Archive for May, 2013

Lewis County rape case plagued with delays hits another hurdle

Friday, May 31st, 2013
Leo B. Bunker

Leo B. Bunker, in orange jail garb, listens while attorneys and a judge finalize details for his trial.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Lewis County rape trial that has been repeatedly postponed because of illnesses involving the defendant, the victim and even a judge faces yet another test.

Doctors say the stress of facing in court the man she says violently raped her and otherwise physically abused her during their short marriage could trigger another heart attack for the victim.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joely O’Rourke told a judge today the victim has an ongoing coronary condition, has had a quadruple bypass and has 28 “stents”. She recently had a heart attack, according to the prosecutor.

O’Rourke said she’s been in close contact with the woman’s treating physician and cardiologist.

“Both have highly advised against her testifying at all,” O’Rourke said.

The prosecutor’s comments came during a hearing today in which she requested the woman be allowed to testify via video, specifically using Skype on a 70-inch screen which would be present in the courtroom.

O’Rourke described how when Leo B. Bunker’s first trial began in January, the victim had so much anxiety, she broke down sobbing and had to be picked her up off the floor.

“I know its unprecedented, but I think we have the technology,” she told the judge. “I think if there ever was a case to do something like this, this is it.”

Judge James Lawler denied the motion, but called it an unusual situation.

“Her condition doesn’t make it impossible for her testify, but that it would be stressful,” Lawler said. “Given that, I can’t find she’s unavailable.”

“It will be uncomfortable, it is for every victim that has to  come in to testify,” he said.

The trial is scheduled to begin next week.

Bunker, 53, of Winlock, has been locked up for about a year and half awaiting trial.

He was charged in December 2011.

The victim contacted law enforcement about a month earlier, describing how she’d recently reconnected with the man who she dated in high school, according to charging documents.

In the beginning, it was okay, but then he began to dominate her, would not let her talk on the phone or leave the house without his permission, she told the deputy.

Charging documents allege that in early October 2011, he forced her to go to Vancouver, Wash. to get married.

She said she was waiting for him to go to jail to get away from him, according to O’Rourke. According to his attorney, Bunker was convicted of violating a protection order in connection with an assault on his previous wife. But his report date got moved, and the victim, frightened she would not survive, snuck out and contacted an ex-boyfriend, according to charging documents.

When she tried to sneak back in, he accused her of cheating, began choking her and said he would kill her, she told the deputy. She said he ripped off her clothes and raped her.

The victim spoke of his taste for pornographic movies depicting violent rape and murder, allegedly telling her to pay attention because it could happen to her, according to charging documents.

Bunker is charged with two counts of second-degree rape, one count of harassment and two counts of violating a protection order. He has pleaded not guilty.

Since being locked up awaiting trial, he was diagnosed with throat cancer and has undergone surgery and radiation, according to his attorney.

His trial finally began in January, but on the second day he was sick from chemotherapy, according to O’Rourke. The next day they reconvened but the following day, the judge got sick, she said. A mistrial was declared.

It has repeatedly been postponed since then because of Bunker’s health, and then when the victim had a heart attack.

Defense attorney Michael Underwood today asked the judge to delay the trial once again. Because of the throat condition, his client’s voice is just a whisper, he said.

“He looks good, but he’s not feeling good,” Underwood told the judge. “I just need him to be in his best best medical condition he can be in (for trial).”

Lawler denied the request. Underwood indicated he was going to prepare a motion for a change of venue, due to pretrial publicity.

O’Rourke said last week, the victim wants to testify; she wants Bunker put away. Not so much for punishment, but because she’s afraid of him, O’Rourke said.

After today’s hearing and the judge’s denial of using Skype, it’s not clear what will happen.

“Given that the doctors have told it it could kill her, I’m not going to force her to testify,” O’Rourke said.

News brief: Guilty verdict reached quickly in jewelry store trial

Friday, May 31st, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A jury took less than two hours today to find a Federal Way man guilty in the failed March jewelry heist in downtown Centralia.

Justin D. McPherson, 29, survived a gunshot wound he sustained when he was confronted inside Salewsky’s Jewelry shop in the early morning hours of March 20. Centralia police detectives tracked him down at a Tacoma hospital.

The owner said all the stolen pieces were recovered; in a trail of jewelry that led through a hole cut into the wall of the shop.

Plea deals were made with two women who police at first labeled the getaway drivers, but both testified they weren’t in on a plan to break into the business.

Their testimony however placed McPherson and his childhood friend Ryan W. Cox in the vicinity at the time of the burglary.

