Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

Missing Morton man found dead off forest road south of Randle

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012
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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
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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
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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.

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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
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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

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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
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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.

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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.”

Synthetic marijuana found at Chehalis fire station building

Friday, October 26th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Chehalis firefighter has been charged with possession of synthetic marijuana after “Spice” wrappers were found in the trash in the fire station building.

Adam Myer, 42, resigned from the department last week.

The one count of possession of a controlled substance filed in Lewis County Superior Court is a class C felony.

Myer denied using the drug during work hours.

Spice is one of numerous products that were legal until about a year ago, according to Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher.

“You used to be able to buy them over the counter,” Meagher said.

According to charging documents and Chehalis police, a police detective this summer was interviewing fire department employees about suspected thefts of small amounts of cash around the department.

That investigation didn’t lead to anything, but Chief Kelvin Johnson told the detective about a garbage bag containing suspicious empty packaging which had been discovered in the bathroom of the old police department next door.

Detective Rick Silva was told Myer spent a lot of his off-duty time at the station and at one point had spent several hours in that restroom, which his co-workers thought was odd.

The residue found with the wrappers was tested at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab in Vancouver and had a chemical known as Naphthoylindole, which is now classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, according to charging documents.

Spice refers to a mixture of herbs typically sprayed with a synthetic compound similar chemically to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana; it is usually smoked, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

It is known by various labels including or K-2, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Genie and Zohai, according to the DEA.

The documents allege Myer told the detective on July 20 the packaging was his, but he had not used the substance for some time and “straightened up” after a long talk with a fellow firefighter.

Chief Kelvin Johnson was unavailable to offer comment on Myer’s employment status, but co-workers yesterday said Myer last worked on July 20 and resigned last week.

Myer confirmed that yesterday, and said he didn’t want to discuss the case.

He said he has a medical condition that forced him to give up his job.

He disputed he admitted to the detective the Spice packaging was his.

“I never knowingly bought anything illegal,” Myer said. “It was a legal product bought from a store in Chehalis.”

He said it was perhaps unwise, but not against the law as far as he knew.

Myer said that after he spoke with detective Silva the first time, stores in Chehalis were still selling the product, saying he knew of three local businesses engaged in its sale for the better part of the summer.

“If they’re going to consider something illegal, they ought to prevent the sale of it, so people don’t unwittingly buy it,” Myer said.

Chehalis Police Department Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said  he isn’t aware of any businesses still selling the banned products.

It’s not something officers saw a whole lot of, although it did start to increase a little bit not long before it was banned, according to Kaut.

The Washington State Board of Pharmacy last autumn permanently banned the sale, possession and use of chemicals contained in products such as Spice, K-2, Bath Salts and others, made with either synthetic marijuana or synthetic stimulants.

An increasing number of reports from poison centers, hospitals and law enforcement prompted the DEA to control the active ingredients in synthetic marijuana beginning in March of last year. A measure signed in to federal law this summer added 26 synthetic drugs to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Deputy Prosecutor Meagher said no merchants have been charged in Lewis County under the new law. Less than five individuals locally have been charged with possession, Meagher said.

Myer has been summonsed to appear in court on Nov. 6.

•••

In Cowlitz County, prosecutors recently dismissed similar charges against two individuals because at the time they possessed the substances, it was not illegal yet to possess them. Read about it here

Read about Sheriff of Wahkiakum County dies of gunshot wound …

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Longview) Daily News reports the sheriff of Wahkiakum County died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home late yesterday afternoon.

Sheriff Jon Dearmore, 50, who was elected in 2010, spent nearly 25 years in law enforcement, and oversaw a department of five full-time deputies, a small support staff and a handful of reserves, according to news reporters Leslie Slape and Natalie St. John.

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said it appears Dearmore may have been despondent over medical issues related to a lingering line-of-duty injury suffered several years ago.

Wahkiakum County sheriff’s deputies responded to a call from Dearmore’s wife about 5 p.m. when she reported he was making suicidal statements and she was concerned for his welfare, Nelson said in a statement.

“When the deputies arrived on scene, they found Sheriff Dearmore in his shop,” Nelson said. “As they entered the door to talk with him, he shot himself. Both deputies are long-time sheriff’s office employees and friends of Sheriff Dearmore.”

Wahkiakum County Undersheriff Mark Howie contacted Nelson and asked for assistance, according to Nelson. Coroner duties are being handled by Cowlitz County Coroner Tim Davidson’s office at the request of Wahkiakum County Prosecutor and Coroner Dan Bigelow.

