Archive for October, 2013

News brief: Nurse connected to Centralia drug team’s investigations finds practice suspended

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The state has suspended a registered nurse whose clinics were raided as a Centralia police drug investigation led them to a former Napavine man allegedly running a drug ring from prison this summer and into at least three other counties.

In mid-June, search warrants were served in Tumwater and Aberdeen focusing on medical records and other documents. New Beginnings Wellness Centers was operated by a nurse practitioner named Sharol Chavez.

The state Department of Health yesterday announced charges against Chavez alleging sub-standard care in medical marijuana authorizations and prescriptions for narcotics without proper patient examinations. The state charges in some cases she was aware some of her prescriptions were supplying Oxycodone pills to the illegal marketplace.

The Centralia Police Department’s Anti-Crime Team efforts to quash illegal pain pill sales in Centralia took them to Forrest E. Amos who they believed was began heading up a drug trafficking organization from prison after his local conviction in January for  possessing prescription drugs without authorization. Searches of Chavez’s medical clinics were conducted on June 17, involving law enforcement from Centralia and numerous other agencies.

Chavez has 20 days to request a hearing to contest the licensing charges. After the raids, Centralia Police Department St. Jim Shannon said federal authorities would be reviewing the documents seized to examine them for possible criminal charges.
•••

For background, read “Centralia police track illegal Oxycodone trade to prison inmate” from Tuesday June 18, 2013, here

Maurin murder trial: Former drug dealer claims defendant admitted involvement

Thursday, October 31st, 2013
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Donald A. Burgess Sr. talks about December 1985 conversation in Randle.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It was three or four days after what happened to the Maurins hit the news.

Donald A. Burgess Sr., a drug dealer who’d been injured at his job at a Randle mill that summer was at home with casts on both legs, he testified.

Burgess told of a day a friend came by his place on Savio Road, either to buy or to sell drugs. He wasn’t expecting it, but Scott Gilstrap had brought along Rick Riffe, he said.

And as the conversation turned to the elderly Ethel couple who were killed, Riffe made a comment acknowledging he was involved, according to Burgess.

“I think we’re gonna get away with it,” Burgess recounted. “It’s gonna get bypassed.”

On the witness stand yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court, Burgess described how he immediately kicked the two men out of his home.

“I tell him to get this piece of shit out of my house and never bring him back,” he said.

Burgess’s testimony came at the end of the day, in the trial that began early this month.

Riffe, 55, is charged with burglary, kidnapping, robbery and murder of Ed and Minnie Maurin, the elderly Ethel couple whose bodies were found on Dec. 24, 1985 dumped on a logging road, with shotgun wounds in their backs five days after they went missing. Riffe, who moved to Alaska in the late 1980 with his brother, was arrested last year and brought back to Lewis County. His younger brother, also a suspect, died before he was charged.

“He said ‘we’, that’s his exact words,” Burgess testified.

Jurors have heard from dozens of witnesses in the lengthy trial.

Many have told of seeing the Maurin’s 1969 Chrysler with a man in its backseat in areas between the couple’s home and to the north. They have heard Ed Maurin was at his bank in Chehalis withdrawing $8,500. There were sightings of the car in the Adna area where subsequently the bodies were discovered. And many have told of seeing a man or men in a green Army jacket and a dark cap carrying a shotgun or rifle away from the Yard Birds Shopping Center where the car was abandoned.

Some who knew Rick and John Gregory Riffe from the Mossyrock area have testified when a composite sketch was disseminated back then, they right away thought it looked like the Riffes.

Burgess’s testimony is the first in which a person who knew him testified Rick Riffe indicated he was involved.

Burgess thought Riffe’s comment was meant to “boost” himself up in the eyes of a fellow drug dealer, he said.

Six or seven times over the years, police have asked Burgess if he knew anything, but he didn’t talk, according to Burgess.

He decided after Riffe was locked up, he would, he said. And he finally lost his fear of ratting out someone.

In part, that’s because he’s slowly dying from heart and lung disease so it doesn’t matter anymore, he said. He carried a small bag with oxygen with him to the witness stand.

Early on the case, prosecutors took videotaped testimony from Burgess as a heart attack left them concerned he would not live to see the trial.

Back then, Burgess and others bought and sold cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana, according to Burgess.

He recalled he might  for example, a couple times a month sell Rick Riffe a half ounce of cocaine which ran somewhere between $500 and $700.

With that amount, if broken down and resold, a person could almost triple their profit in one weekend, he testified.

The drug selling relationship was over a couple, three maybe or a four year period, he said.

When Gilstrap and Riffe came to his home that day, he and his circle of friends already knew the Riffes had done it, according to Burgess. It wasn’t clear if the visit occurred after the car was found with a blood-soaked front seat, or days later after the bodies turned up.

Defense attorney John Crowley questioned Burgess about his motivation to tell the story he did. He suggested the witness had a deal which would help out his daughter who was locked up last year after pleading guilty to killing her premature newborn.

Burgess was clearly distressed, breathing through his mouth, and even the judge asking if he could “hold on a little longer.”

The jury was sent out while lawyers argued to the judge about the mention of Laura Hickey, and Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead complaining Crowley was badgering the witness.

Burgess then finished the last 10 of 50 minutes of testimony, and was done.

The trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. today at the Lewis County Law and Justice Center in Chehalis.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

ASSAULT

• Chehalis police were called to Green Hill School yesterday after a 19-year-old student-inmate allegedly punched a staff member in the head. The case will be referred to prosecutors to review for a charge of custodial assault, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

PARKING LOT PURSE SNATCHING

• Chehalis police were called about 9:30 p.m. yesterday by a woman who said she was unloading her shopping cart at Grocery Outlet in the Twin City Town Center and when she turned around to get her day planner, it was gone.

BREAK-IN CENTRALIA

• Centralia police responded about 6:50 p.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of South Gold Street in Centralia regarding a burglary to a storage container. Among the items taken were a bicycle and an item related to industrial cappuccino, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BREAK-IN MORTON

• Several pairs of ladies shoes, a make-up bag and other items were reported stolen in a burglary last week at the 600 block of Adams Avenue in Morton, according to to police.

DRUGS

• A 39-year-old Centralia man was arrested late last night for possession of methamphetamine and a warrant after contact with police at the 600 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia. Jason A. Dix was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Police took a report about 9:45 a.m. yesterday of a vehicle prowl at the 1000 block of Eckerson Road in Centralia in which food and a park pass were taken.

