Archive for February, 2013

Read about March trial set in Lewis County for man charged in attack at Montesano courthouse …

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Aberdeen) Daily World reports the trial will be held in Lewis County for Steven Daniel Kravetz, accused of shooting a deputy and stabbing a judge in the Grays Harbor County courthouse last March.

News reporter Brionna Friedrich writes defense attorney David Arcuri told Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey yesterday he will argue his client has diminished capacity in a trial scheduled for March 25.

Read about it here

News brief: Sawmill fire extinguished in Centralia

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters spent three hours this morning dousing smoldering sawdust at a Centralia mill.

Crews responded about 8:50 a.m. to a fire alarm at Sierra Pacific in the Port of Centralia’s industrial park on Kuper Road, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

“We ended up having a fire in  the bag house, where all the sawdust from the mill goes,” Fire Capt. Greg Schwartz said.

A pair of employees were already using an on-site hydrant and spraying water on the structure, he said. Schwartz described the bag house, or hopper, as a very large metal container outside the main building.

“It was one of these long, drawn out procedures to get it cooled down to be able to access the panels,” Schwartz said.

With workers’ assistance, firefighters were able get the panels open to hose down the contents of the hopper, he said.

Nobody was injured.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

TRASH BAG BANDIT STRIKES AT RALPH LAUREN

• Centralia police were called abut 11:10 a.m. yesterday to the Centralia Outlet Mall on the 1400 block of Lum Road after a male filled a garbage bag with about 60 pieces of clothing from the Ralph Lauren store and ran out the door. He waited until nobody was looking, but images were captured on security video, Sgt. Carl Buster said. It was mostly packaged shirts, according to Buster.

GIRL THUGS

• Three strangers who knocked on a woman’s door on the 900 block of K Street in Centralia accusing her of owing money broke a window out of her car as they left yesterday afternoon, according to police. An officer called about 4:15 p.m. was told one of the women was an adult and the other females were younger, according to police. Sgt. Carl Buster said one of them told her she owed her mom $100. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

THEFT

• Police were called about 5:20 p.m. yesterday about welding tools and a cell phone missing from the 200 block of Silver Street in Centralia. The suspect is possibly someone she knows, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police a report about 8:50 p.m. yesterday of the theft of money and medication from the 1200 block of Alder Street.

DRUGS

• An 18-year-old Centralia resident was cited yesterday for possession of marijuana after police contacted him about 3:45 p.m. at Pioneer Way and Johnson Road in Centralia. John J. Piper was then released, according to police.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police took reports of several vehicles getting “egged” yesterday morning on Northeast Adams Avenue and then later in the day on Southwest Fifth Street.

• A deputy was called yesterday to Claquato Cemetery on the 100 block of Stearns Road west of Chehalis where sometime since Tuesday a vehicle apparently left the roadway and ran down about 12 feet of hedge.

No trial for Chehalis bar fight that included knife, brass knuckles, two women

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
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Lena A. Castillo pleads guilty to a lesser charge today in connection with stabbing another woman outside a Chehalis bar.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 24-year-old Centralia woman who pulled out a knife after she was assaulted by another bar patron last month accepted a plea deal in which she will spend six months in jail.

Lena A. Castillo was charged with first-degree assault after the January 12 fight outside Garbe’s in Chehalis; the 22-year-old victim was treated for six stab wounds.

But today in Lewis County Superior Court, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said second-degree assault was the more appropriate charge.

“Had this gone to trial, she would have had a self defense claim,” Halstead told the judge.

Halstead said surveillance video shows Ashley Stewart was the primary aggressor, that she approached Castillo, she struck Castillo twice and then they “basically grabbed each other by the hair.” The fight didn’t last very long, Halstead said.

Stewart admitted she picked up a pair of brass knuckles she found sitting on a table and then used them in the short brawl, according to Halstead.

The end of the video showed the victim on the ground, on her back with Castillo on top of her continuing to stab her, he said.

“We all know you can’t bring a gun or a knife to a fist fight,” Halstead said.

Defense attorney Michael Underwood called it a “sucker punch” and said it galled him Stewart could claim to be the victim.

