Archive for July, 2012

Maurin homicide: “He definitely did not do it”

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Ricky Allen Riffe sits as his lawyer addresses a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court.

Updated a 6:10 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  After Ricky Allen Riffe appeared briefly in a Chehalis courtroom his afternoon, his lawyer said his client looks forward to clearing his name in the 1985 kidnapping and slaying of Ed and Minnie Maurin of Ethel.

“He definitely did not do it,” attorney John Crowley said.

Riffe, 53, was arrested earlier this month at his home in Alaska and brought back to Lewis County where he is charged in the decades old case.

Normally someone booked into the jail would have made a first appearance before a judge much sooner, but Crowley was out of town on another case last week.

Today’s appearance was only to set a date for arraignment and address bail conditions. Riffe’s attorney however did not ask for any reduction in his client’s $5 million bail.

Riffe did not speak.

His mother, father, brother and two other family members were in the courtroom, but chose not to talk with the news media.

Also in the courtroom was Elaine Amos of Toledo and her sister.

Her brother-in-law is a primary witness in the case, Amos said.

“I haven’t been able to sleep, worrying about my brother-in-law,” she said. “We’re worried he’s going to get off.”

Riffe and his brother John Gregory Riffe – both former Lewis County residents – moved to Alaska in 1987.

The Lewis County sheriff says they have long been suspects in the case. Sheriff Steve Mansfield has said detectives felt many witnesses did not come forward out of fear of the Riffe brothers.

Authorities believe the elderly couple was kidnapped from their home on U.S. Highway 12, forced to drive to their bank and withdraw money, before being shot in the backs and dumped near a logging road west of Adna. Their bodies were found days later on Christmas Eve in 1985.

Ed Maurin was 81 years old, his wife 83.

The Seattle-based defense attorney was adamant about his client’s position when he spoke outside the courtroom this afternoon.

“I want people to know whenever Ricky Riffe gets his opportunity to testify, he’s going to take that opportunity,” Crowley said.

Riffe wants to clear his name and will strongly deny any involvement or knowledge of the murders on his part or his brother’s, according to Crowley.

John Riffe died last month died just a week before detectives purchased tickets to travel King Salmon, Alaska to arrest the brothers. He was 50.

Sixteen pages of charging documents describe numerous people who were interviewed both after the deaths and over the years since. None of the witnesses are named.

A truck driver who was contacted in 1991 pointed to Ricky Riffe and offered several pieces of information, including how he gave a shotgun to Ricky Riffe which he asked him to cut down so he could carry it on the job, according to charging documents. He said he had trouble getting it back, until two or three months after the murders, the documents alleges. The gun was later tossed in Mayfield Lake, according to one witness.

The unnamed truck driver spoke of Ricky Riffe having no money and then suddenly buying a commercial-type fishing boat, as well as getting an odd call from Rick Riffe’s wife Robin Riffe, who said, “You wouldn’t believe what Rick’s done,” the document states.

Another man who came forward in 2004 told detectives he saw the Riffe brothers in a car with the Maurin couple near their Ethel home, but was afraid for his life because they threatened him if he told, charging documents state.

Crowley said today his client feels bad for the people who were killed, but to his knowledge, nobody has identified Ricky Riffe in photos to detectives.

There’s no physical evidence and no DNA evidence, Crowley said.

Riffe worked as a heavy equipment operator in the small fishing community, but hasn’t been able to work for about a year because of a breathing disorder. He has COPD and uses oxygen, Crowley said.

Lewis County Prosecutor Will Halstead said he wanted to set the arraignment the week after next, but Crowley won’t be a available.

That is scheduled to take place on Aug. 23, at 3 p.m.


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

Former Maple Lane worker goes back to prison

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Gary A. Lohr is sentenced for possession of meth and bail jumping


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A former longtime worker at Maple Lane juvenile detention facility for boys will appeal his drug conviction, saying the insignificant amount of methamphetamine and the jacket it was found in weren’t his.

Gary A. Lohr, 66, was fresh out of prison and getting back on his feet when Centralia police arrested him last December, his attorney told a judge yesterday.

Lohr has fought hard against his addiction, attorney Bryan Hershman said.

“He was born with whatever it is that makes people struggle with this curse, this plague of meth as he calls it,” Hershman said.

A Lewis County Superior Court jury last week found Lohr guilty of possession of methamphetamine and bail jumping. It’s his fourth drug conviction, Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke noted.