THEFT OF MEDS

• Centralia police took a report of stolen prescription medications on Monday from the 500 block of Harrison Avenue.

TRACTOR ACCIDENT

• Firefighters were called about 3:45 p.m. yesterday to the 1500 block of South Schueber Road in Centralia where an 80-year-old man was trapped under his tractor. It was a smaller backhoe and his ankle was trapped under the roll bar, but he was able to get his cell phone out and call for help, according to Riverside Fire Authority. Responders lifted the machine off him and he declined to be transported to the hospital, according to Capt. Terry Ternan.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, protection order violations; responses for alarms, break-in to vacant house, hit and run, misdemeanor assault, dispute, misdemeanor theft, found keys at the post office; complaint about stumbling male urinating in a front yard … and more.

Guest column: Suspension for arrested deputy explained

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

By Steve Mansfield
Lewis County sheriff

Recently, one of my employees, while off duty, was arrested for driving under the influence. The occurrence has received significant media and public attention.

The circumstances in this event fortunately involved neither property damage nor injury to others.

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Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield

Had it involved a common citizen, it likely would have received only minimal media attention if any at all. However, since it involved an off-duty officer who is sworn and empowered to enforce and uphold the laws of this state, including DUI’s, it was considered news-worthy, and a topic of discussion in our community.

This is a legitimate interest which I do not dispute. I even had some inmates I was supervising on a work crew over the weekend inquire about the situation. One even claimed to have been arrested by this employee for DUI.

Many of the comments and inquiries center on whether the employee will face the same penalties and accountability an ordinary citizen arrested for DUI would, or will he be treated differently because of his law enforcement status.

Just to be perfectly clear, the employee will receive no preferential treatment under the law nor any leniency in meeting legal requirements than what would be afforded to any other citizen arrested for DUI.

What may likely be very different from what most citizens would experience in their employment are the administrative sanctions imposed by my office.

Years ago when I first became a deputy, an incident like this would end a career with few questions asked. Today’s labor laws and union contracts afford greater protection to employees by ensuring due process is followed and discipline is only imposed in accordance with the principles of  just cause.

Labor contracts also have grievance provisions that can ultimately take final disciplinary decisions out of the hands of management and put them into the hands of the Civil Service Commission, arbitrators, or superior court judges.

I typically refrain from voluntarily disclosing details of disciplinary action taken within my office, but I feel the circumstances of this case warrant such disclosure.

In looking at the totality of this situation and the employee’s exemplary performance over the past 12 years, the administrative sanctions imposed  included a two week unpaid suspension from duty, removal from his current position as detective and a last chance agreement that ties his continued employment directly to the conditions imposed by the court.

I believe many of the problems we deal with today exist in part, because we have lost so much of the social accountability that we once had in the past. This is not just accountability that emerges from media attention, but more importantly accountability that originates in and is enforced by our families, friends, schools, churches and organizations to which we belong.

Regardless of one’s profession, religion, sex or race, we are all human, and we are all susceptible to making mistakes and bad choices. When alcohol is involved, it seems mistakes and bad choices are all too often the end result.

Despite our intense focus on education and enforcement, DUI still continues to destroy families, careers and compromises safety and security within our communities.

As a society, we hold those who break the law accountable for their actions.

You as citizens naturally and rightly expect and demand those of us who are sworn to protect and enforce the law, to obey those laws and be held just as accountable for our actions.

That social expectation is extremely influential in motivating us to achieve our mission, uphold our oath of office and code of ethics, and to protect and serve you in a manner that fosters trust, is responsible, respectful, fair and caring.

My employee made an extremely poor, unacceptable decision when he chose to drink, get behind the wheel of his vehicle, and drive down the roadway. It is a decision over which he is extremely embarrassed and sincerely regrets.

He is now being held accountable for that mistake.

It is my hope this employee turns the negative of this experience into something positive and constructive that ultimately leads to him being a better employee, a better citizen, and a father his family can look up to.

He has recommitted himself to me that he will fulfill our mission and uphold his oath of office and code of ethics as he carries out his duties and responsibilities in serving you, the citizens of this county.

Not everyone earns, deserves, or is afforded a second chance. It is my expectation, not only as your sheriff, but also as a citizen, that he earns and proves himself worthy of this opportunity.
•••

For background, read “Lewis County sheriff’s deputy pleads not guilty to DUI” from Friday September 13, 2013, here

News brief: Trick-or-treaters invited to fire station

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters are calling upon ghosts, goblins and their families to come by the station for treats late tomorrow afternoon at 2123 Jackson Highway in Chehalis.

Lewis County Fire District 6 is hosting a Halloween drop in with games, movies, refreshments and more from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m.

The annual Safe Candy Stop is sponsored by the Lewis County Fire Dogs Association.

Fire personnel will be on hand to answer questions about Halloween safety and fire prevention as well as share information about some programs, such as reflective address signs, file if life, smoke detectors and blood pressure checks, according to Chief Tim Kinder.

Read about angry dad accused of going after rape suspect …

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Aberdeen) Daily World reports a 61-year-old Oakville father is charged with allegedly threatening a rape suspect with a gun and a baseball bat.

News reporter Brionna Friedrich writes William F. Henry was charged with second-degree assault after the 43-year-old man accused of raping his daughter talked to deputies about two encounters on Harris Avenue in Oakville in early September, one of which prompted him to hide in a shed.

Henry told deputies when he was interviewed if they would have just stayed in Montesano eating doughnuts, he would have taken care of the matter, according to Friedrich.

Read about it here

Maurin murder trial: Lab tests turn up little to nothing

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Jurors in the courtroom yesterday heard that no fingerprints or DNA from the 1985 homicides of elderly Ethel couple Ed and Minnie Maurin came back to the defendant.

Ricky A. Riffe, 55, is charged in the case; his younger brother who was also a suspect died before he could be charged.

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Ricky Allen Riffe

A forensics expert who took the witness stand said she met with Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective Bruce Kimsey to review the evidence in the old case and they selected several items that might be good candidates for DNA testing.

Stephenie Winter Seremo said in some instances none was found, in others just not enough to proceed with.

She agreed that such analysis has come a long way since the mid-1980s, primarily in that scientists need much less material to conduct their tests.

