Archive for November, 2012

Train plows Olympia family’s SUV driven onto Chehalis tracks; nobody injured

Friday, November 30th, 2012

A family of seven bailed out of their white Dodge Durango as a freight train approached from behind them in Chehalis.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An out-of-town family that took a wrong turn in the dark tonight in Chehalis found their SUV traveling on railroad tracks as a freight train approached, bailed out and watched the train shove their vehicle more than a block.

Nobody was hurt.

Chehalis Police Department Office Steve Nikander said it was dark, it was rainy and they briefly lost their way.

“Thankfully they all got out,” Nikander said.

It happened about 7:30 p.m. near West Street by the Lewis County Historical Museum.

The mother, father and five children, ages 3 to 23, from Olympia, were westbound on West Street; on their way to ride the Chehalis steam train.

It’s the Polar Express, a holiday ride, said Nickolas Howzeshell, one of the grown sons.

Howzeshell, his wife and their baby were in a second vehicle behind his mother’s Dodge Durango and made the same wrong right-hand turn behind her, he said. He was able to pull his vehicle off the tracks.

“My dad’s like, get ’em out, get ’em out,” Howzeshell said. “I saw the light about a quarter mile away. We saw it happen.”

The northbound freight train was still stopped and blocking several crossings after 8 p.m. while authorities waited for a tow truck to arrive.

Instead of cocoa, singing and riding a steam train with Santa Claus, they stepped into the Ocean Sky restaurant for Chinese food while they waited for officers to collect their information.

“We were running late. We didn’t want to miss the train,” Howzeshell, said. “Instead, we … caught the train.”


CORRECTION: This news story has been updated to correct the name of the city police department for which Officer Nikander works.

Dryad woman files suit to get some of her foxhounds back, pleads not guilty to animal cruelty

Friday, November 30th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Nancy Punches pleaded not guilty today to keeping too many dogs in too poor of conditions on her property west of Chehalis and is working with a lawyer to get four of her foxhounds returned to her.


Nancy Punches

The 79-year-old Dryad woman was in Lewis County District Court this morning where she faces 65 counts of second-degree animal cruelty and one count of violating a state law regarding dog breeding.

Her 65 dogs were confiscated by county officials last month; animals which were living in an area overrun with feces, according to authorities. One puppy was dead when the sheriff’s office served their search warrant and at least three puppies have since been euthanized because of positive tests for Parvo Virus. Others were sick with a parasite, according to charging documents.

Punches has said in an interview she didn’t intend for the foxhounds to multiply, but their fencing had deteriorated. She has also said she knew the situation got away from her.

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

Punches has agreed to give up ownership of all but those three dogs plus one other, a 9-year-old male named Rythem, according to court documents.

Her lawyer Bart Ricks of Chehalis noted in a petition to the court that Lewis County Animal Shelter Amy Hanson had offered to return three of the dogs – spayed and neutered – if Punches relinquished the rest.

The civil action filed on Nov. 2 says Punches wants the four foxhounds returned to her immediately, subject to certain conditions which aren’t specified.

Court hearings are set for Dec. 6 and Dec. 20. when the lawyers and judge can begin addressing the issues involved.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Nelson asked the judge the consolidate the civil and criminal cases.

In a court document filed today, Nelson asks for answers from Punches about how she will prove her property is free of the diseases, how she will provide kennels fit for habitation and how she will not neglect or abuse the dogs if she gets them back.

Nelson said he didn’t ask Judge Michael Roewe to set bail for Punches, as he doesn’t consider her a flight risk or a danger to the community.

The crimes she’s accused of are misdemeanors, all with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail or a $5,000 fine or both.

One of the conditions set today however allows her to keep only two pets, which Judge Roewe said were a cat and a bird.

When county code enforcement employees, animal shelter workers and volunteers descended upon the River Road property on Oct. 19, a deputy said he could not see the floor of some kennels because the water, mud and feces was so deep.

Two of the 65 seized animals are fox terriers – the rest foxhounds.

Some were taken to the Lewis County Animal Shelter, some to other municipal shelters and some to Pasado’s Safe Haven in Snohomish County.