Cox had a plea agreement with prosecutors as well, but it fell through and he wasn’t called to testify in the three-day trial. He remains in the Lewis County Jail.

McPherson was found guilty of residential burglary, second-degree burglary and second-degree malicious mischief.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead described the shop as a residence because Jeremy Salewsky lived in an upstairs apartment. Salewsky testified he went downstairs to investigate noises and fired at a person who surprised him, and then jumped out a hole in the wall.

The second burglary count is related to the vacant business on the other side of the wall.

McPherson shook his head ever so slightly as he turned toward the jury when the verdict was read. He is represented by Chehalis attorney Ken Johnson.

The jury of nine women and three men also found an aggravating circumstance, that McPherson committed the crime while the victim was present.

That finding means a judge will be free to sentence him to the maximum of 10 years, according to Halstead.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

For background, read “Jewelry store break-in defendant’s companions testify against him” from Thursday May 30, 2013, here

News brief: Randle pair hurt in Clark County freeway wreck

Friday, May 31st, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Two people from Randle were injured this afternoon when their car ran into another car that had lost control on Interstate 5 in Clark County.

Margaret E. Sundstrom, 66, was transported to PeaceHealth Hospital, after the collision which occurred just before 3 p.m. near milepost 16, north of Vancouver, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Her passenger William L. Little, 68, was injured as well, according to the state patrol.

Sundstorm’s 2005 Buick LaSabre was described as totaled.

Troopers responding to the scene said a 55-year-old Portland driver was merging onto the freeway southbound from Northwest LaCenter Road when she swerved right to avoid a semi truck, overcorrected, veered back in to the center lane and was struck broadside by the Buick.

That driver, Thuy T. Vu, was taken to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center as well, according to the state patrol. Her 1989 Dodge Dynasty was also totaled.


Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, May 31st, 2013


• A burglary north of Morton was apparently solved early yesterday when law enforcement officers caught up to a suspect vehicle that turned off state Route 7 onto a logging road but was blocked by fallen trees. The 47-year-old driver admitted he had run out of his shoes when fleeing the scene at the 1700 block of state Route 7 where the burglary victim said he fired warning shots into the air after catching  acquaintances stealing items from his garage, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The shoes were found in the yard and damp footprints matching the tread were discovered inside the garage, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies and Morton police called just after 1 a.m. learned from the 58-year-old victim that after he fired shots, a car towing a utility trailer left the scene but he got in his vehicle and found the car on a nearby road. The man said when the female got out of the car he fired more warning shots and the pair fled again, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. Brown said a missing gas can was found in the suspect’s car. Found near where the car had briefly parked were other stolen goods – a model airplane, its controls and duct tape, Brown said. Booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary were Kimberly D. Annis, 44, and Timothy H. Thayer, 47, both of Seattle, according to the sheriff’s office. The two had different accounts of what had gone on, and denied being inside the man’s garage, Brown said.


• A 49-year-old Chehalis area man called 911 yesterday after returning home to discover a burglary in which five firearms and other valuable were stolen. A deputy called about 4:50 p.m. to the 100 block of Taylor Road south of Chehalis found a back door had been forced open. Among the items taken were clothing, DVDs, ammunition, a 12-gauge shotgun, a Marlin 357 rifle, a Ruger 22, a 9 mm semi-automatic Ruger and a Glock 9 mm, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It happened sometime since April 11, according to the sheriff’s office. The loss is estimated at more than $2,300.


• Someone broke a window to get inside a shop building at the 400 block of Burchett Road in the Onalaska area, making off with a Honda 5 hp boat motor, a Stihl weed eater and a Husqvarna chain saw. A deputy called yesterday afternoon learned the break-in occurred sometime since March 31, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A 49-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for illegal possession of Oxycodone and for an outstanding warrant yesterday morning in centralia. Anthony W. Pyper was booked into the Lewis County Jail following contact with police about 11 a.m. at the 500 block of North Tower Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police are investigating the possibility of illegal possession of  prescription drugs following contact with a 19-year-old Lakewood man about 12:30 a.m. at the 1200 block of Mellen Street. Saul Estaba-Perez, 19, was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for driving with a suspended license, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Centralia police are looking for a bald male on a BMX-style bicycle following a vehicle prowl yesterday evening at East Locust Street and South Tower Avenue. Officers called just before 7 p.m. found the subject had fled the area. He was wearing blue pants and a light green sweatshirt, police were told.


• An 18-year-old Centralia resident – Jordon J. Sansouci – was cited for racing and reckless driving following contact with police at the 2800 block of Russell Road in Centralia just after 11:30 p.m. yesterday.