Deputies with Cowlitz County are providing patrol services for the eastern portion of Wahkiakum County, while Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson’s office is providing patrol services on the west end of the county, according to Nelson.

“Sheriff Dearmore was a loved, well respected member of the Wahkiakum community, as well as the region.” Nelson said. “He was my friend, and I’ll miss him.”
•••

Read more here

Aged flood survivor loses her stock of prize-winning canines for the second time

Sunday, October 21st, 2012
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Nancy Punches realizes she was in over her head.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

DRYAD – Authorities seized dozens of foxhounds from a 79-year-old woman who lives in Dryad; animals they said were living in deplorable conditions.

All but a few seemed to be well-fed but their living area was overrun with feces, according to Lewis County code enforcement officials.

Code Enforcement Supervisor Bill Teitzel said he didn’t believe she was selling the dogs.

“I think she essentially is not physically able to care for the dogs and they were breeding among themselves,” he said yesterday.

Authorities rounded up 68 or 69 canines during Friday’s operation on the 400 block of River Road, 20 of them puppies, according to Teitzel. They found one dead pup which will be examined, he said.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Steve Aust said once they get the results of the necropsy, they will evaluate if there is a criminal issue of abuse or neglect.

The foxhounds are descendants of four puppies who – along with their owner Nancy Punches – survived Lewis County’s December 2007 flood while her 16 champion show dogs perished.

Punches endured a nightmarish 36-hour ordeal alone in which she was trapped inside her mobile home as flood waters rose to within inches of her ceiling. She floated upon a tipped-over antique bookcase after placing her five-week-old dogs inside a styrofoam shipping container.

Lewis County Commissioner Bill Schulte who lives in the same community about 14 miles west of Chehalis tipped off enforcement employees there might be a problem. Schulte told Teitzel early last week Punches has been a responsible dog owner for years.

“Her bond (with the dogs) is a little different than before,” Schulte said.

Punches, a longtime breeder of show dogs, has been mostly cooperative.

“I don’t want to blame it on the flood,” Punches said. “But I’m not the same person I was before the flood.”

“I always try to do too much, and it just caught up with me,” she said.

Animal enforcement employees visited Punches’ rural property a week ago and observed feces and sawdust stacked up to eight inches in the outside run area, according to Teitzel. Punches works out of town and they had a hard time catching her at home, he said.

When they returned on Friday morning with a warrant to inspect the premises, it had rained, he said.

“The first thing my staff noticed, that had totally liquified, and the dogs were wading through it,” he said.

Inside the dogs’ central building, waste was mounded to more than a foot, he said, and conditions were severely overcrowded.

They amended their warrant to allow for immediate confiscation of the dogs.

The roundup lasted until long after dark, he said. Assisting with collecting and subsequently housing the canines were animal control employees from Clark County, the city of Chehalis and the Lewis County Animal Shelter. The non-profit animal rescue group Pasado’s Safe Haven in Snohomish County helped as well.

Some went to veterinary clinics with minor leg injuries or possibly urine burned feet, according to Teitzel.

It became a struggle crating up 70-plus-pound foxhounds, he said.

“As we got about two-thirds (of the way) through, some had never been handled,” he said.

Punches, who assisted them during the wrangling, called it bedlam and traumatizing for many of the dogs.

Next-door-neighbor Jim Chown called Punches a sweet lady who has a hard time letting go of things.

“She knows every dog, she knows their names,” Chown said.

Punches spent yesterday with her adult son who traveled from his home in Burien to help his mother.

“I’ knew it was bad,” she said. “I’ve known the past couple of months I was over my head.”

It’s not for lack of trying though, she says.

At 79, she is on her feet all day, working four 10-hour days a week in the lab at Morton General Hospital. Her commute is an hour and a half each way.

That leaves about enough time and energy to feed her dogs, feed herself and sleep until her next shift, she said.

“It’s hard to get good help when it comes to shoveling (kennels),” Punches said.

She said she didn’t intend for the dogs to multiply the way they have, but the fencing between the males and females has deteriorated in places.

She’s spoke with fencing people about replacing it, as soon as she could get the money, she said. She’s talked to contractors about a replacement roof.

“I tried to get a loan, but it’s a double-wide, a used one,” she said of her home that was donated after her first one was destroyed in the flood.

They go through 150 pounds of dog food a day.

