he described the path of the older Datsun pickup moving his hands over his head in an arc.

Centralia Police Department Officer Patricia Finch said the female driver failed to stop for the crossing arms.

The driver, a 40-year-old Chehalis woman, was headed east across Summa and hit by the southbound train, according to Finch.

“A BNSF train had just passed in the other direction, to my understanding,” Finch said.

The male passenger got himself out, and he along with bystanders helped the woman out of the truck, according to Finch.

“I thought she was dead, her arms were hanging out the window,” Peck said. But she wasn’t.

Peck said they tried to sit the couple down away from the tracks, but the man left.

Police located him a few blocks to the north, and learned he was wanted on two outstanding warrants. The 54-year-old Chehalis man was taken to the hospital by a police officer to be checked out, before he could be booked into jail, according to Finch.

The driver was transported by ambulance to Providence Centralia Hospital as well.

Finch said the 1984 Datsun pickup was totaled, with most of its damage to the front on the driver’s side.

Rail traffic was stopped for at least 45 minutes. BNSF is conducting its own investigation, Finch said.

Peck said it’s a crossing that needs more safety features to prevent drivers who seem to often try to beat the trains.

He got the impression the woman waited for the freight train to pass northbound, but was impatient for the crossing arms to rise, and drove around them.

“Even when she got out of the truck, she was saying, ‘I didn’t see the Amtrak’,” he said.

Datsun pickup is hauled away after it met up with a train in Centralia. / Courtesy photo by Janet Stacy

Prosecutor: Centralia hash oil-making case jeopardized by burglary to impound lot

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Dale R. Brotherton waits to be returned to the jail following his appearance in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Dale R. Brotherton was free on $10,000 bail as his case related to allegedly producing hash oil in the basement of a Centralia home unfolds, but he was arrested yesterday for allegedly tampering with evidence and prosecutors say the case is compromised.

Centralia police seized the 52-year-old Centralia man’s fifth-wheel trailer in which they thought he may live in as well as a car belonging to Brotherton when they arrested him last week.

It was May 28, the same day the department’s special anti-crime team dismantled what they said was an a potential explosive hash oil making operation in the basement of a rental home 800 block of West Pear Street.

Yesterday, not long after he failed to show up for a meeting at the Centralia Police Department’s impound facility in which Sgt. Jim Shannon was going to assist him in retrieving some belongings, Brotherton allegedly cut a hole in the chain link fence and broke into his recreational vehicle.

“Now we will not be able to establish what may or may not have been in the car, because Mr. Brotherton altered that,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg said.

Eisenberg asked a judge this afternoon when Brotherton appeared in court to revoke the bail in the original case and set a new, much higher bail amount.

Eisenberg indicated police had a search warrant but had not yet conducted their search.

He spoke of the car, at the bail hearing, but charging documents filed by another deputy prosecutor describe the vehicle entered as the fifth-wheel trailer.

Temporary defense attorney Bob Schroeter told the judge it was quite possible there was confusion about the meeting time and a potential alternative version of events, when he suggested to the judge bail need not be so high.

The impound lot on the  2600 block of Reynolds Avenue is surrounded by an 8-foot high fence with barbed wire.

According to charging documents, just before the 3:30 expected meeting, Sgt. Shannon checked the recreational vehicle which was secured, and then locked the gate behind himself when Brotherton didn’t show up.

Charging documents give the following account: A short time later Shannon got word Brotherton was there, and another officer arriving first observed Brotherton standing inside the doorway to the RV. The other officer also spoke with Zachary Brotherton who was standing next to a truck parked outside the fenced area, who stated, “I can’t believe he did that.”

Shannon found the RV’s lock had been forced open and a wooden panel which covered a void space beneath the refrigerator torn off.

He suspected Brotherton went inside to either find and hide or destroy items stored in the RV.

Brotherton initially denied being inside the facility, but subsequently admitted he entered the fifth-wheel trailer to get some of his property.

Police found a hole cut in the fence which was large enough for someone of Brotherton’s size to get through.

Brotherton’s new charges in Lewis County Superior Court, filed today, are second-degree burglary, third-degree malicious mischief and tampering with evidence.

The first offense has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The other offenses are gross misdemeanors, with maximum penalties of up to 364 days in jail, according to Schroeter.

In his other case, he is charged with manufacturing marijuana.

Centralia police said when they searched the house last week which a friend allowed him to use, they found  more than 140 pounds of marijuana trimmings and various items such as glass tubes and large glass surfaces used in the hash oil process. They also found a jar of the suspected substance in the kitchen freezer.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt today wasn’t buying Schroeter’s alternative possibilities regarding the visit to the impound facility.

“It looks pretty bad to me,” Hunt said.

Hunt set bail in the first case at $50,000 and in the new case at $20,000.

Brotherton qualifies for a court-appointed lawyer, but is attempting to hire his own. Hunt appointed David Arcuri.

He is scheduled to return to court next Thursday.

For background, read “Centralia police uncover hash oil processing lab in residence near college” from Friday May 30, 2014, here

Centralia man pleads not guilty to dog breeding violation

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Jimmie R. Jemison, left, is represented temporarily on Friday by defense attorney Bob Schroeter in his dog breeding case.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A plea of not guilty was entered yesterday in the case of the Centralia man who was arrested when authorities came to his property and seized 17 puppies and 21 other dogs they found living in filthy conditions in a motorhome.

Jimmie R. Jemison, 49, was in court yesterday afternoon, charged not with animal cruelty as the sheriff’s office expected back on May 1, but with a violation of state law related to dog breeding. And also with obstructing a law enforcement officer.

Both are gross misdemeanors, with maximum penalties of up to a year in jail.

Jemison also asked the court in writing to make the county return his animals. They are being held at the Lewis County Animal Shelter.

Lewis County District Court Judge Michael Roewe denied the petition, based on numerous issued raised by prosecutors indicating the filing was flawed.

The Centralia man leaned on his walker and asked the judge: “What does that mean, do I lose my dogs?”

