Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

News brief: Investigation continues into Mandy Road death

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Coroner’s Office today said they know blunt force injuries are what killed the man found deceased on Mandy Road last week, but the manner of his death won’t be determined until further investigation.

The body of Patrick Pemberton, 48, of Tumwater, was discovered by a passing motorist about 8 p.m. last Thursday, according to authorities.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said at the time there was no evidence of foul play and they believed Pemberton either jumped or fell from the Interstate 5 overpass above the road.

Witnesses had seen a man walking across the freeway bridge in south Lewis County, acting erratic, the sheriff’s office said.

The coroner’s office today said it has positively identified Pemberton.


For background, read “News brief: Man’s body found on South Lewis County road” from Friday February 5, 2016, here

News brief: Apartment fire contained to one unit in Chehalis

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The family pet is okay but the kitchen cabinets burned up when a teenager got distracted while cooking up curly fries at a Chehalis apartment yesterday afternoon.

Firefighters were called just before 4:30 p.m. when a neighbor saw smoke at the Chehalis Avenue Apartments on Southwest Third, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.

“Somebody tried putting it out with a fire extinguisher and everybody evacuated, except the dog,” Fire Capt. Rob Gebhart said.

One crew member attacked the kitchen fire while Gebhart searched for the animal, which he said was ultimately discovered sitting on a couch.

The kitchen cabinets were destroyed, a set of blinds on a sliding door melted and firefighters had to tear out some of the wall, Gebhart said. There was smoke damage as well, he said.

The lesson with the pan of oil is to never leave food cooking on the stove unattended, Gebhart said. The young man got a talking to by the fire department and was pretty distraught, according to the captain.

Another important piece of advice, is even if the particular item someone is making doesn’t call for putting the lid on the pan, it’s wise to keep the lid nearby, Gebhart said. If fire breaks out in a pan, one can cover it up with the lid and smother the flames he said.

The small dog was unhurt, he said.

Gebhart estimated the repairs could be around $15,000.

Read about deadly shooting in Ashford …

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Tacoma) News Tribune reports a 32-year-old man suspected of fatally shooting another man outside an Ashford bar will be released from jail today because Pierce County prosecutors have not decided whether to file charges.

News reporter Stacia Glenn reports 50-year-old Paul Hewlett of Eatonville died at a Tacoma hospital hours after the Sunday night incident and the suspect called 911 from home to turn himself in.

Read about it here

Breaking news: Two dead, one injured on state Route 6

Friday, February 5th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  State Route 6 west of Chehalis is closed in both directions as troopers investigate a double-fatality collision.

Firefighters called at 4:50 p.m. to the scene at Highway 603 immediately confirmed the deaths of two occupants and found one patient in serious condition, according to Lewis County Fire District 6.

District spokesperson DJ Hammer indicates that person was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital.

The initial reports of the two-vehicle accident suggested it may have been head-on or it may have been a T-bone incident, according to Hammer.

The Washington State Patrol is on the scene conducting its investigation.

State Route 6 is expected to remain shut down for the next few hours.

Further details were not readily available. More information will be reported when available.

News brief: Man’s body found on South Lewis County road

Friday, February 5th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says a body was found lying on Mandy Road by a passing motorist last night.

Detectives responded to the report about 8 p.m. from the area near Interstate 5 west of Toledo, according to the sheriff’s office.

“The investigation, thus far, leads detectives to believe a man had been walking southbound on I-5 and possibly jumped or fell from the overpass onto the roadway below,” Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said this afternoon.

Brown indicated there is no evidence of foul play, at this time.

Witnesses described seeing a man walking across the freeway bridge above Mandy Road, acting erratic and animated, shortly before the body was discovered, according to Brown.

An autopsy is scheduled for next week. The Lewis County Coroner’s Office will release identification information once next of kin has been notified.

Centralia grade school threatened

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016


By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Fords Prairie Elementary School in Centralia went into a modified lockdown after receiving a threatening phone call this afternoon.

School district spokesperson Ed Petersen said police are at the building on Harrison and Reynolds avenues.

Petersen said the call came into the school at 1:35 p.m. and he didn’t know exactly what was said, but described it as “kind of a robo-voice threat.”

The plan is for students to be released as usual and after school programs will go on as planned, Petersen said.

Petersen described the lock down as more of lock out.

Centralia Police Department spokesperson detective Patty Finch said officers, including with help from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol, covered each school in Centralia this afternoon until students’ dismissal time.