Punches has attempted to find homes for some of her dogs, spending her time off last weekend delivering four of them partway to Montana. It’s hard to choose which ones to keep, she said.

She knows for sure she would not willingly give up Noah and his sister Spirit, two of the pups that she kept warm inside her shirt as she wandered hypothermic and disoriented through her former home on Dec. 4, 2007; or Hawk, the grown dog she said had to save himself.

The generosity of strangers afterward was tremendous, she said, with cards and much-welcome and needed donations of money.

Punches chokes up and pauses, saying she doesn’t usually cry.

“People were so nice, I’m afraid when they hear about it …,” she said.

She worries those people will think their kindness then was a mistake, she said.

Her first dog show was in 1956, she said. “I’ve never had a problem like this.”

Changing the topic, she admits she doesn’t know what will happen next.

Amy Hanson from the animal shelter offered her a deal on Saturday, in which she would be willing to return four of the dogs if they are “fixed”, she said, in exchange for signing the rest of the dogs away.

Some of them are championship foxhounds, she said.

“Those dogs are valuable to the breed,” Punches said. “If they’re spayed or neutered, they’re no good to the breed.”

•••
CORRECTION: This news story has been updated to correctly reflect the number of dogs Nancy Punches lost in the December 2007 flood.

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The sheriff’s office counted 47 adult dogs and 18 puppies with four of the puppies taken to Cascade West Veterinary Hospital in Centralia for treatment and one dead puppy found in a cage. Two of the animals are fox terriers, the rest foxhounds, according to Code Enforcement Supervisor Bill Teitzel. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

•••

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The dogs’ housing at the property on the 400 block of River Road west of Chehalis. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

Breaking news: Family of Napavine man fatally shot by deputy files federal lawsuit

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Updated at 1:49 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An expected lawsuit regarding the fatal shooting by a Lewis County sheriff’s deputy of an unarmed Napavine man has been filed in federal court.

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Steven V. Petersen

The sheriff’s office in a news release “vehemently denies” Deputy Matt McKnight acted recklessly or negligently in any way when he shot 33-year-old Steven V. Petersen last year.

The action filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma alleges McKnight engaged in a ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ approach to law enforcement, according to the news release.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield says McKnight did everything he was supposed to do.

An attorney for Petersen’s family has said their investigation would focus on the sheriff’s office training, supervision and decision-making in the field when using deadly force.

It happened on June 20 in Napavine, when police and deputies responded to an approximately 2 a.m. call that Petersen left stab holes in the door of his ex-girlfriend’s mobile home while trying to get inside and then left on foot.

Deputy McKnight found Petersen a few blocks away, and after Petersen refused to take his hand out of his pocket and began to charge McKnight, the deputy fired four shots, according to the account given by local authorities. The dead man had no knife.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer concluded McKnight’s use of deadly force was justified, based on an investigation conducted by outside law enforcement officers. McKnight was also cleared by an internal review at the sheriff’s office.

The complaint seeks an unspecified amount of damages, but the claim that preceded it asked for as much as $10 million.

More to come.

•••

For background, read:

• “Multi-million dollar lawsuit coming in deputy-involved shooting in Napavine” from Wednesday June 6, 2012, here

• “Details emerge in Napavine officer-involved shooting” from Saturday July 2, 2011, here

Slaying of Onalaska baseball referee brings 30 year prison term for son

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
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Joshua L. Vance glances back after his prison sentence is decided in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Twenty-five-year-old Joshua L. Vance was sentenced this morning to 30 years in prison for taking a knife to his sleeping father in March in their Onalaska home.

While lawyers and the judge didn’t disagree Vance has mental health issues, all agreed he should be locked up for a long time.

“It’s true he does suffer from some psychosis disorder,” Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher told the judge. “While that played a part in this thing, Mr. Vance knew definitely what he was doing, and why he was doing it.”

Vance, a Centralia College student who lived with his father, grandmother, uncle and nephew on Pennel Avenue, pleaded guilty earlier this month to first-degree murder.

He called 911 early on the morning of March 7 and said he’d killed his dad. Terry Vance, 58, was stabbed at least 11 times; his throat was cut, according to court documents.

Terry Vance was a baseball coach and official, whose death was mourned by many.

“Your honor, our family truly loves Josh and prays for his soul, but don’t believe he’ll ever be able to be a productive member of society,” his Uncle Larry Vance told the judge today.

He called his nephew an angry person, one that kept the family walking on pins, needles and nails.