Judge Roewe told him he needed to ask his attorney that question.

“Can I ask a question? What happens to my dogs,” Jemison said.

“I don’t have the answer,” Roewe replied.

Jemsion told the judge he plans to hire a lawyer.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher told the judge he’d instructed the shelter to hold onto the animals, because they are evidence.

Jemison clearly distressed, put his face in his hands as he sat on a bench outside the courtroom following the hearing.

“My dogs mean everything,” he said, stifling sobs. “I spent seven years coming up with those colors.”

“I’ve lost my family, all I have are my dogs.”

Jemison lives on a $700 a month disability check, he said, on rural property he shares with his brother on the 1600 block of Little Hanaford Road.

Photographs shared by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office after the May 1 visit by deputies, code enforcement and humane officers show a 30-foot motorhome and various outbuildings.

Inside the roughly 30-foot long recreational vehicle, the pictures showed numerous portable kennels, some stacked on top of each other; the sheriff’s office said the animals were were sleeping and eating in their own waste.

Thirty-eight dogs were removed from the motorhome. Jemison says he has a new motorhome, but hadn’t yet gotten it set up.

Other animals on the property – such as chickens, a goat and seven dogs – which were living in clean cages and spaces were left behind.

The allegation was he was breeding puppies in unsanitary conditions.

The animal offense he is charged with is not part of the state criminal code, but part of the state code related to dog breeding, and the requirements that if the animals are kept in an enclosure the majority of the day, certain minimum standards of cleanliness, care and protection must be provided. RCW 16.52.310(2)(c)

Jemison said he spends $170 each month for dog food and doesn’t smoke or drink and suffers from social phobia.

His days are spent, he said, sitting outside in his chair watching his dogs play with the goat.

Every six or seven months when he gets a new litter to sell, he can buy a used car, that will hopefully keep running until the next litter, he said.

“I take care of my dogs, and then they take care of me,” he said.

His friend Ken Smith who drove him to the courthouse in Chehalis agreed Jemison is devoted to his animals, and said he lives in a way that maybe not others would live.

“He takes care of his dogs before himself,” Smith said. “It just happens that four or five dogs all had puppies at the same time.”

Jemison said the reason the deputies found the motorhome’s interior in the condition it was in was because he spent nine days holed up inside, fearing they were coming to take his animals.

The sheriff’s office described Jemison as uncooperative on numerous occasions as attempts were made to investigate the situation, which led to the search warrant.

Jemison said when they arrived that afternoon, he opened his door and was zapped with a Taser and while he was laying on the ground in the mud, his boxer dog got wound up with all the commotion and bit him on the leg.

“They treated me like I killed somebody,” he said.

He wasn’t booked into jail, he was taken to the hospital, where he spent almost 25 days being treated for two wounds he fears may cause him to lose his leg.

Jemison said he was released from Harborview Medical Center on Sunday, and has to visit a wound care doctor daily. It’s painful, he said.

“Because I wouldn’t show them my dogs in the barn,” he said. “That’s why they did the search warrant.”


Jemison’s property on Little Hanaford Road, on May 1, 2014 / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office


Inside Jemison’s motorhome on Little Hanaford Road, on May 1, 2014 / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office


For background, read “RV serving as home, doghouse for nearly 40 canines found near Centralia” from Friday May 2, 2014, here

Breaking news: Tacoma 5-year-old’s body recovered from Cispus River

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Updated at 11:18 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The body of the 5-year-old Tacoma boy was retrieved from the Cispus River tonight, four days after he went into the water on his motorcycle.

The child was camping with his family over the weekend about 10 and a half miles south of Randle, along Forest Service Road 120, off Forest Service Road 23.

The sheriff’s office said little Drake J. Ostenson was wearing full riding gear and a helmet, and it appeared he got too close to the river bank and went in while his parents backs were turned on Monday.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said his body was recovered about 8 p.m. by deputies with the swift water rescue team.

The water had dropped enough his body was visible, lodged in the same log jam in the middle of the river where they suspected he was, according to the sheriff’s office.

It was his parents that were out walking the banks of the river who spotted him, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

“They came back before dark to check once again, saw the red and called us,” she said.

The recovery effort took about two hours, according to Brown.

Search and rescue teams looked for Drake all day Tuesday and much of Wednesday before concluding his body may very well have been tangled in a log jam and they would need to wait until the river level dropped to make the recovery.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s office announced they’d formulated a plan to try to get a helicopter to help them take another look from above next week and until then, would check the area frequently and monitor the water gauges.

Today, Sheriff Steve Mansfield said he was concerned when he heard numerous people were planning to search on their own this weekend, and said he’d secured some assistance from outside the county to conduct another search tomorrow.

Members of Lewis County Fire District 14, Packwood Search and Rescue and the Department of Fish and Wildlife all assisted in the recovery, according to Brown.

Centralia police uncover hash oil processing lab in residence near college

Friday, May 30th, 2014

The Centralia Police Department’s special anti-crime team found four plastic bins plus some garbage bags filled with marijuana they say was to be made into hash oil. / Courtesy photo by Centralia Police Department

Updated at 11:03 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia police dismantled a potentially explosive hash oil making operation in the basement of a rental home across the street from Centralia College.

The setup they found was using butane and situated next to a hot water heater, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Hash oil is a highly concentrated form of marijuana resin.

“During the production process, a highly flammable and explosive vapor is emitted which can explode on contact with an ignition source,” Sgt. Jim Shannon said in a news release.

A 52-year-old Centralia man was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with manufacturing marijuana. Dale R. Brotherton is being held in the Lewis County Jail on $10,000 bail.

The find came on Wednesday night at a home on the 800 block of West Pear Street.

Shannon said police had been investigating the situation for about a week.

Officers arrested Brotherton earlier in the day in the area, for a traffic violation. He was driving a pickup truck pulling a fifth-wheel trailer near the bus garage and police stopped him for driving without a required ignition interlock device, according to Shannon.

The sergeant said he believes Brotherton lives in the RV.