Besides Rythem, Punches wants back Hawk, a 7-year-old male; along with 6-year-olds Spirit, a female, and Noah, a male who were pups that shared a 36-hour ordeal trapped in Punches’ mobile home as flood waters rose to within inches of her ceiling.

Punches floated upon a tipped-over antique bookcase after placing her five-week-old dogs inside a styrofoam shipping container.

For background, read:

• “Lewis County owner of seized foxhounds charged with 66 misdemeanors” from Monday November 12, 2012, here

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

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, November 30th, 2012


• A Centralia couple was arrested last night in Chehalis after allegedly attempting to trick a pharmacist into filling a prescription for 60 hydrocodone pills.  Police were called about  4 p.m. by an employee at Rite Aid who had checked with the supposed prescribing clinic and learned no prescription had been written in the name they were given, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Officers were told the woman’s son was going to pick up the pills and waited outside the South Market Boulevard store, Sgt. Brian Hickey said. The couple was stopped after leaving and the officer recognized the driver, Carrie J. Powell, as someone who had been in trouble before for similar activity, Hickey said. Powell, 27, and Mitchell T. Kimbrel, 28, were booked into the Lewis County Jail for a violation of the legend drug act, according to police.


• Centralia police were called to an apartment on the 500 block of Woodland Avenue about 1:20 p.m. yesterday when a resident returned home from lunch to discover his 60-inch television was missing. A neighbor had seen a blond woman carrying a TV in the area about an hour earlier, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Chehalis police were called to the 1600 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue about 3:30 p.m. yesterday regarding someone wandering around and looking in windows of cars in Wal-Mart’s parking lot. Officers contacted the suspect sitting in a car and discovered the 1985 Saab 900 was stolen out of Seattle, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Shane R. Ferkovich, 31, of Missoula, Montana, was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle, Sgt. brian Hickey said.


• Centralia police contacted a 31-year-old man yesterday evening for allegedly making death threats to an individual. The suspect, a Centralia man, was not arrested but the case is being referred to prosecutors for a possible charge of felony harassment, according to the Centralia Police Department. The case involved a phone call in which he told the victim he would kill them, although he didn’t say how or why, Sgt. Brian Warren said. Further details were not readily available.

News brief: Lawyers agree Centralia B Street murder suspect is now competent for trial

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Finally Weston G. Miller will be arraigned next week, following his March arrest and filing of charges in the shooting death of a house guest in his Centralia home on B Street.


David Wayne Carson

Miller, 30, has been held in the Lewis County Jail on $1 million bail, unable to make his pleas to first-degree murder because of a question whether he was competent.

Prosecutors say it was unprovoked attack when he shot 43-year-old David Wayne Carson twice in the chest area. Miller told police he acted in self-defense.

One expert said previously Miller was competent but another said he was not. However, today, lawyers on both sides signed an order agreeing Miller is now competent to stand trial.

The former welder is also charged with several counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, as when police searched the home they found five guns, a silencer, a laser site for a gun and a bullet-proof vest.

Miller is scheduled to return to Lewis County Superior Court next Thursday to make his pleas and get a trial date scheduled.

His attorney J.P. Enbody said the issue of insanity – at the time of the incident – could still come up.

Carson, a Centralia resident, died on March 13.

For background, read “B Street homicide: Defendant says self defense” from Wednesday March 14, 2012, here

News brief: Centralia toddler death case still moving slowly through court system

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – James M. Reeder, 26, appeared briefly in court today for a review of the progress of the case in the death of 2-year-old Koralynn Fister.


Koralynn Fister

The Centralia man is charged with homicide by abuse and other related offenses regarding the May death of his live-in girlfriend’s toddler. Prosecutors allege Reeder tortured and raped the child.

Attorneys in the case told a judge they were postponing the review until Dec. 13. The trial in Lewis County Superior Court is still on the schedule for the end of January.

Reeder remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $5 million bail.

For background, read “Defendant in Centralia toddler death by abuse case pleads not guilty” from Thursday July 12, 2012, here

News brief: Father pleads not guilty to smacking baby boy in face

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Centralia man arrested two weeks ago for allegedly giving his 6-month-old baby a cut lip when he struck him in the head for crying pleaded not guilty today.