“I feel when Josh murdered my brother, Josh died as well as far as I’m concerned,” Larry Vance said.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt agreed with the prosecutor’s recommendation of 30 years, plus three years on community custody after his release. Defense attorney David Arcuri had asked for 25 years.

“An untreated mental health condition such as exists here is a threat to society,” Hunt said.

The handcuffed and shackled Joshua Vance kept his gaze toward the judge throughout the hearing. He chose not to address the court when offered the opportunity.

Joshua Vance has been diagnosed with psychotic disorder, major depression, amphetamine dependence and alcohol abuse, according to a report from Western State Hospital.

His family said he’d gone off his medication because he couldn’t afford them. His lawyer told the judge today it was an insurance issue that caused him to lose his medications.

He initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and had the case ended with that plea in place, he would have faced time in a state mental hospital; potentially as long as the rest of his life.

A psychiatric evaluation by a doctor hired by prosecutors, however, didn’t indicate Vance qualified for an insanity plea. Arcuri said his client just wanted to get the case resolved, so they accepted a plea agreement.

Meagher today said the younger Vance had long term, deep seated anger toward his father, citing passages from an interview with a detective in which he said his father was never there for him, never gave him advice and treated him badly.

Prosecutors said previously Joshua Vance had told deputies and hospital personnel he also intended to kill the rest of his family, but couldn’t after he cut his own fingers.

As part of the plea agreement, Meagher dropped three charges of attempted first-degree murder regarding Larry Vance, Bonnie Vance and his 11-year-old nephew. They were rolled into one count of third-degree assault, an offense Joshua Vance didn’t commit but to which he pleaded guilty, pursuant to a doctrine called “In re Barr”.

His sentence for third degree assault will be served concurrent with the murder sentence.

His grandmother Bonnie Vance was among his family members in the Chehalis courtroom today. She chose not to speak to the judge directly, but a letter she wrote was read aloud.

Her writing addressed the worst day of her life, when she awoke to hearing her son yelling “No” to her grandson, and then found her grandson standing over him with a knife.

“My sons lost their brother,” she wrote.

“I ask each day what I could have done to stop this; I know I could not.”

“God knows I love my grandson Josh too,” she wrote. “I wish I could have done more to help him know how special he was to all of us.”

The judge ordered mental health help for Joshua Vance while he is incarcerated, according to Meagher.

The earliest he will be eligible for release is after 27 years, according to the state Department of Corrections.

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The family of Joshua and Terry Vance await a judge’s decision in the first-degree murder case.

•••

For background, read:

• “Joshua Vance admits to killing his father” from Thursday October 4, 2012 at 7:52 p.m., here

• “Breaking news: Plea agreement made in Onalaska murder case” from Monday October 1, 2012 at 7:23 p.m., here

• “Insanity” of Onalaska murder defendant to be decided by a judge” from Tuesday August 21, 2012, here

• “Onalaskan’s insanity plea in alleged murder of father bolstered by mental exam” from Wednesday July 11, 2012, here

• “Onalaska family that lost one to knife attack, loses home to fire three months later” from Friday June 8, 2012 at 9:22 a.m., here

• “Onalaska man pleads insanity in father’s fatal stabbing” from Tuesday May 8, 2012, here

• “Two murder cases stalled by requests for psychiatric evaluations” from Thursday March 22, 2012 at 9:34 p.m., here

•  “Murder suspect: “When he was good, he was such a good young man”" from Friday March 9, 2012, here

• “Coroner’s office names Terry Vance as victim in Onalaska home” from Wednesday March 7, 2012 at 7:53 p.m., here

• “Breaking news: Homicide investigation in Onalaska” from Wednesday March 7, 2012 at 8:57 a.m., here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Updated at 12:26 p.m.

WOMAN ACCOSTED ON CENTRALIA STREET

• Centralia police were called about 3:20 p.m. yesterday to the 1200 block of Mellen Street after a homeless man allegedly attempted to steal a cell phone from a pedestrian. “The guy approaches her, talks to her, reaches in a grabs her cell phone from her pocket,” Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. She screamed, he was arrested, according to Reichert. Andre Smith, 34, from the Los Angles area, had blocked the 27-year-old woman and asked where she’d been all his life, according to Reichert. The sergeant indicated he had the impression Smith was less than stable. Smith was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree robbery.