His client just reacted, Underwood said. Her head was pulled down and she was hit from behind, he said.

However, had she gone to trial and lost, she faced as long as 10 years in prison, he said.

“I think, from her perspective, she’d say I’d like to go to trial, but you’ve got a 2-year-old child and a 4-year-old child who would teenagers when she got out,” Underwood said.

Castillo pleaded guilty this afternoon to second-degree assault. She chose not to address the court when the judge inquired.

She didn’t know brass knuckles were used, according to her lawyer. Halstead said she suffered a scratch to the back of her neck, although police previously said she suffered some bruising on her head.

Brass knuckles are illegal to possess. The knife was described as a small lighter-knife combination with a double-edged blade.

Stewart was treated for four stab wounds to her stomach and one to each leg and was expected to make a full recovery.

Stewart told police she’d been jumped previously by Castillo and other women; the disagreement was related to a male they both previously had a relationship with, according to Halstead.

Because Castillo has no prior felonies, the standard sentence under state law has to be between three and nine months.

Both attorneys asked Judge James Lawler to give her six months.

“It’s one thing to react to getting punched,” Lawler said. “It’s another to pull a knife out and start sticking somebody.”

And then he agreed to sentence Castillo to six months in jail, with credit for 46 days already served.

Lawler ordered her to pay about $2,400 in fees, get one year of so-called community custody upon her release and have no contact with Stewart for 10 years.
•••

For background, read:

• “Centralia woman charged in bar fight stabbing” from Monday January 14, 2013 at 9:47 p.m., here

News brief: Two injured with accidental gunshot at Chehalis store

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Two people were shot when a man holstering his pistol outside a Chehalis retailer apparently caused it to discharge today.

Police and aid were called about 1:45 p.m. to the parking lot at Sunbird Shopping Center on the 1700 block of North National Avenue.

The preliminary investigation indicates a gentleman had just purchased a new holster and was putting his gun inside it, Chehalis Police Department Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said.

“It accidentally discharged and went through his other hand and (into) his wife’s leg,” Kaut said.

Kaut said he understood the man was standing next to his truck and his wife was seated inside.

Both were taken by ambulance to Providence Centralia Hospital. Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Casey Beck said the injuries appeared to be non-life threatening.

The couple are in their 40s and from the Centralia-Rochester area, according to police.

Detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said the 9 mm bullet was lodged in the woman’s thigh, and seems to have broken her leg.

She was transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for surgery, he said.

Wilson said he’s assuming the husband had his finger on the trigger.

While it appears to be an accident, it came out of ignoring basic firearm safety rules, according to Wilson.

No one should be handling a loaded firearm in a public place like a busy parking lot, nor should they ever point a gun at something they don’t intend to shoot, he said.

“You just don’t do these things; you shouldn’t,” he said. “I’m not here to pass judgement. It is what it is.”

Wilson said he planned to let the couple “get fixed up” before he takes a look at any possible violations of the law.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

MOST OF BRIDGE MISSING

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning they have a suspect in the theft of portions of a 40-foot steel bridge missing from where they were being stored on the 200 block of Kruger Road near Onalaska. A Kirkland-based company reported the theft on Friday, after a worker noticed most of the bridge pieces were missing, according to the sheriff’s office. An individual in the Lewis County Jail who allegedly committed another similar theft has reportedly been saying he had permission to take the materials for scrap and is under investigation, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The dollar loss was not noted.

CASH MISSING

• Police were called abut 1:25 p.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of Alexander Street in Centralia to take a report of $20 stolen from a room.

VANDALISM

• Centralia police took a report about 3 p.m. yesterday of a building getting tagged with spray paint at the 600 block of Field Avenue.

• Police were called yesterday about 11:30 a.m. regarding regarding a small hole found in a window on the 1400 block of Harrison Avenue. It’s unknown what was used to cause the damage, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 9 p.m. yesterday by an individual who reported someone drove by and threw an egg at their car. The individual apparently followed the culprit through the south end of town but a responding officer was unable to locate the suspect vehicle, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

DRUGS

• Centralia police reported this morning they are referring a case of possession of methamphetamine for a possible charge against a 36-year-old Centralia woman in connection with a location at the 1300 block of Lakeshore Drive. A summary of yesterday’s incidents labels the case as a warrant arrest with no arrest.