Lohr briefly addressed the judge when given the opportunity.

“Thank you for the court’s time,” he said. “I’m innocent and that’s all I can say.”

Hershman argued for the low end of the standard sentencing range, while the prosecutor argued for the high end.

Judge James Lawler chose the high end and sentenced Lohr yesterday morning to 29 months in prison.

His attorney filed a notice of appeal before Lohr was taken away.

Maple Lane was a state juvenile institution in Grand Mound that has since shut down.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012


• Firefighters called about flames last night at a vacant business on the 700 block of Main Street in Centralia found someone had lit on fire a no trespassing sign on the door. It basically burned itself out and the door was just scorched, according to Riverside Fire Authority. The two-story building was otherwise unharmed, Fire Capt. Terry Ternan said.


• Centralia police say they have a suspect after a strong-armed robbery yesterday in Fort Borst Park. Officers called about 12:30 p.m. were told a 22-year-old male went to meet a female in a secluded area of the park for “relations”, but a male showed up with her, and grabbed the victim’s wallet before the two fled, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 21-year-old woman was arrested when she arrived to claim what deputies thought was an abandoned vehicle last night. A deputy responding about 7:15 p.m. to the 3300 block of Jackson Highway learned the 2005 Nissan Sentra had been reported stolen on Friday from Seattle, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. While waiting for the tow truck, a taxi pulled up and a woman carrying a gas can informed the deputy it was her car, she was going to fuel it up and leave, the sheriff’s office said. Shelley A. Hartfield, 21, said she had purchased the vehicle from someone named Alex, according to the sheriff’s office. Hartfield was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree possession of stolen property, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.


• A 21-year-old Centralia resident was arrested overnight after allegedly crashing a vehicle into a light pole on the corner of Alder and Cherry streets and leaving the scene. Police called about 12:05 a.m. subsequently contacted Ancelina Ramirez Lamas, 21, a short distance away, according to the Centralia Police Department. Lamas was booked into the Lewis County Jail for hit and run as well as driving under the influence, according to police.

• Police were called about 9:35 a.m. yesterday when a log truck struck a light signal and kept on going. It happened at Southwest Second Street and Market Boulevard and will cost about $1,500 to repair because it’s one of the older-style lights, according to police.


• Police said it was apparently a mechanical malfunction that led to a pickup truck driving into the side of the Eagles building on the 1900 block of South market Boulevard on Friday evening. Nobody was hurt, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The driver put it in gar an it just took off, according to police. The engine was still “revving” when it did stop, according to police.


• A short foot pursuit of an individual wanted in connection with vehicle theft ended with the arrest about 10:20 p.m. yesterday of Ruben A. Inman, 21, of Centralia. It happened in the area of South Silver and West Walnut street in Centralia, according to police. Inman was booked into the Lewis County Jail also for allegedly resisting arrest and escape, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was released from jail with no charges filed.

• A 72-year-old Ethel man reported yesterday afternoon that someone used his debit card to make an online purchase of $140 from, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’ Office.

• Centralia police took a report yesterday afternoon from the 600 block of Rock Street of the theft of medication, a wallet and debit cards.

• Chehalis police were called just after 3 p.m. on Saturday when someone loaded a shopping full of various alcohol and liquor, pushed it out the door and drove off from Safeway on the 1100 block of South Market Boulevard.

• A 31-year-old Chehalis woman who wanted to report the theft of her mother’s ashes to police yesterday afternoon was told it was not a crime because apparently the father had told the daughters they could each keep the urn for a year a time, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Police were called just before noon yesterday about a boy with clippers cutting flowers out of a yard on the 200 block of Southeast Washington Avenue. The 13-year-old was told he couldn’t do that and his parents were talked to, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Police were called over the weekend about a cardboard box containing what looked like animal parts left on the sidewalk in front of St. Joseph Church on Southwest Cascade Avenue. It was like the guts from a cow – tongue, heart, kidney, the parts you may or may not want back when you get an animal butchered, Sgt. Gwen Carrell said. Police tossed them into the garbage, she said.


• An 11-year-old boy went to Chehalis police on Friday to report his father slugged and choked him the day before. The case is under investigation, according to police. There were no marks on the child, but he placed in protective custody by Child Protective Services, Sgt. Gwen Carrell said.


