Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

Vader man off the hook for father’s death

Monday, February 25th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Prosecutors will be notifying a 27-year-old Vader man they’ve decided not to charge him in his father’s November death, a death that occurred two days after Travis M. Myers shoved his 52-year-old father who fell and hit his head on a concrete sidewalk.

It’s just not clear if the injury killed him.

Michael K. Myers, 52, passed away on Thanksgiving Day at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he had been airlifted following his injury outside a Morton motel.

Police at the time said the son had stepped in between his parents during a fight. The mother had just gotten arrested for allegedly being drunk behind the wheel of a car and the father was described as stumbling down drunk.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said the autopsy report came back and indicated Michael K. Myers died from a brain aneurysm, a burst blood vessel in his head.

“We can’t link it for sure,” Meagher said this morning.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded the senior Myers died from a brain hemorrhage. It’s unknown if the external events contributed to a rupture of the aneurysm, according to the death certificate.

The death certificate was finalized late last month; Meagher notified the Morton Police Department on Friday he is declining to charge a crime in the case.

The family is from Vader and the two men had gone to the Seasons Motel to pick up the mother who had taken a room there after her arrest by a trooper.

Travis Myers was arrested for second-degree assault the day after the incident, and the prosecutor’s office asked a judge to release him on a $25,000 unsecured bond as they contemplated a possible charge of  second-degree manslaughter.

Meagher said part of his decision involved the issue of self defense and defense of others. Police reports indicated the father shoved the mother and then the son shoved the father. And, the father had also fallen down twice earlier that night, Meagher said.

“That, combined with the forensic problem, we can’t justify charging the kid,” Meagher said.

Meagher said this morning he will be contacting the young man with the news.

The underlying cause of death is listed as a probable cerebral artery aneurysm; the manner of death will remain listed as undetermined, according to the KCME Office.

According to the National Institutes of Health, it’s not clear exactly what causes aneurysms; some are present at birth.

For background, read “Vader man released from jail as prosecutor ponders charges in father’s death” from Tuesday November 27, 2012, here

Attorneys dispute statute of limitations rules on surprise child sex charge for Maurin double murder defendant

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Prosecutors alleged in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday that murder defendant Ricky A. Riffe raped his 9-year-old step-daughter 28 years ago, filing new charges for a crime that has a possible penalty of life in prison.

Riffe’s attorney is calling it a ploy to smear his client, in a small community that is closely following the news of Riffe’s upcoming double murder trial.

Riffe, 54, was returned to Lewis County from his home in Alaska last summer when Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer charged him in the December 1985 abduction and slaying of Ed and Wilhelmina Maurin, an elderly couple who lived in Ethel.

While not exactly a cold case because Riffe and his now-deceased brother were longtime primary suspects, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with a newly elected prosecutor stepped up a re-investigation, noting that fear of the brothers had kept many witnesses from coming forward when the crimes occurred.

The two men moved to Alaska in 1987, according to the sheriff.

The sheriff’s office has said it believes that on Dec. 19, 1985 the brothers somehow got into the couple’s home, and then forced them to drive to a bank in Chehalis to withdraw $8,500 before shooting them in the backs with a shotgun.

The bodies of the Maurins, Ed, 81 and Wilhelmina, 83, were found on Christmas Eve 1985 dumped off a logging road outside Adna.

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.

His trial is scheduled to begin in May and last as long as a month.

Yesterday, in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis, Meyer told the judge Riffe is now charged with two incidents of child sex abuse, one from 1984 and the other from 1986.

Judge Richard Brosey read the charges aloud, advised Riffe they are separate from the other matter and that he is presumed innocent. He asked Riffe how he pled.

Defense attorney John Crowley jumped up and objected to the late filing of charges beyond the statute of limitations.

Crowley asked the judge to enter not guilty pleas on behalf of his client, and all agreed to revisit the matter after the murder trial ends.

Meyer, outside the courtroom, said the statute of limitations doesn’t apply because Riffe had left the state.

The allegations were investigated by police at the time and no criminal charges were filed, according to both Meyer and Crowley.

“It was investigated then, it came up again during this investigation,” Meyer said. “We got some new information.”

In Washington, all crimes except murder have a statute of limitations, according to Crowley. It’s a limit on the amount of time that can pass beyond which prosecutors can’t file criminal charges against a person, he said.

Crowley, a Seattle-based attorney, said it’s true if a person moves out of state that stops the clock, as long as authorities don’t know where they went.

But the sheriff’s office knew the brothers moved to Alaska, and contacted them in 1993, Crowley said.

“They interviewed him and his brother, it’s no secret where he was,” he said.

Judge Brosey has already said more than once the court plans to bring in an extra large number of potential jurors for the murder trial, to allow for the amount of pre-trial publicity the case has generated.

The most serious of the new allegations is that shortly after the victim turned 9, her mother was gone from the home and she was told to keep that “side of the bed warm.” Charging documents state she awoke to Riffe raping her.

The girl left the room with an excuse and then slept on the floor of her brother’s bedroom, according to the documents.

For that, Riffe is charged with what was then called statutory rape.

The second count, then called indecent liberties, is in connection with when she was 10 years old and Riffe allegedly fondling her.

Riffe denies any sexual contact, according to charging documents.

The hearing yesterday continued with tentative scheduling in April for two days of pre-trial hearings and deadlines decided for the submission of pre-trial motions.

Riffe remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $5 million bail.

For background, read “Man held in 1985 slayings of Ethel couple now accused of child sex abuse from nearly 30 years ago” from Friday February 22, 2013 at 11:24 a.m., here

Seventy-five goats and horses removed from Centralia pasture

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Centralia area couple who relinquished 25 horses and 50 goats last week were in court yesterday in connection with a charge of second-degree animal cruelty.