WRECK

• A 29-year-old Chehalis driver complained of a sore back after a single-vehicle collision about 6:30 a.m. yesterday on the 1200 block of Bunker Creek Road west of Chehalis. An arriving deputy was told by the driver she didn’t realize there was ice on the road when her westbound car crossed the centerline and ran into a bank, leaving the Toyota Corolla with major front end damage, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. She was cited for speeds too fast for conditions, according to the sheriff’s office.

AND MORE …

• And, as usual, some warrant arrests, assisting another agency with response to possible drug overdose, complaint of family dispute, shoplift and more …

News brief: Kid crime stoppers starts in Chehalis schools

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lewis County Crime Stoppers has launched a student crime stoppers program in Chehalis schools.

In an announcement last week, the 18-year-old local program which accepts anonymous tips and pays reward money for help in solving crime said it has partnered with the district to reach out to staff, parents and youngsters at W.F. West High School, Chehalis Middle School and Olympic Elementary School.

It grew out an offering at a meeting last fall with local school superintendents, according to a news release.

“With all the school tragedies happening around the country, this could be one more tool to help in the prevention of an incident occurring locally,” Crime Stoppers states.

The hope is to combat inappropriate behavior, criminal activities on campus and to get tips about some things even before they occur, according to the nonprofit organization, and since the tips can be made anonymously, young people can avoid being tagged as snitches.

It uses the same phone number as the existing Crime Stoppers program: 1-800-748-6422.

The new program will be the focus of the upcoming Crime Stoppers dinner and auction fundraiser to be held on April 20 at the Southwest Washington  Fairgrounds.

News brief: Two alleged taggers arrested in Centralia

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia police announced they arrested two individuals in their ongoing investigation of an increase in gang-related graffiti in the downtown corridor.

One of them reportedly told officers he was spray painting over existing graffiti not because he was a rival gang member, but because he “.. hate(s) gangs, because they bring the city down and give it a bad name,” according to a news release from the Centralia Police Department.

The department earlier this month began offering cash rewards for tips as they began to see a more graffiti they attributed to the presence of an emerging gang. Graffiti posted by one gang can be a challenge to rival groups, who will then cross out each other’s graffiti as a sign of disrespect, according to police. Chief Bob Berg’s concern is that leads to retaliation, which often leads to violence.

Last Friday, off-duty officers came across two of their suspects and arrested them, according to police.

Officers had identified several suspects based on inquiries with local merchants about purchases of spray paint and also viewing private businesses’ security video in the course of their investigation, according to police.

Arrested for one count each of third-degree malicious mischief were Jeremy M. Barron, 21, and Jalab L. Browning, 18, both Centralia residents, according to Officer John Panco. Panco said he expects additional instances of tagging will be pinned to the young men.

They two were released pending their appearance in Centralia Municipal Court on March 5.

The hunt for other taggers continues.

News brief: Annual report; local troopers traffic stops detailed

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – In their efforts to reduce fatality and serious injury collisions, troopers in Lewis County last year removed 288 impaired drivers from local roadways.

The numbers come from a year-end break down of state patrol activities.

The troopers’ work efforts during 2012 contributed to a reduction in the number of fatal collisions by 15 percent, injury collisions by 12 percent and total collisions by 2 percent on state routes and Interstate highways in the five county area known as the Washington State Patrol’s District 5 compared with 2011, according to state patrol spokesperson Trooper Will Finn.

Other numbers tallied up for last year in Lewis County that came from 30,296 contacts with motorists by troopers include:

• Stopped 12,692 speeders.
• Stopped 1,041 aggressive drivers
• Contacted 883 vehicle occupants for not wearing or improperly wearing seat belts.
• Investigated 637 collisions

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

HERD OF SHEEP ATTACKED BY BLACK LAB

• A 12-year-old black lab suspected of killing nine sheep and injuring as many as a half dozen others in rural Chehalis won’t be in trouble criminally, but still faces county “dangerous dog” sanctions. A deputy was called yesterday afternoon to the 200 block of Pattee Road southeast of Chehalis where the owner of a special conservation breed of sheep said he saw the dog chasing and killing them inside their fenced pasture, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The 40-year-old chased the dog away, according to the sheriff’s office. He said he didn’t want the owner, his neighbor, cited because he wanted to be neighborly, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The canine, named Cora, was taken home and her owner told while no criminal citation would be given, the case would be turned over to the code enforcement office for follow up, according to Brown.

