Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

Former owners of Morton horses charged with animal cruelty

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Terry L. Simmons, left, and his wife Joanne M. Simmons, listen to attorneys when they go before a Lewis County Superior Court judge.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Morton couple has been charged with animal cruelty in connection with their horses which were seized in September by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Joanne M. Simmons, 65, and Terry L. Simmons, 58, said they were shocked to find notice of criminal charges in their mail when they returned home today from out of town.

Sheriff’s deputies and county code enforcement workers visited the property on the  800 block of state Route 7 numerous times before finally taking nine of their animals in late September, describing them as dehydrated and severely malnourished, according to court documents.

“They came and acted like they were trying to help,”  Joanne Simmons said after appearing briefly before a judge.


Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

The couple said they are Kiger Mustangs, descended from wild horses and are built unlike ordinary horses. Some they had “rescued”, they said.

“We were in the process of giving them away because we had too many,” Terry Simmons said this afternoon. He noted finding good homes takes some time.

The couple said their animals got quality feed, but county authorities say differently.

During one visit, a code enforcement employee noted four bales were placed so the horses had to fight to eat, and the  smaller horses were being trampled, according to charging documents.

“A few had bandages,” the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office wrote.

They are each charged with six counts of first-degree animal cruelty, an allegation that with criminal negligence the animals were starved or dehydrated which caused substantial physical pain that lasted long enough to cause considerable suffering. Those are felonies.

They are also charged with two counts of second-degree animal cruelty, alleging at the very least they knowingly allowed them to live in conditions that caused unnecessary pain. Those are misdemeanors.

The couple appeared before Judge James Lawler this afternoon; he allowed them to remain free on $5,000 signature bonds.

Temporary defense attorney Bob Schroeter told the judge they didn’t qualify for court-appointed attorneys, as Terry Simmons earned $8,000 a month with the Boeing Co.

The charges filed on Oct. 29 in Lewis County Superior Court offer some of the following details in their allegations:

In April, a deputy responding to a complaint of horse malnourishment noted some of the animals looked thin, but not in distress.

The following month, the county code enforcement supervisor and the animal shelter manager observed one of the horses in the field had protruding rib and hip bones. At that time, Joanne Simmons told them the skinny horse normally got grain, but they were out it.

In mid-September, a code enforcement employee visited again and said she could see rib and hip bones on many of the horses.

A week later, when a deputy and a veterinarian showed up, the Simmons allowed the animals to be examined.

The vet checked 18 horse and found some of them scored very low on a scale to document their well-being.

Horse number 707 suffered from chronic malnutrition; it was said to be three years old but appeared as though it were a yearling, Dr. Patricia Arnold noted.

One that was extremely underweight was likely pregnant, another had a chronic cough, a four-year-old was the size of a yearling, she reported.

A 27-year-old that scored a one on a scale of one to five was seriously emaciated and dehydrated. It was euthanized with the consent of the Simmons.

The sheriff’s office said it didn’t appear the couple really understood how bad of condition they were in.

Nine horses were taken from the Simmons on Sept. 30, according to charging documents. The sheriff’s office said at the time the removal of the horses occurred on Sept. 28.

The couple this afternoon said they’ve owned horses since the 1980s.

They knew the 27-year-old horse was dying of old age, they said. The time just hadn’t been quite right yet to put her down, according to Simmons.

Five private groups – Dwelly Farm, Hope for Horses, Pasado’s Safe Haven, Good Life Stables, Hooved Animal Rescue of Thurston County – and the Lewis County Animal Shelter assisted in the removal and foster care of the horses.

The sheriff’s office said at the time of the seizure that donations of feed and grain were needed and could be made to the shelter.

The Simmons arraignments are scheduled for Nov. 21.

For background, read: “Authorities impound nine malnourished horses from Morton couple” from  Monday October 1, 2012, here

Lewis County owner of seized foxhounds charged with 66 misdemeanors

Monday, November 12th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Prosecutors filed criminal charges against the 79-year-old Dryad woman from whom dozens of foxhounds were seized last month.

The 65 dogs which included 18 puppies were living in what authorities called deplorable conditions, most seemingly well enough fed but in kennels which were overrun with feces and breeding amongst themselves.


Nancy Punches

Two of the animals are fox terriers – the rest foxhounds – belonging to Nancy Punches who resides on River Road.

Multiple charges were filed on Friday in Lewis County District Court in Chehalis. Punches will receive a summons to appear in court for an arraignment.

One dead puppy was found when numerous animal control employees, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and at least one non-profit rescue group rounded up the canines on October 19.

The following day, at least three puppies were euthanized because of positive tests for Parvo Virus, and five of the 17 dogs taken to  Pasado’s Safe Haven in Snohomish County tested positive for a parasite called Giardia which is deadly to puppies, according to charging documents.

Punches said in an interview she didn’t intend for the animals to multiply, but their fencing had deteriorated. Authorities said they did not think she was selling them.