The resident of the home they searched that night is a friend of Brotherton’s who allowed him to use the space, Shannon said. She was cooperative, he said.

Shannon’s special anti-crime team confiscated more than 140 pounds of marijuana trimmings and various items used in the hash oil process, he said. They also found a jar of the substance in the kitchen freezer, he said.

He estimates the total street value in hash oil from the marijuana recovered by police would be about $156,000. Shannon used a street price of $40 per gram for the product referred to as Honey Oil, Shatter, BHO, Wax and Earwax.

The resulting product is something users would smoke with a vaporizer or e-cigarette or also could be used for so-called edibles, or marijuana-infused food products, according to Shannon.

Marijuana processing is something newly legalized under Initiative 502, with a state-issued license, but not presently allowed within Centralia city limits, Shannon said.

The sergeant said he didn’t know where Brotherton obtained the marijuana and he didn’t know if Brotherton is someone attempting to get involved in the legal market.

The police department seized the 2003 Ford F-350 pickup truck, the 35-foot RV and also a 1998 Toyota Camry belonging to Brotherton.

The investigation is ongoing, he said. Brotherton is scheduled to be back in court on June 5 for his arraignment, or to review if he’s been able to hire a lawyer, according to Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead.

Shannon said the house they searched is the same address where last Friday, a 17-year-old boy was injured when he was pinned briefly between a pickup and a fifth-wheel travel trailer during an attempt with someone else to hitch the two together. He  said he didn’t know if it was Brotherton or Brotherton’s vehicles involved.

He described the hash oil making process they found as several hanging glass tubes filled with compacted marijuana, through which butane would be passed via a small hole in the bottom – sort of like a drip coffee maker.

The resulting substance would lay on a glass surface, in this case a glass door and a very large glass window, he said. The remaining liquid solvent – sometimes paint thinner like Naptha or alcohol, is evaporated off, according to Shannon.

The end product is the remaining resin, a highly concentrated form of THC.

Shannon said some people use waxed paper to keep it in, and some keep it refrigerated to retain its solidity.

And it looks like ear wax, he said.

Sometimes further processing can turn it into even harder, which is then broken up which is why it sometimes is called Shatter.

He noted the final product retains a certain amount of residue from the solvent, and that indoor growers notoriously use fungicides because of humidity and some use pesticides since aphids are a problem.

Randle river search and recovery efforts for little boy stalled

Friday, May 30th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has decided to wait until the water level in the Cispus River drops in order to access an area beneath a log jam where a missing 5-year-old child may be.

The Tacoma boy was riding a motorcycle at a camp spot on Monday when he apparently accidentally went into the water. His motorcycle and a visor to his helmet have been recovered.

The child was camping with his family over the weekend about 10 and a half miles south of Randle, along Forest Service Road 120, off Forest Service Road 23.

Search and rescue personnel combed the area, on the ground and in the water each day through Wednesday afternoon.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s office said a spotter from KIRO TV’s helicopter back on Tuesday observed something the same colors as the boy had been wearing beneath a particular log jam in the swift flowing river. Attempts were made on Wednesday by a water rescue team to probe the jam but they were unsuccessful because of the depth and current, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

The banks of the river have been searched and the child is presumed drowned.

“It is believed once the water level drops a few feet, searchers will be able to access the area under the logjam in hopes of finding the boy,” Brown said in a news release at mid-day on Thursday.

The plan is to secure a helicopter and crews for another search next week, if the conditions cooperate, according to Brown.

Meanwhile, they will be checking the area on foot frequently and keep monitoring water gauges in the area, Brown said.

“We don’t know that he’s in that log jam,” Brown said. “But we believe he is, given what the KIRO spotter saw and the way the currents run.”

Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield points out how swift and dangerous the search area is, even for rescuers with specialized training.

“Our searchers have worked relentlessly trying to recover this little boy’s body,” Mansfield stated in the news release. “Most of us have children and understand the extreme importance of recovering this little guy for his family. The river conditions have just made this search extremely difficult.”

According to the sheriff’s office, the river level has fluctuated only a few inches either way over the past few days. With the increased warmer weather, unfortunately, the water level will rise due to snowmelt, Brown says.

They also are considering the practicality of utilizing a search dog for future efforts, according to Brown.

River recovery efforts continue for child lost near Randle

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Updated at 11:23 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Five swift water rescue team members continue to scour the Cispus River this morning in hopes of finding the 5-year-old Tacoma boy who vanished while camping with his parents on Monday.

“They’re going back over the river and looking at log jams,” Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Steve Aust said. “The Randle Fire Department and Packwood SAR (Search and Rescue) are on standby, if we should find anything.”

The family was staying at an unimproved campground in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest several miles south of Randle. The child was riding his motorcycle and apparently got too close to the bank and fell in, while his parents had their back to him, according to the sheriff’s office.

Search and rescue efforts yesterday went until dark, with 18 personnel, including a dive team from Thurston County. A news helicopter assisted earlier in the day, the sheriff’s office said.

They focused on several log jams, Aust said. What was thought to be the child’s helmet about a mile downstream turned out to be only its visor hung up on a log jam, according to the sheriff’s office.

The motorcycle was pulled from the river yesterday, close to the camp spot, according to Fire Chief Jeff Jaques.

Responders called about 7 p.m. on Monday were looking for both the little boy and his 32-year-old father, who had jumped in the river. It was almost dark before the man was found, on the bank looking for his son about a half mile from the camp spot, according to Aust.

The terrain, steep embankments and heavy brush, is making the effort very challenging, the sheriff’s office said yesterday afternoon.

“The river continues to run very swift and cold making the search extremely dangerous,” the sheriff’s office said.

At the scene this morning are sheriff’s office Chief Criminal Deputy Gene Seiber and the water rescue members consisting of four deputies and a officer with Fish and Wildlife, according to Aust.

Breaking news: Five-year-old feared drowned near Randle, father survives

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Responders are attempting to recover the body of a 5-year-old Tacoma boy who fell into the Cispus River near Randle yesterday as he was riding his motorcycle at an unimproved campground.

