Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

News brief: Controlled substance homicide trial on track for November

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 36-year-old man who police believe sold heroin to a Centralia man who died of a drug overdose the same night appeared briefly in Lewis County Superior Court today as lawyers ready for his November trial.


Robert T. Lusk

Robert T. Lusk was charged in June with controlled substance homicide for the death last spring of 23-year-old Tyson J. Anderson in Centralia.

Prosecutors and defense attorney Erik Kupka notified the judge in writing today the trial could take as long as five days. His client’s defense is general denial, according to Kupka.

The trial in Lewis County Superior Court is on the calendar for the week of Nov. 3.

For background, read “Centralia heroin death leads to criminal charge for person who allegedly supplied the drug” from Wednesday June 11, 2014, here

Ricky Riffe must wait to learn if trial can be moved

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Gone is the bushy beard and long hair Ricky Riffe seemed to have begun cultivating once he was convicted last December.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Ricky A. Riffe appeared just very briefly in Lewis County Superior Court today, as lawyers prepare for a second trial in two years for the former Mossyrock man.

Riffe, 55, was charged last year with sexually abusing  his 9-year-old step-daughter in the mid-1980s, as he awaited trial for the 1985 kidnapping, robbery and shotgun deaths of an elderly Ethel couple.

He was convicted and sent to prison for nearly 103 years.

Defense attorney John Crowley filed a motion asking the trial get moved, saying his client would not face an impartial jury in Lewis County given inflammatory publicity beginning after his arrest in the notorious unsolved old case.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer told Judge James Lawler this afternoon he opposed the motion, saying the issue is “not ripe.” A legal term, Meyer said, meaning premature.

“You don’t know that until you get your jury pool,” Meyer said.

Crowley told the judge he agreed and the parties concluded the question about a change of venue could be dealt with before, but during the same week as the trial.

The trial is scheduled for the week of Sept. 8.

Coroner: Pilot from Centralia, died from head injury

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The man killed when his small plane went down into a parking lot next to Interstate 5 in Chehalis has been positively identified as Gregory G. Graham, 66, of Centralia, the Lewis County Coroner’s Office said this evening.


Chehalis Collision Center lot

The cause of Tuesday night’s fiery crash of the single-engine plane remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board but Coroner Warren McLeod said the cause of Graham’s death is blunt force trauma to his head.

Chehalis-Centralia Airport Manager Allyn Roe said Graham was a new face at the airport, renting a hangar on Aug. 15.

He purchased a P5151 Mustang from out of the area, had it trailered in and with others had been reassembling it for the past week and half, according to Roe.

Officials said witnesses watched the plane take off and appear to become unstable before coming down inside the fenced area of a closed vehicle repair business. Nobody else was hurt, despite the surrounding area consisting of a residential neighborhood to the east and a busy retail area including Wal-Mart and K-Mart to the west.

The aircraft is classified an experimental plane, meaning it was built by an individual and not a factory. Roe described it as a three-quarter-scale replica of a popular WWII fighter plane.

Its tail number identifies it as owned by Paul Piper in Waynesfield, Ohio in the registration database of the Federal Aviation Administration, with a manufacture date of 2007.

For background, read “Professional pilot watched small plane struggle to climb before deadly Chehalis crash” from Wednesday Aug. 27, 2014, here

News brief: Chehalis resident locked up briefly for assault of baseball player

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Updated at 8:48 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Prison is waiting for a rural Chehalis man after a judge sentenced him for an assault at a Centralia party that left the victim with a broken jaw.

The victim lost 40 pounds because he couldn’t eat and lost a college baseball scholarship, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Mark McClain said. The 19-year-old from Nevada was among about the top 10 prospects in the country before the incident, he said.

Cole T. Rife was given 19 and one half months today for his earlier convictions by a Lewis County jury of second-degree assault and attempted first-degree burglary. He was found not guilty of witness tampering, McClain said.

Following his release, he will be under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections for three years.

He also was ordered to undergo evaluations for anger management and alcohol, and follow the recommendations, McClain said. His lawyer filed a notice of appeal and the judge authorized a $250,000 appeal bond.

Rife, 18, and Tyler L. Burk, 19, from Rochester, were arrested in April for the  March 16 assault at the 500 block of East Maple Street.

Burk testified in Rife’s trial and has pleaded guilty already to lesser charges, according to McClain.