Punches’ dog kennel Oct. 19, 2012

The longtime breeder of show dogs admitted she realized it was bad, saying the situation got away from her as she works long hours out of town – and that it’s hard to find good help.

According to Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher, the law doesn’t necessarily protect someone who has good intentions.

Punches is charged with 65 counts of second-degree animal cruelty, alleging at the very least she knowingly allowed them to live in conditions that caused unnecessary pain.

She is also charged with one violation of another state law regarding dog breeding: keeping more than 10 dogs who are able to reproduce in enclosures without meeting certain conditions regarding sanitation, lighting, fire safety measures, protection from extreme temperatures, and being kept separate from other animals with whom they’re not compatible.

All are misdemeanors with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail or a $5,000 fine or both.

Three of the foxhounds are survivors of the December 2007 flood when Punches lost her home and 16 champion show dogs to the Chehalis River.

A foxhound named Hawk saved himself, while two of them were five-week-old pups she placed in a styrofoam shipping container when floodwaters inside her home rose to within inches of her ceiling. Punches nearly lost her own life as well.

Punches said last month she refused an offer from the Lewis County Animal Shelter in which she could get back four of the dogs if they were fixed as long as she signed away rights to the rest of the dogs. She said they are valuable to the breed.

Punches couldn’t be reached for comment this weekend.

Charging documents describe that on the day the animals were confiscated, a deputy could not see the floor of some kennels because the water, mud and feces was so deep.

A veterinarian there that day said the unsanitary conditions subjected the animals to contagious viral and bacterial diseases which would or could cause considerable suffering, according to the charging documents.

The documents also allege the following:

In the indoor kennel building, the deputy found four dogs standing on top of garbage, mud and feces.

In one pen, eight nine-week-old puppies had no overhead shelter, and appeared very thin. Four of them were lethargic, one had diarrhea and one was dead.

The veterinarian at  Pasado’s Safe Haven noted several of the dogs had minor wounds and she saw signs of signs of abuse, including a strong fear of humans.

Punches had described some of them as “unsocialized”.

Lewis County does not require kennels to be licensed but does prohibit individuals from keeping more than 50 unaltered dogs, although there is no limit on the number of puppies.

State law requires breeders with more than 10 unaltered dogs to meet certain conditions.

For background, read: “Aged flood survivor loses her stock of prize-winning canines for the second time” from Sunday October 21, 2012, here

Breaking news: Winlock man admits he touched girl in campground restroom

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Reginald L. Juntunen pleads guilty to child molestation in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Winlock man accused of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl in a Mossyrock area campground restroom pleaded guilty this afternoon following a deal that will give him a sentence of 25 years to life.

Reginald L. Juntunen, 24, was arrested this summer after he was identified through DNA as a suspect in the unsolved case from September 2007.

Juntunen admitted he had sexual contact with the girl when asked by Judge Richard Brosey what he did  that constituted first-degree child molestation.

His mother, father and sister left the courtroom without comment after the brief hearing.

The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office initially charged him with first-degree rape of a child, but altered the allegations early on to include “or in the alternative, first-degree child molestation.”

At the time, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joely O’Rourke said it was a precaution in case there were discrepancies in the victim’s statement.

The victim just turned 13.

O’Rourke said it was a good outcome in the case and the girl was “really happy” when she learned he would plead guilty.

Chehalis defense attorney Chris Baum said it’s a stiff penalty, but his client faced the possibility of “quite a bit more time” if he went to trial and lost.

Juntunen also pleaded guilty today to unrelated charges from incidents that took place this year; a burglary and selling stolen jewelry.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 12.

“Suspect pleads not guilty to modified charges in Mossyrock sexual assault of girl” from Friday Aug. 3, 2012, here

Centralia slaughterhouse fight involved meathook and boning knife

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Sabino Gomez-Barriga, right, consults with his attorney Bob Schroeter via an interpreter in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Bail was set at $250,000 for the man who allegedly stabbed a co-worker in the throat at a wholesale meat business in Centralia.

Sabino Gomez-Barriga, 35, is jailed and facing a charge of first-degree assault after the incident on Wednesday morning on the 1700 block of Airport Road.

The victim, 21-year-old Jorge Juarez of Centralia, remained in a critical care unit, prosecutors said yesterday.

According to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, it began as an argument between the two men and quickly turned physical. What the disagreement was over hasn’t been disclosed publicly.

Aid crews were summoned about 11:10 a.m. on Wednesday to what they initially were told was an accident and they requested an airlift for the patient, according to Riverside Fire Authority. About 20 minutes later, police from multiple agencies were dispatched, but Gomez-Barriga had fled on foot, charging documents state.

An airplane from the state patrol flew over the area and a tracking dog requested but by about 1 p.m. Gomez-Barriga was located at the San Juan Arms Apartments downtown Chehalis, according to authorities.