• Chehalis police took a third-party report on Friday of someone sending inappropriate pictures to the phone of a 13-year-old Chehalis girl. Officers have not been able to reach the child’s parent to confirm the report, according to police.


• A 55-year-old woman was issued a citation after police were called Sunday afternoon about two children left alone in a vehicle parked at Yard Birds in Chehalis. The Port Orchard woman came out of the store with two other small children and was cited for leaving a 3-year-old and a 19-month old unattended in a vehicle, according to Chehalis police.


• An 18-year-old Centralia man was arrested last night for possession of methamphetamine, burglary tools and a dangerous weapon, according to police. Zachary K. Konoske was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer about 10:20 p.m. at the 1100 block of Elm Street,  according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Police were called about 3:45 p.m. yesterday to the 100 block of Southwest Cascade Avenue in Chehalis where someone had stolen an Alpine CD player from an unlocked vehicle parked at a residence.


• A deputy was called last night to the 2300 block of Jackson Highway where someone had spray painted graffiti on the east side of an empty building.

Chehalis man admits starting fire in his apartment, will go to prison

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Chase Ettner, right, and his lawyer Ken Johnson appear in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 27-year-old man charged with arson after setting fire to his own Chehalis apartment two weeks ago pleaded guilty today.

Chase N. Ettner wanted to apologize for his actions, recognizing the potential seriousness of the situation, his attorney told a judge this afternoon.

“He has no prior record, he’s not criminally inclined,” Chehalis attorney Ken Johnson said. “He’s seriously embarrassed by this incident, and he’s remorseful.”

Police and firefighters called the night of July 16 to the 100 block of North Market Boulevard found residents had evacuated the brick building and a resident or residents working on extinguishing the flames.

Ettner had jumped out the window of the ground floor apartment he shared with his wife and was laying on the ground extremely intoxicated, surrounded by an unruly crowd, according to responders.

A gas can was found inside the apartment; the oven and stove were turned on, police said. The carpet and a futon were damaged by fire, according to the fire department.

Chehalis police initially said Ettner may have been trying to harm himself or possibly his wife. He also told police, according to charging document, he made sure everybody was out before he “torched the place.”

Ettner and his wife had argued, but she had left, according to attorneys.

Residents from five apartments in the 21-unit brick building had to find somewhere else to stay temporarily.

Both lawyers and Ettner agreed alcohol played a large role that night, and indicated because of that, it’s really not clear what his intentions were.

Johnson suggested the household had alcohol issues.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead recommended Ettner be sentenced to two years in prison following a plea agreement.

The standard sentencing range for the crime – first-degree arson domestic violence – for Ettner is 21 to 27 months.

Halstead additionally requested he be ordered not to consume alcohol.

Ettner’s voice broke when he addressed Judge James Lawler this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

He said it’s been years without hard drugs, but the alcohol came back and he wants to put it behind him.

“I never thought I would do anything to send myself to prison,” he said.

“I really don’t know what came over me that night,” he added.

Judge Lawler agreed with a two-year sentence.

“I hope you can make that change, because if you don’t, you know what’s waiting for you,” Lawler said.

A no-contact order was entered on behalf of Ettner’s wife, but Johnson said his client who’s spent most of his life in Tennessee may go back there and also thought it best if they went their separate ways.

For background, read:

• “Police: Intoxicated Chehalis man arrested after starting fire in his apartment” from Monday July 16, 2012 at 9:22 a.m., here

• “Prosecutors: Drunken apartment resident tried to hurt self, get back at wife with arson” from Tuesday July 17, 2012 at 9:51 a.m., here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, July 30th, 2012



• Deputies were called about 1 o’clock this morning to a Toledo area heavy equipment storage lot when after an individual tried to stop a pair of thieves by firing a gun and yelling freeze. The 51-year-old Castle Rock resident at the property on the 900 block of Jackson Highway said because of ongoing thefts of copper wiring from heavy machinery the past few days, he hid out on the property, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’ Office. At about 12:30 a.m., he observed a male cut through the fence and begin cutting wiring, the sheriff’s office said.  He watched for about 30 minutes until a second subject arrived and then confronted them, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. He yelled freeze and fired two shots into the ground as the men ran off, according to Brown. The loss to the rock crushers and conveyor belt is estimated at $24,000. Brown. Brown said the sheriff’s office would like to remind the public if they call 911 when they observe a crime in progress, deputies may be able to catch the culprits. Bolt cutters, wire cutters, a mountain bike and other evidence were collected, Brown said.