Rife has been out of jail on an unsecured bond since his arrest, and was taken into custody following this morning’s sentencing hearing, McClain said.

Before the day ended, $25,000 was posted with the county clerk’s office on Rife’s behalf, and he was released.

“Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup – FIGHT AT PARTY BRINGS FELONY CHARGES” from Saturday April 19, 2014, here

Fires extinguished at Chehalis Industrial Park

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Firefighters from four departments responded overnight to a fire in the Chehalis Industrial Park at a tire recycling business.

Crews found a semi-trailer about half full of rubber shavings burning, flames from which spread to a conveyor-type piece of machinery, according to Lewis County Fire District 6.

The 1:20 a.m. incident on Melhart Road at Conrad Industries took about an hour to get under control, according to Chief Tim Kinder.

Nobody was hurt and the cause is under investigation, Kinder said.

Just yesterday evening, crews were called to the nearby Mohawk Industries on the 200 block of Downie Road where a small pile of foam beneath a hopper had ignited.

Employees had it nearly extinguished by the time the fire department arrived, Kinder said. Mohawk manufactures carpet padding, according to the chief.

“(It was) mostly smoke, not a lot of damage,” Kinder said.


Contents of trailer at Conrad Industries are extinguished. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 6.

News brief: Local oxycodone dealer goes back to prison

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The accused prolific local trafficker of pain medications was sentenced yesterday to 12 years behind bars, following a plea deal that helped him avoid a third strike and a life sentence.


Forrest E. Amos,

Forrest E. Amos, 31, has been held in the Lewis County Jail since late last year when he was released from prison and charged with a multitude of offenses based on a lengthy investigation by Centralia police.

He originally faced 26 varied charges including leading organized crime, but on July 31 pleaded guilty to 14 offenses. Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead dropped the charge of organized crime.

Halstead also dismissed four counts of intimidating a witness, in a case from this summer in which Amos was suspected of planning from inside the jail to have associates hurt or pressure witnesses against him.

Law enforcement estimated that in 2011 when Amos was aggressively dealing Oxycodone, that he was the main supplier of the synthetic opiate within Lewis County, possessing and dealing thousands of pills a month. Charging documents outlined how Amos reportedly continued to traffic drugs to the outside through others from behind prison walls.

The former resident of Napavine and Chehalis agreed not to appeal his convictions or sentence in any way, according to court documents.

Among the crimes to which he was sentenced were delivery of  Oxycodone while incarcerated during 2013 as well as during 2012 before he was locked up.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey signed an order that included one year of supervision following his release, as well as numerous financial legal obligations including repaying $13,800 for his court-appointed attorney Don Blair.


For background, read, “Police: Organized crime defendant created ‘hit list’ of key witnesses” Thursday June 19, 2014, here

News brief: Truck, body recovered near Randle

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A body found with a pickup truck yesterday afternoon south of Randle has yet to be identified but an autopsy is scheduled for today.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said the vehicle is registered to a man from Bonney Lake who was reported missing on May 27.

The discovery was made by brush or berry pickers at the end of the 161 road, which is off Forest Service Road 23, Cmdr. Steve Aust said.

Detectives aren’t suspecting foul play, Aust said.

Police: Phone tricksters have detailed customer info

Monday, August 18th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Centralia business owner is the latest near-victim of a telephone scam which is growing increasingly common.

In today’s case, like others, the caller pretended to be from a utility company which would be shutting off service if the customer didn’t pay up with a  money order immediately.

“Go to Rite Aid, send money Western Union, you have 45 minutes,” Centralia Police Department Officer Patty Finch said, describing the instructions given to the woman.

The woman actually went to Rite Aid, but was cautioned by employees there not to follow through, according to Finch.

She then called police.

Finch said the people at the other end of the phone line possess information which might lead the potential victim to feel convinced they are talking to their actual provider.

They were able to tell the woman her correct service address and her billing address, which are different, Finch said. “So they have information,” she said.

Centralia officers are getting dispatched to such incidents about every two weeks, Finch said.

They commonly claim to be Centralia City Light, Lewis County PUD or Puget Sound Energy, according to police.

The convincing caller says if the person doesn’t act within the hour, their power or water will be shut off. In today’s case, the woman was told her propane was going to be turned off, Finch said.

“Please be advised that none of these businesses operate in that fashion,” Finch said in a news release today. “If you are asked to wire money though Western Union or any other service, this is most likely a scam.”