“We’re attempting, still attempting, to trace the phone call,” Finch said at about 3:15 p.m.

Police have the number the call came from and the cell phone company involved is assisting them, she said.

“They said it possibly was a computer-generated call,” she said.

It was described as a male voice who said he had a gun, was on his way to the school and was going to shoot people and then shoot himself, according to police.

Students at all the schools by now have been released, without incident, according to Finch.

An increased police presence can be expected in the area around the school for the next day or two.


News brief: Police investigating stabbing report from uninjured victim

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Chehalis police can’t explain it yet, but the stabbing victim this morning was found to have no stab wound.

Officers were called just before 7 a.m. to a report of a stabbing at the 300 block of Southwest Third Street. They were told a suspect had fled, according to the Chehalis Police Department

The area was searched with assistance from the Centralia Police Department, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and included a track by a police dog. No suspect was located.

The 28-year-old Chehalis woman was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital where it was determined she did not have any injuries, according to police department spokesperson Linda Bailey.

Bailey said police are no longer looking for a suspect, at this point. But they are investigating the incident, she said.

Bailey said she had no further information to release at this time and could not speculate as to what did or did not occur.

JNET: Firearms, stolen equipment and drugs seized

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Local drug detectives’ work on a meth distribution and stolen property ring that stretched over three counties led them to a storage unit containing over $60,000 worth of property they’d like to return to its rightful owners.

The Lewis County Joint Narcotics Task Force today revealed an investigation that early last month led to a compound in Graham where they, along with federal agents, seized more than three pounds of meth, 24 guns and four stolen vehicles.

Jeffrey Pedigo, 48, and Cathy Pedigo, 43, of rural Pierce County are two of the four individuals arrested at the time, according to a news release. Two more are still being sought by law enforcement.

The investigation led to members of JNET and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration then arresting Jose L Gutierrez-Lopez, 33, and his sister, Elvia Gutierrez-Lopez, 43, for delivery of methamphetamine, and the seizure of more than 500 grams of the drug and a firearm, according to JNET.

The team led by Centralia Police Department’s Sgt. Brian Warren, the JNET supervisor, reports those arrests led them to Jeffrey Pedigo for a second time, who was allegedly in possession of a sawed-off, pistol gripped-shot gun, more than a pound of meth, and more stolen property, according to the news release.

Jeffrey Pedigo was booked into the Pierce County Jail and is currently being held on $1.25 million dollars bail.

Last week, law enforcement received new information regarding additional stolen items allegedly being concealed by the Pedigos and discovered the storage unit in South Hill, according to Warren.

They recovered numerous tools and equipment, some used for commercial construction, including an industrial walk-behind concrete saw. Among the loot: Over 30 drills, 12 air compressors, 12 generators and 10 leaf blowers.

The crimes involve Lewis, Thurston and Pierce counties.

Warren states if someone has been a victim of theft in the recent past and can identify their property with a serial number, to phone him at 360-330-7680.

The investigation has included involvement also from the Pierce County Auto Theft Task Force, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Teams and the Washington State Patrol.

Three of the 26 firearms recovered came from Lewis and Pierce counties. Altogether, about five pounds of meth was confiscated.

Read about Rochester man off to prison for deadly wreck …

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a Rochester resident was sentenced yesterday in Thurston County Superior Court to 20 months in prison following his guilty plea to one count of vehicular homicide in connection with a December 2014 crash on state Route 507.

News reporter Andy Hobbs writes Corey R. Tribble, a former kindergarten teacher who is now 41, tried to illegally pass as many as eight vehicles while speeding just south of Yelm when he swerved and lost control of his car the morning of Dec. 11. He collided head on with Rainier resident Kenneth Brackett’s vehicle.

Brackett, 51, of Rainer, died on Dec. 26.

Read about it here.

Police: Drug house arrests this morning in Chehalis

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Two people are detained in Chehalis this morning in connection with drug case.

Updated at 5:24 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Regional SWAT Team paid a visit to a Chehalis home this morning, arresting one man for allegedly selling drugs from the house plus two other individuals.

“This residence has been an issue for us and neighboring houses,” Chehalis Police Department Chief Glenn Schaffer said in a written statement. “We want to send a clear message that we will not tolerate drug activity and we will aggressively deal with these issues in the City of Chehalis.”

A joint news release issued by Chehalis police, Centralia police and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says a search warrant was obtained after a lengthy investigation.