The Maurin’s bodies were found Dec. 24, 1985 on a logging road five days after they went missing from their home. Their car was found abandoned in a Chehalis parking lot, with blood on the front seat, the keys in the ignition. Prosecutors believe they were abducted, forced to drive to their bank and withdraw money before being shot in their backs. Riffe was arrested last year.

There was DNA from Minnie Maurin on the woman’s stockings, but they were actually looking for anything left behind by someone who would have handled her legs, Seremo told the court.

The exteriors of the shoes that were tested yielded no results as did a rear view mirror, according to Seremo. No material was found on Ed Maurin’s socks to test, she said.

A piece of upholstery that was checked came back only to Ed Maurin, as did his belt, she testified.

Some of the items that turned up trace DNA but not enough to process, included the handle of a metal hook, the ties on a rain bonnet, a key ring, a passenger side rear ashtray, according to Seremo.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer concluded his questioning with something he said in his opening statements three weeks ago: Just because there was no DNA found doesn’t mean there was no crime committed, right?

“Right.”

Defense attorney John Crowley asked: “Of all the testing you did, did you ever find Rick Riffe’s DNA on any of it?”

“No.”

Another forensic expert testified about the various finger prints that were analyzed.

Of the 23 prints lifted from the car, most were of no value because there was not enough detail or clarity, but six came back to Ed Maurin and one useable print came back negative for matches, according to Stacey Redhead.

Redhead testified that when she looked at prints from the house, she found matches on beer cans for family, Delbert Hadaller and Hazel Oberg. Elsewhere she saw another match for Ed Maurin and one from former Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Glade Austin. A print on a coffee pot came back negative to known comparisons, she said.

None of the prints matched to Riffe or his younger brother John Gregory Riffe.

A different crime lab specialist also testified yesterday. She said she examined fibers from some clothing that was burned, but found no matches from the blanket, a pillow and a hat she had been given.

She did find a red fiber recovered from a furnace room was similar to the fiber from the red blanket from inside the car, she said.

The trial continues 9:30 a.m. until noon and 1:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. each weekday in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis.

News brief: Two seriously hurt in four-vehicle pileup near Rochester

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
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The driver of this 2003 Jeep Cherokee is expected to survive. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol.

Updated at 8:26 a.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 16-year-old boy was airlifted to a Seattle hospital yesterday after his Jeep Cherokee was rear ended by a semi truck, pushed into oncoming traffic and caught fire at U.S. Highway 12 just east of Rochester yesterday afternoon.

Troopers called about 4 p.m. to the scene found four vehicles involved in the collision at Pecan Street, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The Jeep Cherokee was eastbound and in the left turn lane when an eastbound Kenworth hauling 100,000 pounds of scrap metal hit it and shoved it into an oncoming pickup truck, according to the state patrol. A car then rear-ended the pickup, the state patrol reported. The teen was helped out his driver’s side window by others, according to Trooper Guy Gill.

The two people transported with serious injuries are both expected to survive, Gill indicated last night.

According to the state patrol: Robert A. Johnson, 51, of Rochester, the driver of the Ford Ranger, was taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.

The 16-year-old from Rochester, whose name was not released, was flown to Harborview Medical Center.

Jonathon W. Kalin, 47, Rochester, the driver of the Saturn Ion, was reportedly uninjured as was the driver of the big rig, Steven C. Johnson, 62, of Vancouver.

The collision is under investigation.

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A 2006 Kenworth hauling scrap metal at Pecan Street on U.S. Highway 12. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol.

Maurin murder trial: Jason Shriver talks

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
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Witness Jason Shriver, left, and defense attorney John Crowley stand and wait as the jury leaves the courtroom.

Updated at 7:10 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Witness Jason Shriver spoke yesterday about passing the Maurin’s car on U.S. Highway 12 back in December 1985, and seeing the elderly couple along with Rick and Greg Riffe inside, a bit west of the Maurin’s Ethel home.

At the time, Shriver was 17 years old.

He testified he didn’t come forward about what he saw until about nine years ago, because Greg Riffe threatened to kill his mother, his brothers, his father and him if he said anything.

So, why did you finally come forward? Shriver was asked.

He indicated he learned of a pair of private investigators were on the case and felt he might be able to talk with them then; plus his mother had died of cancer.

“I didn’t have to worry about her anymore, she’s in heaven, my brothers were grown men,” Shriver said.

The former Mossyrock resident is the first witness in the lengthy murder trial who has testified to seeing the defendant and the victims together on Dec. 19, 1985.

Prosecutors contend Ricky Riffe and his now-deceased brother are responsible for forcing the couple to drive from their home to withdraw thousands of dollars their bank before shooting them in their backs and leaving them dead in the woods outside Adna. Ricky Riffe is charged with burglary, kidnapping, robbery and first-degree murder.

John Gregory Riffe was about to be charged similarly last year, but he died of ill health at age 50.

Shriver, now 45, moved to Mossyrock from southern California at about age four or five and lived there until he left at age 19.

Jurors heard his father was a traveling musician, his mother taught ballet in downtown Mossyrock; his parents had bike shop in Chehalis.

He testified he knew the Riffe brothers because they lived in the same small town. Rick Riffe was quite a bit older and he knew the younger two brothers better, he said.

“Greg, I knew him, he was buying me beer, I didn’t have any problems with him,” Shriver said.

Until after December 1985.

Shriver testified he and his mother were heading to Tacoma so he could get his wisdom teeth pulled when he noticed the Maurin’s car pulled out from their house.

“I said to my mom, ‘hurry, pass ‘em’,” he said.

He and his mom were in a Volkswagen Vanagon and traveling perhaps 50 mph as they went by, he said.

He said he saw four people in the couple’s car; Ed Maurin was driving and his wife was behind him in the backseat; Rick Riffe was in the front passenger side and Greg Riffe seated behind him.

“They all stared our way, the Maurins did,” Shriver said. “I recognized who it was, I looked at Greg and waved at him, he looked down.”

Shriver said he kept looking at Greg Riffe, who finally acknowledged him.

He described both as unshaven and Greg Riffe wearing a dark hat and Rick Riffe wearing a “truckers” hat, a baseball cap, he said.

“How certain are you?,” he was asked.

“One-hundred-ten percent, no doubt in my mind,” he said.

The weather was clear, probably the fog was lifting, according to Shriver.

“It was probably 8 or 9 I would think,” he said of the time of day.

Under questioning, Shriver talked about a day or two later when he had learned the Maurins were missing, and a deputy coming to their home. He was in bed recovering from the oral surgery and didn’t want to talk with law enforcement.