• Chehalis police were called to Wal-Mart about 4:30 a.m. regarding a pair of counterfeit $20 bills received at the store. Officers will be looking at security video to follow up, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Someone slashed the tire of a vehicle at the 1400 block of Oxford Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 6 p.m. yesterday.


• A 56-year-old Onalaska man and his female passenger were hospitalized with neck and back pain following a single-vehicle rollover collision yesterday afternoon at the 1400 block of little Hanaford Road outside Centralia. A deputy investigating the approximately 3:15 wreck concluded the 1996 Ford Explorer was traveling too fast on a wet road at a sharp curve when it left the roadway and landed in a ditch, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The vehicle was described as totaled.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for violation of a protection order, warrant; responses for shoplifting, dispute, out-of-control teenager, male staggering in the roadway … and more.

Jewelry store break-in defendant’s companions testify against him

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Justin D. McPherson, right, stands with his attorney Ken Johnson as jurors exit the courtroom during his trial for burglary.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Two women who drove away from downtown Centralia with the two suspected thieves following the botched burglary at Salewsky’s Jewelry shop say they didn’t really know what was going on.

They were waiting in their cars in the parking lot at the railroad station after a long night at a casino, 30-year-old Jennifer Nordyke testified.

“Ryan and Rachael were talking about getting a hotel,” Nordyke said. “The guys say, hold on, we’ll be right back.”

The men were gone 15 to 30 minutes, she said.

Prosecutors initially said Nordyke and Rachael Hunter were the getaway drivers after Justin D. McPherson and his friend broke through a wall into the Tower Avenue business early one morning in mid-March, and fled after McPherson was shot when he was confronted by the owner’s son.

The two women have made plea deals in exchange for their testimony. Ryan W. Cox, also charged in the case, remains held in the Lewis County Jail.

The trial for McPherson opened yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court. It’s expected to run in to tomorrow.

Centralia police called about 7 a.m. on March 20 found a trail of dropped jewelry leading from a person-sized hole cut into the wall of the store from a vacant adjacent business space. Officers recovered a crowbar. The lock on the back door at the alley was discovered broken.

A Seattle area man who was staying at the Olympic Club hotel and smoking a cigarette near his work van early that morning testified he saw two men in black running toward him.

“All I heard was go, go, go,” Joshua Morris said.

The two cars he’d noticed with women in them parked near his van then squealed out of the lot, Morris said.

He thought a bank had been robbed, he said.

“At first I didn’t believe what I saw,” he said. “But I’ve seen a lot of movies.”

Fred Salewsky testified he thinks all of the missing jewelry has been recovered, about $3,800 worth.

Salewsky told the court yesterday he got a call from his son Jeremy Salewsky early that morning.

Jeremy Salewsky lives in an apartment above the shop the senior Salewsky bought from his father in 1985.

“My son tells me, ‘I think I might have shot someone’,” Fred Salewsky said. “I said, I will be right there.”

Centralia police got a break in the case a few days later when an off-duty detective learned a male with a gunshot wound was dropped off at a Tacoma hospital by a female in a red Mercedes the morning of the burglary, according to charging documents.

Officers arrested Nordyke on March 22 when she showed up to visit McPherson; they arrested McPherson as he was released from the hospital a few days later. Cox was charged on April 30; Hunter on May 10.

Police described McPherson as someone with an extensive criminal background, well known to police in the Renton, Kent, Auburn area.

The 29-year-old has a 2006 conviction for possession of stolen property, as well as three three eluding convictions, according to prosecutors. He is represented by Chehalis attorney Ken Johnson.

McPherson is charged with one count of second-degree burglary as well as one count of residential burglary.

He’s sat quietly in the courtroom as Johnson and Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead questioned witnesses.

Jeremy Salewsky testified yesterday it was too dark too see more than a male figure with a blue hooded sweatshirt when he came downstairs to investigate an odd noise that morning.

He didn’t expect to see someone standing there, and fired from his Colt 45 handgun, he said.

He couldn’t even tell which way the person was facing, he said. Police have said McPherson was shot in the lower back.

“The individual jumped back though a wall that was cut,” Jeremy Salewsky testified.

The younger Salewsky said then he just stood there stunned a minute or two after it happened.

Nordyke, who said she and McPherson live in Federal Way, told jurors she expects prosecutors will drop two felony charges against her. Her hearing is set for tomorrow.

She admitted she didn’t want to be on the witness stand.