Gerald D. Specht, 65, and his wife Wendy Specht, 58, have both pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to return to Lewis County District Court on March 13 for a hearing.

It wasn’t so much the animals were thin, but they were living in horrible conditions, according to Lewis County Code Enforcement Supervisor Bill Teitzel.

Teitzel described the horses’ feeding area as littered with obstacles such as barbed wire and finding injuries to the horses’ feet and legs. When Teitzel visited the property, he found about 10 of the goats inside the darkened remnants of a house, he said.

The floor was covered with mud and animal waste, he said.

The Spechts themselves are living in a tent as their home burned several years ago, Teitzel said.

The property is on the 600 block of Teitzel Road east of Centralia.

“My take on this, is the people were overwhelmed,” Teitzel said. “But I think they ended up taking responsibility.”

The couple previously lived in a recreational vehicle, but code enforcement had found issues with their sewage set up, he said.

The county had been monitoring the situation since October and when they visited on Feb. 13, found two dead horses not properly disposed of, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Teitzel and sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust described visits last week which included the state veterinarian who found one horse so diseased it had to be euthanized.

A search warrant was served at the property a week ago Friday.

They didn’t have anyone to help to deal with the problems, according to Teitzel.

The Washington State Livestock Coalition persuaded the Spechts to give up the animals. The horses were removed to Pierce County where they were to be cared for. The plan was to keep the goats in Lewis County, where there are many options for finding takers, he said.

The couple were cited by code enforcement for solid waste issues, failure to bury a dead animal. Teitzel also was going to make a referral call to Adult Protective Services for the couple themselves, he said.

The Spechts yesterday after court said they had no comment, that any comment should come through their attorney.

They are each charged with one count of second-degree animal cruelty, alleging at the very least they knowingly allowed an animal to live under conditions that caused unnecessary pain. It is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail or a $5,000 fine or both.


Revised Code of Washington: Animal cruelty in the second degree (owner): RCW 16.52.207

Plea deal reached for Burkett’s Auto Sales owner

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The case of a bar fight that led to charges of felony assault and witness tampering by the owner of a Centralia used car business ended today with a jail sentence of five months.

John I. Burkett, 40, was set to go to trial next week and decided to accept a plea offer instead.

Burkett said he was afraid he would lose everything if he ended up going to prison.

“She was asking for 22 months if I went to trial and lost, and I was scared, I’ve got kids,” Burkett said, referring to the deputy prosecutor.

The Winlock resident pleaded guilty today in Lewis County Superior Court to tampering with a witness and malicious prosecution.

Burkett indicated the malicious prosecution charge came about when he told police another man put his hands on the woman he was dancing with at Paradise in Chehalis in December of 2011.

The 25-year-old victim who suffered an injury to the back of his head was not present in the courtroom this afternoon.

The witness tampering charge, Burkett admitted in a written statement, was because he offered the man $3,500 in hopes he would absent himself from further court hearings.

Dismissed were charges of assault and bribing a witness.

Burkett owns Burkett’s Auto Sales on on South Gold Street in Centralia.

Defense attorney Chris Baum told the judge today he client was very sorry for what he’d done.

“This is a real unfortunate situation that was blown out of proportion,” Baum said.

The Chehalis attorney said his client tried to resolve the issue by attempting to offer restitution privately.

Judge James Lawler decided Burkett would have to spend 30 days in jail and would be free to serve the rest of his sentence on electronic home monitoring.

Breaking news: Two trapped after ceiling drops in Rochester auto shop

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Updated at 5:13 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A collapse of the upper level of a Rochester auto repair shop today drew firefighters who had to move about 1,000 pounds of structural debris and auto parts to rescue a 34-year-old man who was trapped and pinned against a wall.

West Thurston Regional Fire Authority Chief Robert Scott said two employees were working on the upper level which was used for storage, above the first floor office. When the ceiling fell, it sent the pair to the ground level, along with about a ton of material and various items, according to Scott.

“Engines, transmissions, engine blocks, there was a lot of weight up there,” Scott said.

Firefighters were called just before 3 p.m. to the building at the 19300 block of Elderberry Street Southwest.

A 40-year-old man was able to get himself out, according to the chief, but crews had to break through an exterior wall to get at the 34-year-old.

“The patient was conscious and talking to the responders during the entire operation which lasted just over 20 minutes,” Scott said.

The 34-year-old, whose name was not available, had leg injuries that Scott said he wasn’t sure were if they were fractures or crush injuries.

The other man, whose name was not available either, was ambulatory, but also had an injury to his leg as well as possibly his lower back, according to Scott.

They were both transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.

Firefighters were assisted by Riverside Fire Authority from Centralia, the McLane/Black Lake Fire Department and members of the Thurston County Special Operations Rescue Team.


Some of the additional materials that remain after patient extricated. / Courtesy photo by Robert Scott

Recently shot Highway 603 intruder appears in court, with additional charge

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Brian L. Creed waits to be escorted back to the jail after his bail is set in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The accused intruder didn’t look like a man who had been shot in the stomach less than two weeks ago when he appeared in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon.

Fifty-one-year-old Brian L. Creed, handcuffed and clothed in orange jail garb, projected a voice that was strong and clear when asked by a judge if that was his correct name. He was just released from the hospital yesterday.

Creed is charged with first-degree burglary and second-degree criminal trespass for events that occurred near where he was either visiting, staying or living on Nix Road on February 10.