BURGLAR TAKES CIGARETTES

• Centralia police responded just before 5 o’clock this morning to the 1300 block of South Gold Street where someone had broken through the glass door of a gas station business and left with three packs of cigarettes. They used a large rock, according to police. The case is under investigation.

TOOLS VANISH

• A deputy was called yesterday morning by an Ethel-based tree company that said sometime between Saturday afternoon and early Monday morning – a week earlier – someone stole a chainsaw’s chain, bar and a small toolbox from where it had been left at a job site in Vader on Sierra Pacific’s Tree Farm, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

WORKPLACE THEFT

• Police were called about 10:20 a.m. yesterday to the 900 block of South Schueber Road in Centralia where they were told by an individual a wallet was stolen while they were at work. Inside it was $60, according to the Centralia Police Department.

FRAUD

• Centralia police were called yesterday to the 1000 block of North Schueber Road in Centralia to a complaint someone tried to open a credit account in someone else’s name.

VANDALISM

• Police were called about 9:45 a.m. yesterday when a hole was discovered in the glass door to a business at the Centralia Outlet Mall at the 1200 block of Lum Road.

WRECK

• Police were called about 9:15 p.m. yesterday after a car and a pickup truck collided at the intersection of Kresky Avenue and Summa Street in Centralia. Two individuals with what police called minor injuries were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BURNING VEHICLE

• Firefighters were called yesterday morning to a car fire at Haywire and Pleasant Valley Road west of Napavine. It was burning in the engine compartment, it was extinguished, the driver got out with no injuries, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

AND MORE …

• And, as usual, some misdemeanor domestic assaults, warrant arrests, violation of a no-contact order, neighbors arguing loudly, sighting of a runaway juvenile … and more

 

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Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 5

Read about 45-year-old man convicted of stealing from Rochester employer …

Monday, February 25th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a now-former employee of VJs Bargain Barn in Rochester pleaded guilty today to eight counts of theft in connection with an investigation he stole more than $200,000 from his employer over a three-year period.

News reporter Jeremy Pawloski writes that the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office will recommend  Larry Ledl, 45, spend two years in prison.

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

Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Greg Elwin said at the time Ledl opened a similar business in Chehalis following the alleged theft; Builders Surplus Northwest. However, an employee there said the owner was someone who was not Ledl.

Read about it here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, February 25th, 2013

ANGRY ABOUT SMOKES

• A 66-year-old Toledo man was arrested yesterday for second-degree assault after he allegedly choked his wife following an argument about hidden cigarettes. A deputy responding about 11:45 a.m. to an address on state Route 505 was told Ronald G. Kipperman had also ripped the phone from his wife’s hands when she tried to dial 911, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The victim showed redness on her neck, according to the sheriff’s office. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

ALLEGED HEAD BUTTER CAUGHT

• A 27-year-old Winlock man was arrested last night for fourth-degree assault and then driving under the influence after the sheriff’s office was called to his father’s home where the son allegedly pushed his dad to the ground and head butted him because he was upset, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy subsequently located Kibling R.K. Placer driving near Front and Alder streets in Winlock where he was arrested, according to the sheriff’s office. Placer was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

NO PERMISSION TO GET BELONGINGS FROM HOME

• A 49-year-old Toledo man was arrested for burglary on Saturday after he reportedly forcibly entered a vacant residence on the 1500 block of state Route 505 in Toledo where he removed a wooden bookshelf and put it on the porch to pick up later. Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said Daniel W. Fultz, had permission to remove his belongings from a shed, but only if a representative was present as the occupants had recently been evicted. Fultz was booked into the Lewis County Jail. His companion Gregory W. Merzoin, 50, of Toledo, was arrested for trespass and then released, according to Brown.