“If I testify, I get a misdemeanor charge, rendering criminal assistance,” she said, her voice breaking. “And I get to stay in drug court so I can raise our children.”

McPherson and she have known each other about 10 years. He and Cox have been good friends since childhood, she said.

She described leaving Centralia, a town she said she wasn’t familiar with, and traveling north on the freeway looking for blue hospital signs, trying to keep McPherson awake, holding hands and praying.

Nordyke explained he used the name of a friend’s ex-husband who had health insurance at the hospital, because they didn’t have insurance.

Reluctantly, she read aloud a passage from a police report in which she told officers she heard McPherson say to a friend that morning, “Dude, Mike, I tried to rob a jewelry store.”

On the stand today, Hunter said she’d been offered the same plea deal.

Halstead questioned her about what she thought McPherson and Cox were doing when they left the women in the parking lot that morning.

“Maybe something that wasn’t on the up and up,” Hunter said.  “So I didn’t really ask.”

Cox is scheduled for a change of plea and sentencing next week.

For background, read “Jewelry store burglary suspect, alleged getaway driver awaiting May trial” from Thursday April 4, 2013, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, May 30th, 2013



• A Centralia woman was hospitalized after she tried to stop a kitchen fire by carrying a pot of burning french fry oil outside last night. Firefighters called about 9 p.m. to the 500 block of Pine Street found the five occupants of the residence outside and the inside filled with smoke. The fire was out but the stove and cabinets were scorched, Capt. Scott Snyder said. Snyder said it seemed as they were collectively preparing french fries but all were in another part of the home when they noticed smoke in the kitchen. He called the young woman extremely lucky, suggesting smothering the flames with the pot’s lid instead of picking it up would have been safer. “She did have some pretty bad burns where it landed on her feet,” he said. She was treated by medics and transported by AMR to Providence Centralia Hospital, he said.


• A Randle man was arrested yesterday morning after he went into a female friend’s house uninvited during the night and got in to bed with her. The 37-year-old woman woke up right away, told him to get out and called 911, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called to the home on Bennett Road at 5 a.m. arrested James W. Ballard, 40, and booked him into the Lewis County Jail for trespassing, according to the sheriff’s office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said the two apparently had differing interpretations of their relationship.


• An investigation into alleged unlawful imprisonment and stalking against a 55-year-old Chehalis man ended yesterday with police finding probable cause for his arrest but instead of detaining him, they directed prosecutors to issue a summons to the subject regarding felony and misdemeanor charges, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The case involved a brief incident in which William A. Appleby Sr. allegedly blocked a woman’s path to a doorway at the Chehalis wastewater treatment plant and multiple instances of allegedly parking and watching or driving past another female’s residence earlier this spring, according to police.


• Centralia police were called about 9:20 a.m. yesterday to a home on the 2500 block of Kristine Avenue where cash and a computer were reported stolen. They have a suspect in mind and are investigating, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called to Centralia Outlet stores yesterday afternoon where a male and female passed a “bad” travelers check at one location and attempted the same at another.

• A deputy was called last night to the 200 block of Clinton Road outside Chehalis after the discovery an ATV had vanished from a chicken barn. The 2000 Eton 90cc quad wasn’t drivable and seemed to have been stolen sometime since April 1, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Centralia police responded about 11 p.m. yesterday after a white Dodge pickup truck truck a utility pole at the 900 block of South Gold Street and left the area. The truck was subsequently located a few blocks away but its driver was not identified, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for misdemeanor assaults, driving with a suspended license; responses for violation of a restraining order, parking lot fender bender, accidental 911 calls, stray cat questions, burglar alarms, suspicious circumstances … and more.


CLARIFICATION: This entry has been updated to clarify that while police said they arrested and then released William A. Appleby Sr. yesterday, they say he was arrested on paper but not physically detained. As of Dec. 12, 2013, no charges had been filed.

Centralia Outlet pepper spray melee defendant disputes police accounts

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Tamala J. Summerhill, right, waits while defense attorney Bob Schroeter confers with a deputy prosecutor during her court appearance.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Tacoma woman accused of letting loose with her pepper spray at the Centralia Outlets over the weekend says news reporters got the story all wrong.

Tamala J. Summerhill, 53, bailed out of jail but returned to go before a Lewis County Superior Court judge yesterday afternoon.

Police said they were called to the shopping center on Saturday because a female used pepper spray to break up a brawl between her grown son and another man outside the Nike Factory Outlet then chased the subject, spraying him and two boys who were with him.

Summerhill is charged with two counts of third-degree child assault and one count of fourth-degree assault.