Gomez-Barriga said it was an accident and that he got a ride back to his apartment because he was scared, charging documents say.

The Five Star Beef Company alongside Interstate 5 was previously a slaughterhouse called The Beef Shop and before that was Midway Meats. The weapon was described as a sharp boning knife.

Gomez-Barriga spoke with his attorney through a Spanish interpreter when he went before a judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke asked for $500,000 bail arguing a danger to the community and a flight risk.

When police arrived, the suspect was getting into a vehicle saying he was on his way to dinner in Olympia, O’Rourke told the judge. “We think otherwise,” he said.

Defense attorney Bob Schroeter requested $50,000 bail, noting his client has no criminal history and has lived in Chehalis for three years.

“I’m confident there is a lot more to this story that we don’t realize,” Schroeter said. “Especially given the language barrier here.”

Charging documents describe what the sheriff’s office learned from another worker who witnessed the alleged attack.

Juan Lopez said he was working inside the building with the two men when a verbal confrontation began, charging documents state.

They go on to give the following account: Lopez said Juarez struck Gomez-Barriga in the face with his fist and then Gomez-Barriga grabbed a metal meat hook, using the blunt end to begin jabbing Juarez in the abdomen.

Juarez backed away, but Gomez-Barriga grabbed a sharp boning knife that is used at work and stabbed Juarez directly in the throat.

The younger man put his hand on his throat, but when he removed it to open a door and leave, blood started to spurt everywhere.

When Gomez-Barriga was interviewed by a sheriff’s detective and an officer fluent in Spanish, he admitted there was an incident in which his co-worker was injured.

Gomez-Barriga contended he was flailing to try to stab a third person who was holding him from behind when he accidentally stabbed Juarez.

When asked why he didn’t call for help after he was punched or why he escalated to using a deadly weapon, Gomez-Barriga responded there were women at work and he didn’t want to “look like a kid in front of them.”

Riverside Fire Authority Capt. Terry Ternan said people were putting direct pressure on the victim’s wound when aid arrived and he was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital.

On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said the victim was in critical condition, but yesterday morning sheriff’s Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said his injuries were no longer believed to be life-threatening.

The sheriff’ office initially reported Juarez’s age as 30, but yesterday said he was 21.

Charging documents presented in  court yesterday afternoon say Juarez survived his surgery at Providence, but remained intubated, unable to speak and not able to give a statement.

Gomez-Barriga will be back in the courtroom next Thursday to make his pleas.

Toledo driver gives new meaning to ‘over the river and though the woods’

Friday, November 9th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 39-year-old Toledo motorist was rescued after he was stranded as long as two hours this morning when he missed a stop sign in the fog and launched his vehicle off the road, over a creek and into several trees.

It happened at Grimes and Evans roads northeast of Toledo.

The man, whose name was not released, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to Lewis County Fire District 2.

He suffered several traumatic injuries but was alert and oriented when he was found, Fire Chief Grant Wiltbank said.

Wiltbank said it appeared the man had been traveling south on Grimes Road at a fairly high rate of speed when he came to stop sign at the T-intersection.

“He proceeded to glance off several trees and vault over a 20-foot (wide) creek,” Wiltbank said.

The vehicle, so badly damaged the chief couldn’t say what it was, came to rest about 50 feet off the road. Wiltbank wasn’t sure what time the accident occurred.

“He said it took him an hour to find his cell phone, in the dark,” Wiltbank said. “The car was destroyed around him and he was hurt.”

The man called a family member who called 911 about 6:15 a.m., he said.

Responders waded across the approximately three-foot deep icy cold creek to carry him back on a stretcher, the chief said.

It was too foggy for a helicopter, so a plane with medics picked him up at the Centralia-Chehalis Airport to fly him to Seattle.

Wiltbank said despite the injuries, it looks like it turned out miraculously well.

“If he had not found his cell phone and somebody did not know he was missing, the outcome would have been different,” he said.

Top cops: Recreational marijuana rules not yet in place

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Well sure, Initiative 502 has passed but don’t think you can walk down the street and light up a bowl without getting arrested.

For starters, the new law regarding marijuana won’t take effect for 30 days, according to Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg.

And rules have to be written, Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer said.

“The questions are going to be confusing for people and the police,” Schaffer said yesterday. “We’ve been talking about it from a law enforcement perspective all day.”

The police chiefs of the two largest cities in Lewis County indicate they will be getting guidance from their legal advisors and / or other state and federal authorities.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield is looking to the county prosecutor and a communication from the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington for answers.

Its article disseminated yesterday indicates that as of Dec. 6, it will be legal under state law for individuals 21 or older to possess as much as one ounce of marijuana.

But it will be more than a year before licenses are issued to growers, distributors and retailers, according to the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington.

However, the sheriff says: “It is business as usual for us until all this gets finalized.”