Why not? he was asked.

People handled things their own way out there, he said. He also told his mother not to say anything, he said.

“This is a town if you pissed somebody off, you didn’t go hunting that year,” Shriver said.

He said one his friends once got into it with Tracey Riffe, and “here comes Greg to the house with a shotgun.”

Some time later, maybe a few months, Shriver spotted Greg Riffe in town driving a log truck, he said. Shriver motioned he should blow the horn, he said.

Jurors didn’t get to hear all the details of that encounter.

Shriver testified he asked him, who’s truck? Where’d you get the money for this?

Out of the presence of the jury, Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told the judge he anticipated his witness would say: “Greg looks me in the eye, glares at me, and says, ‘you know.’ I backed out, he’s says ‘come here’, I said no, I gotta go.”

The lawyers argued about hearsay, the judge made a ruling and when jurors returned, Halstead quickly moved them forward a week or so in time.

Shriver said he next saw Greg Riffe when he was out on State Street in downtown Mossyrock. That’s when he called him over and made the threat.

“He said, did you say anything,” Shriver recounted. “I said I didn’t say anything, I swear to God.”

Shriver told him nobody cares, the Maurins were old and going to die anyway, he testified. He suggested if Greg did it again, he should call and Shriver would even help.

He asked the older man to buy him some beer.

Two of Shriver’s friends also testified yesterday that they were in the area and didn’t hear anything, but could tell something was up.

Jerry Nixon said he saw it out of the corner of his eye.

“I see Greg there, you cut the tension with a knife, I knew it wasn’t good” Nixon said.

The encounter ended when Rick Riffe came out from behind some tall shrubs and told his brother, it was okay, he wasn’t going to say anything.

“I’m thinking, I’m gonna get jumped,” Shriver said. “I’m gonna get my ass kicked. I’m gonna get taken out in the woods and killed.”

The trial in Lewis County Superior Court is expected to go as long as six weeks. Yesterday was just the start of week four.

Halstead and Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer are handling the case. Riffe is represented by Seattle-based defense attorney John Crowley.

Halstead asked the witness if Rick Riffe was in the courtroom, and did he seem to be looking at the witness.

“Well yeah, he’s staring at me, trying to tough me out,” Shriver said. “Bully me. It’s what he’d done all his life.”

Shriver testified about how he learned to shoot and bought a 9 mm handgun, and how the Riffe brothers began regularly driving past his house.

“To the point, when I walked to the barn, I had a shotgun with me,” he said.

News brief: Two struck by rounds from own guns in separate incidents in Morton, Mossyrock

Monday, October 28th, 2013

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The sheriff’s office is offering reminders about gun safety after two men suffered separate accidental self inflicted gunshot wounds yesterday morning in East Lewis County within about an hour of each other.

One was shot in the foot with his rifle near Morton and the other in his leg when he dropped his handgun near Lake Mayfield.

“These are two very fortunate men,” Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield said in a news release. “The outcome of both of these situations could have resulted in even more serious injuries or possibly death.”

It was around 10 o’clock when a 27-year-old Mossyrock man hiking with friends near the 5500 block of U.S. Highway 12 got his coat hung up on a limb somehow causing his .357 caliber rifle to go off, according to the sheriff’s office. His friends helped him get back to their car and drove him to the hospital, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. Brown said the man’s companions thought his gun was unloaded, Brown stated.

At about 11 a.m., a 53-year-old Gig Harbor resident was preparing to test fire his .22 caliber pistol at his hunting camp along the 500 block of Winston Creek Road when he heard something, turned, slipped on a rock and dropped his gun, according to Brown.

He was able to call 911 and was transported to by aid to Morton General Hospital, Brown stated. A deputy met up with both victims at the same hospital yesterday.

The men’s names and conditions were not released or readily available.

Mansfield lists these basic gun handling reminders:

• Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
• Firearms should be unloaded when not in use.
• Don’t rely on your guns “safety”.
• Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Updated at 8:51 p.m.

ACCIDENTAL THEFT

• A Chehalis resident in his mid-20s is in trouble after leaving a party, wandering through a strange neighborhood and somehow driving himself home in someone else’s truck. Centralia police were called just before 10 a.m. on Saturday about a missing 1998 Ford Ranger from the area of the 1700 block of Shamrock Drive. Several other vehicles in the area were found to have been rummaged through and a cell phone discovered left in one of them, according to police. Police traced its owner to a Chehalis residence and found the Ford Ranger parked outside, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert. When an officer contacted the phone’s owner and asked if he knew why she was there, he said said it must be about the truck, Reichert said. He advised he’d been very drunk and recalled walking through a neighborhood he did not recognize, then being inside a running truck on Interstate 5, but didn’t know how he got home, Reichert said. He was not arrested or booked, but police are referring the case to prosecutors for evaluation of possible charges, such as taking a motor vehicle without permission, Reichert said. Police don’t know how he got the truck to start as its owner said there was no key in it. The supposition is the man tried his keys in various vehicles and it happened to work in the Ford Ranger, Reichert said.

MORTON MAN INJURED AT CHEHALIS BAR

• Chehalis police are investigating a possible assault that left a 27-year-old Morton man laying on a sidewalk outside Garbe’s bar with a head injury early yesterday morning. Officers called about 1:40 a.m. to the 300 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue reported the victim was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital and then transferred to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia with brain swelling. A spokesperson for the Chehalis Police Department today said no arrest had been made and the case is ongoing.

ATTEMPTED THEFT OF LENSES FROM MAN’S EYES

• A 20-year-old Centralia man is in the Lewis County Jail facing a possible charge of second-degree robbery after he allegedly attempted to steal a pair of contact lenses right out of the victim’s eyes. It happened outside the train station in Centralia. Police called about 2:30 p.m. on Friday to the 200 block of Railroad Avenue were told the suspect used threats, intimidation and bullying to try to steal  a watch and the colored lenses belonging to a man in his 20s, according to the Centralia Police Department. Sgt. Kurt Reichert said at one point he reportedly grabbed the guy and told him to take out the lenses and hand them over.  Arriving officers located their suspect in the area short time later, Reichert said. He didn’t actually get the contacts, Reichert said. Richard A. James was arrested and booked into jail, according to police.