Deputies called about 4:45 a.m. that morning to the 400 block of Highway 603 west of Chehalis were told by the 24-year-old resident he awakened and found a stranger inside his home who charged him even after being told at gunpoint to get out.

The young man wrestled away from Creed and held him at gunpoint until law officers arrived, according to charging documents.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke today asked the judge to hold Creed on $25,000 bail.

“He doesn’t have an extensive (criminal) history, but we have to acknowledge the seriousness of the charge,” O’Rourke said.

Judge James Lawler set bail at $50,000 instead, noting the defendant is a violent threat because of the entry into someone else’s house.

Authorities admit they don’t know what Creed’s intentions were; he’s not accused of burglary in the sense of stealing, but of unlawfully entering a residence and once inside assaulting the resident. Sheriff Steve Mansfield has said Creed was high on methamphetamine.

He apparently came through an unlocked door.

Defense attorney Bob Schroeter told the judge his client was the unlucky one and asked for more reasonable bail of $10,000.

Creed qualified for a court appointed attorney, as his only income is $197 per month general assistance and food stamps, Schroeter told the judge.

Prosecutors initially charged Creed with first-degree burglary and fourth-degree assault, but changed the charges.

O’Rourke said the assault is an element of the burglary charge already.

He added a charge of second-degree trespass telling the court the state learned that about an hour and a half before the incident on Highway 603, Creed was seen rooting around on someone else’s property nearby, on the 100 block of Nix Road.

O’Rourke wrote in court documents he believes Creed was trolling the neighborhood to steal property and commit other criminal acts that night.

Creed’s arraignment was put on the calendar for Feb. 28.


For background, read: “Wounded home intruder’s condition deteriorating, deputies relieved of guard duty to cut costs” from Friday February 15, 2013, here

Breaking news: Dog missing after horrendous freeway wreck found in Chehalis

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013



Bret Bryan carries Steeler out from the briars where he was found this afternoon. / Courtesy photo by Harry Oakes

Updated at 7:08 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Steeler, the champion show dog who escaped his owners when their motor home crashed yesterday on the freeway through Chehalis, has been found.

“He was nervous, I think kind of like, what’s gonna happen now, but not frightened,” said Cathy Spears who slipped a collar around his neck this afternoon.

The whippet was tracked down in the brush behind Darigold off Main Street in Chehalis about 2 p.m.

The canine was located by search dogs.

Yesterday morning, Steeler was riding up front with Donald and Patricia Rodgers, of Shelton, as they returned home from a series of dog shows in California, according to Spears.

Donald Rodgers is a professional handler; the couple and their young assistant had as many as nine show dogs belonging to others crated up in the rear of their 1999 Freightliner motor home, she said.

But Steeler, a retired show dog, is their personal pet, she said.

It was just before 11 a.m. when their vehicle collided with the rear of semi truck on northbound Interstate 5 near milepost 78, leaving their cab crushed and all three injured. It was one of several wrecks in the same stretch that slowed freeway traffic for hours.

Steeler fled onto the freeway and vanished.

Spears, a Centralia woman, has known the Rodgers’ some 20 years, she said. She met up with fellow show dog handlers at the Chehalis Starbuck’s this morning to organize a search. They hired professional searcher Harry Oakes from Longview.

Oakes said it took only about 30 minutes, once they figured out where to start looking.

They learned one of the Chehalis firefighters had seen the dog running near Main Street when crews responded to the accident, Oakes said.

They used a blanket Steeler had slept on to give Oakes’ two Border Collies a scent to work with, he said. They found some tracks. A local man and his yellow lab helped lure Steeler out, according to Spears.

Bret Bryan works for the steam train and his dog is just a pet dog, not trained for such work, she said.

Oakes said he and Bryan spotted the whippet cowering in a briar patch about a half mile off Main Street.

“It took some time to calm him down and get him to come to us,” Oakes said.

The dog appeared to have just superficial cuts and minor bruising, Spears said.

Spears took him to her veterinarian, where he is expected to stay overnight for observation.

The other dogs traveling with the couple were uninjured, she said.

Donald Rodgers and 18-year-old Debra A. Carter of Lacey have been released from the hospital, according to Spears. Patricia J. Rodgers remains at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with a crushed hip and knee, she said.

Ironically, Spears endured a similar experience herself about 20 years ago.

She was part of a 16-car pileup on Interstate 5 near Mellon Street in Centralia in which a 16-year-old boy died, she said. She was traveling with three show dogs and two of them ran off, she said.

“We found one the next morning and the other two days later,” she said.

But that’s not what motivated her, Penny King of Vader and Rachel Morris of Adna, to look for the Rodgers’ pet, she said.

“That’s what kept us going, but these are friends of ours,” Spears said.


For background, read: “Multiple wrecks on I-5 tangle traffic around Chehalis, Centralia, show dog escapes onto freeway” from Tuesday February 19, 2013, here


Steeler is crated up for a ride to the veterinarian after being rescued. / Courtesy photo by Harry Oakes



The Rodgers’ 1999 Freightliner motor home after Tuesday’s collision on Interstate 5. / Courtesy photo by Nathan Hays caught video of when Steeler was located, see it here

Multiple wrecks on I-5 tangle traffic around Chehalis, Centralia, show dog escapes onto freeway

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Grants Towing prepares to disengage one of four vehicles mashed when a motorist cut off other cars to pull over for a trooper stopping her for speeding. / Courtesy photo by Laurie Thorson

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 71-year-old Shelton woman was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and two other occupants of the motor home she was traveling in were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital after a wreck on Interstate 5 in Chehalis today, one of four collisions in the same stretch all during about a 30-minute time frame, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Patricia J. Rodgers, 71, was a passenger in a northbound 1999 Freightliner motor home that struck the rear of a 2012 Kenworth semi near milepost 78, according to the state patrol. It happened just before 11 a.m. when the semi truck changed lanes, according to the patrol.