“I want to tell it, and I will let my lawyer do that,” Summerhill said after her court hearing.

Centralia police said after a disagreement inside the store between 22-year-old Jesse Summerhill and a 38-year-old Tumwater man, the pair ended up in a fight once they got outside.

The 38-year-old Tumwater man had the younger Summerhill on the ground when the mother sprayed him, according to the police version.

Police arrested Jesse Summerhill, also of Tacoma, for misdemeanor assault

How and why the scuffle started and what happened after are not very clear.

Both men told police the other one initiated the rudeness inside the store – over a cashier being ready to take the next customer in line – and once outside challenged the other one to fight, according to charging documents.

The documents allege the following information:

Corey Leneker said he had begun to walk to his car with his two 8-year-old boys but the mother and son followed him calling him names.

“He ordered the two boys to get in the front seat of their vehicle, which they did,” charging documents state.

The two men fought. After Leneker was sprayed he ran and they chased him, Leneker told police. She was spraying as they were running, he said.

Leneker reached his vehicle when the woman sprayed him again and the two boys, charging documents state.

It was streaming spray and not the fog type, according to police.

An independent witness told police Leneker was trying to shield the kids when she sprayed all three of them.

Officers checked the children who both had red and inflamed faces and trouble seeing because of the irritant in their eyes; symptoms of having been pepper sprayed.

Tamala Summerhill told police she sprayed Leneker to get him off her son. When confronted with the information from the witness, she made no comment.

“The boys, I don’t know why they’re an issue,” defense attorney Bob Schroeter said outside the courtroom. “The father said he put them inside the vehicle.”

During the brief court appearance yesterday afternoon, Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said he had no problem with setting bail with a $10,000 signature bond.

Judge Richard Brosey pointed out it was already set at $20,000 and she posted bail, so he wouldn’t change it.

Schroeter, who represented Tamala Summerhill just for that appearance, said her income qualified her for a court appointed attorney.

Tamala Summerhill works at Joint Base Lewis McChord in child care and family services, Schroeter said.

Her arraignment was scheduled for June 6.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Updated at 6:16 p.m.


• A Chehalis man is jailed after an incident last night in which police were called to a Centralia apartment complex about an individual threatening people with a gun. Officers responding just after 10:30 p.m. to the 700 block of South Tower Avenue were told 27-year-old Tony Chafin arrived looking for his girlfriend who had recently broken up with him, according to the Centralia Police Department. He and someone with him knocked on a door and Chafin pointed what appeared to be a shotgun at some subjects, according to police. Police Sgt. Kurt Reichert said Chafin ordered one man to the ground outside and kicked him in the stomach. Another man who tried to run but fell down was kicked in the head, Reichert said. Officers from Centralia, Chehalis and the sheriff’s office tracked Chafin down in Chehalis where he was taken into custody without incident at about 2 a.m., according to police. No gun was found, police said. Reichert said witnesses described the gun as wrapped in cloth or covered up by a backpack or a duffle bag. Chafin was arrested for first-degree assault and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.  Chafin was released without charges later today. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said Chafin was struck from the calendar (of those who go before a judge to make their first appearance), meaning the person is no longer on the calendar today. He didn’t elaborate.


• A deputy called to a Doty-area home Monday regarding missing guns and cash learned the family went out of town for the weekend while one daughter stayed home and had a party with a large number of guests, some she didn’t invite or even know. The Friday night gathering on the 100 block of Front Street saw fights breaking out, vehicles driving through the yard and the young woman finally asking people to leave and going to bed after thinking she had locked the door, a deputy was told. Missing is a 12-gauge shotgun, a 22 rifle with a “camo” stock, a scope, $600 from a drawer and $51 from a teenager’s dresser, according to the sheriff’ office.


• Chehalis police are looking into someone using someone else’s library card to check out DVD movies which have not been returned. The loss is estimated at more than $1,300, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Deputies are looking for the 19-year-old nephew of a Chehalis-area woman who reported she suspected he took a bank card from her purse and withdrew $500 from her account via an ATM on Onalaska, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning. Deputies are attempting to locate video surveillance evidence, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Police were called about 5:30 p.m. yesterday to the 1100 block of Crosby Avenue in Centralia regarding the theft of a diamond ring sometime during the last two weeks.

• Police were called about 11:30 a.m. yesterday to the 2600 block of Cooks Hill Road in Centralia about the tailgate of a Nissan pickup truck which had been taken over the weekend.

• Centralia police took a report yesterday evening from the 1200 block of Mellen Street regarding a purse stolen from inside a vehicle.