The decisions about felony charges, and for misdemeanor crimes when the arrests come from the sheriff’s office and the state patrol in Lewis County are made by the elected prosecutor.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer yesterday morning met with the prosecutor in Thurston County on the topic and is studying the issue.

“We’re going though our analysis, figuring out the impact on us,” Meyer said.

There are still more questions than answers.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and Meyer isn’t certain the feds won’t play a role in how or whether the changes unfold.

“I suspect the federal government will step in and maybe issue an injunction,” he said.

The former defense attorney even hinted some police agencies may choose to continue to view marijuana as illegal.

“The way Arizona as a state enforced federal statutes in the immigration issue,” he said.

Mansfield said he’s disappointed, but as the elected sheriff, he serves the people.

“Lewis County said they don’t want this, but it’s statewide,” he said, referring to the preliminary ballot tallies.

Only 44 percent of Lewis County voters favored the measure, while 55 percent of voters throughout Washington said yes to I-502.

“If the law says this is what we’ll do, this is what we’ll do,” Mansfield said.

For further information:

• Chief Schaffer shared a summary to legislators that shed some light for him. Read it here

• “What’s next for pot use in Washington? It’s a bit hazy” from The Olympian on Wednesday November 7, 2012, here

• “Pot legal Dec. 6, ‘jury is out on what happens’ after that” by The Seattle Times on Wednesday November 7, 2012 at 9:14 p.m. and November 8, 2012 at 3:52 p.m., here

• “Inquiries about pot production, sale flood two state agencies” from The Olympian on Thursday November 8, 2012, here

Remains discovered on Joerk Road in Randle finally ID’d as missing local woman

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Skeletal remains found in Randle last year have been positively identified as a woman who disappeared from her Randle home about a mile and a half away several months before.

Trisha McKenzie-Fire

The Lewis County Coroner’s Office said this morning they are those of 58-year-old Trisha McKenzie-Fire.

The determination was made through a joint effort by a forensic anthropologist in King County and a local dentist who specializes in making identification through teeth, according to Coroner Warren McLeod.

McKenzie-Fire was reported missing by her live-in boyfriend in April 2011. Kent Anderson said he woke up one morning and she was gone from their home on Silverbrook Road, although she left her purse behind. Human remains were found the following September in a field on Joerk Road in Randle.

The cause and manner of her death remain under investigation, according to McLeod.

Anderson has since died. McLeod said all efforts to locate and notify McKenzie-Fire’s next-of-kin have been unsuccessful

For background, read: “Breaking news: Human remains found in Randle” from Monday Sept. 26,  2011, here

Judge says no to prisoner’s self-crafted motion to dismiss Morton homicide conviction

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Jack Silverthorne is unrepresented in Lewis County Superior Court as he asks a judge to dismiss his manslaughter conviction.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 21-year-old sent off to prison last year after admitting he fatally punched a 16-year-old Morton boy in the head was back in court yesterday, asking to be set free.

Jack A. Silverthorne, now 22, filed a motion in Lewis County Superior Court from his cell at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Eastern Washington.

“It’s based on he’s never been in trouble before, and he was encouraged to take the plea,” his mother Kathryn Silverthorne said.

Silverthorne said her son rightfully ought to have been convicted of something less than he was, but didn’t understand, and just did what his defense attorney told him to do.


Austin King

The Renton resident was arrested in November 2010 in connection with the death of Austin King that summer.

The 16-year-old vanished from his family’s home in the Tilton River Mobile Home Park early on June 23 and was the subject of a month-long search headed up by volunteers. His body was found some 10 miles away off a logging road outside Morton.

Silverthorne was staying with his grandmother in the trailer park and was one of two “buddies” Austin was with the last time Austin’s mother saw her son alive.

Since there was no trial, the details of exactly what happened or why were never revealed in court. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office believed there was a fight about a girl.

Pursuant to a plea agreement, Silverthorne pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter – recklessly causing the death of another person – and was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison, the high end of the standard sentencing range for the crime.

He sat before Judge James Lawler yesterday afternoon without an attorney.

The hearing was brief. Silverthorne’s mother and sister were the only spectators in the Chehalis courtroom.

Yesterday was the first time she’d seen her son since he was sentenced early last year, his mother said. He was almost unrecognizable, she said. Since he was locked up, her son has lost a huge amount of weight, she said.

Kathryn Silverthorne said she understands the weight loss is due to medication prescribed after he was diagnosed in jail or prison with bipolar disease.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher objected to the self-crafted motion.

Lawler denied the motion, but noted it was more appropriately filed with the state Court of Appeals as a personal restraint petition. The judge certified the documents to be filed as such.

Outside the courtroom, Meagher said Silverthorne has the right to file the petition, that basically asks to be let out of prison.

But Meagher wasn’t optimistic about that happening.

Personal restraint petitions are usually something filed after someone is found guilty, Meagher said.

“But he pled guilty,” he said.