About 20 minutes earlier, and two miles to the north, a 49-year-old Camas woman caused a four-vehicle wreck when a trooper tried to pull her over and she crossed all lanes of traffic and stopped on the left shoulder, according to troopers. No injuries were reported there, but a Chevrolet Silverado and a Mercedes C350 were totaled, the investigating trooper reported.

The only Lewis County driver in that wreck was Kristen M. Klein, 53, of Chehalis, who reportedly escaped without damage to herself or her Audi.

Klein was among the three vehicles that stopped to avoid the Camas woman and then a semi truck coming up from behind struck them, according to the patrol.

Trooper Will Finn said as this was going on, a southbound vehicle at milepost 83 in Centralia ran into a construction barrel; and then a box van and a dump truck collided near Centralia’s Mellen Street interchange.

All lanes were opened by about 1:20 p.m., according to the state Department of Transportation.

The driver of the motor home, Donald E. Rodgers, 66, and a passenger, 18-year-old Debra A. Carter of Lacey, were transported to Providence Centralia Hospital with unspecified injuries.

The motor home was carrying about a half dozen show dogs, and a whippet that was not inside a kennel escaped onto the roadway and is missing, according to Finn.

The cause of that collision remains under investigation.


Steeler, the missing whippet. /  Courtesy photo

Wounded home intruder’s condition deteriorating, deputies relieved of guard duty to cut costs

Friday, February 15th, 2013


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 51-year-old man shot in the abdomen when he was found inside someone else’s home over the weekend has taken a turn for the worse, so the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office released him from their custody to avoid being responsible for paying for his medical treatment.

Brian L. Creed was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after the early Sunday morning incident at a house on the 400 block of Highway 603 west of Chehalis.

A news release from the sheriff’s office later that morning described his condition as stable although a nursing supervisor at the hospital that afternoon said Creed was in critical condition.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher in court documents filed yesterday asked a judge to cancel a planned court appearance noting Creed could be laid up for as much as a month.

Meagher stated he was told by Sheriff Steve Mansfield yesterday morning Creed was going to require surgery to repair internal damage to his intestines from the gunshot.

The hospital bills are staggering, there’s no sense sticking the taxpayers with them, Meagher wrote.

Creed was charged on Wednesday in Lewis County Superior Court with burglary and misdemeanor assault for allegedly entering the unlocked home of 24-year-old Joshua Norman and his wife and then charging Norman who was armed.

The sheriff’s office said Norman fired one shot with a 40 caliber handgun and then Creed tackled him. Norman broke free and held Creed at gunpoint until deputies arrived shortly after 5 a.m., according to the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Mansfield held a press conference on Monday morning where he shared the findings of the initial investigation and said it was a straightforward case of the use of deadly force. Meagher told news reporters it appeared the 24-year-old acted appropriately in protecting himself and his wife.

Mansfield said Norman’s only mistake was not firing more shots, not firing sooner and not using better ammunition.

Creed was high methamphetamine, according to Mansfield. The sheriff said he, and probably Creed, didn’t know why he went into the house.

Sheriff’s deputies had been guarding Creed at the hospital.

Jail Chief Kevin Hanson said this morning Creed is now being watched by hospital security instead of the sheriff’s office.

“He’s not going anywhere, he’s not a threat to the community,” Hanson said.

Creed is on a feeding tube and in the critical care unit, according to Meagher.

By law, the hospital must notify them when he is to be released and the sheriff’s office will go pick him up, Hanson said.

The charging documents filed in court this week tell a similar story to what the sheriff’s office has already recounted.

Norman woke up to voices outside and thought someone was in his garage because a motion activated light turned on, the documents state.

He told his wife to call 911 and armed himself, Meagher wrote.

The encounter was described by Sheriff Mansfield as occurring while Norman stood outside his closed bedroom door.

However, Meagher states in court documents it happened in the kitchen.

According to Meagher, when Norman heard his front door open and someone walk inside, he went to the kitchen and flipped on the light.

He saw a lone, white male unknown to him, Meagher wrote.

Norman ordered the intruder out, at gunpoint, telling him would be shot if he didn’t leave, Meagher wrote.

The intruder charged, Norman fired his gun, they wrestled, Norman broke free and held Creed at gunpoint until deputies arrived, according to Meagher.

Norman suffered a bump on his head in what the sheriff called a fight for his life as the two men rolled around on the floor.

Sheriff Mansfield has repeatedly described Norman not by his  name, but as the home owner. County property records however show the owner is another man and woman. Mansfield said earlier this week he didn’t know who owned the house and didn’t mean to use the term as literally true.

Creed has two felony theft convictions and a trespass conviction from 2009 as well as one misdemeanor theft conviction from 2011 and another from last year, according to court documents. He also currently has an active warrant out of Cowlitz County District Court, the documents state.

The new burglary charge does not allege he was attempting to steal, but that he unlawfully entered the home and committed the crime of assault while inside.

Mansfield said Creed recently moved back into a nearby house, at 110 Nix Road, a residence that had been the source of great fear in the neighborhood. It’s owner and former lease holder say he may have been visiting, but has never lived there.

It was home to several men transitioning out of prison until last summer when the county pressured it to close its doors.

Documents in Creed’s court file show his address on Clark Road near Onalaska.