WANTED MAN FOUND IN  LEWIS COUNTY JAIL

• The “John Doe” arrested on Saturday night in Centralia for allegedly giving a fake name to get care at Providence Centralia Hospital turned out to be a 45-year-old man wanted for escape out of Alabama, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police booked David W. Foster, who they described as transient, into the Lewis County Jail on Saturday for forgery in connection with his visit to the hospital, Sgt. Stacy Denham said. Foster got treatment for an ulcer, or something similar, and was given medication but gave another name, Denham said. Denham didn’t have specific details about where Foster escaped from, but said authorities in Alabama confirmed the warrant and want him back.

WORKERS ARRESTED FOR THEFT AT JUVENILE FACILITY

• A security officer at Green Hill was arrested on Friday afternoon for allegedly stealing $100 bill from a co-worker’s purse. A Chehalis police officer called about 2:40 p.m. to the juvenile detention facility on Southwest 11th Street was told he was the only one in the area, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Kenneth E. Sutherland, 40, of Castle Rock, was cited for third-degree theft and then released, Officer Linda Bailey said.

BURGLARY IN CENTRALIA

• Centralia police were called about 11:40 a.m. yesterday to the 100 block of Virginia Drive where a woman said she returned home from work to discover items missing to include shoes, a broken cell phone and some makeup. She said she had left the front door unlocked, according to the Centralia Police Department.

SHOPLIFTING ALCOHOL

• Police were called about 12:45 a.m. on Saturday to the 1100 block of South Market Boulevard in Chehalis after an employee said a 17 or 18-year-old boy walked out of Safeway with two 24-packs of Coors beer. He was told he needed to pay but kept going and got in to a car that drove away, according to police. No suspect was located but an officer will review store security tapes, Officer Linda Bailey said. The loss is $34.98.

MAIL THEFT TOLEDO AREA

• Someone driving a newer pinkish-beige SUV was observed removing an envelope from a mailbox on the 100 block of Smokey Valley Road southwest of Toledo on Friday at about 2:20 p.m., the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning.

DRUGS

• Jason F. Hooker was arrested for possession of methamphetamine when he was picked up on a warrant at about 10 p.m. on Friday on the 200 block of Silverbrook Road in Randle, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A glass pipe with suspected drug residue was found when he was searched, according to the sheriff’s office. Hooker was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

OUTBREAK OF GRAFFITI

• A Chehalis police officer on patrol yesterday took numerous reports of graffiti spray painted on garages, beginning on the 700 block of Southwest McFadden Avenue. Noted were various letters in black such as TDG as well as least one using green and orange paint, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Other locations included the 700 block of Southwest Pacific Avenue, the 500 block of Southwest Chehalis Avenue, the 600 and 700 blocks of Southwest William Avenue and also Southwest Sixth Street, according to police.

• Centralia police took two reports yesterday of gang-style graffiti, the first on a garage door on the 300 block of South Buckner Street and the other on a building at the 300 block of South Diamond Street.

Vader man off the hook for father’s death

Monday, February 25th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Prosecutors will be notifying a 27-year-old Vader man they’ve decided not to charge him in his father’s November death, a death that occurred two days after Travis M. Myers shoved his 52-year-old father who fell and hit his head on a concrete sidewalk.

It’s just not clear if the injury killed him.

Michael K. Myers, 52, passed away on Thanksgiving Day at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he had been airlifted following his injury outside a Morton motel.

Police at the time said the son had stepped in between his parents during a fight. The mother had just gotten arrested for allegedly being drunk behind the wheel of a car and the father was described as stumbling down drunk.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said the autopsy report came back and indicated Michael K. Myers died from a brain aneurysm, a burst blood vessel in his head.

“We can’t link it for sure,” Meagher said this morning.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded the senior Myers died from a brain hemorrhage. It’s unknown if the external events contributed to a rupture of the aneurysm, according to the death certificate.

The death certificate was finalized late last month; Meagher notified the Morton Police Department on Friday he is declining to charge a crime in the case.