• A cell phone was stolen from a vehicle at the 1100 block of South Pearl Street sometime during the previous few days, according to a report made to the Centralia Police Department yesterday.


• Chehalis police were called about 10:20 p.m. yesterday to a home on Northwest Ohio Avenue where a 15-year-old boy who was upset with his parents allegedly lit on fire some papers behind a china cabinet. The teen was booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center for first-degree reckless burning, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Centralia police took a report yesterday from the cemetery on the 400 block of North Washington Avenue after the discovery someone had destroyed about 30 little little flags which had been placed on grave sites for Memorial Day.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, people attempting to pass a counterfeit check, stolen wallet, various types of harassment, possible overdose, someone arrested for drugs in a case in which information from police is not readily available … and more.

News brief: Empty Napavine area home catches fire

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Updated at 11:22 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Crews called to a house fire east of Napavine just before 11 p.m. found smoke coming from all sides and called in help from three neighboring districts.

The single-story home on the 300 block of Forest Napvine Road East was unoccupied, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

District 5 spokesperson Lt. Laura Hanson said the kitchen, dining and laundry rooms were heavily burned. The 1,500-square-foot wood structure sustained smoke damage throughout, according to Hanson.

The house was undergoing some renovation between renters; it’s owner resides in an RV on the back of the property, according to Chief Eric Linn. A passing motorist saw smoke and woke up the owner, he said.

It seemed to have begun in the laundry room, Linn said.

“He said before he went to bed, he threw some clothes in the dryer,” he said.

The chief said it had been burning for awhile before the fire department was called. Flames from the laundry room rose into the attic and then ran the full length of the building, dropping fires into other rooms, he said.

Firefighters were on the scene until about 4 a.m.

News brief: New police dogs start work

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rick Vanwyck poses with his new partner Axel.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Two new police dogs joined local police agencies after passing their accreditation tests last week.

The Chehalis Police Department now has a canine to call its own, with 19-month-old Reign partnering with Officer Warren Ayers.

The German Shepherd and Malinois mix was introduced this evening to the city council.

He worked his first shift this weekend, helping try to track a subject in Thurston County, Ayers said.

The animals’ basic training consisted of 400 hours over three months.

At the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, 15-month-old Axel is now qualified to work patrol with his handler Deputy Rick Vanwyck.

The sheriff’s office said the German Shepherd in the near future will be cross trained for narcotics detection.

Both the new dogs are from the Czech Republic and both are trained to track and apprehend people and evidence.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield, in a news release, praised Centralia Police Department Officer Tracy Murphy for assisting to select the right dog, which he called another excellent tool to help combat crime in Lewis County.


Chehalis Police Department Officer Warren Ayers shows off his new partner Reign.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Updated at 8:52 p.m.


• A deputy was called to a Packwood home about 2:30 a.m. on Friday after a resident allegedly stiffed a taxi driver on a $400 fare, a ride into Morton for some drinks and a ride home afterward, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office said that on the way home, the 63-year-old man had the cabbie stop at the Shell Foodmart to hit up the ATM as was their ordinary routine, but for whatever reason it didn’t work and he said he could pay when they got to his house on Cannon Road. The cab driver told a deputy that when he tried to collect his money, his passenger kicked him in the stomach. “The victim did not want to press charges for the assault, he just wanted to get paid,” Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The case is being referred to prosecutors with a recommendation of a charge for third-degree theft, according to the sheriff’s office. The amount owed included another $200 for a cleanup fee because the customer urinated in the front seat, Brown said.


• Two Centralia men were arrested last night after they allegedly spent a counterfeit $20 bill to make a small purchase at the 500 block of South Tower Avenue and then used the change to buy beer at another store, according to the Centralia Police Department. An officer called about 9:30 p.m. arrested Luke T. Baker, 43, and Thomas J. Roy, 39, for forgery and booked them into the Lewis County Jail, according to police. Sgt. Kurt Reichert said his department is aware of seven or eight fake $20 bills passed in the recent past. How many more are out there? Reichert said he has no idea. Baker is being released without charges pending further investigation. Roy is being held on a warrant.


• A 31-year-old Toledo woman was arrested for identity theft because she lied about her name to a deputy on Saturday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy responding to a report of suspicious activity at Gee Cees truck stop on Foster Creek Road near Vader contacted the occupants of a vehicle and one of them said she was Sarah Meyer, according to the sheriff’s office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said the deputy knew Meyer and knew the woman was not her. The female subsequently identified as Michelle Price, was wanted on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant and was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Brown.