His 32-year-old father jumped in after the child but was unable to reach him before the boy was swept away, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The father was able to reach the shore after being carried downstream about a half mile, the sheriff’s office stated in a news release this morning.

Teams working last night believed they spotted little one’s helmet snagged on a log approximately one mile down river from from where he went in, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. The recovery operation resumed at daylight this morning, according to Brown.

Deputies, firefighters and swift water team members out of Toledo responded about 7 p.m. last night to reports of possible drownings.

The site is beyond the Cispus Learning Center is in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which is about seven miles south of Randle.

Due to darkness and the extremely swift water, teams had to discontinue the search last night, according to Brown.

The boy was camping with his family over the weekend about 10 and a half miles south of Randle, along Forest Service Road 120, off Forest Service Road 23.

Brown said he was wearing full protective riding gear and a helmet, and it appeared he got to close to the river bank and went in.

The river is running very fast at this time of year due to snow melt, Brown indicated, and the water temperatures are extremely cold.

On the scene this morning are deputies, members of Lewis County Fire Districts 14 Randle and 2 Toledo, water rescue specialists from Lewis and Thurston counties, Packwood Search and Rescue and a Fish and Wildlife agent, according to Brown.

Explosion rocks Packwood flea market

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The massive highway-side flea market that Packwood becomes each Memorial Day weekend started off with a bang this morning, in a bad way.

A motorhome exploded right in the middle of the outdoor market, by the Shell gas station, according to Lewis County Fire District 10.

There were no serious injuries.

“There were actually four people in it, it was totaled,” Fire Chief Lonnie Goble said. “It blew the windows out, blew the door off. The people inside were very lucky.”

Firefighters responding about 7:30 a.m. found the ruined RV and four guys sitting off to the side, Goble said.

There were only a couple of minor burns, none had to go to the hospital, he said.

Goble said the four men are from Yakima, and they were in town as vendors, with their motorhome parked adjacent to their vendor site. He didn’t notice what they were selling, he said.

The chief said the men had been cooking breakfast when a heater leaking propane gas caused the blast. The RV didn’t catch fire, he said.

“They said it was very loud and knocked ’em all onto the floor, well, one onto the bed,” he said.

Packwood mom off to prison for her behavior after school bus mixup

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Cheryl A. Strong listens as lawyers, judge, decide her sentence.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 7-year-old boy was crying, soaking wet and knocking on stranger’s doors asking for help, according to Jacob Clark.

The child was dropped off by a school bus driver in a neighborhood not his own in Packwood and his 48-year-old mother found him after an hour and a half of searching, Clark said.

Cheryl A. Strong left an angry voice message at White Pass school, so alarming the building was placed in lockdown for three hours the following morning when it was heard. So alarming, she was charged and convicted of two felonies and then sentenced this week to three years plus two months in prison.

“The school screwed up; so did my client,” defense attorney Clark said. “She never intended to hurt anyone. If this wasn’t the school she called, we never would have been in court.”

It took a jury less than three hours to find the former grocery store clerk guilty earlier this month of one count each of felony harassment, threats to kill, the school secretary and Rebecca Miner, the district superintendent.

The words that got her jailed: “Sorry Chris, but I’m going to f****** shoot everybody that goes to your f****** school, works there,” according to court documents.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey said he understood the frustration but the phone call led to a lot of fear and trepidation for elementary school children, who don’t understand what’s happening or why.

Brosey said he didn’t understand how the boy was let off at an address other than his new address, but that schools do the best job they can.

“School staff should not have to put up with that kind of abuse,” Brosey said to the mother as she awaited to hear her fate.

He sentenced Strong to 38 months, the middle of the standard sentencing range for her offenses.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Mark McClain asked for two consecutive terms of 43 months, the top of the range. Because of the jury’s special finding the crime affected more than the two victims named, the judge was free to give her the maximum of two five year sentences, one to be served after the other.

Clark had told the judge the circumstances didn’t justify that much time, and noted if his client didn’t have some convictions from when she was younger, the case may have merited about six to 12 months in jail.

It happened in March when the household was in the process of moving from a home on U.S. Highway 12 to another about seven miles away up in the High Valley neighborhood.

Christy Collette, the school secretary, said Strong had changed their address with the school and told them they were going to be moving.

Collette said never was she worried that day the boy was not on the right bus, and that she spoke to Strong that afternoon telling her he was on the other bus and said if Strong didn’t find him, to call her back.

Strong told her son to tell the bus driver he was to get let off at the old bus stop that day, according to the judge.

According to Clark, the child was let out in the High Valley neighborhood at a third address, and wandered around, asking strangers for help until his mother located him.

Strong left the phone message that got her into trouble.

The following morning, school employees ordered a lockdown as soon as they heard it; sheriff’s deputies responded about 7:45 a.m. to the East Lewis County school.

Just before 11 a.m., after Strong had phoned and asked about picking up her son since it was in lockdown, she was told to come on in and  she was taken into custody by a waiting deputy. She was not armed.

Her lawyer asked the judge at sentencing on Monday afternoon to consider what his client had experienced the afternoon prior.

“The day before, no one was around to let Ms. Strong know where her child was,” he said. “Apparently no one’s around at 3:41 (p.m.), so Ms. Strong panicked.

“Did she say something stupid? Absolutely.”

Clark agreed the following day it had an impact on a large number of people, but said law enforcement knew Strong was not at the school, he said.

He noted how over the past dozen years, three large scale traumatic events have occurred involving schools and guns.

“If this wasn’t a school, we probably wouldn’t be here; but it was was,” he told the judge.

White Pass School District Superintendent Miner declined to explain what occurred with the bus ride home that day, noting that she’d given her testimony during the trial.

“I would just say, the school district has the safety of all our students in mind,” she said in a brief telephone interview. “We are always looking to improve.”

Miner said she wouldn’t comment any more specifically, when asked if anyone was reprimanded.