Her advice: Contact your service provider first before sending money to anyone.

Birds, burn barrels and continuing fire danger

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Just because it rained a little bit doesn’t mean the risk of brush fires has diminished.

Members of four fire departments responded yesterday afternoon to a fire behind a house on the 400 block of Toledo-Vader Road.

“Apparently rubbish in a burn barrel ended up blowing over into some grass and trees,” Lewis County Fire District 2 Chief Grant Wiltbank said.

The wind was fairly strong and the vegetation is still quite dry, he said.

Crews managed to get it under control within about five minutes of their arrival and kept it to less than an eighth of an acre but spent the next 45 minutes extinguishing hot spots such as a smoldering old stumps, according to the chief.

“A couple more minutes and the fire would have been a really difficult fire to contain,” Wiltbank said.

At least a half dozen personnel from the state Department of Natural Resources joined Lewis County Fire Districts 2, 15 and 20, he said.

Burn barrels are not permitted for use in Washington.

Wiltbank said he didn’t know if DNR issued a citation but said another consideration is anyone who starts a fire illegally, even if it’s an accident, will find themselves responsible ultimately if it gets away and burns down someone else’s home or barn.

“Their insurance is not going to cover it,” he said.

Outdoor burning restrictions were put in place earlier this month by the Lewis County Board of Commissioners. Last week, fire chiefs in the county issued a joint request for people to use extra caution, in part because so many firefighters were out of town helping battle wildfires in Eastern Washington.

Wiltbank said whatever precipitation we’ve gotten isn’t going to be absorbed by grass that is dead out there.

“All it takes right now is a spark in tinder dry grass, and away it goes,” he said.

“The flaming bird fell to the ground and caught the grass on fire.”
- District 12 Battalion Chief Jim Fowler

Just two days ago, members of Thurston County Fire District 12 spent about two hours putting out a fire that threatened Beaver Stadium at Tenino High School.

Crews called about 11:40 a.m. to Hogdgen Street and West Garfield Avenue found tall grass burning, which spread into a stack of stored telephone poles.

District 12 Battalion Chief Jim Fowler said it was knocked down by roughly noon, but they then dug about a 200-foot fire line.

The incident was blamed on a bird, now deceased and now dubbed “Little Sparky,” according to Fowler.

It landed on a transmission line, and then ignited, he said.

“The flaming bird fell to the ground and caught the grass on fire,” Fowler said.

News brief: Driver injured in collision with building

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

One person was hurt when car ran into building. / Courtesy photo by Ken Brown

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 73-year-old Onalaska woman is in satisfactory condition this morning after crashing her car into a building along state Route 508 just east of Interstate 5 yesterday afternoon.

Troopers and aid were called about 4 p.m. to the scene where the four-door sedan was covered with bricks and its single occupant trapped inside, according to responders.

Firefighters had to stabilize the car and remove part of its top to get her out, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

Marian B. Burton had been traveling eastbound when her Buick Lucerne left the roadway, according to the Washington State Patrol. It happened about three miles east of Interstate 5.

She was airlifted to to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver. Her vehicle was described as totaled and was impounded.

Burton was to be cited for wheels off the roadway, according to the state patrol.

Port Orchard boy’s body being recovered from Ohanapecosh River

Monday, July 28th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Kayakers navigating the Ohanapecosh River in East Lewis County yesterday afternoon located the teen who fell in earlier this month and recovery efforts are underway today.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says they began at about 10:30 a.m. today, with deputies and members of Packwood Search and Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescue.

The 17-year-old from Port Orchard was last seen on July 4 being swept down the extremely swift and cold river after he slipped while taking photographs with friends.

The body is in a difficult spot to reach; it took teams two hours to get to it as the terrain is very steep, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown stated in a news release.

Searchers have been hopeful over the past three and half weeks the water levels would drop so the boy would be found, Brown said.

The sheriff’s office has not named him, but The Kitsap Sun identified him as Josh Osborn.

As of about 1:30 p.m. today, teams were still working on removing the boys’ body from the canyon, according to Brown.

The area is near the Cedar Grove Campground off state Route 123 just south of the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, according to the sheriff’s office.

The same day Osborn drowned, an 18-year-old Tacoma resident,  Rashawn J. Hale-Moody, drowned in Alder Lake, at the intersection of Lewis, Thurston and Pierce counties.