• A 30-year-old man was arrested for possession of cocaine and other alleged offenses after police were called to a reported dispute about 10:15 a.m. on Friday at the 1400 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Police say they learned Rueben L. Gallardo, 30, of Burlington had threatened a female with a knife, a female who had a restraining order against him.  When officers arrived, he reportedly fled and jumped several fences but was found behind a mobile home trying to hide himself in a roll of tar paper. Centralia police say they used pepper spray on Gallardo because he would not comply with their demands. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for the drugs, resisting and violation of a protection order, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says somebody stole a laptop computer and a smart phone from just inside the front door of a Centralia home while a family slept. A deputy called just before 6 a.m. on Friday to the home on the 1200 block of Long Road noted the loss was estimated at $500.


• Centralia police were called about 8:45 p.m. on Saturday to the 1000 block of West Chestnut Street where they were told a  group of males smashed out a window in the front door and then fled. The victim said he didn’t know the subjects or why they would do that, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 47-year-old Chehalis woman was cited for second-degree negligent driving after her car crossed the centerline and struck the tires of an oncoming log truck at about noon on Sunday on the 2600 block of Jackson Highway south of Chehalis. The car was only moderately damaged when it landed in a ditch and nobody was injured, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The woman told a deputy she was extremely tired and may have fallen asleep or looked away from the road momentarily, according to the sheriff’s office.


• A 27-year-old Toledo woman was arrested for driving under the influence after her vehicle collided with a parked car on J and West SIxth streets in Centralia about 2:20 a.m. on Saturday. Kayla L. McDonald was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Someone stole copper pipe from property on the 200 block of Walker Road near Toledo sometime between 4 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. on Saturday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A neighbor saw what was possibly a gray Toyota Forerunner near the property around 4 a.m. Saturday, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Some 35 gallons of gasoline were stolen from a vehicle on the 200 block of Keasling Road south of Chehalis sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Someone stole an old Sthil chainsaw and two trout fishing poles from an unlocked shop building on the 100 block of Young Road in Mossyrock sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A Stihl weed eater was stolen from a yard on the 200 block of Taylor Road in Chehalis sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning,  according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A deputy was called Sunday morning to the 1900 block of Rice Road outside Chehalis where a resident said a neighbor had found 14 pieces of mail – some of it his – laying on the side of the road near Stan Hedwall Park. Mail was returned to two other Rice Road residents; it had apparently been stolen sometime between 9 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Centralia police yesterday took two reports of bicycles stolen; one from the 700 block of Euclid Way and another from the 2000 block of Borst Avenue. Earlier in the day an officer took a report of two bikes found in the area of the 1000 block of K Street.

• Centralia police on Friday afternoon took a report of unspecified items stolen from the back of a truck at the 500 block of Woodland Avenue.

The unclaimed dead of Lewis County

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

The Lewis County coroner displayed the urns of the unclaimed dead for the news media in hopes a bit of publicity might turn up relatives.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Anyone out there missing a grandmother? A cousin? Maybe a great uncle?

More than a dozen individuals who have died with no family to claim them for burial remain in the custody of the Lewis County Coroner’s Office.

Over the past 14 years, each unclaimed person has been cremated, their ashes placed in a a temporary plastic urn or even just a cardboard box, and then shelved.

Many of them were older when they died, although David J. Robertson, for example, was just 48 when he passed away at a Centralia nursing home in June of 2010.

Two local men who passed away earlier this year are among them.

Some may have been estranged from their family, or simply had no living relatives, according to Coroner Warren McLeod.

“One gentleman we spoke to his neighbor, he said no, he doesn’t have any family,” McLeod said.

It’s been somewhat distressing to McLeod and employees at the coroner’s office that so many have not gotten a proper burial.

“It’s frustrating,” McLeod said. “I mean, these folks have been stored in the back store room.”

“You gotta figure somebody somewhere loves them,” he said.

When McLeod took over as elected coroner in January 2011, there were many unclaimed sets of cremated remains being stored in the office.

Last year, volunteers worked with the coroner to take the military veterans among them to be buried at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent.

Since then, McLeod’s deputy coroners have checked and re-checked and found relatives of just a few.

Just last week, they matched up an urn containing a woman’s remains with her son who lives in Olympia, according to McLeod.