• Deputies are looking for a 23-year-old Rochester man after he allegedly broke a window at his ex-girlfriend’s home on the 1800 block of Lincoln Creek Road early yesterday morning when she refused to let him inside. A deputy responding about 1:40 a.m. reported the loss is about $100, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Police were called about 7:30 a.m. yesterday about a car prowl on the 500 block of Ash Street in Centralia. Someone broke a window or windows to get inside and took a wallet, a camera and CDs, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 12:45 a.m. yesterday to the 600 block of Southwest William Avenue about a laptop computer stolen from a vehicle.

• A 43-year-old Puyallup woman contacted the sheriff’s office about 5 p.m. on Saturday after she discovered someone had prowled her vehicle as it was parked near the Packwood Airport during the community’s flea market event. Missing were two jackets, two Motorola walkie talkies and a GPS device, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It appeared a door was left unlocked, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

• A purse containing credit cards and an iPhone were stolen from a vehicle parked at the 12,000 block of U.S. Highway 12 between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The victim said she left the pink, fabric shoulder bag on the passenger seat of the unlocked locked vehicle, according to the sheriff’s office.


• A 35-year-old Salkum man, Larry E. Ridgley, stopped on Sunday evening for driving an ATV on the 700 block of Gore Road with a suspended license was subsequently arrested for possession of a dangerous weapon; brass knuckles discovered in  his pants, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A 28-year-old homeless man was arrested for possession of heroin about 1:20 a.m. today when a Chehalis police officers stopped two males on bicycles without proper lighting at the 600 block of North National Avenue. Douglas M. Capelli was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police. The officer confiscated about five and half grams of suspected heroin, police said. However, he was charged this afternoon with delivery of a controlled substance in connection with an ongoing case. His defense attorney in arguing for lower bail suggested to a judge Capelli couldn’t be much of a community safety risk given that police didn’t arrest him back in October when they could have. “The reason we’re here now, they’re doing this, is he didn’t follow through on a deal to rat someone out,” Chehalis attorney Bob Schroeter said. His bail was set at $25,000, half of what prosecutors requested.


• A former area attorney who was disbarred was charged with second-degree organized retail theft and possession of methamphetamine, both as a principal or an accomplice in Lewis County Superior Court today. Roland T. Hunter, 52, of Tacoma, appeared before a judge following his Saturday arrest at the Centralia Outlets for his alleged role in a shoplifting spree. Matthew D. Drennan, 36, of Edgewood, was arrested at the same time and charged today with the same offenses. Hunter works in Edgewood selling used cars, defense attorney Bob Schroeter told the judge. Bail was set at $10,000 for both men. Centralia police called about 5:30 p.m. to the shopping center on Lum Road found the pair’s vehicle with merchandise taken from several stores. Schroeter said he didn’t remember the details of Hunter’s troubles as lawyer, but thought he worked in Centralia until several years ago.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence; responses for parking lot hit and run, other non-injury collisions, misdemeanor assault, shoplifting, suspicious circumstances, suspected suicide … and more.

Making a difference when kids go missing, and beforehand

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Barbara Glenn, a 911 supervisor in Lewis County, sends up a balloon in recognition of missing children. / Courtesy photo by Jennifer Ducummon

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Michelle Croft and Melissa Baum are living every parent’s nightmare, but still took time out to help Lewis County 911 dispatchers shine a spotlight on the resources available to both prevent and find missing children.

Both have daughters who vanished; Kayla Croft-Payne three years ago and Lindsey Baum from McCleary in Grays Harbor County almost a year before that.

“It’s a club none of us wants to be in,” Baum said last week when the two mothers took part in a gathering at Stan Hedwall Park in Chehalis.


Lindsey Baum

Lindsey Baum was 10 years old, when she was last seen June 26, 2009. She left a friend’s house to walk home and never arrived. Kayla Croft-Payne was 18 and living southwest of Chehalis on April 28, 2010 when she last logged onto her MySpace internet account. She was reported missing on May 5 by a friend who hadn’t seen or heard from her for several days.

Though Kayla was already technically an adult, Lewis County sheriff’s detectives have made sure her information got added to various databases on missing kids.

Kayla’s younger sister Shelbie regularly sends messages to Kayla, via floating helium balloons up in to the sky.

“Three or four times a month, plus events like this,” Croft said.

On Wednesday, beneath gray and drizzling skies, they did it again. Theirs was among scores of red and white balloons released in recognition of youngsters who have disappeared.


Kayla Croft-Payne

“Each balloon represents hopes and prayers for the eventual return of each missing child,” said Craig Larsen, Lewis County 911 manager.