The family is from Vader and the two men had gone to the Seasons Motel to pick up the mother who had taken a room there after her arrest by a trooper.

Travis Myers was arrested for second-degree assault the day after the incident, and the prosecutor’s office asked a judge to release him on a $25,000 unsecured bond as they contemplated a possible charge of  second-degree manslaughter.

Meagher said part of his decision involved the issue of self defense and defense of others. Police reports indicated the father shoved the mother and then the son shoved the father. And, the father had also fallen down twice earlier that night, Meagher said.

“That, combined with the forensic problem, we can’t justify charging the kid,” Meagher said.

Meagher said this morning he will be contacting the young man with the news.

The underlying cause of death is listed as a probable cerebral artery aneurysm; the manner of death will remain listed as undetermined, according to the KCME Office.

According to the National Institutes of Health, it’s not clear exactly what causes aneurysms; some are present at birth.
•••

For background, read “Vader man released from jail as prosecutor ponders charges in father’s death” from Tuesday November 27, 2012, here

News brief: Human remains found three years ago finally ID’d as Toledo man

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Updated at 11:35 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The skeletal remains found in a Toledo-area field in February 2010 have been positively identified as Travis Seeber, 35, of Toledo, the Lewis County Coroner announced this morning.

DNA was used to figure out who they belonged to, according to Coroner Warren McLeod.

The cause and manner of Seeber’s death are still undetermined, McLeod said in a news release.

The remains were found on Feb. 18, 2010 by a child playing on property near the 100 block of Cougar Lane. At the time, the sheriff’s office said there did not appear to be any foul play.

Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said deputies had been looking for Seeber since 2008 when they responded to a felony assault in which he was a suspect south of Winlock and soon after found his truck abandoned off Cougar Lane.

Seeber had allegedly groped an 18-year-old babysitter and waved a pistol when she awoke, but then apologized and fled. His driver’s license was found on the seat of his vehicle and a tracking dog did not find him.

The coroner, the sheriff’s office and a forensic anthropologist from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office are working together to come up with answers about the cause and manner of death, according to McLeod.

The sheriff’s office still don’t believe any foul play was involved in his death, Brown said this morning.

McLeod said he doesn’t know when the death occurred because of the skeletal condition of the remains.

DNA samples were sent to a lab at the University of North Texas, a lab that handles only non criminal cases and conducts the analysis free of charge, according to McLeod.

News brief: Five promoted at rural Chehalis fire department

Sunday, February 24th, 2013
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Lewis County Fire District 6 celebrated the end of probation for its full time firefighters

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Five individuals have been promoted to firefighter from probationary firefighter at Lewis County Fire District 6.

A badge pinning ceremony was held at the rural Chehalis fire station on Jackson Highway on Feb. 16, where Chief Tim Kinder administered the firefighter oath, assisted by Assistant Chief Pat Smith and Deputy Chief Steve Lux, according to a news release.

Offering encouragement and congratulations before an audience of family and friends were the district’s first chief Noel Cole, the president of the Lewis County Fire Chief’s Association Gregg Peterson and former District 6 Commissioner Greg Pulver, according to Kinder.

The fire district last March introduced to the community its five newly hired paid firefighters when it was transformed from an predominantly volunteer department to a “combination” department.

Those promoted were :

• Matt McCoy Firefighter-Paramedic
• Greg Folwell Firefighter-EMT
• Kyle Eiswald Firefighter-EMT
• Mike Goodwillie Firefighter-EMT
• Matt Foley Firefighter-EMT

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

VEHICLE PROWL

• Centralia police were called at 7:40 p.m. yesterday regarding a female catching a suspected prowler inside her car on the 1100 block of Borthwick Street in Centralia. The male subject ran off after she confronted him, and nothing was missing, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police were called about 7 o’clock yesterday morning about someone cutting the soft top of a Jeep parked at the 500 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia.

THEFT

• A debit card was stolen from a tavern on the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday afternoon.

• Centralia police began investigating an unspecified theft at abut 10 p.m. Friday in connection with the 1400 block of Johnson Road.