SCRAP STOLEN

• An officer took a report about 5 p.m. yesterday from an auto repair business on the 1600 block of South Gold Street in Centralia of stolen scrap metal. The loss as estimated at almost $1,700, according to the Centralia Police Department.

PROPANE TANK KEY LIFTED FROM SERVICE STATION

• Centralia police were called to a gas station on the 1000 block of Ellsbury Street about 9:20 p.m. yesterday when a key mysteriously vanished along with a pair of males men who had asked for change. When the clerk returned with the change, the key for the propane filling station was missing and the customers were gone, according to police. Jeremy D. Jackson, a 30-year-old homeless man, was subsequently identified and arrested for third-degree theft, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert. A police dog found the discarded key in some weeds nearby, Reichert said.

DRUGS MISSING

• Police were called about 9 p.m. yesterday to a home on the 1400 block of Johnson Road in Centralia where a woman said someone came into her unlocked residence and stole a bottle of medication.

CAR PROWL

• A wallet and money were among the items taken in a vehicle prowl on the 300 block of South Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday at around 11:15 a.m. Some 45 minutes later, another car prowl was reported in the same area, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS FOUND

• A package containing suspected drugs which was left behind on a motel room on the 1300 block of Belmont Avenue in Centralia is being sent to a lab for finger printing, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 27-year-old Centralia woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine at the 1300 block of Lakeshore Drive in Centralia last night. Jobie K. Watson was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer shortly after 11:30 p.m., according to the Centralia Police Department. She is to be released with no charges pending further investigation.

DOG POOP CALL

• Chehalis police were called about 4 p.m. yesterday when someone phoned 911 to say two men let their dog poop right in front of Security State Bank on Northwest Louisiana Avenue, although they did clean it up. No arrests were made.

HUMONGOUS BRUSH PILE FIRE

• A giant pile of timber and brush that ignited near Rochester was contained overnight but is expected to burn for days, according to fire officials. Firefighters were called about 9 p.m. yesterday to the acreage near Interstate 5 at the 16500 block of Case Road, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. An assistant chief from one of the seven fire departments which joined them said it was described to him as 300,000 cubic feet of material harvested from along the freeway. Spokesperson Lanette Dyer indicated it covered two to three acres.

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Courtesy photo by West Thurston Regional Fire Authority

Breaking news: Dehydrated, exhausted mushroom picker found walking near searchers’ camp near Randle

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Search and rescue teams are rejoicing with the family of 79-year-old Tacoma resident Dapeng Yang who was located this afternoon alive and well after spending 48 hours lost in the woods south of Randle.

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Dapeng Yang

Yang was found about 2 p.m. walking near Forest Service Road 26, within a mile of the searchers’ base camp, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

“He is in good condition and will be transported by ambulance to Morton General Hospital for treatment of dehydration,” Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said in a news release. “He is exhausted but did not have any signs of obvious injuries.”

Yang got separated from his family on Sunday morning as they gathered mushrooms in the forest.

Brown said it’s unknown why he did not respond to searchers calling his name and blowing whistles.

She had said previously there was a language barrier with those who reported him missing, as they were speaking Chinese.

His two female family members looked for him on Sunday and called for help that afternoon.

The area is heavily wooded, about 10 miles south of Randle, according to Brown.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield issued a statement expressing how pleased searchers are about the outcome.

“This is an incredible ending. Neither this mans’ family nor our search and rescue team gave up hope,” Mansfield said in the  news release. “Our teams worked tirelessly for the last 48 hours in hopes of finding this man alive. We are very pleased that the mission turned out in such a positive manner.”

More than 30 volunteer searchers with horses, Jeeps, dogs and ham radios joined the effort from Lewis, Thurston, Cowlitz and other Western Washington counties.

•••

For background, read: “Tacoma man missing from mushroom gathering outing south of Randle” from Monday October 8, 2012 at 8:40 a.m., here

See video when Yang spoke with KING5.com after he returned to his Tacoma home, here

Rochester man accused of stealing more than $200,000 from employer

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 43-year-old Rochester man has been charged with theft from his employer, accused of diverting an estimated $230,000 from a discount building supply store in Rochester.

Larry Ledl is scheduled to make his plea in Thurston County Superior Court next Tuesday.

Ledl worked for VJs Bargain Barn, a business on the 6500 block of 198th Avenue Southwest, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

VJs had some concerns and hired an outside accountant to look over the books, sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin said. The theft was discovered and the sheriff’s office began investigating in May, Elwin said.

Money was coming in but not getting to the bank, he said.