Creed has a court date of April 23 to face a judge and hear his charges.

CORRECTION: This news story has been updated to correctly reflect the date Creed is summonsed to appear in court.


For background, read “Lewis County sheriff pronounces full support for shooter of intruder” from Tuesday February 12, 2013, here

Another Lewis County marijuana garden shut down

Friday, February 15th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Centralia police drug investigation led officers today to a home in south Chehalis where they seized more than 150 marijuana plants growing indoors.

Sgt. Jim Shannon said their SWAT team at about 2 p.m. visited a couple who live on the 100 block of Terra Bonita Drive, off Hillcrest Road.

The two were arrested without incident, he said.

It was a “pretty garden variety” operation, Shannon said.

Justin Currier and Amber Leonard tried to present a medical marijuana “script” but they weren’t in compliance with those rules, according to Shannon.

The case grew out of an investigation that began early last month, he said. Police, through informants, have purchased marijuana from them, something that’s not okay in the world of medicinal pot, according to Shannon.

It was only a month ago when Shannon and his team confiscated another indoor crop, consisting of 90 plants at a home on Seminary Hill Road in Centralia. In that case, a pair of brothers were charged with supplying product to medical marijuana dispensaries around the state.

Officers were at the scene today until until about 4 p.m. collecting evidence. The plants were in various stages of growth, he said.

Currier and Leonard, ages not readily available, were to be booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession with intent deliver; and he was additionally to be booked for delivery of marijuana and delivery of narcotics, pills, Shannon said late this afternoon.

Lewis County sheriff pronounces full support for shooter of intruder

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Sheriff Steve Mansfield describes what occurred inside the home off Highway 603 after the armed resident confronted a stranger.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County prosecutor sent a message yesterday, regarding the weekend incident in which a rural Chehalis resident shot and injured a nighttime intruder inside his house.

It appears he acted appropriately in protecting himself and his wife, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said, speaking for his boss, Jonathan Meyer who was out of town.

Meagher said their office will still review the situation, as they will any time someone shoots someone else.

Deputies were called about 4:45 a.m. on Sunday to the 400 block of Highway 603 where the 24-year-old resident said he was asleep with his wife and heard someone talking outside, the person came in the home and then charged him as he stood outside his bedroom door, according to the sheriff’s office.

The identity of the 24-year-old man who fired one shot with a 40 caliber handgun has not been released.

“This is about as straightforward of a case of use of deadly force as we’ve had in a longtime,” Sheriff Steve Mansfield told a press conference yesterday at the Lewis County Law and Justice Center in Chehalis.

“As a matter of fact, about the only thing I could say the victim could have done better is he could have fired sooner, fired more often and he could have used a better brand of ammunition,” Mansfield told the gathering.

The gun shot victim was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with a bullet wound to his lower abdomen, according to the sheriff’s office. Brian L. Creed, 51, was listed in critical condition on Sunday at mid-day, but by yesterday the hospital claimed he was not listed on its patient directory.

Creed is in the sheriff’s office custody for a probable burglary charge, according to Mansfield. He is at the hospital, but under the full time watch of a deputy, he said.

What Creed was doing in the couple’s manufactured home isn’t clear.

Mansfield said Creed lives on nearby Nix Road and appeared to be highly under the influence of drugs, probably methamphetamine.

The couple’s door had been left unlocked, according to the sheriff.

When the young man told him to stop, to get on the ground, Creed came at him with his arms up in the air, Mansfield said. That’s when the young man fired, according to Mansfield.

“The victim found himself in a fight for his life,” Mansfield said, describing the two men as rolling around on the floor until the resident broke free and held Creed at gun point until deputies arrived.

Mansfield said Creed made comments that “led one to believe he probably didn’t know why he was there in the purest sense of the matter.”

The young man was uninjured, but got a bump on his head, according to the sheriff’s office.

Mansfield emphasized to the gathered news reporters yesterday that the public needs to realize his deputies are not likely to be present at the moment one needs them most.

Whether it means getting a gun or not for protection, folks need to take personal responsibility for their own safety, Mansfield said.

“People need to think through these sorts of things,” he said.

The exterior of the home where this occurred was well lit, according to the sheriff.

Under furthering questioning, Mansfield said people need to always consider if a reasonable person in the same situation would use deadly force.

“It has to be for your life, or another life threatened,” Mansfield said. “It can’t be for your property.”

The young couple, and their neighborhood, happened to be very well prepared, the sheriff said.

They have a block watch group that became very active last year when they realized a three-bedroom house on Nix Road was home to several men transitioning out of prison.

The county pressured it to close it doors, which it did soon after the county filed a civil suit last July regarding alleged zoning violations.

Sheriff Mansfield and block watch captain Bradd Reynolds said yesterday that Creed had recently moved back into the house. He isn’t and hasn’t been a tenant there however, according to the property owner Janice Thompson and the former manager of transition homes, Judy Chafin-Williams.

Thompson said she understands Creed is acquainted with her renters and does visit there. She said she didn’t know much more about him, except she thinks a single man.

“This is the nightmare we all talked about,” Reynolds said of Sunday’s encounter the young couple had with Creed.

The former police officer says he tells neighbors to get guns, but learn how and when to use them.

Mansfield said Creed is a convicted felon and has some misdemeanors, mostly from Cowlitz County.

“Some, I believe some drugs, thefts,” Mansfield said. “Nothing violent like we saw here.”