HEALTH CARE ISSUES

• Centralia police say they arrested an unidentified male about 10 p.m. yesterday at the 1200 block of Mellen Street for giving a fake name to obtain medical services. “John Doe” was booked into the Lewis County Jail for forgery, according to police. Further details were not readily available.

• A 58-year-old Longview man was arrested about 1:30 a.m. yesterday for allegedly interfering with a health care facility after contact with police at the 900 block of South Schueber Road in Centralia. Craig Weighall was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. Further details were not readily available.

VANDALISM

• Police were called to graffiti spray painted on the sides of two buildings on Friday; both at the 500 block of North Tower Avenue.

PACKWOOD FIRE UNDER INVESTIGATION STILL

• The cause of a cabin fire in Packwood on Wednesday night is listed as undetermined, pending the outcome of an investigation by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Firefighters called about 7:30 p.m. extinguished a blaze that gutted an old Ohanepecosh cabin on the 500 block of Cannon Road, according to Lewis County Fire District 10. Fire investigator Derrick Paul said yesterday that’s all he could say about what he discovered.

Attorneys dispute statute of limitations rules on surprise child sex charge for Maurin double murder defendant

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Prosecutors alleged in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday that murder defendant Ricky A. Riffe raped his 9-year-old step-daughter 28 years ago, filing new charges for a crime that has a possible penalty of life in prison.

Riffe’s attorney is calling it a ploy to smear his client, in a small community that is closely following the news of Riffe’s upcoming double murder trial.

Riffe, 54, was returned to Lewis County from his home in Alaska last summer when Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer charged him in the December 1985 abduction and slaying of Ed and Wilhelmina Maurin, an elderly couple who lived in Ethel.

While not exactly a cold case because Riffe and his now-deceased brother were longtime primary suspects, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with a newly elected prosecutor stepped up a re-investigation, noting that fear of the brothers had kept many witnesses from coming forward when the crimes occurred.

The two men moved to Alaska in 1987, according to the sheriff.

The sheriff’s office has said it believes that on Dec. 19, 1985 the brothers somehow got into the couple’s home, and then forced them to drive to a bank in Chehalis to withdraw $8,500 before shooting them in the backs with a shotgun.

The bodies of the Maurins, Ed, 81 and Wilhelmina, 83, were found on Christmas Eve 1985 dumped off a logging road outside Adna.

Riffe is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery, as well as one count of burglary.

His trial is scheduled to begin in May and last as long as a month.

Yesterday, in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis, Meyer told the judge Riffe is now charged with two incidents of child sex abuse, one from 1984 and the other from 1986.

Judge Richard Brosey read the charges aloud, advised Riffe they are separate from the other matter and that he is presumed innocent. He asked Riffe how he pled.

Defense attorney John Crowley jumped up and objected to the late filing of charges beyond the statute of limitations.

Crowley asked the judge to enter not guilty pleas on behalf of his client, and all agreed to revisit the matter after the murder trial ends.

Meyer, outside the courtroom, said the statute of limitations doesn’t apply because Riffe had left the state.

The allegations were investigated by police at the time and no criminal charges were filed, according to both Meyer and Crowley.

“It was investigated then, it came up again during this investigation,” Meyer said. “We got some new information.”

In Washington, all crimes except murder have a statute of limitations, according to Crowley. It’s a limit on the amount of time that can pass beyond which prosecutors can’t file criminal charges against a person, he said.

Crowley, a Seattle-based attorney, said it’s true if a person moves out of state that stops the clock, as long as authorities don’t know where they went.

But the sheriff’s office knew the brothers moved to Alaska, and contacted them in 1993, Crowley said.

“They interviewed him and his brother, it’s no secret where he was,” he said.

Judge Brosey has already said more than once the court plans to bring in an extra large number of potential jurors for the murder trial, to allow for the amount of pre-trial publicity the case has generated.

The most serious of the new allegations is that shortly after the victim turned 9, her mother was gone from the home and she was told to keep that “side of the bed warm.” Charging documents state she awoke to Riffe raping her.

The girl left the room with an excuse and then slept on the floor of her brother’s bedroom, according to the documents.

For that, Riffe is charged with what was then called statutory rape.