Read about Thurston County ordered to pay millions in Maytown case …

Friday, July 18th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a Lewis County jury decided that the Thurston County commission illegally interfered with the sale of property near Maytown and awarded the Port of Tacoma $8 million and Maytown Sand & Gravel $4 million.

News reporter John Gillie writes the lengthy trial revolved around a commission decision to order additional environmental studies and hearings during a review of its already issued 20-year gravel mining permit for the site.

Read about it here

Port Orchard teen’s body remains lost to the Ohanapecosh River

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said yesterday the 17-year-old boy who was swept away in the Ohanapecosh River on the Fourth of July hasn’t turned up and no further searches are planned.

“We’re really going to have to rely on somebody recreating finding something,” sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust said.

The Port Orchard teen was taking photos with friends slipped and fell into the cold, fast moving river near the Cedar Grove Campground off state Route 123 just south of the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, according to the sheriff’s office.

Searchers with the sheriff’s swift water rescue team and rangers from the national park searched for the boy over that weekend with no success.

Aust said it’s an especially treacherous waterway, with steep canyon walls and class five rapids, where the risks to personnel outweigh the likelihood of finding a body.

“It’s not a place where you can expect to walk along the bank and see anything much anyhow,” he said.

The sheriff’s office has a group of kayakers they are in touch with and had them look as they went down the river over the weekend, he said. For perspective, he recommended a You Tube video of the area shot last year by the same group when the water level was about four feet lower than it is now.

The Kitsap Sun reported several hundred people filled the bleachers at the high school stadium, when a gathering was held last week to remember Josh Osborn, a wide receiver for the football team.

It’s been a bad year for drownings in the area.

The same day Osborn drowned in the East Lewis County, an 18-year-old Tacoma resident,  Rashawn J. Hale-Moody, drowned in Alder Lake, at the intersection of Lewis, Thurston and Pierce counties.

Last month, another Tacoma teen drowned in the Chehalis River at Rainbow Falls State Park west of Chehalis. Seventeen-year-old Linsey Mike had only recently immigrated from Nigeria and told friends he wasn’t a good swimmer.

In May, a 5-year-old Tacoma boy riding a motorcycle next to the CIspus River near Randle lost his life when he was swept away. Drake Ostenson’s body was recovered four days later.

And in April, a 46-year-old Gary L. Rhoades of Mineral drowned in Lake Mayfield during a fishing outing when he jumped in the water to retrieve his boat as it drifted away.

News brief: State says jailed firefighter can’t work as EMT

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The state Department of Health announced yesterday it has suspended the EMT license of the Onalaska firefighter and school bus driver accused of raping a teenage relative during spring break.

Richard L. Crumbliss was arrested in April.

The Office of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System Programs is alleging unprofessional conduct based on the three felony sex crime charges filed in Lewis County Superior Court, according to a news release.

“He has 20 days to respond to the charges and request a hearing, and cannot practice as an emergency medical technician until these charges are resolved,” the agency stated.

Crumbliss was charged on April 21 with two counts of third-degree rape of a child and one count of first-degree incest but denied the allegations.

He remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $100,000 bail, awaiting an October trial.

Centralia police shooting case now in the hands of prosecutor for review

Monday, July 14th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news

Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg indicated this morning he’s certain his officer’s actions in fatally shooting a man following a shoplifting incident will be found as justified, after being briefed on findings of the outside investigation.

Berg and Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer met with a representative of the multi-jurisdictional team of law enforcement officers that looked into the June 29 incident late last week and were told of its conclusions, Berg said in a news release.

Paul M. Edmundson, a 43-year-old Centralia man, died from a bullet wound to his chest in the parking lot of Anchor Bank, after, police said, he attempted to pull a gun from his pocket during a struggle with a police dog and Officer Ruben Ramirez. The officer had been called to a report someone stole a burrito from the gas station convenience store next door.

It happened at South Tower Avenue and Cherry Street.

The investigation is complete, and was submitted on Thursday to the prosecutor for formal review, according to Berg.

“I thank the regional team for their work in this investigation and look forward to the review by the Lewis County prosecutor,” Berg stated.  “Based on the information presented by the team at the briefing I remain confident that the actions of Officer Ruben Ramirez will be found as a justified response to the threat that officer faced on that Sunday morning.”