DOMESTIC ASSAULT

• A 47-year-old Centralia area man was arrested for second-degree assault after a deputy responded late Saturday afternoon to the 600 block of Centralia-Alpha Road where the man’s live-in girlfriend was found with injuries to her face. Gerald R. Ebner allegedly struck her with his hands and elbows, according to the lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He was was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Sgt. Rob Snaza.

STUPID KID STUFF

• Centralia police were called yesterday to the 1000 block of F Street when two subjects dressed in banana costumes were caught spray painting graffiti on a building. A witness pointed out the house where the youngsters had gone to and an arriving officer spotted through a window the peeled banana costumes on the floor of the residence, according to the Centralia Police Department. The 13-year-old girls were contacted, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. Neither the gold-colored spray painted symbol left on the building, nor the suspects, struck him as gang related, Reichert said. The case will be referred to prosecutors for possible charges of malicious mischief, he said.

• An 18-year-old Rochester man was arrested last night at Wal-Mart for possession of a concealed weapon without a permit when he was spotted by an off-duty police officer with a handgun in his front pants pocket. It was noticed because he kept pushing it back in, according to the Chehalis Police Department. An officer called about 11:15 p.m. to the retailer at the 1600 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue cited Nathanial D. Klamn also for unlawful use of a firearm by a minor, a department spokesperson said. He was then released, according to police. The young man was not waving it around or anything, Officer Linda Bailey said, but she wasn’t sure of the details that led to the second offense.

GUNS STOLEN

• A deputy was called on Saturday regarding the theft of several firearms missing from a storage shed at the 900 block of Byham Road in Winlock,  according to a report made to the the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The victim, a 47-year-old Castle Rock man, said he’d left them at the residence and they went missing sometime since Oct. 12, according to the sheriff’s office. Taken were four double-barreled shotguns and three 22 rifles, Sgt. Rob Snaza said. The loss is more than $1,400, Snaza said.

CAR PROWLS

• Centralia police were called about 2:30 p.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of West Walnut Street regarding two vehicles that were prowled. Not known if anything was stolen, according Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called about 1:20 a.m. yesterday to the 100 block of Ash Street in Centralia where an individual said they confronted a stranger inside their vehicle. The subject, described as wearing a black hoodie and camo pants fled, according Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police took a report of vehicle prowl yesterday from the 600 block of G Street that occurred the night before.

• Police took a report about 4 a.m. on Saturday of items stolen from a vehicle at the 2300 block of Schueber Ridge Court in Centralia.

• Someone stole a firearm valued at more than $2,000 from a vehicle when it was parked at the 100 block of U.S. Highway 12 outside Napavine between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday, according to a report made to the the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday. It was a Weatherby, according to the sheriff’s office.

WRECK

• A 49-year-old woman was injured when she wrecked her vehicle on state Route 7 near milepost 14 near Mineral, according to the Washington State Patrol. Troopers called about 4 p.m. on Saturday determined Susan Pfutxenreuter, of Mineral, was southbound when her 1998 Dodge Caravan left the roadway to the right and into a ditch, according to the state patrol. The vehicle was described as totaled. She was transported to Morton General Hospital, according to the investigating trooper. She faces a possible charge of driving under the influence, according to the state patrol.

• A 37-year-old Chehalis woman got a broken foot and night in jail for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol when she rolled through a stop sign and into a fence at Avery Road East and Jackson Highway about 2 a.m. on Saturday. Kari A. Niles was subsequently booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A 54-year-old Salkum woman was reportedly uninjured but her 2005 Volvo station wagon was totaled when she struck a deer about 7:30 a.m. on Friday at the 5500 block of Jackson Highway near Toledo, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, disputes, bike theft, minor collisions, stolen license plate, shoplifting of beer, possible runaway, suspicious circumstances, a drunk juvenile walking in the street, cell phone and wallet missing from jacket at bar at closing time; complaint about someone gathering signatures on a petition who wasn’t explaining it right … and more.

Maurin murder trial: Riffe’s buddy tells what he knows

Sunday, October 27th, 2013
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Les George spent hours on the witness stand answering questions about his friend, Rick Riffe, right, who is on trial for kidnapping, robbery and murder.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Leslie George grew up in Mossyrock and graduated from high school in 1975.

That was about the time he came to know the three Riffe brothers, he said.

In the early 1980s, George was divorced and hung out with Rick and Greg Riffe.

The two brothers were very close, they did a lot of things together, he said.

Under questioning, he said Rick was kind of a leader, the younger brother more of a follower. Both had green Army jackets, Greg wore his a lot. Both wore dark stocking caps.

George spent hours on the witness stand on Friday in Lewis County Superior Court, answering questions about the two suspects in the December 1985 kidnapping, robbery and murder of Ethel residents, Ed and Minnie Maurin.

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Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer

Ricky Riffe, 55, is charged in the case. George called him Rick. John Gregory Riffe died last year before prosecutors could charge him. George called him Greg.

George, who went by the name Swabbie, didn’t recall that he attended the wedding of Rick and Robin Riffe, but thought she came into the picture about 1982.

In 1985, Rick lived with his wife and her three children in Silver Creek, he said. George lived in Salkum, but drove a truck, a job that would take him away for a month at a time. During the three or four days between trips when he was home, he stayed with his mother and step-father.

“Were you guys using drugs back then?” he was asked.

Yes, a lot of pot, some meth and Rick’s drug of choice was cocaine, George said.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead went through a list of names asking who used and who sold drugs.

He didn’t know anything about Rick and Robin dealing drugs, he testified.

Robin was a waitress and tended bar. Rick had a logging job, but was injured a few months into it and had his back worked on, according to George.

On the witness stand, George recounted a handful of separate events, the first in the autumn of 1984 when he and Ricky Riffe went to Sunbirds to buy a shotgun and the last, when he got a message on his answering machine from Riffe in 1991 telling him to join him in Alaska where he had a job for him.

George testified he wanted a gun to keep in his truck for protection while he was on the road, so on Oct. 4, 1984, he and Riffe picked one out at at Sunbirds Shopping Center in Chehalis.

It was a 12-gauge single shot, single barrel gun, and Riffe offered to shorten it for him, according to George. A day or two later, the pair purchased some ammunition, double-aught buckshot, he testified. That was Riffe’s recommendation, he said.

George said Riffe later told him he tore a page out of the sales book that George has signed, so the firearm wouldn’t be traceable.

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Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead

George testified he fired the gun only a couple of times before giving it his friend soon after.