Ledl quit before he was arrested, according to Elwin. “He just didn’t show up for work one day,” he said.

“It sounds like he became aware he was the subject of this investigation pretty early on,” Elwin said.

Ledl was arrested on Sept. 28 and released on bail.

He was charged on Oct. 2 with first-degree theft, in connection with money missing between mid-2008 and July 31, 2011, according to the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office. The charging includes an alternative of 22 counts of felony theft, according to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Mark Thompson.

Elwin said Ledl opened a similar business in Chehalis since the alleged theft; Builders Surplus Northwest.

An employee there yesterday said the owner – someone who is not Ledl – had no comment.

Maurin murders: Amount of new evidence overwhelming the defense

Friday, October 5th, 2012
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Ricky Riffe listens to his attorney John Crowley in court this morning.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The trial in the 1985 Maurin kidnap and murder case was pushed out once again as the defense voiced concerns about slowness of information being turned over to him while the prosecutor worries about witnesses who could die before they ever get called to the stand.

Ricky Allen Riffe, 53, appeared in Lewis County Superior Court this morning as attorneys reviewed the status of the case with Judge Richard Brosey.

It was scheduled for the week of Nov. 5.

Seattle-based defense attorney John Crowley said he won’t be prepared by then.

Crowley told the judge he just received a witness statement from Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead; a witness he still needs to interview.

“It was typed August 30, I got it two days ago,” Crowley said.

Crowley noted his client was arraigned in August, but the state just last week collected DNA from his client, which is presumably now being tested at the state crime lab.

He also pointed out the prosecutor turned over 6,000 emails as recently as Tuesday collected from his client’s computer.

“The point is, we can’t be ready, given the rate of production of discovery by the state,” Crowley said.

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Ed and Minnie Maurin

Halstead objected to the request for a postponement until March, and being accused of “dribbling” the required documents to the defense.

“This is a case that’s recently re-emerged,” Halstead said. “As you can imagine, people have come forward.”

Halstead said the state has serious concerns about witnesses being available given the case is 27 years old, noting one who had a heart attack last week.

“He’s not the only one who might not be around in six months,” Halstead said.

Riffe, a former Lewis County resident, was a long time suspect but was just arrested in July at his home in Alaska.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has investigated and reinvestigated the case since December 1985 when Ed and Wilhelmina Maurin vanished from their home in Ethel and their bodies turned up days later off a logging road outside Adna.

Prosecutors believe Riffe and his now-deceased brother John Gregory Riffe got into the Maurin’s home, uncovered bank records and forced the couple to go with them to the bank and withdraw $8,500 before shooting them in the backs with a shotgun inside their car, according to charging documents.

Ed Maurin was 81 years old. His wife, who went by Minnie, was 83.

The prosecution has in excess of 100 witnesses, some from out of state. Halstead today said the trial could last as long as four weeks. Last month, he estimated it could take two or possibly three weeks.

Judge Brosey said he would reschedule the trial for the week of Feb. 4 and proposed setting aside the whole month. He wants the attorneys to meet with him again in mid-November to review their progress.

“I don’t think I can be ready,” Crowley told him. “Given the computer and biological evidence floating out there.”

Halstead is preparing to take a formal deposition of one of his witnesses, Donald Burgess of Centralia, just in case his health prevents him from being present at the trial.

The parties will be back in court next Friday morning to address the details of the deposition with the judge.

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.

He has pleaded not guilty. His attorney continues to claim they got the wrong man.

Today in court he expressed optimism about the results of the DNA tests, which he’s still waiting to see.

“This was a bloody scene,” he said. “Hopefully the perpetrator left behind some evidence.”
•••

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

Joshua Vance admits to killing his father

Thursday, October 4th, 2012
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Joshua Vance sits with defense attorney David Arcuri as he pleads guilty to murder in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Going to trial is a gamble and both sides in the Onalaska murder case in which a 25-year-old mentally disturbed man stabbed to death his sleeping father chose to cut their losses with a plea agreement.

Joshua Leroy Vance previously pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but this morning told a judge he was guilty.

His father, 58-year-old Terry Vance, was stabbed at least 11 times and his throat was cut the morning of March 7.

Lawyers crafted a modified set of charges so they could secure a sentence of between 25 and 30 years.

Vance, 25 years old and shackled at the waist and ankles said very little in court today, only answering Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt’s several questions.

Vance pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

“That means you thought about it for awhile and decided that’s what you were going to do?” Hunt asked.