Strong was taken into custody immediately following Monday’s hearing; the judge allowed for a $250,000 appeal bond.

The little boy is with his father having gotten picked up soon after his mother’s arrest and taken to Tuscan, Arizona. A family court hearing is set for tomorrow, and Strong has indicated she wants her family members to step in, as she doesn’t feel that’s a safe place for him, according to the deputy prosecutor and the judge.

Before she was led to the jail, she told the court she was sorry.

“I’d like to apologize for the results of my actions,” Strong said. “I was afraid for my son, I was scared.

“I didn’t mean or intend to hurt anyone.”

For background, read “Packwood bus mixup: Mad mom will get to simmer off behind bars” from Tuesday May 6, 2014, here

Logging accident claims Winlock teen

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Winlock teenager working in the woods with his father and a small crew was killed this morning when he was crushed by a piece of logging equipment south of Boistfort.

Aid and deputies were called about 11:42 a.m. to the scene, about 14 miles off Pe Ell McDonald Road, on property owned by Green Diamond Resource Co.

The sheriff’s office said the 18-year-old was setting chokers for a logging operation when a carriage was accidentally lowered onto him, killing him instantly.

“When Fire District 13 showed up, there was nothing we could do,” Lewis County Fire District 13 Assistant Chief Rick Eades said.

Eades described the carriage as a metal piece probably six feet long and not very wide that travels along a cable to assist in retrieving logs. He estimated it weighed two tons.

The terrain was very steep where they were working, Eades said.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod identified the young man as Cole Bostwick.

It happened on the 4700 Line, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

He was working for ENB Logging and Trucking, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

The state Department of Labor and Industries was notified and presumably will be conducting an investigation.

It’s the fourth logging death in Lewis County this year.

In mid-January, 63-year-old Alex Oberg, of Toledo, was killed while cutting timber alone in the Toledo area. The sheriff’s office said a tree fell onto Oberg as he was employing a “domino” tree falling technique.

A month later, 21-year-old Tyler Bryan, also from Toledo, was working north of Morton when – according to the initial information from the sheriff’s office – a log being pulled up a slope by a cable began spinning and struck him.

Then in March, John B. Leonard, 69, died after he was struck by a long limb while logging in Salkum.

Investigation continues into deadly Salkum dispute

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Updated at 11:45 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Coroner’s Office says an autopsy conducted yesterday found that 28-year-old Travis Shive died of massive internal bleeding from a gunshot wound, described as entering his abdomen and traveling into his chest without exiting his body.

The Salkum resident was shot twice, by a neighbor on Saturday night, according to the sheriff’s office.

The 56-year-old neighbor man who has not been arrested admitted he armed himself with a .380 semi-automatic handgun and said he went outside to get Shive to leave his property.

The unnamed man told deputies he felt threatened because Shive had been on his front porch ranting, accusing him of shooting his dog and refused to leave.

The sheriff’s office says it learned a fight took place in the yard after Shive, who was unarmed, lunged at the older man and then he was shot.

Shive was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has said the shooter is cooperating with the investigation, and said they were awaiting the results of the autopsy.

This morning, the sheriff’s office indicated detectives now want to answer the question of the proximity of the shooter to Shive when the firearm was discharged.

They are sending Shive’s clothing to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab to be examined, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

Brown said both shots were from front to back, not in the back as two of several witnesses reported.

Coroner Warren McLeod said the other shot struck Shive in his left shoulder.

It happened about 8:10 p.m. on Saturday at the 200 block of Stowell Road, about a half block from the Salkum Super market.

Responding firefighters were told to wait at their station until deputies arrived to make sure the scene was safe.

Fire Chief Duran McDaniel estimated he stayed parked at the neighborhood store perhaps seven minutes, before he was given the okay to come in, something that was tough to do as a person lay injured.

Shive was able to walk off the property and was in the front yard of another property where bystanders were performing CPR.

The coroner said this morning the delay didn’t play a role in Shive’s death, the internal bleeding was so serious.

“Even if the medics got there (immediately) there is nothing, that I’m aware of, they can do all that much to stem the bleeding out in the field,” McLeod said.

Brown this morning indicated the investigation could take some time; such as getting the test results back because of a backlog at the state crime lab.

She said detectives learned the 56-year-old never opened his front door while Shive was there yelling, as he had it duct taped closed in connection with some kind of repair or renovation.

According to Brown, the man exited through a back or side door into the yard to see what was happening, and then the confrontation occurred.

The sheriff’s office believes Shive went to the man’s house in error, thinking it was he who shot the dog.

Detectives are still looking into who did it, as part of their inquiry, but Brown didn’t have high expectations they would find that out.

“I don’t know that person will ever come forward, at this point,” she said. “I don’t know that we’ll ever know.”


CORRECTION: This news story has been updated to clarify the 56-year-old resident never opened the front door, and only left his house one time to meet up with Shive in his yard, according to the sheriff’s office.


For background, read “Deadly dispute over dog shooting still under investigation in Salkum” from Monday May 12, 2014, here

Thurston deputies looking for red bandana bandit

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Updated at 3:19 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A clerk working alone at the Grand Mound AM/PM store was frightened but otherwise unharmed when she was robbed at gunpoint last night.

Deputies headed to the business about 11:40 p.m. after at least twice someone called 911 from there but hung up without speaking, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

A dispatcher finally made contact with the employee who reported what occurred, Sgt. Ray Brady said.

“She said she did that because she wasn’t sure if he was going to come back, and she was so scared,” Brady said.

Brady said the the 36-year-old Rochester resident was in a back room when a man wearing dark clothing and a red bandana over his face came inside pointing a handgun toward her. And he aimed it at her back as she retrieved money he demanded, according to Brady.

He then left and headed south toward the parking lot at Key Bank, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies suspect a vehicle may have been staged there, as that’s where a police dog track ended, according to Brady.

The store and gas station sits at the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and Old Highway 99 not far from Interstate 5.

Detectives today are working the case, and in contact with Tumwater police who are investigating a similar incident earlier in the evening farther north along the I-5 corridor, Brady said.