Hear an excerpt from the 911 call, here

For background, read “Twenty-four-year-old Chehalis man shoots, wrestles with intruder” from Sunday February 10, 2013, here


New no trespassing signs have gone up outside the rural Chehalis home

Twenty-four-year-old Chehalis man shoots, wrestles with intruder

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Updated at 1:35 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A rural Chehalis resident shot and injured an intruder outside his bedroom door overnight.

Deputies were called about 4:45 a.m. to the 400 block of Highway 603 where the 24-year-old resident said he was asleep with his wife and heard someone talking outside, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

He armed himself with a pistol and a subject somehow got inside, according to the sheriff’s office.

“The suspect, Brian L. Creed, 51, of Chehalis entered the residence and started down the hallway towards the homeowner who was standing in front of his bedroom door to protect his wife in their bedroom,” the sheriff’s office stated in a news release.

Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said the resident told Creed to stop, but Creed charged him.

The resident fired one shot but was then tackled; the resident broke free and held Creed at gunpoint until deputies arrived shortly after 5 a.m., according to Brown.

The sheriff’s office says Creed had been using methamphetamine earlier; he recently moved into a house nearby off Nix Road.

Brown said the intruder was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in stable condition. The 24-year-old resident was reportedly uninjured.

A nursing supervisor at the hospital said Creed is in critical condition.

Detectives were on the scene this morning conducting an investigation, according to Brown.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield scheduled a news conference for tomorrow and issued a prepared statement.

“My office works very hard in ensuring people feel safe and secure in Lewis County, however; people have to be prepared to protect themselves in situations like this in their own homes,” Mansfield stated. ”Our response times are as fast we can make them but there may be a time when you are by yourself and you are forced to make a life or death decision to protect yourself and your family, like this man did.”

Centralia man dead after allegedly displaying a knife

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Police tried for at least an hour and half to get a allegedly knife-wielding man to come outside before storming the home.

Updated at 7:49 p.m. and 8:46 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – An hours-long standoff on North Tower Avenue in Centralia ended early this evening when police entered a home and found the subject deceased.

Police Chief Bob Berg said it began with a 57-year-old Centralia man reportedly threatening his wife and sister with a knife. William L. Thomas was suicidal, police said.

When an officer arrived to the house, just north of Fourth Street, Thomas emerged with a butcher knife and then retreated inside, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Thomas’s mother, sister, wife and a family friend were outside and were taken away from the area by police.

Crowds gathered at both ends of the block, which were strung with yellow police tape, and listened as police used a loudspeaker to coax the man outside. A gray armored vehicle parked on the street in front of his home.

Some nearby residents had been asked to leave their homes.

After an hour and half of attempted negotiations, the SWAT team entered and found the man deceased, Berg said. Police later said Thomas is 58 years old.

Detectives are at the scene conducting an investigation, treating it as a crime scene, the chief said. Police didn’t say how Thomas died, only that his cause of death is unknown.

Chief Berg said the department has a “history” with the Thomas, and he was about to go to jail for assaulting one of Berg’s officers. Yesterday, he was upset about a city light crew in the alley behind his house, Berg said.

When officers first arrived about 1:30 p.m., Thomas threatened to stab one of his female family members in the heart, according to police.

This afternoon, officers used various mean to entice him outside, shooting tear gas into the home numerous times before finally breaking through the front door.

They never got any response from him, Berg said.

Tower Avenue, a main route through town, was reopened about 6 p.m.

It was back at the end of April when Thomas was arrested for reportedly grabbing an officer’s arm and slamming it into a gate when police responded to a dispute at the 1000 block of North Tower Avenue. Thomas filed a claim against the city saying the two officers assaulted him damaging his glasses and injuring him.


North Tower Avenue was taped off between Fourth and Fifth streets until around 6 p.m. tonight.



SWAT members creep onto the front porch.


Chehalis firefighter’s synthetic marijuana case ends with misdemeanor

Friday, February 8th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Former Chehalis firefighter Adam Myer was sentenced yesterday to one day in jail in connection with an issue involving the synthetic marijuana called “Spice”.

Myer resigned from the fire department last autumn after an investigation in which Spice wrappers were found in the trash in the fire station building.


Adam Myer

He pleaded guilty in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday to misdemeanor use of drug paraphernalia. A felony count of possession of the controlled substance was dropped.

The synthetic marijuana is one of numerous similar products that used to be available legally for purchase over the counter.

As part of yesterday’s proceedings, the 43-year-old also pleaded guilty to an unrelated separate charge of driving under the influence of Spice.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher told the judge that as the drug investigation unfolded, he learned of the DUI that occurred on Sept. 9, 2011.

It involved a private vehicle, not a fire truck, Meager said. Myer denied using the drug during work hours.

For the DUI, Judge Richard Brosey sentenced Myer to the maximum of 364 days in jail with all but one of the days suspended for two years.

Brosey imposed almost $2,000 in fines and noted Myer’s driver’s license would be suspended for 90 days.

Myer has said he never knowingly purchased anything illegal. Outside the courtroom, he said it was a fair outcome, with the change in his offense from a felony to a misdemeanor.

“They adjudicated it properly,” he said.

He was ordered to report to jail on Feb. 19.


For background, read: “Synthetic marijuana found at Chehalis fire station building” from Friday October 26, 2012, here

Potential plea agreement in the works for Chehalis bar fight stabbing suspect

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A plea deal has been offered for the Centralia woman charged with a stabbing outside a Chehalis bar, but her lawyer said he hasn’t yet had time to present it to her.

Lena A. Castillo, 24, remains in the Lewis County Jail since a fight last month outside Garbe’s Bar and Grill on Northwest Chehalis Avenue.


Lena A. Castillo

Castillo is charged with first-degree assault.