For background, read “Morton teen homicide case ends with guilty plea” from Saturday May 7, 2011, here

Breaking news: Worker critical after stabbing at Centralia meat plant

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says deputies were searching for a 35-year-old man after he stabbed a co-worker in the neck at the Beef Shop on Airport Road this morning.


Sabino Gomez Barriga

It happened about 11:30 a.m., according to Brown.

The victim is in critical condition at Providence Centralia Hospital, she said.

The suspect, Sabino Gomez Barriga of Chehalis, fled the scene on foot shortly after it occurred, according to Brown. He was taken into custody and is enroute to the Lewis County Jail, according to Brown.

Brown says little is known about the victim at this time. Deputies are waiting for an interpreter to arrive at the hospital to learn more about what occurred, she said.

Centralia drug trafficking informant made “errors in judgement”

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Court documents in the case of Donato Valle Vega shed light on why the 40-something Centralia car lot owner met with federal agents in Borst Park two years ago and then took them to his Harrison Avenue business and showed them pounds of drugs he had hidden in the attic.

Valle Vega was working as an informant with the FBI, assisting with an investigation of members of a Mexican drug trafficking cartel, according to his defense attorney Robert Leen.

After talking with an FBI agent and another from the DEA in early September 2010, Valle Vega admitted he had drugs, told them how much, offered to take them to the business and told them they could search both his car lot and his stash house, Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Thomas and Darwin Roberts wrote in their trial brief.

The agents retrieved approximately four kilos of cocaine and 33 pounds of methamphetamine from Emmanuel Auto Sales that day, according to court documents. Two weeks later Centralia police assisted federal law enforcement officers with the arrest.

Valle Vega was convicted late last month of one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and a second similar count related to methamphetamine, in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

He faces a minimum of 10 years in federal prison when he is sentenced, according to Assistant United States Attorney Thomas.

Both Thomas and Leen declined to talk about the case further until after sentencing.

Leen in his pretrial memo brief however wrote that his client admitted he had drugs the agents didn’t know about, but said he believed if he didn’t appear to go along with the suppliers’ plan it would mean death for him and his family, both in Centralia and in Mexico.

Valle Vega indicated he felt trapped because the men associated with the drugs were in Centralia but that as soon as they left, he gave information about the drugs, Leen wrote.

Leen, who is based in Everett, noted his client may have made some errors in judgement regarding his contacts with the drugs, but said it was out of fear.

The story begins, according to documents in the court file, on Sept. 1, 2010, the day before Valle Vega met with the agents in the Centralia park.

According to the documents: Law enforcement agents observed what they believed were narcotic being loaded into a BMW with Utah license plates at Emmanuel Auto Sales at the 1400 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia.

At least three federal agents met with Valle Vega the following day and took the drugs. Valle Vega told them he’d received the drugs in July and had already distributed one and half kilograms of cocaine in August.

He told them they’d been provided to him by Salome Flores Apodaca, and the source was Apodaca’s brother, Augustine Flores Apodaca. They’d been sent to him concealed in a vehicle that had been brought to his auto sales business on a car hauler from Arizona.

That same day agents and Valle Vega were looking through his attic, Utah State troopers stopped the BMW in Brigham City and subsequently discovered about a pound of methamphetamine tucked into its gas tank.

The agents met with Valle Vega in Kelso a few days later. On Sept 17, they arrested him.

Federal prosecutors set out to prove the Centralia man possessed pounds of drugs that no drug trafficking organization would have provided to a person without the expectation they would be further distributed.

Neither of the trial briefs offer information about who or where Valle Vega’s customers were.

The trial lasted about four days and the jury returned a verdict of guilty as charged.

A forfeiture hearing regarding the property on Harrison Avenue is scheduled for Jan. 4. Sentencing is set for Jan. 25.

Thomas said the minimum term is 10 years in prison.


For background, read “Centralia auto business arrest followed discovery of almost 10 pounds of cocaine” from Wednesday September 29, 2010, here

Autopsy finds lacerations, bullet wounds on man shot by sheriff’s deputy

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Napavine man fatally shot by a Lewis County sheriff’s deputy early Thursday had superficial cuts on the side of his neck and on one wrist but he died from gunshot wounds to his head and stomach, according to the Lewis County Coroner’s Office.

Gregory S. Kaufman, 64, was pronounced dead at the scene off the side of state Route 6 after an encounter with Deputy Matt Wallace around 12:15 a.m.

Wallace said when he approached the parked car near Boistfort to see if the driver needed assistance, a heavily bleeding man lunged out of his vehicle with a large knife, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Few other details have been released; the sheriff’s office says more information will come from an investigation conducted by a team of deputies from surrounding counties.

Coroner Warren McLeod said yesterday the autopsy determined the lacerations did not contribute to Kaufman’s death.

Wallace, a nine year member of the sheriff’s office, is on paid administrative leave as is standard procedure, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sixteen months ago when another Lewis County deputy fatally shot a citizen, it was about a week and a half later when the prosecutor completed his review of the outside investigation as to whether the shooting was justified.