The second count, then called indecent liberties, is in connection with when she was 10 years old and Riffe allegedly fondling her.

Riffe denies any sexual contact, according to charging documents.

The hearing yesterday continued with tentative scheduling in April for two days of pre-trial hearings and deadlines decided for the submission of pre-trial motions.

Riffe remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $5 million bail.
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For background, read “Man held in 1985 slayings of Ethel couple now accused of child sex abuse from nearly 30 years ago” from Friday February 22, 2013 at 11:24 a.m., here

Seventy-five goats and horses removed from Centralia pasture

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Centralia area couple who relinquished 25 horses and 50 goats last week were in court yesterday in connection with a charge of second-degree animal cruelty.

Gerald D. Specht, 65, and his wife Wendy Specht, 58, have both pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to return to Lewis County District Court on March 13 for a hearing.

It wasn’t so much the animals were thin, but they were living in horrible conditions, according to Lewis County Code Enforcement Supervisor Bill Teitzel.

Teitzel described the horses’ feeding area as littered with obstacles such as barbed wire and finding injuries to the horses’ feet and legs. When Teitzel visited the property, he found about 10 of the goats inside the darkened remnants of a house, he said.

The floor was covered with mud and animal waste, he said.

The Spechts themselves are living in a tent as their home burned several years ago, Teitzel said.

The property is on the 600 block of Teitzel Road east of Centralia.

“My take on this, is the people were overwhelmed,” Teitzel said. “But I think they ended up taking responsibility.”

The couple previously lived in a recreational vehicle, but code enforcement had found issues with their sewage set up, he said.

The county had been monitoring the situation since October and when they visited on Feb. 13, found two dead horses not properly disposed of, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Teitzel and sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust described visits last week which included the state veterinarian who found one horse so diseased it had to be euthanized.

A search warrant was served at the property a week ago Friday.

They didn’t have anyone to help to deal with the problems, according to Teitzel.

The Washington State Livestock Coalition persuaded the Spechts to give up the animals. The horses were removed to Pierce County where they were to be cared for. The plan was to keep the goats in Lewis County, where there are many options for finding takers, he said.

The couple were cited by code enforcement for solid waste issues, failure to bury a dead animal. Teitzel also was going to make a referral call to Adult Protective Services for the couple themselves, he said.

The Spechts yesterday after court said they had no comment, that any comment should come through their attorney.

They are each charged with one count of second-degree animal cruelty, alleging at the very least they knowingly allowed an animal to live under conditions that caused unnecessary pain. It is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail or a $5,000 fine or both.

•••

Revised Code of Washington: Animal cruelty in the second degree (owner): RCW 16.52.207

Plea deal reached for Burkett’s Auto Sales owner

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The case of a bar fight that led to charges of felony assault and witness tampering by the owner of a Centralia used car business ended today with a jail sentence of five months.

John I. Burkett, 40, was set to go to trial next week and decided to accept a plea offer instead.

Burkett said he was afraid he would lose everything if he ended up going to prison.

“She was asking for 22 months if I went to trial and lost, and I was scared, I’ve got kids,” Burkett said, referring to the deputy prosecutor.

The Winlock resident pleaded guilty today in Lewis County Superior Court to tampering with a witness and malicious prosecution.

Burkett indicated the malicious prosecution charge came about when he told police another man put his hands on the woman he was dancing with at Paradise in Chehalis in December of 2011.

The 25-year-old victim who suffered an injury to the back of his head was not present in the courtroom this afternoon.

The witness tampering charge, Burkett admitted in a written statement, was because he offered the man $3,500 in hopes he would absent himself from further court hearings.

Dismissed were charges of assault and bribing a witness.

Burkett owns Burkett’s Auto Sales on on South Gold Street in Centralia.

Defense attorney Chris Baum told the judge today he client was very sorry for what he’d done.

“This is a real unfortunate situation that was blown out of proportion,” Baum said.

The Chehalis attorney said his client tried to resolve the issue by attempting to offer restitution privately.

Judge James Lawler decided Burkett would have to spend 30 days in jail and would be free to serve the rest of his sentence on electronic home monitoring.