Another event more than a year later was discussed in court on Friday.

He was asked to talk about a time he was traveling from Salkum westbound on U.S. Highway 12 with Greg and Rick as passengers.

They were in George’s Datsun pickup, heading to Chehalis to get the tires changed, he testified.

And what was the conversation? he was asked.

Greg Riffe was saying how broke they were, George testified.

“Greg said they was broke, they’d do just about anything for money,” he said.

About that time, they were in Ethel and George saw old family friends Ed and Minnie Maurin outside their house, he said.

“I said, you know, they’re probably worth a lot of money, they’re Denny Hadaller’s mom and dad,” George said.

Was there any response? he was asked.

“No.”

The conversation took place maybe two weeks, or a week and a half, before the elderly couple went missing, according to George.

As has occurred several times during the trial, spectators in the courtroom heard more than the jurors did, while the attorneys and the judge argued outside jurors presence statements that may or may not be exempt from hearsay rules.

George spoke about being out of town and on the road on Dec. 19, 1985, when he got a emergency phone message telling him to call Robin Riffe.

When he called her, she said something to the effect, “You’re not going to believe what Rick has done; he’s gone crazy, nuts,” Halstead relayed to the judge.

George told jurors Robin Riffe was “kind of hysterical, I guess” but their conversation ended when Rick Riffe took the phone from her and asked why George was calling.

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Defense attorney John Crowley

“I told him I called for no reason, then he hung up on me,” George said.

He then called his mother and learned the elderly couple was missing, he testified.

George was asked by prosecutors about another day at some point after he returned to town, when he and Greg were leaving in his pickup truck and Rick and Robin brought out a small paper bag from their home.

“He said they were old clothes they wanted to get rid of, they didn’t want ‘em stinking up the house,” George said.

George demonstrated with his hands a bag somewhat smaller than a basketball.

They drove down the old road, down by the bridge on the west end of Lake Mayfield, where Greg got out and tossed it into the woods about 10 feet from them, according to George.

It was early 1986 when George got his gun back from Rick, he testified.

It had been fired but not cleaned and was cut down shorter for him like he’d wanted, except it still need the finish applied, George testified.

“He made me put the Speedy finish on it before I took it home,” George said. “He didn’t want his finger prints on it.”

According to George, he put the shotgun in a closet at his parents house. He testified he realized it was too short to be legal and didn’t think it was worth the risk to carry.

He said he planned to get rid of it, and that he didn’t have it anymore. He said he was afraid.

At some point, law enforcement searched Lake Mayfield for the gun.

“I told them where I thought it might be, in the lake,” George testified. “My step-dad told me not to worry about it, it was gone; he put it there.”

In the late 1980s, the Riffe brothers had moved to White Salmon, Alaska. George said he didn’t keep in touch with either of them. They didn’t have any falling out, according to George.

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Ricky Allen Riffe

It was 1991, when Rick Riffe called him to go up there for a job.

George testified he just left the message on his answering machine and didn’t return the call; that he was scared of what might happen if he moved to Alaska.

Why? he was asked.

“I thought I might be murdered up there,” he answered.

Under questioning from Halstead, George mentioned he was first in contact with police a long time ago, but not right away.

“Why didn’t you?” he was asked.

“I couldn’t believe he would have something to do with it, be involved in this,” George said. “I didn’t want to believe he would be involved in this.”

Halstead pressed the witness about his fears, his suspicions.

“Did you believe your shotgun had been involved in a crime?”

“Yes.”

“What?”

“Ed and Minnie Maurin. It was just a feeling I had.”

George appeared anguished at times on the witness stand, in particular when defense attorney John Crowley grilled him about why he would have commented when passing the Maurin’s house the elderly couple had plenty of money.

“It was you that said that about the Maurins,” Crowley said. “Why would you say such a terrible thing?”

“I didn’t mean anything by it,” George said.

Post script: George also testified he wasn’t aware Greg Riffe owned any guns, and that he drove a white El Camino.

He also said he’d never heard the last name Muzzleman, or heard the brothers referred to by that name.

Maurin murder trial: Witnesses pick out Riffe brothers as men they saw at Yard Birds

Saturday, October 26th, 2013
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Sheri Amell Potter answers questions from the witness stand; defendant Ricky Riffe, far right, listens to her testimony.

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  So far, no one who knew defendant Ricky Riffe has offered testimony placing him at the Maurin’s house, at the bank, at the Yard Birds or the logging road where the elderly couple’s bodies were found on Dec. 24, 1985.

Riffe, 55, is on trial in Lewis County Superior Court for the kidnapping, robbery and murder of Ed and Minnie Maurin. His younger brother John Gregory Riffe was about to be charged similarly last year, but he died of ill health at age 50.

Prosecutors contend the former Mossyrock area brothers are responsible for forcing the couple to drive from their Ethel home to withdraw thousands of dollars from Sterling Savings in Chehalis before cutting them down with a shotgun and leaving them dead in the woods outside Adna. The Maurin’s green sedan was found abandoned the next morning in a far corner of the parking lot at a Chehalis shopping center.

Numerous witnesses have told the jury of seeing a man in a green jacket and dark cap walking away from Yard Birds in Chehalis carrying a a rifle or shotgun.

As the trial ended its third week, three more individuals took the stand to discuss who they noticed when they drove through the shopping center almost 28 years ago.

One woman seemed very certain she saw Ricky Riffe there on Dec. 19, 1985. Another was positive she saw John Gregory Riffe there. Each said the man they observed was alone.

A third witness however, came forward last September to tell of seeing two men he identified as the brothers at the eastern edge of the parking lot, wiping down the Maurins’ 1969 Chrysler.

Sheri Amell Potter lives in Olympia but in December 1985 was a passenger in a vehicle heading toward the northeast exit from Yard Birds. Amell Potter told of a man stepping out of the fog and crossing behind them, and into the marshy area north of the property.

“As he passed, I said, ‘Oh my God Mary, that guy had a gun’,” she testified.

It was in his left hand, something white was wrapped around where the trigger would be, she said.

He was white with really dark hair, very dark eyes, a mustache and like two to three days worth of whiskers, dressed in something like an Army jacket, she described.

Amell Potter said she thought he was in his late 20s, as she was in her early 20s and she knew he was older than her.

She estimated the man was about six feet away from her. She swiveled in her seat to watch him walk up a berm-path toward the Lewis County Mall.