An internal investigation was completed about a week after that.

In that case, Deputy Matt McKnight was cleared, but the family of 33-year-old Steven V. Petersen has recently filed a lawsuit saying McKnight engaged in a ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ approach to law enforcement.

For background, read “Deputy fatally shoots Napavine man on state Route 6″ from Thursday November 1, 2012 at 8:30 a.m., here

Missing Morton man found dead off forest road south of Randle

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

William “Bill” Osborne celebrated his 80th birthday with family in February at his home in Morton. / Courtesy photo

Updated at 3 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The truck belonging to 80-year-old Morton resident William H. Osborne III was found yesterday evening some 600 feet down an embankment off Forest Service Road 26 south of Randle, according to his family.

He didn’t survive.

Dozens of family, friends and law enforcement officers have been combing the roadways of East Lewis County after Osborne was reported missing on Tuesday.

“This is what we were expecting all week, that when he was found he would be gone,” his niece Sharon Hopf of Orting said this morning. “But it’s still not easy.”

Osborne had breakfast with a friend on Monday morning, purchased his deer and elk tag in Morton at mid-day and apparently didn’t return home that night, according to law enforcement.

His son Bill arrived in town on Tuesday for a planned hunting outing and reported him missing. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said he told his friend he would be going hunting at Ryan Lake which is off Forest Service Road 26 south of East Lewis County in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

“They think he was headed there, that’s what they think,” one of Osborne’s five daughters said today. “I don’t think he was going hunting, he didn’t have his rifle. I think he was going scouting.”

The daughter Meloney Olds stayed at his home in Morton this morning while her brother and two of her sisters met with authorities to recover Osborne’s body.

Olds said as many as 30 to 40 people off and on all week have been at the home, a base for search parties.

The son of Cody’s restaurant owner discovered some tire tracks yesterday, she said. “One of our search groups from I-90 Motorsports climbed down,” she said.

They’re assuming it happened quick, which is some comfort, she said.

The New Jersey born man lived near Renton where he retired from the phone company, then moved to Morton in the mid-1990s, according to his family. He has six children, 14 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren, Olds said.

She said her family wanted to make sure everyone understood how grateful they are for looking for their dad.

“He had a friend named Curt, Curt probably put 1,000 miles on his truck this week,” he said.

While Lewis County Search and Rescue never did launch a search mission, Deputy Tim English and a deputy from Skamania County helped organize the family and friends who volunteered to search, she said.

“It’s amazing, the amount of people that came out looking for him,” she said.


For background, read “Be on the lookout: Missing silver pickup, and its elderly driver” from Thursday November 1, 2012, here

Ethel teen arrested for allegedly beating puppy

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

The 5-month-old German shepherd is expected to make a full recovery. / Courtesy photo by The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An intoxicated 19-year-old Lewis County resident was jailed after he allegedly punched a 5-month-old German shepherd in the face and – his family said – may have thrown it against a tree.

A sheriff’s deputy called about 12:45 a.m. today to a home on Oyler Road in Ethel was told Jesse Pegram was out of control and had beaten the family pet.

Pegram was agitated when he was found outside in the street and asked to be arrested, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He said he needed help, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

The dog needed help too.

The puppy suffered injuries to her face and was limping, according to Brown. Her eye was extremely swollen and blood shot, Brown said.

The family had no transportation to take to the animal to be seen, so the deputy contacted a veterinarian who agreed to meet the deputy at the clinic and do an examination, according to Brown.

The doctor found it had a leg injury and apparent head trauma, but no obvious broken bones, according to Brown.

Pegram was checked out at the hospital before being booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree animal cruelty, according to the sheriff’s office.

Brown didn’t say what the teenager was upset about.

But the vet, at Cascade Veterinary Hospital in Centralia, was optimistic the puppy would make a full recovery, Brown said.

Breaking News: Coroner releases name of Napavine man shot by deputy

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Updated at 9:03 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Coroner’s Office this morning identified the man shot by a sheriff’s deputy yesterday as Gregory S. Kaufman.

Kaufman is 64 years old and a Napavine resident.

Coroner Warren McLeod said an autopsy later today should provide answers and details about the cause of death, the number of times he was shot and what were the injuries Deputy Matt Wallace saw that he thought were self-inflicted.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says Deputy Wallace approached Kaufman’s parked car off state Route 6 early yesterday morning and a heavily bleeding man lunged out of the car with a large knife.

The deputy is on paid leave as the shooting is being investigated by a team of outside law enforcement officers.

Coroner McLeod said Kaufman has no family he could find. His office learned from Kaufman’s girlfriend that he is divorced, has no children and his parents are deceased, according to McLeod.