“When he was contacted, he said, oh, I thought someone else in the family took care of her,” McLeod said.

Five families have been found in the past several months, he said.

Now that virtually all avenues have been exhausted, the 16 remaining individuals will finally go to their final resting spot.

Claquato Cemetery west of Chehalis has donated a plot. A burial service is in the planning for next month.

The 16 urns will be placed in a shared concrete liner in a part of the cemetery known as the county section.

McLeod said he was told that’s where the county buried people who were unclaimed from the 1930s until the mid-1990s. He said he didn’t know why that practice ended.

Just in case in the future, a relative turns up who wants to retrieve their loved one, each urn will be sealed separately with a copy of the death certificate.

Their names won’t be engraved on any headstone, but the grave will be marked, and the cemetery will keep a listing as well as copies of the death certificates on file, according to McLeod.

The burial and a non-denominational memorial service is tentatively set for the week of Aug. 20.

If any of them do have a family member who wants to claim them, there is still time. The coroner thought publishing a list could possibly turn up more relatives.

Some of them still have friends in the area, just not family who could legally claim their bodies, according to the coroner’s office.

“Once we have the date, if people from the public want to come, they’re welcome,” McLeod said.

The following individuals are scheduled to be buried at Claquato:

• Lawrence T. Erickson, Centralia: 7-10-1915 to 5-4-1998

• Richard Farrell, Randle: 3-31-1943 to 10-26-1999

• Delores Fletcher, Centralia: 10-11-1928 to 3-24-2000

• Mary Katherine Gibson, Chehalis: 5-17-1936 to 3-31-2000

• Gladys Vivian Pitts, Centralia: 10-5-1915 to 10-6-2003

• Hiram Mahlon Coleman, Pe Ell: 7-22-1935 to 1-18-2004

• Edward M. Dombrowe, Chehalis: 4-22-1924 to 7-15-2004

• Harry Edwin Fields Jr., Chehalis: 8-25-1946 to 10-17-2004

• Stella Richardson, Centralia: 3-7-1928 to 8-12-2006

• Michael S. Edin, Centralia: 2-20-1944 to 10-5-2009

• David J. Robertson, Centralia: 6-7-1962 to 7-27-2010

• Eugene Briese, transient Chehalis area: 7-1-1943 to 12-6-2010

• Gary M. Ward, Centralia: 8-23-1961 to 6-15-2010

• William Dane, Centralia: 8-17-1942 to 3-1-2011

• Richard Fisher, Centralia: 12-16-1938 to 1-14-2012

• Curt Lynn Allison, aka Curtis Hughes, Curtis: 11-17-1950 to 4-7-2012

Breaking news: Passenger vehicle and train collide near Tenino

Saturday, July 28th, 2012


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Aid was called this afternoon to a train versus vehicle collision near Tenino.

A family of four were in a pickup truck which was hit by an Amtrak passenger train just north of Tenino, according to responders.


Courtesy photo by WSP

Trooper Guy Gill says they are very lucky to be alive.

Three were injured. Two individuals were transported by medics with advanced life support capabilities and one person was transported with basic life support personnel, according to Thurston County Fire District 12.

It happened in the area of McDuff Road near 143rd Avenue Southeast, according to Fire Chief Robin Duncan. Gill described the location as McDuff Road and Fenton Avenue.

It was a 2004 Ford F-150.

The train struck the front area of the pickup, Gill said on Twitter. “Three feet the other way and we would be dealing with multiple fatalities right now.”

The trooper said the two adults and two children are going to be fine. The driver is Thomas G. Hertter, 52, of Olympia, according to Gill.

The train was traveling approximately 79 mph.

Duncan said he thought the call came around 2:45 p.m., but couldn’t be sure as the fire department had three calls at about the same time.

The town’s Oregon Trail Days celebration is going on this weekend.

Bungled bank robbery spree leads to prison for Centralia resident

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Robert T. Hendrickson listens as his lawyer addresses a judge about the March holdups.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It’s off to prison for a 23-year-old Centralia man whose short-lived bank robbery career included trying to hold up a credit union that keeps no cash in its drawers.

Robert T. Hendrickson admitted to making off with money from Chase Bank on South Market Boulevard the morning of March 17, and moments earlier attempting to do the same at the nearby Twin Star Credit Union.

When he asked for all the cash in the drawer there, an employee said there wasn’t any, but he could get some out of their ATM.