Officers served the warrant near the 100 block of Southwest 10th Street at about 8:50 a.m., according to the agencies.

Arrested were Russell S. Foster, 46, for three counts of delivery of methamphetamine and Mary K. West, 51, for endangerment with controlled substance and possession of methamphetamine.

Twenty-nine-year-old Seth T. Lloyd, was taken into custody for a felony warrant from the state Department of Corrections.

The search of the home and outbuildings by the Joint Narcotics Task Force allegedly turned up a generator stolen from a December burglary on Jackson Highway as well as an unspecified amount of methamphetamine. Law enforcement officers added a potential charge of maintaining a dwelling for drug purposes against West, who is also known as Mary K. Craig.

All three Chehalis residents were booked into the Lewis County Jail.

News brief: Kidnapping investigation leads to Salkum resident

Monday, February 1st, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 25-year-old Salkum man was arrested yesterday in connection with the alleged kidnapping and rape of a Longview woman that came to light on Saturday night in Centralia.

Officers contacted the woman about 8:25 p.m. on Saturday in a parking lot at the 500 block of Harrison Avenue who said she’d been abducted in Longview and dropped off in Centralia.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said this morning the incident was reported to them about two hours later and following their investigation, they arrested Joel L. Kaech, 25, from Salkum and booked him into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape and felony harassment.

Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said it began in Longview and continued at the Spiffy’s parking lot on U.S. Highway 12 and possibly involved another location on U.S. Highway 12.

The incidents are still under investigation, according to Brown.

News brief: Centralia man convicted in sledge hammer to face incident

Friday, January 29th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Lewis County jury took three hours to find a 60-year-old man guilty in the case of a Centralia man whose nose was smashed by a small sledge hammer when a neighbor got upset about his loud music.

The neighbor, Morris R. Keith Jr., was convicted yesterday of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon. The jury found him not guilty of first-degree burglary –  police said the assault took place in the victim’s garage – and of felony harassment.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey allowed Keith to remain free on $25,000 bail until he is sentenced.

Keith was arrested the night of May 31 after the events at the 1300 block of Central Boulevard. Court documents recounted the doctor at the emergency room saying it was the worst broken nose he’d ever seen.

The trial began on Tuesday and ended yesterday with the mixed verdict.

Keith is expected back in court on Thursday when the court will schedule a date for him to be sentenced.

For background, read “Sledge hammer to face incident draws serious charges” from Tuesday June 2, 2015, here

Another town meeting: Got a question for the sheriff, the prosecutor?

Friday, January 29th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The sheriff and the prosecutor will be traveling to Pe Ell to talk with members of the public, answer their questions and listen to their concerns.

It’s the third in a series of “Town Hall” meetings held around the county during the past year.

Joining Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza and Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer the evening of Feb. 11 will be Pe Ell Town Marshal Mike Hartnett and Pe Ell School District Superintendent Kyle MacDonald.

Snaza says the gatherings have been an excellent medium for open discussions.

“We need active partnerships with the citizens we serve to help us address issues in their community that they feel are important,” Snaza states in a news release.

Prosecutor Meyer hopes people will take advantage of the opportunity.

“I want people to know how we are doing, what we are doing, and why,” Meyer states. “Some of the decisions the staff and I have to make on cases can be tough, but I am open to questions about our process and our decisions.”

What: Town Meeting with Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza and Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer
Where: Pe Ell School commons, Pe Ell
When: Thursday Feb. 11, 2016
Time: 7 p.m.

For background, read “Sheriff, prosecutor talk about changes in crime fighting efforts” from Sunday March 29, 2015, here

News brief: Still one opening on Chehalis Civil Service Commission

Friday, January 29th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The city of Chehalis continues to attempt to fill a vacancy on its Civil Service Commission.

Appointments to the commission are made by the city manager, subject to the approval of the city council, and are generally six-year terms.

The Civil Service Commission basically oversee the examination process, appointments, promotions, transfers, reinstatements, demotions, suspensions and discharge of police and fire department employees, according to City Clerk Judy Schave.

Application forms are available on the city’s website, or can be picked up at City Hall located at 350 N Market Blvd. Rm 101.

News brief: Crab feed coming in Tenino

Friday, January 29th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Tickets for the Tenino Fire Department’s annual crab feed are on sale now.

The fundraising event will be held on March 5, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m., according to Tina Vanderhoof, administrative chief for Thurston County Fire District 12.