For background, read “Deputy fatally shoots Napavine man on state Route 6″ from Thursday November 1, 2012 at 8:30 a.m., here

Be on the lookout: Missing silver pickup, and its elderly driver

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Osborn drives a silver 2003 Dodge Dakota pickup similar to this one, but with a white utility canopy. A horse logo on one side says “Little Creek Paso Finos”

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

There’s still no sign of 80-year-old William Osborne who was last seen Monday buying a hunting license in Morton, according to police.


William H. Osborne

While a traditional search mission has not been put in place, law enforcement officers have been combing roadways in East Lewis County day and night, Morton Police Department Officer Perry Royle said this evening.

On Tuesday night, Royle and a sheriff’s deputy drove every road on Peterman Hill and around the Cowlitz wildlife area south of Morton, Royle said.

“We covered every single spur road that didn’t have a gate,” he said.

Deputies have been traveling Forest Service roads around Randle and even in the Toutle area, he said.

The Morton man made plans to meet his son in Morton on Tuesday, but when the son showed up, his father was nowhere to be found.

Police are thinking because Osborne is not very mobile, he’ll be with his truck.

They couldn’t get anyone in the air to search for it because of the clouds, Royle said.

Police are hoping to get the truck’s description out to the many elk hunters who will populate the hills beginning this weekend, Royle said.

Osborne drives a silver 2003 Dodge Dakota pickup with a white utility canopy. Its license plate is B67640P.

“We’re still assuming he went shooting or hunting,” Royle said.

Osborne, who lives alone, is 5-feet 8-inches tall and about 185 pounds. His neighbors think he didn’t return home on Monday night. His cell phone was last used around 11:30 a.m. on Monday.

Royle said Osborne’s household is full of family members looking for him as well.

Update: The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says Osborne told a friend at breakfast on Monday he was going to hunt at Ryan Lake, which is off Forest Service Road 26 south of East Lewis County in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

The sheriff’s office asks anyone with any information on his whereabouts to call 911 immediately.


For a little more, read: “Eighty-year-old Morton man not seen since Monday” from Wednesday October 31, 2012 at 10:58 a.m., here

Photo of the missing Kayla Croft-Payne to be featured on long-haul trucks

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Posters featuring Kayla Croft-Payne will travel around the country on sides of trucks.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The face of a missing Chehalis girl will soon be pasted poster-sized on the sides of truck trailers that travel throughout the country.

Kayla Croft-Payne was reported missing on May 5, 2010  by a friend who hadn’t seen or heard from her for several days. She was 18 years old and living outside Chehalis.

Gordon Trucking, in Pacific, will unveil Croft-Payne’s poster on Friday morning adding it to their fleet that highlights missing children from Washington and Oregon.

“The whole idea is just to get, in her case to get her picture out there,” Washington State Patrol Lt. Ron Mead said. “They get a lot of exposure they wouldn’t otherwise get.”

Mead said her image will be placed on multiple trailers.

Gordon Trucking already features other youngsters, such as Kyron Horman, who was 7 years old when he disappeared in Portland. A new age-progressed picture of Kyron and two other children are currently being added to the fleet, according to Mead.

It’s part of a partnership called Homeward Bound, involving private industry and the state patrol, according to Mead.

When Croft-Payne turned 18, she got several thousand dollars from a trust fund and moved into an apartment in Chehalis. Neither her father or her mother knew a lot about the friends their daughter was hanging out with in the months before she vanished.

Last year, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said it had followed tips up into Pierce County, and down into Cowlitz County, saying the last place they could verify she was seen was a trailer park in the Toutle area.

“As long as there is hope, we have a responsibility to keep that hope alive,” Mead said.

For background, read “Kayla Croft-Payne: Missing Lewis County teen’s parents still seeking answers” from Friday March 25, 2011, here


Dan Coon of the state patrol says Kayla Croft-Payne’s picture will be on the trailers of five big rigs that travel throughout the Northwest and Canada. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol

Deputy fatally shoots Napavine man on state Route 6

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

A team of outside law enforcement officers finished up their scene investigation this morning where a deputy fatally shot a Napavine man along state Route 6 near Boistfort.

Updated at 8:52 a.m., 9:11 a.m. and 5:06 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Lewis County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a motorist west of Adna this morning the sheriff’s office said lunged out of his vehicle with a knife.

It happened about 12:17 a.m. on the 2300 block of state Route 6, according to the sheriff’s office.

The dead man is identified only as a 64-year-old Napavine resident.

According to a news release from the sheriff’s office: The deputy was on routine patrol when he saw a car parked in a turnout and stopped to see if the driver needed assistance.

“When the deputy approached the vehicle he observed a man with, what appeared to be, self-inflicted lacerations and bleeding heavily,” the sheriff’s office states. “When the deputy tried to speak with the man, the man lunged out of his vehicle with a large knife and charged the deputy.”

The sheriff’s office says the deputy was forced to shoot to avoid being attacked.

Aid was summoned and the motorist was pronounced dead shortly after aid arrived, according to the sheriff’s office.