Larsen’s staff began a big push last year to do more about the issue, taking part in training to provide swift and decisive responses in the early stages of incidents.

The first few moments when a child goes missing are the most critical, Larsen told a crowd of more than 40 individuals.

“You never get to go back to that,” he said.

The county department recently got its certification from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

His people have been working to spread the word about what others can do.

What they’ve learned from NCMEC, is families can help by making sure their little ones know their own phone number, their address, he said.

“Their parents names, not just ‘mom’ and ‘dad’,” he said. “Together, we really can make a difference.”

There are approximately 800,000 missing kids in the country today, according to Larsen. Eleven of them are from Lewis County.

The following list was read on Wednesday of 11 children who are listed as missing from Lewis County, compiled from local law enforcement agencies by the Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit.

• Kayla Croft-Payne: Since April 2010, then age 18, believed endangered

• Xavier Burroughs: Since February 2011, then age 1, circumstances unknown

• Lillie Burroughs: Since February 2011, then age 2, circumstances unknown

• Angelica Mejiamoctezuma: Since May 2012, then age 15, believed runaway

• Ashley Fern: Since September 2012, then age 16, believed runaway

• Ashley Tanner: Since January 2013, age 17, believed runaway

• John Williford: Since January 2013, age 17, believed runaway

• Antonio Aguilar: Since January 2013, age 17, believed runaway

• Ruben Valles-Nortin: Since February 2013, age 15, believed runaway

• Cody Moorman: Since May 10, 2013, age 13, believed runaway

• Lilli Morellia: Since May 18, 2013, age 17, believed runaway

See missing children of Washington state, here

Lewis County 911 is distributing resource materials to local libraries and through the sheriff’s office. The “Take 25” campaign – with info also available online – encourages parents and other adults to take 25 minutes to talk to children about safety.


Stan Hedwall Park, Chehalis. May 22, 2013 / Courtesy photo by Jennifer Ducummon

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, May 26th, 2013


• A shopping spree for two Pierce County men ended yesterday with their arrests at the Centralia Outlets for organized retail theft and possession of methamphetamine. Police called about 5:30 p.m. to the 1300 block of Lum Road regarding a shoplifted purse found a pair of suspects in an adjacent store and a vehicle with merchandise inside it from places such as Aeropostale, Corning, Nike, Sunbirds in Chehalis and Sears at the Lewis County Mall, according to the Centralia Police Department. When one of the men was patted down, an officer discovered suspected stolen goods such as sunglasses and gloves, along with a tie from another retailer, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. “They cuffed him,” Reichert said. One of the subjects was seen kicking a bag under a patrol car; it contained suspected meth, according to police. The total value of the goods was $1,665, but it only takes hitting three or more stores to push a misdemeanor shoplifting offense up to the felony of organized retail theft, according to Reichert. Police counted approximately nine victim businesses. Centralia has lately become somewhat of a destination location for “northerners” engaging in this type of activity, Reichert said. Roland T. Hunter, 52, of Tacoma, and Matthew D. Drennan, 36, of Edgewood, were  booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• A 39-year-old Rochester man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine following a traffic stop about 10:50 p.m. on Friday on West Main Street and North Washington Avenue in Centralia. An officer asked James W. Strothman if he wanted to retrieve anything from his vehicle before it was impounded and he asked for a small black bag, according to police. The officer checked to make sure it didn’t have any weapon inside before handing it over and found a handgun and a baggie of a powdered substance, according to police. The Rochester man was booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• Centralia police were called just before 9 a.m. yesterday to the 1500 block of South Gold Street after a woman discovered someone had taken her purse and keys from the back of her truck. She was getting ready to leave and set them there while walking a dog, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A leather jacket was reported stolen from an unlocked car at the 1100 block of West Pear Street in Centralia on Friday morning.


• A 62-year-old Olympia man was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital after a single-vehicle collision yesterday evening on Interstate 5 near Vader. Troopers called about 6:30 p.m. to the southbound lanes near milepost 58 found that traffic had slowed in front of Bill Bakke who was unable to stop. Bakke moved to the left into the concrete barrier, then rotated back the other way coming to rest in the right lane, according to the Washington State Patrol. His 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt was described as totaled. He was cited for following too closely, according to the state patrol.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, DUI, 49-year-old woman walking in the middle of the roadway disrupting traffic; responses for possible identity theft, for shoplifting such as a man pushing a baby stroller at Outlet stores, alcohol and energy drink from grocery store … and more.