The price is $35. Tickets can be purchased at the station at 187 Hodgden St. in Tenino.

News brief: Some Mason County inmates will do their time in Lewis County

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Jail could see increased revenue of approximately $440,000 annually under a new agreement to house prisoners from Mason County.

The facility in Chehalis operated by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has long provided bed space for other local law enforcement agencies. It currently has contracts also with Thurston County, the city of Olympia and the state Department of Corrections.

The agreement provides for 20 to 25 inmates from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office at any given time, at a rate of $60.38 per day. It was finalized on Monday when the Lewis County Board of Commissioners signed off on it.

The Lewis County Jail, expanded in 2005, is constructed to hold as many as 356 inmates, according to Jail Administrator Kevin Hanson. However, it’s currently funded for staffing to manage no more than 240 inmates.

The one-year contract with Mason County contains a provision for annual renewal upon agreement of both parties.

The city of Centralia earlier this month decided to use the jail in Yakima for some of its prisoners, deciding to send them individuals who are sentenced to more than two weeks.

Centralia Police Chief Carl Nielsen told the city council he could save about $10,000 a year, given an increase in the fee charged by the Lewis County Jail.

News brief: Sheriff’s deputies secure higher wages

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lewis County sheriff’s deputies are getting a pay raise of 2.5 percent each year over the next three years under a new contract approved yesterday.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the Lewis County Deputies Guild negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that covers Jan. 1, 2016 through Dec. 31, 2018.

The change means that this year, a first-year deputy earns a base pay of $4,399 per month and deputies with seven or more years on the job earn $5,418 per month with others falling in between, according to Lewis County Human Resource Director Archie Smith. Detectives and sergeants earn more.

The contract provides for specialty incentive pay for assignments such as SWAT and K-9.

The Lewis County Board of Commissioners approved the agreement at its regular meeting yesterday morning.

Thirty commissioned law enforcement officers who work as deputies, detectives and deputy sergeants are part of the group that comprises the field operations bureau.

According to a summary describing the contract, the employees’ health and welfare benefits were unchanged and no management rights were reduced.

Other issues that were addressed during negotiations were: training reimbursement for new employees, clarification of take-home vehicles, creation of a lateral transfer for the operations group, clarification on scope of recognition and use of reserve deputies to perform minimal work.

Undersheriff Wes Rethwill said appointed personnel, such as himself and deputy chiefs, but not Sheriff Rob Snaza, will receive the same raise.

News brief: Low-interest recovery loans available for December storm victims

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – While 66 homes in Lewis County were damaged or affected by the December storm, no recovery assistance will be forthcoming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

However, individuals who suffered losses may apply for assistance through the Small Business Administration loan recovery program in Cowlitz County, according to Steve Mansfield, manager of Lewis County Department of Emergency Management. The SBA offers low-interest loans.

Mansfield learned last week Washington state did not qualify for FEMA-funded help for individuals.

Of the 66 residences affected, 18 of them were secondary dwellings and the degree of damage was not noted in a list compiled by DEM for possible help from FEMA because they wouldn’t qualify.

Among the primary residences affected, three were destroyed and 11 sustained major damage, according to Mansfield. Another 33 were affected to lesser degree and at least one was left inaccessible.

As of last week, DEM didn’t yet have information about where or when Cowlitz County’s Disaster Loan Center would be set up.

Those with questions for Lewis County Department of Emergency Management can reach them at 360-740-1151.

News brief: Volunteer law enforcement officer opportunities open locally

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Centralia Police Department is now recruiting for up to five reserve police officer positions.

A reserve law enforcement academy is tentatively scheduled to begin in April, with graduation in September.

Applications for the volunteer positions are due by Feb. 1.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office will be tentatively co-hosting the training.

The program is sponsored through the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Stacy Brown says the academy requires a minimum of 249.5 hours of course work and certifies individuals to work as reserve officers throughout the state.

“Reserve deputies typically work with full-time deputies in performance of their duties,” Brown states. “Tenured reserves who have passed appropriate training are also allowed to perform patrol duties by themselves with minimal supervision.”

Centralia police describe the testing process as including a physical ability test, oral board interview, background investigation, polygraph (lie detector test) and psychological testing.

Persons interested in becoming part of the sheriff’s office reserve program may contact Deputy Matt Schlecht at or at 360-748-9286.

Those interested in becoming involved with Centralia’s program can contact Sgt. Carl Buster at or 360-330-7680. Centralia’s applications can be downloaded from