A team of outside law enforcement officers was summoned to the scene near Boistfort this morning to investigate.

The unnamed deputy is a nine-year veteran of the office. He is being put on paid administrative leave as is standard procedure, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

The incident took place at a large gravel turnout just east of the South Fork Chehalis RIver Bridge near Boistfort.

The deputy was alone when it occurred, according to Brown.

Asked what made the deputy think the man’s injuries were self inflicted, she said: Because there was nobody else around.

The sheriff’s office has no reason to believe there was anyone else involved, according to Brown.

She said the dead man’s name will be released by the Lewis County Coroner’s Office, which customarily doesn’t happen until family has been notified.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said his office is working to locate the next-of-kin and then confirm the identity of the deceased. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.

A stretch of state Route 6 between Spooner Road and Boistfort Road was shut down until about 6:30 a.m. for the investigation, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

It was just 16 months ago when another Lewis County deputy fatally shot another Napavine man. In June 2011, Deputy Matt McKnight opened fire on a 33-year-old man he thought was armed with a knife on a residential street in Napavine.

That incident too occurred at night time, and McKnight said Steven V. Petersen began to charge him.

The deputy was cleared but last month Petersen’s family filed a lawsuit saying McKnight engaged in a ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ approach to law enforcement.

Glenoma resident pleads guilty in California multi-million dollar mortgage fraud

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A former Southern California woman who now lives in Glenoma pleaded guilty today to charges in connection with orchestrating a mortgage fraud scheme convincing lenders to fund more than $20 million in loans on approximately three dozen properties in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Wanda Coleman, 59, admitted to one count of mail fraud pursuant to a plea agreement filed under seal in U.S. District Court in Portland, according to authorities.

Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Robbins said Coleman had a film company and some of the proceeds were used to finance films and some for personal use.

She is a former resident of Pauma Valley in San Diego County, he said. He said he couldn’t say exactly if she had family or other connections that prompted her to relocate to Lewis County.

Robbins said Coleman recruited straw buyers who offered to pay sellers substantially more than their asking price in return for the sellers’ agreement to refund the excess amount to her or companies she controlled.

She and co-conspirators submitted mortgage applications that contained false information regarding the buyers’ employment, income and assets as well as omitted material information, according to the U.S. Attorneys’ Office.

The buyers ultimately defaulted on the loans, resulting in foreclosures and losses of more than $11 million to the lenders, Robbins said.

The indictment was filed a year ago, but covered activities from as early as 2005 and into 2009, he said. It’s the kind of scheme which was easier to pull off before the housing market crashed and transactions tightened up, he said.

Three others have pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme, as well as two more individuals in related cases, according to Robbins. The so-called straw buyers were not charged, he said.

“The mortgage broker, the escrow agent, they were all in on it,” Robbins said.

Participants also forged bank statements and prepared other fraudulent documents to corroborate the false claims, according to the U.S. Attorneys’ Office.

Robbins said he only knew of the one film Coleman was involved in called “Samurai Woman”.

The case grew out of an investigation by the FBI and originated in the United States Attorneys Office in the Central District of California. It was transferred to the District of Oregon for entry of the plea and sentencing because of the proximity to Coleman’s new residence, Robbins said.

She will be sentenced on Jan. 25 in Portland. The maximum sentence is 30 years but the details in the plea agreement are under seal for now.

Eighty-year-old Morton man not seen since Monday

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An 80-year-old Morton man who lives alone was reported missing yesterday after his grown son arrived at the man’s residence for a planned hunting outing to find nobody home.


William H. Osborne

William H. Osborne was last seen on Monday purchasing a hunting license at Tri Mountain Sports & Radio Shack in town, according to the Morton Police Department.

“We’re putting all resources into locating him, obviously time is of the essence,” Chief Dan Mortensen said this morning.

Osborne’s family describes him as possibly having some short term memory loss and he’s not very mobile because of his age, Mortensen said. He’s 5-feet 8-inches tall and about 185 pounds.

One challenge is it’s virtually impossible to activate a search and rescue mission because they have no specific location to start looking, the chief said.

Osborne’s family is in the area looking and police have alerted local law enforcement and surrounding agencies, according to Mortensen.

Osborne drives a silver 2003 Dodge Dakota pickup with a white utility canopy. Its license plate is B67640P.

He and his son spoke around 11:30 a.m. on Monday and that’s the last time Osborne’s cell phone was used, the chief said. He purchased the hunting license between noon and 2 p.m.

The son, who lives in Orting, showed up yesterday to meet his father, and then checked a local restaurant before calling police, Mortensen said.

Police tried unsuccessfully to “ping” the cell phone to learn its location, he said.

His neighbors didn’t think he came home Monday night, the chief said.

“We don’t know where he is,” Mortensen said. “His son thought he could have gone up into the mountains to shoot his gun, possibly grouse hunting.”