“Yes,” Vance replied.

Instead of three counts of attempted murder, because Vance had told deputies and hospital personnel he had intended to kill the rest of his family, Vance pleaded guilty to third-degree assault.

The plea to the second count was pursuant to a doctrine referred to as “In re Barr”.

As the judge put it, he pleaded guilty to a crime he may not have committed or did not commit as part of an agreement.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher explained he knew he could not get a conviction on those charges because of a rule that prevents him from relying on the defendant’s confessions alone.

Had the case moved toward trial, Vance’s admissions would not have been heard by a jury and Meagher would be left with no evidence of attempted murders, Meagher said.

But Meagher wanted Vance to be held accountable for them, so offered the “In re Barr” option with third-degree assault, he said.

Meagher will be asking for 30 years in prison when Vance is sentenced the week after next.

Defense attorney David Arcuri will be asking for 25 years, he said.

A psychiatric evaluation by a doctor for the defense supported the not guilty by reason of insanity, but an examination by a doctor hired by prosecutors indicated differently, according to Arcuri.

“If both experts had agreed, we would not be doing this,” Arcuri said.

It’s all about weighing the probabilities and the potential amounts of time, Arcuri said.

His client would have been facing close to 100 years in prison if they’d gone to trial and lost, he said.

Vance was attending Centralia College in the months before the attack. He was being treated for mental health issues; his family said he’d gone off his medications because he couldn’t afford them.

His diagnosis’s in the Western State Hospital doctors’ report included psychotic disorder, major depression, amphetamine dependence and alcohol abuse.

He has been hospitalized in the past for command hallucinations to kill himself and harm others. He also has been treated for substance induced hallucinations, according to the report.

Meagher said he took that into consideration.

“Let’s face it, the guy does have psychotic tendencies,” Meagher said.

Sentencing is set for Oct. 17.
•••

For background, read “Breaking news: Plea agreement made in Onalaska murder case” from Monday October 1, 2012, here

Last suspect from summer 2010 drive-by shooting in Chehalis now accounted for

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Police aren’t looking any longer for Andrew Morales-Loberg, a 19-year-old wanted but never captured in connection with a Chehalis drive-by shooting two years ago.

The Chehalis resident is one of four gang members sentenced Monday to more than 100 years in prison for a quasi-drive-by shooting in Yakima County, according to authorities.

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Andrew Morales-Loberg

Jaime Lopez, now 20, is the name Andrew Morales-Loberg gave police when he was arrested, Yakima County Deputy Prosecutor Gary Hintze said yesterday.

He and three other men – all LVL members, according to Hintze – were convicted in what was described as a retaliatory shooting after the sister of one of their group was shot in Sunnyside early last year.

A few hours later, gunfire erupted outside a Norteno-related home in the nearby town of Outlook, Hintze said.

“They rolled up, stopped the car, got out and lined up outside and shot up the trailer, narrowly missing seven people sleeping,” Hintze said.

That was March 14, 2011 and the suspects were jailed shortly after, he said.

Morales-Loberg had been implicated in the summer of 2010 in a Chehalis incident in which someone in a red Chevrolet Blazer fired a round from a pistol that missed several people but struck a parked vehicle on Southwest William Street.

At first police said an unknown number of individuals were inside the Blazer, but soon filed charges against four local residents, claiming they were all in the SUV, including Morales-Loberg.

He was never apprehended.

Authorities here described the suspects as LVL members and the shooting as related to a debt owed to somebody called “Candy man”.

Witnesses implicated two different men as the shooter.

The alleged target Rolando Carrillo Cruz told a police detective he was certain it was Morales-Loberg; and Christina Palomares – at one point believed to be the driver – pointed to her husband as the shooter, according to court documents.

Drive-by shooting charges were subsequently dismissed against all three.

Palomares, a 24-year-old Tenino woman, pleaded guilty last summer to two counts of malicious prosecution. The deputy prosecutor said she lied about who was in the vehicle, and there was some question if she was even there.

Juan Valentino Vasquez was released three months earlier, because of insufficient evidence.

Charges against Ruben Alberto Palomares were dropped six months before that.

A $500,000 bench warrant remains for Morales-Loberg in the Chehalis case.

Chehalis police said they learned their wanted subject was locked up in Yakima and aren’t sure if he’ll be brought back to Lewis County.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said today he hasn’t decided if he’ll pursue it, given Morales-Loberg’s lengthy Yakima County sentence.