A Chevron store was robbed by a male wearing a red bandana over his face just before 8 p.m. at Trosper Road near Little Rock Road, according to police.  He fled the store and was picked up by a female in a green Jeep Cherokee, police said.

Tumwater’s subject is described as about 6-feet tall with a medium build, wearing a black hoodie, black baggie pants and blue high-top tennis shoes and as having a dark complexion, according to the Tumwater Police Department.

The Grand Mound clerk thought her robber was a white male adult and said he was wearing dark clothing, and a red or maroon baseball-type cap, Brady said, along with the bandana over his face.

The same store was just robbed in December, by a pony-tailed woman who threatened to shoot a clerk. A 20-year-old Montesano woman was arrested days later in that case.

Brady said the clerk last night did the right things.

“That’s what they teach employees, to cooperate and just be a good witness,” he said.


CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the correct time police were called to the robbery in Tumwater.

Birdwell theft case deal includes incarceration plus deadline to pay back funds

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Former used car dealer Keith Birdwell yesterday admitted he wrote thousands of dollars worth of bad checks to Security State Bank and didn’t pay back loans to the Centralia-based financial institution, the first step in a plea deal to avoid a potential lengthy prison term.

Birdwell, 48, and his wife were charged early last year in Lewis County Superior Court with theft, for allegedly using various deceptions to dodge repaying what they owed for the vehicles at Birdwell Auto Sales in Centralia and their lot in Lacey. Both businesses are now closed.

The criminal case came out of a lengthy investigation by the Centralia Police Department, with losses claimed by the bank of more than $1 million.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg said if Birdwell pays off a certain amount of what he owes before a sentencing hearing scheduled in July, Eisenberg will recommend to the judge a 12-month sentence.

The amount agreed upon by the deadline is known only to the parties involved, according to Eisenberg.

The Toledo couple was charged originally with first-degree theft, as well as multiple counts of unlawful issuance of a bank check, all with special allegations the actions were major economic offenses with a high degree of sophistication, meaning if convicted, a possible penalty of 10 years in prison and / or a $20,000 fine.

Eisenberg said the reasons prosecutors made a deal instead of taking the case to trial will be easier to explain this summer, when they are back in court.

“(This) gets some of the punishment I wanted and it gets something for the bank,” he said.

Security State Bank was involved in the process and satisfied with the arrangement he said.

Tacoma-based defense attorney Keith McFie had little to say; only that his client pleaded guilty and will be sentenced on July 2.

Birdwell and his wife Lorrine D. Birdwell, 45, have been free on signature bonds since the beginning, although they did have to visit the jail to get their photos and fingerprints taken.

The circumstances involved a form of a line of credit with the bank, in which the unsold vehicles at the car lots were used as collateral for loans, and a day in July 2012 when a bank employee discovered 21 vehicles were unaccounted for, according to charging documents.

After an inquiry by phone from the bank’s president, Keith Birdwell allegedly over a period of three days wrote checks from their Twin Star Credit Union account to their Security State account. The first one was for $29,750, all but one of the others were larger.

The checks didn’t clear. Keith Birdwell indicated to police he expected them to be covered by a loan from an associate.

All but the one charge for first-degree theft have been dismissed in Lorrine D. Birdwell’s case. Lawyers are reportedly working on a plea deal with her which is tied to her husband’s.

Birdwell yesterday pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree theft and three counts of felony unlawful issuance of a bank check.

Eisenberg yesterday told the judge he expects to dismiss two remaining counts of unlawful issuance of a bank check at the sentencing hearing, if Birdwell has kept his end of the bargain.

If not, and Birdwell were convicted on all the counts, along with the so-called aggravators, the standard sentencing range is 14 to 18 months in prison, however the judge would be free to hand down as much as the maximum of a decade, according to Eisenberg.

Eisenberg said he’s not certain what may happen if the agreed upon amount is not repaid by then, except he noted he and McFie did have an alternate agreement they’d discussed.

He said he understands Birdwell is working, doing some kind of freelance auto sales.

Still to be determined is the total amount of restitution owed, an amount which is in dispute, he said.

Which portion which came from criminal behavior and how much came about simply because the business was doing poorly will have to be decided by a judge later on, according to Eisenberg.


For background, read “Centralia used car lot owners appear in court on criminal charges” from Wednesday January 23, 2013, here

Deadly dispute over dog shooting still under investigation in Salkum

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Updated at 12:05 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

No arrest has been made but detectives continue to investigate after a 56-year-old Salkum man fatally shot his neighbor over the weekend, apparently over a neighborhood dog getting shot.

Travis Shive, 28, was shot twice in the man’s front yard and was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on Saturday night.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office this morning said they still don’t know who shot the dog, but it is still alive.

“It is believed the 28 year old had gone to 56 year old man’s house in error, thinking he was at the house of someone who had allegedly shot the neighborhood dog,” Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said in a news release.

The 56-year-old, who was not named, is not in custody and is cooperating with law enforcement, according to Brown.

The man told deputies he armed himself with a .380 semi-automatic handgun after Shive came to his front porch ranting, accusing him of shooting the dog and refused to leave, Brown said.

The sheriff’s office says a fight took place in the yard after Shive lunged at the older man and then he was shot.

Brown said there is no indication Shive had a gun.

Detectives continue to talk to the numerous witnesses of the incident and the investigation is ongoing, according to the sheriff’s office. Detectives are also awaiting the results of the autopsy, Brown indicated.

It happened about 8:10 p.m. at the 200 block of Stowell Road.

The sheriff’s office says Shive was able to walk off the property before collapsing. CPR was performed by others in the area until medics arrived, according to Brown.

Stowell Road was closed while detectives examined the scene and interviewed the shooter.

Brown describes the shooter’s version of what occurred:

He told deputies he told Shive repeatedly to leave but Shive continued to yell at him.

He said he felt threatened so he got a gun and went outside to tell Shive again to leave.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said an autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.