Jon M. Parker, 28, is charged with second-degree assault of a child and remains held in the Lewis County Jail.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says Parker was upset and hit the child three times while holding him.

When he went before a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court, a trial was scheduled for the week of Jan. 14, according to his attorney David Arcuri.

For background, read “News brief: Sheriff’s Office: Centralia father gives baby boy cut lip, nose” from  Thursday November 15, 2012 at 10:03 a.m., here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Updated at 2:41 p.m.


• A 65-year-old Chehalis man was arrested last night after a hit and run collision that left a 71-year-old Onalaska woman trapped in her wrecked truck. A deputy called about 6 p.m. to the intersection of Jackson Highway and Tucker Road south of Chehalis learned the woman was at a stop sign waiting to make a right turn when her Toyota truck was struck by another vehicle. Dennis C. Safford was subsequently tracked down at his home, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. His Ford Explorer sustained extensive damage and he was booked into the Lewis County Jail for suspected driving under the influence as well as hit and run, according to the sheriff’s office. Firefighters had to cut at the driver’s door to extricate the woman from her truck; she was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with head and neck pain, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• Aid was called by police about 3:30 a.m. today to the area just north of the Centralia train depot where a person was found laying on the railroad tracks. They said they were hit by a car and there were some injuries visible, according to Riverside Fire Authority. The patient was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital. A police spokesperson said it didn’t appear a vehicle had struck the individual.


• Police were called just after 9 p.m. last night regarding an attempted burglary at the 400 block of South Tower Avenue in which a thin teenage male was seen breaking out the window of an espresso stand. However, he was then seen jumping into a newer white mini van which fled the scene, according to the Centralia Police Department. The suspect – about 18 years old – was wearing a dark hoodie with white stripes and the van’s driver was a “heavier” blond wearing a pink sweatshirt, according to police


• Centralia police were called about 10:30 a.m. yesterday to the 2700 block of Colonial Drive where someone reported the theft of cash.

• Centralia police took a report yesterday from a home on the 400 block of South Cedar Street about the theft of unspecified medication. A person of interest has been identified,  according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A woman called Chehalis police from Oakville yesterday morning to tell them someone stole her oxycodone from her unlocked vehicle the day before while she was parked at K-Mart between 12:230 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Centralia police were called about 6:50 p.m. yesterday to the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue where a car prowl had occurred about 10 minutes earlier. An MP3 player was missing,  according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A television and a GPS device were reported stolen yesterday in a car prowl on the 100 block of South Silver Street in Centralia.

• A vehicle that had been reported stolen in Toledo was found yesterday afternoon at the 1400 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Read about death of person found in burning vehicle in Capitol Forest likely unnatural …

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Updated at 4:24 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports it appears accelerants were used to start the fire in a Ford Bronco found burning with a body inside of it in the Capitol Forest west of Littlerock on Tuesday morning.

News reporter Jeremy Pawloski writes the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office can’t find the vehicle’s registered owner, a man in his 50s.

The Olympian indicated this afternoon the dead man has been identified as 53-year-old Scott J. Madison of Olympia.

Read more here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012


• An 18-year-old Centralia man exchanged punches with a stranger he found prowling his car early this morning on the 700 block of Field Avenue. Police called about 4:35 a.m. learned the owner of the car pushed the subject to the ground as he tried to flee and “the fight was on,” Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. But the 18-year-old was struck and left dazed, so the prowler got away, according to police. The would-be thief was described as a scruffy, thin-faced male, Reichert said.


• A 46-year-old Chehalis man was arrested last night after he allegedly threw his girlfriend on a concrete floor and tried to choke her during a fight. A deputy called about 11:40 p.m. to the 600 block of Centralia-Alpha Road east of Chehalis found the 26-year-old woman had bumps on the back and front of her head but she declined aid, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Gerald R. Ebner was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree assault, according to the sheriff’s office.


• Centralia police responded about 11:15 p.m. yesterday to the 2300 block of North Pearl Street where a drunk man was laying in the middle of the road and trying to pick fights with motorists as they passed by him, according to the Centralia Police Department. Jacob L. Hyde, 25, of Centralia, was arrested and booked in to the Lewis County Jail for disorderly conduct, according to police.