“He got life, that’s good news,” Meagher said.

Hintze said he doesn’t know a whole lot about Morales-Loberg, although he said he also goes by the street name “Loki”.

The Yakima Herald-Republic quotes the father of Morales-Loberg, also known as Jaime Morales, as telling the judge on Monday that God would judge his son and the others fairly.

He was given 160 year sentence for his role in the Outlook shooting. With three guns and seven victims, the first-degree assault charges, plus mandatory firearm enhancement time added up, according to Hintze.

Breaking news: Plea agreement made in Onalaska murder case

Monday, October 1st, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 25-year-old Onalaska resident who claimed he was legally insane when he took a knife to his sleeping father has changed his mind.

Joshua Leroy Vance is scheduled to plead guilty in the case that began in early March with the stabbing death of 58-year-old Terry Vance.

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Joshua Vance / File photo

A change of plea hearing is set for Thursday morning in Lewis County Superior Court.

“I don’t know how he could do otherwise, I really don’t,” his grandmother Bonnie Vance said today.

The younger Vance is charged with murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder, as he allegedly told an arriving deputy he was going to kill his grandmother, uncle and 11-year-old nephew but couldn’t because he cut his hand.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said a plea agreement was reached, but the details won’t be revealed until the parties go before a judge.

“We gotta wait till Thursday,” Meagher said. “I don’t want to upset the apple cart.”

The younger Vance previously pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. An evaluation by a doctor for the defense bolstered his position, but a court date was planned for a judge to hear from experts on both sides.

The findings from the doctor hired by prosecutors are not part of the court file.

The only hearings scheduled now are a change of plea on Thursday and sentencing on Oct. 17.

His family has said he was being treated for mental health issues at Cascade Mental Health in Chehalis and had gone off his medication because he couldn’t afford it.

Newly filed court documents indicate he was asked why he would harm his other family members.

Prosecutors wrote the defendant said he wanted to get rid of any witnesses, they all treated him poorly his whole life and turned their backs on him when he was sexually abused by a family friend.

“He felt he could no longer live in filth and would be happier going back to prison,” prosecutors quoted Vance as telling a detective.

Defense attorney David Arcuri was not readily available this afternoon for comment.

Joshua Vance’s past criminal offenses include possession of a controlled substance without a prescription in 2006, third-degree assault and attempted eluding in 2005, according to a report in his court file.

He was attending Centralia College and getting good grades in the months before the homicide at Bonnie Vance home’s on the 400 block of Pennel Avenue in Onalaska, according to his file.

Neither she nor her son Larry Vance have spoke with her grandson, as a no-contact order is in place with witnesses.

Bonnie Vance isn’t sure what she would say to her grandson anyhow, she said.

“I would like to know why, but that’s about it,” she said.

•••

For background, read:

• “Insanity” of Onalaska murder defendant to be decided by a judge” from Tuesday August 21, 2012, here

• “Onalaskan’s insanity plea in alleged murder of father bolstered by mental exam” from Wednesday July 11, 2012, here

• “Onalaska man pleads insanity in father’s fatal stabbing” from Tuesday May 8, 2012, here

•  “Murder suspect: “When he was good, he was such a good young man”" from Friday March 9, 2012, here

Authorities impound nine malnourished horses from Morton couple

Monday, October 1st, 2012
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Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office seized nine horses near Morton following an investigation into animal neglect.

The horses on property at the 800 block of state Route 7 were severely malnourished and dehydrated; one in such poor condition it had to be put down, according to the sheriff’s office.

The seizure on Friday came after attempts by county animal enforcement to encourage the owners bring the horses back to a healthy condition, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

Five private groups and the Lewis County Animal Shelter assisted in the removal and now foster care of the horses, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning.

The sheriff’s office is asking the prosecutor to charge the owners with first-degree animal cruelty. They belong to Terry Simmons, 58, and Joanne Simmons, 65, according Brown.

Brown said authorities had asked the owners before Friday to seek the services of a veterinarian, but they failed to follow through.

The couple didn’t really have an explanation for the poor condition of the horses, according to Brown.

“I don’t know that they really understood how bad of condition they were in,” Brown said.

The owners were however cooperative and in agreement on Friday the animals needed care, according to Brown.

The horses ranged in age from as old as 15 to just a foal, according to the sheriff’s office.

Brown said donations of feed and grain are needed, and can be made to the animal shelter.

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Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office