CORRECTION: This news story has been updated to clarify the 56-year-old resident only left his house one time to meet up with Shive in his yard.

Breaking news: Man shot in Salkum, neighbor questioned

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

Updated at 10:20 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Detectives are on the scene investigating a shooting in Salkum that sent a 28-year-old Salkum man to Providence Centralia Hospital tonight.

Stowell Road is currently closed between Gore Road and Salkum Road, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

It happened about 8:10 p.m. at the 200 block of Stowell Road, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said in a news release.

The suspected shooter is being questioned. He is a Salkum resident as well, according to Brown. The victim’s condition is unknown, Brown stated at about 9:30 p.m.

Initial information is it was a dispute between neighbors, Brown stated.

Lewis County Fire DIstrict 8 was called to the scene but told to wait at their station until deputies arrived and could make sure the area was secure.

Fire Chief Duran McDaniel said he was on his way home from another call and had already turned the corner so he parked at the Salkum Super market, about a half block from the victim.

“That’s the hard part, having to stage, because we could have an active shooter,” Fire Chief Duran McDaniel said.

Firefighters and medics found the victim in a front yard and took care of the patient, performing CPR all the way to the hospital, McDaniel said.

Brown indicated further information will be released as it becomes available.

Drug officer: Another raid, but battling heroin deaths will take more than police

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Updated at 12:53 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia police made three more arrests yesterday after moving aggressively up the food chain to combat heroin overdoses and deaths in the community.

Officers raided a home about 9 a.m. on the 1000 block of Yakima Street and took two men and their mother into custody, but only found small amounts of a variety of suspected narcotics, according to the Centralia Police Department.

“Our primary suspect was in the bathroom flushing the toilet,” Centralia Anti-Crime Team Sgt. Jim Shannon said.

Among the drugs seized – found mostly in the shower area – were suspected heroin, Oxycodone, methamphetamine, hash oil and a prescription drug called Tramadol, Shannon said. About $460 cash was confiscated.

Sebastian Haller, 36, and his brother Arthur Haller, 32, were arrested on charges involving the distribution of meth and heroin to Centralia residents, according to police.

Fifty-nine-year-old Kathy Challender was arrested for maintaining a building for drug purposes, an offense she has been convicted of in the past, according to Shannon.

Police have served several warrants for felony narcotics at the same address over the past decade; the city is reviewing the case to determine if the property might be subject to seizure and forfeiture as a drug nuisance, according to police.

The search warrant served yesterday resulted from undercover buys, Shannon said.

The action is part of an undertaking that began in March targeting street-level and mid-level heroin suppliers because of the increase in the number of heroin and opiate related deaths over the past year in Lewis and southern Thurston counties, according to police.

Centralia police detectives are currently investigating at least two deaths that have been caused by heroin, Shannon said.

“There’s different types of heroin out there,” he said. “There’s tar and there’s powder, which seems to be more potent and is causing deaths.

“Aberdeen has a huge problem with it.”

What police care about is saving lives, Shannon said.

The most important thing Shannon wants members of the public to know today, is if a person is with someone who overdoses, they should get help immediately.

“I don’t want anyone to be afraid to call 911 because they think they’re gonna get busted,” he said. “That’s someone’s son, someone’s daughter. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know that person was addicted to opiates.”

Shannon referenced a recent case in which a boyfriend and a girlfriend were partying and he overdosed and she called 911.

“We got Riverside Fire Authority and they were able to administer a substance that counteracts it and he woke up,” Shannon said.

Officers didn’t arrest anyone, they just documented the incident and made sure there were no more drugs present, he said.

He himself has had to help save a life.

“It’s no fun doing CPR on somebody and waiting for aid to come and give them Narcan,” he said. “I mean, these people are dead. And AMR and Riverside brings them back.”

A lot of times, such an event is is a huge wakeup call prompting the person to get the help they need, he said.

It’s much worse for a witness of an overdose event if the subject dies and they didn’t call 911, Shannon said. Centralia police have successfully prosecuted controlled substance homicide in the past, he said.

Since mid-March, Shannon’s team has made 11 arrests for delivery. A small number more are expected out of the current investigation, he said.

Shannon said he wants to get the word out about the use and the arrests for drug dealing because it’s time now for others besides police to work on the problem.

“The police department is trying as hard as we can to do something about it,” he said. “The community also needs to think about what to do as well.”

Arrests of street level suppliers began in April.

On April 14, aid and police responded to to a residence on the 300 block of North Diamond Street and saved the life of a 26-year-old woman. The Anti-Crime Team investigated and arrested  Christopher C. Lee, 25, of Rochester, for delivery of heroin as well as possession of methamphetamine.

While investigating further, the team arrested four more Centralia residents. They are Tyler Geist, 28; Sarah McCutcheon, 34; Jarrin Smalley, 21; and Brittany Cary, 25, according to the Centralia Police Department.

With information gained, the team began going after mid-level sources of heroin. Throughout, several search warrants have been served in Centralia and in south Thurston County.

On April 17, the team was led to the 17100 block of Sargent Road in Grand Mound, where they seized more than one quarter pound of heroin and about an ounce of methamphetamine, according to police.

Three individuals were arrested; they are Andrew T Field, 29; Alaina Normand, 24; and Terry Nelson-Rone, 44, according to police.

Field was under the supervision of the Washington State Department of Corrections and was sent directly back to prison in Shelton to serve time revoked for the new offenses, according to Shannon.

Then yesterday, the team, detectives and other Centralia officers went knocking on the door at Yakima Street, where they arrested the three.

Sebastian Haller was found guilty earlier this year for unrelated heroin charges and was out of custody awaiting sentencing, Shannon said.

If charged, the trio will appear before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon.

Birdwell Brothers Auto Sales theft case may end with plea deals

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It appears there will not be a trial in the case of Keith Birdwell, charged last year along with his wife with major theft in connection with their used car business.

The 48-year-old from Toledo was in Lewis County Superior Court today when attorneys told the judge they are working out the details of a plea deal. His trial was set to begin on Monday.