Amell Potter said she was employed at a bank at the time and was told at work some old people had gone into a bank and were missing. It was two days later when she thought again about the man with the gun and called her friend Mary to ask which day the couple disappeared, she testified.

She called the police.

Amell Potter and her friend were taken to a forensic artist in Portland where their descriptions helped create a drawing of the person. Later they went to Seattle where her friend assisted with a second composite.

In the courtroom, she was shown a number of images on the big screen. She felt like the face of the man in the first drawing was a bit too wide, she said. The second drawing was better, but she didn’t get the correct sense of the chin, she said.

“He had a really distinctive chin,” he said. “He didn’t have much of a chin.”

In February 2012, she met with Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective Bruce Kimsey, who showed her actual photos of people. She chose one which showed both a full face and a side profile. It was Ricky Riffe.

“I felt very confident that was the person,” Amell Potter said of her selection.

Under questioning by Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead, she was asked if she’d had an opportunity to look at the defendant in the courtroom.

“Yes, his side profile is very familiar to the picture I picked then,” Amell Potter said.

Brenda King has lived in Lewis County since 1969.

Back in 1985, she was a single mother with three children who worked two jobs, one of them as a bartender at the Wilson Tavern in Centralia.

On Dec. 19, 1985, she and the man who later became her husband were driving past the north end of the Yard Birds Shopping Center building, she testified.

“I noticed a 1969 Chrysler Newport, it was green,” King told the jury.

“I see John Gregory Riffe getting out of the car with a shotgun,” she said.

It startled her.

“I’m the driver of a 1972 Montego, my husband is a passenger,” she said. “To the best of my recollection, the person I seen was going by a different name.”

He used an alias, she said.

“At the time, I recognized him as John G. Muzzleman.”

He looked at her, she looked at him, and then he looked down, according to King. He was squeezing his way out of the vehicle, she testified.

“He had the door so close to his body, he obviously didn’t want us to see what was inside,” she said.

King said she was the one wearing a watch, so she knew it was between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. She said she was 100 percent positive the shotgun was sawed off and it had a brown butt.

It was a few days after the arrest hit the news in July of 2012 that King first contacted police. She saw photos of Ricky Riffe and his brother in the newspaper story, she said.

King said she knew both the brothers, who used the last name Muzzleman, as she’d served them at the bar.

“They’d come in periodically, to the point where I got to know them quite good,” she said. “They were usually together.”

Her husband Steven King testified as well yesterday, that he recalled the day. He saw the man getting out the car, with dark hair and a stocking cap, but didn’t see a gun, he said.

“The reason I looked at him is cause Brenda told me she knew the guy,” he said.

The couple both testified they saw him again later, walking up Kresky Avenue, on the east side of the road.

They’d been out to shop for materials for a remodeling project, and stopped to get coffee while they waited for Yard Birds to open, they said.

Steven King, under questioning by defense attorney John Crowley, said he’d heard of the Maurins murders, but he was busy and didn’t get involved.

After his wife told him last year about the newspaper article, they figured they should speak up, he testified.

Witness Gordon Campbell lived in Chehalis between 1970 and 1999; he worked at the Centralia Steam Plant, he testified.

Campbell first spoke to the sheriff’s office in 1988, to tell them that about two years earlier, he had seen a man walking north of Kresky Avenue with either a long rifle of a shotgun, covered up with something, he testified.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer asked him what prompted him to talk with police.

“Well, the case had been going on a long time, I thought I could help a little bit, so I thought I’d come in and tell ‘em what I seen,” Campbell said.

The cap was dark blue, the finger-tip length jacket was olive drab and he was walking toward Lewis County Mall with it in his right hand, he testified.

“I could see just the shape of a gun,” Campbell said.

Campbell said at the time, he was working the graveyard shift, so he was out driving around that morning, killing time to get his sleep patterns back on track.

He testified he spoke next with the sheriff’s office in June 2012, and then he contacted them once again that September, after word of Riffe’s arrest had been in the news.

He saw photos of the Riffe brothers on television, he said, and it reminded him of something else he remembered.

Campbell testified about driving through the Yard Birds parking lot and to the northeast corner where he spotted two men wiping down a car. It was the same vehicle Meyer showed on the overhead screen in the courtroom, the Maurin’s 1969 Chrysler, according to Campbell.

He suggested they take it through a carwash, he said.

Meyer showed Campbell pictures of the Riffe brothers.

John Gregory Riffe was on one side and Ricky Riffe, on the driver’s side closest to Campbell, doing the same thing, wiping the open car door, according to Campbell.

“Did you get a good look at both of them?” Meyer asked.

“Yes,” Campbell said.

Campbell testified he didn’t remember what their response to him was, but John Gregory Riffe told his brother to close the door. And he did, he said.

Meyer asked the witness about why the detectives didn’t hear about the car wiping when Campbell first was interviewed.

“Well to begin with, I thought I was talking about one person,” he said. “Then I find we’re talking about two.”

The first the lawyers on both sides learned from Campbell he had the brief conversation with the men was this past Tuesday.

The one he saw carrying what looked to be a covered up gun was Ricky Riffe, according to Campbell.

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Witness Brenda King uses a laser pointer on a big screen in Lewis County Superior Court.

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Denny Hadaller, center, talks with prosecutors as the court sessions ends.

Read about indoor marijuana farm proposal gets mixed reviews in Vader …

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Longview) Daily News reports a possible commercial marijuana growing facility a Seattle man wants to build on acreage he owns in Vader has been met with mixed opinions in the tiny south Lewis County town.

Brandon Milton calls it a big win for the community and city government and says he’s excited about it from a business standpoint, but some worry about how it could affect children, according to news reporters Leslie Slape and Barbara LaBoe.

Read more here.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, October 25th, 2013

SWAT VISITS WINLOCK AREA

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says a lengthy drug investigation ended yesterday after the SWAT team assisted in serving a search warrant about 2 p.m. at the 700 block of Winlock-Vader Road near Winlock. Two people were arrested for allegedly delivering and possessing methamphetamine as well as child endangerment, according to the sheriff’s office. Booked into the Lewis County Jail were Michelle R. Holt, 34, and Patrick D. Edie, 49, according to Sgt. Rob Snaza. Snaza said they are from Longview.