Prosecutors allege the victim started the physical altercation but that Castillo continued attacking 22-year-old Ashley Stewart with small knife after Stewart stopped fighting and was on the ground.

Both females are from Centralia.

Castillo was in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon where defense attorney Mike Underwood said he wanted to push her trial date out farther into the future.

Underwood told the judge he needs to get an investigator to see if there were other witnesses, he needs time to sit down and go over all the materials and he hasn’t yet spoken with his client about the plea deal extended by prosecutors.

Judge James Lawler suggested instead the parties return to court next Thursday.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead declined outside the courtroom to say what the deal was.

Stewart was treated for four stab wounds to her stomach and one to each leg and was expected to make a full recovery. Castillo told police the Jan. 12 dispute was about her ex-boyfriend.

Chehalis police called the fight mutual combat and said after the arrest they couldn’t prove who owned the pair of brass knuckles that turned up in the restroom where the stabbing victim was tended to by friends.

Castillo has pleaded not guilty.

For background, read:

• “Police: “Mutual combat” between two women in Saturday assault outside bar” from Monday January 14, 2013 at 12:19 p.m., here

Centralia resident escapes injury when propane heater explodes inside house

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Crews prepare to help salvage belongings after a fire damaged the front portion of a Centralia house, to the right of the fire trucks, this afternoon.


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – A malfunctioning space heater ignited a house fire in north Centralia today that claimed the lives of three cats and will temporarily displace the couple who live there.

Firefighters called just after 3 p.m. to Windsor Avenue just south of Fulton Street were told of reports of explosions and two people inside the single-story home, and then told it was only one person.

“When we got here, he was outside, thank goodness,”  Riverside Fire Authority Assistant Chief Mike Kytta said.

Crews then proceeded to attack the fire, he said.

The man who lives there had been starting up a propane heater when it emitted flames, according to Kytta said. He threw it out onto the porch, Kytta said.

He was uninjured, but treated by medics for minor smoke inhalation.

The couple had four cats, three of which did not survive, according to the fire department. One of them was administered aid and oxygen. A local veterinarian took the cat and other animals to board them. The Red Cross was summoned to assist the couple.

Crews were still on the scene after 5 p.m. preparing to check again for smoldering and help retrieve some belongings that weren’t ruined.

Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal Rick Mack said the bulk of the fire damage is in the front room, just inside the front door. He estimated the loss to the home and contents at $74,000.

Mack said the propane heater developed a failure in its supply line. It was hooked up to a 20-gallon cylinder of fuel, he said.

The heater wasn’t the kind he sees often, but similar to a type one might use to heat a garage or shop, he said.

Trial postponed in Centralia’s B Street homicide due to change in defense strategy

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Weston G. Miller mostly just listens as attorneys and the judge discuss his upcoming murder trial in Lewis County Superior Court.

Updated at 5:56 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – With just a week before his trial is set to begin, the former welder who fatally shot a houseguest inside his Centralia home has decided not to attempt to get an acquittal based on insanity, but on straight self defense.

Weston G. Miller, 30, and his lawyer went before a Lewis County Superior Court judge this morning to discuss how the change meant they need to postpone his trial.

“I hope the court would realize, it’s like starting over, basically from scratch,” Centralia attorney J.P. Enbody told the judge.

Enbody said it meant dealing with different experts, different criteria and different facts.

Judge Richard Brosey granted the delay but wasn’t happy.

Miller is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old David Wayne Carson.

Police called the afternoon of March 13 to Miller’s house on B Street found Carson dead with two bullet wounds in his chest and chased down Miller who had left in a pickup truck. Officers were told Carson and his girlfriend Sara Delsavo had been arguing and Miller told them to stop it.

Miller has claimed self defense from the beginning.

He said Carson came at him with a knife in his hand, but Delsavo said her boyfriend was unarmed, according to charging documents.

Among the further work to be done mentioned this morning was the defense getting an expert to review the autopsy findings regarding gun powder residue and the proximity of the two men to each other.

The trial has been repeatedly pushed into the future as attorneys have dealt with examinations by doctors about Miller’s competence to stand trial and his mental state at the time of the shooting.

Last month the court was informed he wanted to plead not guilty by reason of insanity and a hearing was planned so a judge could hear from experts on both sides. It’s cancelled.

Miller is also charged with several counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm as detectives say when they searched his home, they found a a MAC-10 semi-automatic and four other guns.

Miller’s previous domestic violence assault means he’s prohibited from possessing firearms.

Centralia police also allegedly discovered a silencer and a bullet-proof vest in the house.

The trial, which is expected to last five days or less, is now scheduled for the week on April 15.

For background, read “B Street homicide: Defendant says self defense” from Wednesday March 14, 2012, here

Sheriff’s Office: Ashford man wanted for attacking roommate with power drill

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Law enforcement officers are looking for a 55-year-old Ashford man who allegedly held a cordless drill to the neck of his female roommate last night as she tried to shield her 4-year-old child.


Robert C. Sliger

Robert C. Sliger is wanted for first-degree assault as well as an outstanding warrant, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies were called to the home on the 100 block of Nisqually Way about 11:15 p.m. yesterday where they say the two had a disagreement about Sliger eating all the donuts.

The 27-year-old woman said her roommate threw pieces of firewood at her head and then followed her onto the porch as she attempted to call 911 and beat her with a metal bar, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sliger had left the residence before deputies arrived.

“She said that he then set the bar down and picked up a yellow cordless drill,” Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. “She said as she was trying to shield her 4-year-old daughter, he pulled the trigger on the drill and pushed it towards her throat until it was less than half an inch away from her throat.”