Hendrickson and the driver of the getaway car were captured less than 30 minutes later after a high speed chase and a wreck on Cooks Hill Road in Centralia. Hendrickson was taken to the ground by a police dog when he tried to run.

“This is extraordinarily uncharacteristic of his general demeanor,” his attorney told a judge. “My client has admitted a drug problem.”

Hendrickson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five and a half years on Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court.

The charges included a bank robbery the night before in Olympia at a U.S. Bank branch inside a Safeway store.

Chehalis defense attorney Chris Baum said he worked with other lawyers to get the two cases combined for the plea agreement.

Baum suggested to Judge James Lawler in court on Thursday afternoon that his client was influenced by his partner.

“(Robert) Hughes sat in the car,” Baum said.

The attorney noted Hendrickson was never armed and never threatened anyone with a weapon.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead recommended five and a half years, the middle of the standard sentencing range for the crimes.

Hendrickson, who has no previous felonies on his record, told Judge Lawler he’s going to use the time to change his life.

Hughes, 32, of Tenino, pleaded guilty last month and was sentenced to five years for the incidents in Lewis County. He faces more potential time for the Thurston County bank robbery, Halstead said.

For background, read: “Foiled Chehalis bank heists lead to serious charges for local pair” from Monday March 19, 2012, here


Twin Star Credit Union was closed temporarily after an attempted robbery the morning of March 17.

Freeway cardiac arrest victim heads home with healthy heart

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Jeff Calcagno, his wife and grown sons stop briefly in Chehalis today after spending more than a week in an Olympia hospital.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Jeff Calcagno is tired, but he’s alive.

The 55-year-old Battleground resident finally left the hospital today, nine days after his heart stopped as he was passing by Winlock on Interstate 5.

Calcagno had been driving home from Kent, where one of his business’s four warehouses is located.

He doesn’t remember much at all about the entire day, but several local troopers, firefighters and medics likely won’t forget.

It was about 3:30 p.m. on July 18, when his Subaru Legacy twice drifted into a semi truck in the next lane, struck the inside concrete barrier and then veered off onto the right shoulder into a ditch.

Two passing motorists, both emergency room nurses from the Portland area, stopped, found him with no pulse and pulled him from his car to begin CPR.

Soon, they were joined by a sheriff’s deputy, trooper, paramedics from Lewis County Medic One and firefighters from Winlock and Napavine.

Resuscitation efforts continued on the shoulder of the freeway. Medics shocked him and administered drugs until his heart was beating again.

Calcagno was rushed in an ambulance to Providence Centralia Hospital, and then transferred to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia with its specialized cardiac care.

Paramedic Clayton Skinner spoke of how unlikely that sort of outcome is, crediting the immediate CPR started by the nurses.

Lewis County Fire District 15 Assistant Chief Kevin Anderson noted how the nurses were in the right place at the right time for the patient.

Calcagno and his wife Pam Calcagno today said even the doctors teared up when they heard the story.

“The cardiologist said 95 percent of people don’t have that outcome,” Pam Calcagno said.

For the first few days, he was in an induced semi-coma state and then recovering, the couple said.

Their 25-year-old son Christopher flew home from where he was working in Afghanistan. Their 21-year-old son Nicholas came and the family stayed in Olympia.

The Calcagnos were told it was just a chance occurrence. His heart just went into an irregular rhythm and then stopped, they said. It was possibly a rare consequence of a heart attack he had a couple of years ago, according to Calcagno.

Yesterday, doctors installed a mini defibrillator in his chest. About the size of a pager, with wires, the device will “kick start” his heart if something happens again, the Calcagnos said.

“It’s like a little team of paramedics in his chest,” his wife said.

His heart is strong and healthy, she said. He did have six fractured ribs, but medical personnel at the hospital just called that “very effective CPR.”

Calcagno said he’s just beginning to realize what happened.

The family said there’s no words to express their gratitude for strangers who saved his life.

“We can’t say how much we appreciate these people and want to meet them,” Pam Calcagno said.

Her husband feels the same way.

“There’s amazing people out there,” Calcagno said. “You don’t know it till you’re on the other side of that coin.”

Nicholas said he plans on taking a CPR class now.

Assistant Fire Chief Anderson notes the incident should serve as a reminder to the critical role people can play in their communities if they are trained in CPR.

District 15 wants folks to know they can get more information about obtaining training in CPR and first aid, by contacting them at 360-785-4221.