Keith and Lorrine Birdwell

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg asked the judge to set aside time at 9 a.m. Monday for a hearing in which Birdwell would enter a plea.

“I’m confident we’ll be proceeding,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg said when the judge pondered advising potential jurors to show up on Tuesday instead of Monday, just in case.

Eisenberg said he also still needs to get input from the victim in the case, Security State Bank.

Birdwell and his wife Lorrine D. Birdwell are alleged to have used various deceptions to avoid paying back the bank on loans for the vehicles at Birdwell Brothers Auto Sales. Prosecutors have contended the unrecovered losses to the bank are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Neither Eisenberg nor Tacoma lawyer Keith McFie would reveal what the agreement consisted of, but McFie said he will be asking for sentencing to take place about a month later.

He also said, and Eisenberg confirmed, the plea deal is tied together with an arrangement to be worked out with Lorrine D. Birdwell and her attorney.

Her trial is on the calendar for later this year.


For background, read “Centralia used car lot owners appear in court on criminal charges” from Wednesday January 23, 2013, here

High bail ordered for Chehalis dad in shaken baby case

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Tyler C. Abair, seated at table, looks on as defense attorney Bob Schroeter represents him during a bail hearing in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Bail was set at $250,000 today for the Chehalis area father accused of shaking his 4-month-old daughter, causing a bruised brain.

Tyler C. Abair, 23, was arrested yesterday following an investigation that began after last month’s incident at the Koontz Road home he shares with his ex-wife with whom he is reconciling and their twins, a boy and the girl.

The infant is recovering at home with her mother and Abair remains in the Lewis County Jail, where he is serving time for identity theft and second-degree theft, according to authorities.

A doctor found signs of retinal hemorrhaging and a subdural hematoma in her brain at Marybridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, where the baby was transported after the April 13 call to 911, according to charging documents.

The doctor said the baby “exhibited classic signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome and while not severe, the child would have been shaken somewhat violently to cause these injuries,” charging documents state.

Abair acknowledged that he shook her.

According to charging documents, Abair told a detective he was trying to bring her back because she had a “dead look” about her after choking on formula; that he was terrified and may have had a little anger in him when his daughter threw up on him.

He told Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective Jamey McGinty he didn’t know CPR.

Abair was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with  first-degree assault of a child.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Mark McClain told a judge this afternoon the offense carries significant potential sentence of 10 to 15 years when he appealed for the high bail.

Judge James Lawler signed an order prohibiting him from contact with any witnesses, his ex-wife, his daughter and any children.

Abair doesn’t work, but stayed home and took care of the twins while his ex-wife worked; he qualified for a court-appointed attorney.

His arraignment was scheduled for May 15.

Oakville: Bystanders cut hole in burning house to evacuate bedridden occupants

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

The upstairs is ruined by fire but both occupants were sleeping downstairs. / Courtesy photo by Grays Harbor County Fire DIstrict 1.

Updated at 6:55 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Two bedridden Oakville area residents survived an overnight fire that seriously damaged a two-story home.

The rescue was initiated by neighbors and a Chehalis tribal officer, according to Grays Harbor County Fire DIstrict 1.

As many as five individuals were on the scene, using a chainsaw to cut an opening in the front of the house because one man had to be brought out in his hospital bed and an older woman in her power wheelchair, Fire Chief Kevin Witt said.

“Me and another firefighter were first in, and they were well on their way to cutting the wall and cutting the studs by the time we got there,” Witt said. He called their work heroic.

The calls came about 2:15 a.m. to the residence on the 2300 block of South Bank Road, from the owners who woke up as well as from several neighbors who saw flames, according to Witt.

Members of fire departments from Elma, Rochester and Centralia responded to assist in battling the blaze which left the upper floor heavily damaged, and the first floor with smoke and water damage, he said.

The male occupant  – described as middle aged – was transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, because of his previous medical condition, Witt said.

The woman was checked by medics and arrangements were made for her to stay at the Eagles Landing Hotel, he said.

West Thurston Regional Fire Authority Lt. Lanette Dyer praised the extraordinary efforts when she viewed the scene today.

“In the light of the day I’m standing here in ‘awe’ over the extraordinary feat that the tribal police, neighbors and firefighters did to save lives,” Dyer stated in a news release. “To see what effort they did to rescue people who were unable to rescue themselves. This is what communities do.”

Witt said the pair were alerted by working fire detectors.

Firefighters remained on the scene until about 5:30 a.m.

The home is on the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis reservation and the cause is under investigation by the tribal building official, Witt said.

Chehalis dad arrested in shaken baby case

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Detectives yesterday arrested a 23-year-old Chehalis area man for allegedly shaking his infant girl causing severe injuries.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says Tyler C. Abair was alone with his 4-month old child when it happened and told deputies he only shook her when she began choking while drinking a bottle.

It happened at the 700 block of Koontz Road last month, and detectives were waiting for medical reports to confirm their suspicions, according to a news release.

The baby is now recovering at home with her mother and Abair remains in the Lewis County Jail, where he was already in custody serving time for unrelated crimes, according to the sheriff’s office.

The case shares several commonalities with a 22-year-old Mineral man arrested last fall for allegedly seriously injuring by shaking his former girlfriend’s 4-month old. Kyle Davison told the sheriff’s office told authorities that baby was choking and not breathing.

Like Davison, Abair is facing a charge of first-degree assault of a child.

The sheriff’s office said when the baby girl stopped breathing on April 13. Abair called the baby’s mother who was nearby at work, instead of calling 911 himself.

“The mother had someone call 911 immediately, responded home, and began CPR,” Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown stated in the news release.

Abair reportedly initially denied injuring or shaking the infant.

The child was transferred to Marybridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma and doctors reported the infant had suffered retinal hemorrhaging and a brain injury consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome, according to Brown.

Brown said doctors also found old brain injuries which appeared to be caused in the same manner.


Read also, “Lawyer seeks second opinion on brain trauma in Morton child assault case” from Monday April 14, 2014, here