The victim had a large knot on her forehead and an injury to her elbow but declined medical aid, Brown said.

Sliger is known to live in both Lewis and Pierce counties, according to Brown.

The sheriff’s office said they learned of another attack over food occurred about a month ago.

The woman said Sliger struck her in the side of her head several times after she confronted him about eating her daughter’s Fruit Loops, Brown said.

Judge will hear Onalaskan’s request to toss his murder convictions this coming September

Monday, February 4th, 2013

John Allen Booth Jr. smiles at acquaintances in the Chehalis courtroom this afternoon while waiting for the judge to take the bench.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Convicted triple murderer John Allen Booth Jr. was escorted by three jail guards when he returned to a Lewis County courtroom today, casting grins to a small sprinkling of acquaintances who were seated in the otherwise mostly empty gallery.

The former Onalaskan was sentenced a little more than a year ago to life without the possibility of release for the August 2010 slayings of two men and a teenage boy, as well as shooting a woman in the face. Prosecutors said it came about because Booth and his former cell mate were “taxing” 52-year-old David West Sr. on behalf of Lewis County drug dealer Robbie Russell.

Booth, 33, filed a post-trial motion from prison asking a judge to vacate his judgement and sentence.

He appeared in Lewis County Superior Court today to set a date for a hearing. His lawyer said it could last for two days.

“Definitely I’m comfortable setting this even in September,” defense attorney Erik Kupka told the judge. “First of all, I don’t know exactly yet what I’m getting into.”

Kupka and an office partner of his, both based in Aberdeen, were appointed by the court just last week to represent Booth in his challenge.

The attorney said he met with his new client for the previous hour inside the jail, and indicated there was a lot of material to digest.

Judge Richard Brosey scheduled the hearings for the week of Sept. 2.

“That works for me, I guess, I’m kind locked up,” Booth offered to the judge.

Booth continued on addressing the judge directly, asking what was going to be done about undisclosed DNA evidence and other issues.

Brosey told Booth to speak to his attorney, not to him.

Booth is incarcerated at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. The judge offered to hold him in the local jail for a week, so his lawyers could have easier access to meet with him.

According to testimony and evidence in the eight-day trial, Booth was visiting West Sr. at West’s Salkum-Onalaska area home when West brought out a shotgun to get him to leave and Booth shot him with a 9 mm handgun. Prosecutors said the shootings that followed were executions to eliminate witnesses.

Losing their lives that day, along with West Sr., were 16-year-old David “D.J.” West Jr. and 50-year-old Tony Williams of Randle. West Sr.’s girlfriend, Denise Salts, survived.

Booth denied even being present, but a jury took only two hours to convict him of murder, attempted murder, attempted extortion and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

He was sentenced under the state’s so-called three strikes law.

For background, read “Salkum triple murder: Victims cry, defendant lashes out at sentence hearing” from Friday December 16, 2011, here

Centralia medical marijuana dispensary case winding down

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

David Low, right, sits with his attorney Don Blair as he is sentenced in connection with Hub City Natural Medicine

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The first of four people arrested after police raided what they said was a marijuana dispensary in downtown Centralia was sentenced yesterday to two days in jail.

With two days credit for time served, essentially no time, Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher told a judge yesterday afternoon.

Hub City Natural Medicine opened with a city-granted business license on South Tower Avenue in early 2011. It was shut down in late April of that year after police realized what “education and sales of natural medicine” meant and said they twice caught a worker selling marijuana there.

At the time, some cities in Washington, such as Tacoma, allowed dispensaries of medical marijuana to operate, where, in theory, patients with authorizations make donations to obtain cannabis.

“In five years, maybe what Mr. Low was doing would be legal,” Meagher told the court. “It wasn’t then, and it isn’t now.”

Meagher and defense attorney Don Blair reached a plea agreement in the case of 38-year-old David Low, of Centralia.

Low and two other individuals alleged to be the owners were charged with maintaining a premises for using controlled substances.

He pleaded guilty yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court, with a so-called Alford plea, to attempting to maintain a premises for using controlled substances.

“I think everybody agrees the laws are kind of in flux,” Blair told the judge. “I’m confident at least within five years, all of this will be legal.”

Judge Nelson Hunt was told Low was attempting to start an educational business to teach people to grow marijuana and both sides agreed he never gave any to anyone.

Low, who is also known as the “Dirty Cop Enforcer”, maintains a web site where he berates what he sees as injustices committed by public officials, and in particular police officers.

He said he started the crusade after a traffic stop in late 2011 and what he says was the wrongful turning off of his video camera by a Centralia officer.

Low told the judge he thought his case grew out of a misunderstanding of his role and a “lot of stereotyping.”

“I never intended to commit a crime there,” Low told Judge Hunt. “I have to take responsibility.”

Hunt accepted the plea and sentencing recommendation and told Low he was free to leave, after providing a DNA sample to jail staff.

The crime is an unranked felony, meaning it has a sentence of up to 365 days, according to Meagher.

Still awaiting trials are Lauri Spangler, 47, and Colby Cave, 35, of Curtis. They remain charged with maintaining a premises for using controlled substances. A charge of possession of a stolen ATV that grew out of a search of their property has been dropped, Meagher said.

Daniel J. Mack, 41, who was arrested during the April 20, 2011 raid of Hub City Natural Medicine for delivery and possession of marijuana, pleaded guilty in June. He has yet to be sentenced, according to Meagher.

Mack was persuaded to testify against the others, Meagher said.

For background, read “Centralia police seize computers, products at medical marijuana business” from Thursday April 21, 2011, here