Ramirez was placed on paid administrative leave.

Once Meyer is finished with his part, an internal use-of-force review board will convene, according to Berg.

The board will consist of a command level officer from the Centralia Police Department and at least three other command level officers from other law enforcement agencies.


For background, read “Coroner releases name of police shooting victim” from Wednesday July 2, 2014, here

Read about ruling in Centralia case reins in scope of police frisks …

Friday, July 11th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Seattle Times reports a state Supreme Court decision issued yesterday limits the scope of frisking by police to search someone for weapons in order to ensure officer safety.

News reporter Sara Jean Green writes the ruling focuses on warrantless searches of small containers, with the justices finding that such searches are generally unconstitutional.

The case involved the 2011 arrest of Tanner Zachary Roy Russell, stopped for riding his bicycle without a headlight, when a meth-filled syringe was found in a small container in his jacket, according to the Seattle Times.

Read about it here

Or read the document for yourself, here

Rising temperatures spark concerns about risk of fires, heat sickness

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Hot, dry conditions and a substantial danger of fire have prompted a ban on outdoor burning in unincorporated Lewis County that begins at the end of the day on Friday.

Not affected are recreational fires in approved burning receptacles or approved campfire sites, according to Community Development Director Lee Napier, acting as fire marshal.

The restrictions will remain in effect until further action by the county Board of Commissioners.

The board has authority over areas in Lewis County that are outside any city limits and not part of any state or federal lands.

The state Department of Natural Resources said this morning it is preparing to issue cautions to the public given the current conditions which include low humidity.

Firefighters were mopping up yesterday after a fire northwest of Packwood that began on Sunday and was contained at about six acres, according to DNR. It happened up Craig Road in timber slash, the remnants of a previous harvest, according to DNR spokesperson Janet Pearce.

Weather forecasters show temperatures climbing up through the 80s this week around Chehalis.

Officer Patty Finch of the Centralia Police Department is reminding folks of the dangers of leaving pets or people inside parked vehicles in the warm weather, even with the windows cracked.

As an illustration, Finch says on an 85 degree day, it takes only about 10 minutes for a vehicle to heat up to 100 degrees inside.

Finch further recommends:

• Drink plenty of water. Alcohol, caffeine and beverages with sugar can cause dehydration.
• Eat regular, balanced meals.
• Wear sunscreen, hats and loose fitting clothing.
• Make sure your pets have plenty of water.
• If you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous or have headaches or muscle cramps, move to a cooler location, rest for a few minutes and drink cold water. Seek medical attention immediately if you do not feel better.

For details about outdoor burning, call 360-740-1146.

News brief: Centralia area porch, attic catch fire

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

It appears a burning cigarette near a wood porch ignited a fire last night that damaged a home northeast of Centralia.

Firefighters called about 8:10 p.m. to the 700 block of Big Hanaford Road found a resident has used a garden hose to mostly put it out, but flames had snuck up the side of the structure into its attic, according to Riverside Fire Authority. Crews had to rip off about one-third of the roof to fully extinguish it, Capt. Tim Adolphsen said.

Nobody was hurt, he said.

Fire Investigator Ted McCarty said a young girl and her cousin smelled smoke and alerted her father, who grabbed the hose.

“It appears the person there had discarded a cigarette in the leaves and pine needles by the deck,” McCarty said this morning.

Adolphsen called the damage to the rental home moderate, estimating perhaps $10,000 for repairs.

Tacoma teen’s body recovered from Alder Lake

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Authorities said yesterday 18-year-old Rashawn J. Hale-Moody was trying to cross Alder Lake with friends by holding onto a log when he slipped under.

“The male yelled for help before going under water and not resurfacing,” Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Ray Brady said in a news release.

The lake is at the intersection of Lewis, Thurston and Pierce counties.

The Mineral Fire Department was called on Friday afternoon to the area, at the end of Pleasant Valley Road and when they arrived deputies from Pierce County already had a boat in the water and there were numerous people at the site; an old campground.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said it happened in Pierce County. Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Ed Troyer said the young man was not wearing a life vest.

Dive teams from Thurston and Pierce counties searched over the weekend and located his body on Sunday afternoon. Authorities initially reported Hale-Moody was 17 years old.

A 17-year-old boy from Port Orchard who fell into the Ohanapecosh River farther east in Lewis County and was swept away earlier on Friday has not been found.