• An employee arriving to a coffee stand on the 1500 block of Bishop Road in Chehalis about 4:30 a.m. today discovered someone had broken in and stole the cash drawer containing about $200, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A deputy took a report yesterday afternoon about a 2400-watt Yamaha generator stolen from a pump house on the 1500 block of state Route 505 in Toledo. The victim, a Seattle man, said it must have happened sometime since the beginning of September, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is $1,100.

• A Toledo resident called the sheriff’s office yesterday when she discovered someone went into her unsecured barn on the 400 block of Tucker Road sometime during the previous two weeks and left with numerous motorcycle engine pieces, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A Centralia officer took a report yesterday from a man regarding his stolen debit card being used around town.


• Police took a report from a bank on the 1200 block of South Gold Street in Centralia around noon yesterday after pry marks were found on its ATM machine. A repair person found the damage after the ATM stopped working, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Chehalis police took another vehicle prowl report just after 4 a.m. today, this one at the 1000 block of Southwest 20th Street. Missing were documents with account information for the truck, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Yesterday, police were called about three vehicle prowls that occurred overnight in the area of the 400 blocks of Southwest 15th and 16th Avenues in Chehalis.


• An 81-year-old Mossyrock woman was flown to Harborview Medical Center in  Seattle after a two-vehicle collision at Jackson Highway and Avery Road East yesterday morning. A deputy arriving after the 10:40 a.m. accident south of Chehalis found both vans were totaled after the woman ran a stop sign onto Jackson Highway, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The driver of the other vehicle who was traveling north on Jackson Highway was unhurt, as was his 5-year-old passenger, but his 6-year-old passenger sustained facial abrasions, according to the sheriff’s office. The woman, whose name was not released, was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with serious injuries before being airlifted to the Seattle hospital, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• A forgotten fry pan of tater tots and cooking oil led to a kitchen fire yesterday west of Centralia that filled a home with smoke and scorched a wall and cabinets. Firefighters called about 3:30 p.m. to the 2500 block of Kristine Court learned the resident was alerted by a smoke detector. He took his young daughter next door, tried to get a fire extinguisher and returned to pour salt on the stove, Riverside Fire Authority Capt. Terry Ternan said. Ternan said smoke was coming from the eves of the home when they arrived, but the flames were out. He wasn’t sure if the man used a fire extinguisher, but said firefighters recommend people keep one in their kitchens. Salt might work, but baking soda is better, Ternan said. Another strategy is to put a lid on the pan if that’s possible, he said.

Maurin murders: Trial moved to next May

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The trial in the 1985 Maurin kidnap and murder case has been postponed once again, from this coming February until May, with what the judge calls a “drop dead” date to begin.

The elderly Ethel couple died in December 1985, but the longtime suspect Ricky A. Riffe was only arrested this summer.


Ricky A. Riffe

Lawyers on both sides met with a judge two weeks ago to address a number of issues, including defense attorney John Crowley’s concerns the prosecution had still not handed over copies of all its information in the case.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer repeatedly said he’s turned over everything they have, but by the end of the hour, Judge Richard Brosey ordered Meyer to get the other side copies of some 30 taped interviews, copies of photographs, a copy of a computer hard drive, and to do more to track down a witness statement that Crowley asked about.

“I only want to do this once,” Brosey said, alluding to the fact that if the prosecution gets a conviction, but errors are made along the way, a re-trial could be ordered by the appeals court.

Also at issue is a timing conflict with a trial for another of Crowley’s clients.

Meyer expressed his previous concern that witnesses could die before they get a chance to testify.

“The fact is, we have 150 witnesses in this case, and they’re not getting any younger,” Meyer told the judge.

The trial could take as long as four weeks.

Riffe, 54, a former Lewis County resident, was arrested in July at his home in Alaska.

Prosecutors believe Riffe and his since-deceased brother abducted Ed and Wilhelmina Maurin and forced them to withdraw money from their bank in Chehalis before shooting them and dumping their bodies near Adna.

Riffe has pleaded not guilty, but remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $5 million bail.

A review hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19, the anniversary of the day 27 years ago the couple was reported missing.

For background, read “Maurin homicide: Riffe pleads not guilty, his attorney hints at proof” from Thursday August 23, 2012, here