For background, read: “Passing nurses help revive driver whose heart stopped on Interstate 5” from Wednesday July 18, 2012, here

Read about Olympia man who disappeared faces child porn charges …

Friday, July 27th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports that when police searched the home of a missing 52-year-old man looking for clues about where he might be, they found pornographic images involving children on his computer.


Troy A. Fisher

Troy A. Fisher, the interim artistic director at the Capital Playhouse, was booked into the Thurston County Jail late today, according to news reporter Jeremy Pawloski.

Fisher vanished Sunday night and was located unharmed early Wednesday morning when he called 911 from a pay phone and said he couldn’t remember where he had been, according to the Olympia Police Department.

Read more here

Prosecutors: Winlock man ID’d through DNA charged in 2007 campground rape of child

Friday, July 27th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A judge this afternoon ordered a 24-year-old Winlock man held on $500,000 bail following his arrest for a sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl in a Mossyrock-area campground almost five years ago.

Reginald L. Juntunen was identified only late last month as a suspect through DNA, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

He was in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday on an unrelated matter when he was taken into custody.

Temporary defense attorney Bob Schroeter told the judge Juntunen is a graduate of Winlock High School and a life-long resident of the South Lewis County town.

Charging documents in the case allege the child was anally raped by a dark-skinned male wearing a hoodie and a stocking cap who forced her into the public restroom.

The girl, who is now 12, said she rode her bicycle to the nearby bathroom when she saw the man.

She said he told her he had a knife and to stop screaming, and he left in a yellowish car, according to the documents.

Deputies at the time collected a tissue the girl had wiped herself off with when she returned to the family’s motor home, the documents state.

On July 2, the sheriff’s office received a report from the   Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory declaring a match with Juntunen.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joely O’Rourke said his DNA would have been entered into the system from a previous felony.

Juntunen told detectives yesterday he’d been to the park camping with his family when he was nine years old and two years ago fishing with a friend, but not in 2007 when he was 19 years old.

“When asked by Detective Callas if he could explain how his DNA was recovered from semen found on a female child, Juntunen’s eyes got very large, he appeared to be in shock, and he simply said ‘no’,” charging documents state.

O’Rourke said she has not yet spoken with the victim, and doesn’t know where she is from.

Juntunen is charged with first-degree rape, first-degree rape of a child and  first-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation. Each offense carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The Winlock man is currently in Lewis County Drug Court, having entered in connection with a case in which he allegedly sold jewelry to a Centralia boutique that had been stolen in a February burglary in Winlock.

Yesterday he was in court to plead not guilty to burglary and theft related to a case in which he and another individual allegedly were involved in a May break-in at another Winlock residence and a stolen banjo and guitar were sold to a pawn shop.

He has a 2008 drug conviction.

Juntunen is represented by Chehalis attorney Chris Baum.

He will return to court next Thursday morning to make his plea in this new case.

Read about mayor of Pacific fires half of police force …

Friday, July 27th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Tacoma) News Tribune reports the mayor of the city of Pacific has terminated four of its police officers, following last week’s incident in which officers arrested the mayor for trying to enter a locked office at city hall.

News reporter Alex Krell writes that among the reasons cited are unlawful anarchy and mutiny.

Read more here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, July 27th, 2012


• Centralia police were called about 2:20 p.m. yesterday about laundry being stolen out of a dryer at a public laundry on the 1200 block of South Gold Street in Centralia.


• Chehalis police took a report just afternoon yesterday of two digital cameras being stolen from an office on the 2000 block of Northeast Kresky Avenue.


• A 28-year-old Centralia man was arrested yesterday morning for possession of methamphetamine. Christopher A. Randle was booked into the Lewis County jail following the traffic stop on the 2300 block of Harrison Avenue,  according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Centralia police took a report just before 6 p.m. yesterday from the 1200 block of South Tower Avenue about a vehicle prowl. Electronic equipment was stolen, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Riverside Fire Authority was called about 1:30 a.m. today to a report of a burning tow truck on Reynolds Avenue. Firefighters extinguished the fire.


• A deputy was called about 9 a.m. yesterday to the 600 block of Cannon Road in Packwood after a 67-year-old motorist turned in front of a truck and the momentum of the collision caused both vehicles to crash into a parked Ford Ranger. All three vehicles sustained major damage, but nobody was injured,  according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The first driver received a citation.