FRAUD ALERT

• Centralia police took a report yesterday in connection with the 1300 block of South Gold Street regarding a scam in which an individual called pretending to be from Money-gram and asked for money.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Centralia police were called twice yesterday morning about car prowls in the 2800 block of Russell Road in Centralia. In the first instance, someone got into an unlocked vehicle overnight and stole a purse, according Centralia Police Department. In the second case, the vehicle was entered but nothing apparently taken, according to police.

FIRE

• A fire investigator was headed up to Randle today to look into a last night blaze involving one, possibly two travel trailers.

THURSTON SHERIFF TO COLLECT UNWANTED GUNS

• The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office is prepared to take old guns and old prescription drugs off your hands, if you like. The turn in and take back event tomorrow is an opportunity for the public to safely get rid of unwanted firearms and pharmaceuticals, according to the sheriff’s office. Sheriff John Snaza says often they are not secured properly, and end up in the wrong hands It takes place tomorrow from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the McLane Fire Department at 125 Delphi Road NW, Olympia.

BIG RIG COLLIDES WITH HITCHHIKER

• A 24-year-old hitchhiker was killed this morning when he stepped into a semi truck as a motorist across the road stopped to give him a ride on U.S. Highway 12 west of Rochester this morning, according to the Washington State Patrol. Troopers called about 10:15 a.m. to the scene just east of Moon Road  report Joseph A. Myer, of Olympia had been walking east on the shoulder with his back to traffic. A motorist stopped on the westbound side and Myer attempted to cross, according to the state patrol. The semi driver, a 52-year-old man from Aberdeen, tried to avoid him, but couldn’t the state patrol reports.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarms, collisions, shoplifting, suspicious circumstances; complaint about an extremely mean small dog … and more.

Maurin murder trial: Robin Riffe’s family talks

Friday, October 25th, 2013
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Larry Vessey, brother-in-law to defendant Ricky Riffe, tells of gift of cocaine for Christmas.

Updated at 6:51 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  While defendant Ricky Riffe’s wife has died and won’t be able to be questioned in his murder trial, her family and others who knew him in the mid-1980s gave testimony yesterday for the prosecution.

Riffe, 55, is on trial for the December 1985 abduction and shooting deaths of Ed and Minnie Maurin, an elderly couple who lived on U.S. Highway 12 in Ethel. Prosecutors contend Riffe and his now-deceased younger brother from the Mossyrock area are responsible for getting the Maurins to withdraw $8,500 from their bank, killing them with a sawed-off shotgun and then dumping their bodies near Adna. The brothers later moved out of state to Alaska.

Robin Riffe allegedly gave some information to Lewis County detectives in 1991, but by November 1994 when they attempted to contact her again, she had died.

Two of Robin Riffe’s siblings took the witness stand yesterday to talk about Christmas Day in 1985, during a family gathering in Grays Harbor County.

Larry Vessey said he, his brother and Riffe went duck hunting before dinner, and Riffe wore an olive green Army coat.

Under questioning from Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer, Vessey said Riffe asked him an unusual question.

“Is there a way you can trace shotgun pellets?” Vessey said his brother-in-law asked him.

It also struck him as out of the ordinary that Riffe, his sister and her three children all wore brand new clothes that day, he testified.

“They were really poor, they never really had a lot of nothing,” he said. “The kids wore hand-me-down clothes. They just had nothing.”

The couple bought presents for everyone that year, he said. Riffe scooped a gift of cocaine from a bag that contained more than his brother-in-law had ever purchased himself, and he had a job, Riffe didn’t, he said.

“He gave me $300 worth of cocaine and said, ‘Merry Christmas’,” Vessey testified.

Tammi Graham thought her sister worked as a waitress, but not steady, she said. She indicated on the witness stand she suspected they may have sold drugs.

On Christmas day, her  sister wore makeup, something she ordinarily didn’t do.

“There was almost a puffiness to her face, like she’d been crying,” Graham said.

Two of Robin Riffe’s now-grown children were asked to offer facts and recollections from the three to four years the couple was together.

M. Shelly Lev, now 37, pointed out on a map where they lived in a three bedroom single wide trailer off U.S. Highway 12 in Silver Creek.

She said the family had three vehicles: a blue Blazer, a “mail Jeep” and creamy gray colored car.

Lev recalled a road trip trip to Disneyland that spring break, in which they had picnics during their travels and slept in their car but stayed in a hotel while there. Her mother and Riffe were still together, but he didn’t go along, she said.

David Giddings, who said he thought he was about 13 years old at the time, remembered Riffe showing him a “sawed off” shotgun in their living room, he said he was making for a truck driver friend

“I almost want to say he was filing on the barrel,” Giddings said. “That’s why he said he was making it.”

In the courtroom, from the witness stand, looking in Riffe’s direction, Giddings said he didn’t see Riffe anywhere. But then he did.

“Oh, now I recognize his crooked nose,” he said.

Vessey had already testified watching Riffe use a hacksaw to cut the barrel off a 12-gauge single shot shotgun at his dad’s place in Forks in September or October.

Graham was asked when she came to learn about the Maurin’s deaths.

It was mid-January when she and her family stopped at Spiffy’s restaurant on the way home from White Pass, she testified.

Two sketches at the cash register stopped her in her tracks, and she exclaimed to her husband, she said, ‘Oh my God Arvid, that looks like Ricky Riffe’.”

Under questioning, Graham said she  believed they were drawings of Ricky Riffe and his brother John Gregory Riffe.

Jurors learned that by the following June, Ricky Riffe and his wife separated; she’d gone to Arizona.

Derrick McMillion of Cinebar is the person whose testimony prosecutors hope will help them show the jury that after the Maurin’s murders, the Riffe brothers moved away to a remote fishing village in Alaska never to return to the area, except for the rare important occasion.

When the sheriff’s office made their arrest last year, they said the Riffe brothers moved to Alaska in 1987, however, jurors have been told John Gregory Riffe began living there in May of 1988 and Ricky Riffe’s residency commenced in July of the following year.

McMillion was asked in court yesterday to point out his cousins in some photos.

One was taken at an anniversary party for Riffe’s parents held in downtown Centralia, around 2006 or 2007, he said.

Under questioning by Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead, McMillion spoke about what happened when they heard police activity and sirens outside.

One of the Riffe brothers walked over to the window to take a look and then other, three or four times, he testified.

“It was kind of strange,” he said. “They seemed kind of concerned with what was going on out there.”

McMillion recalled another time at a relative’s funeral in Olympia when one of them showed up, sat in the front and then left.

“I couldn’t tell which one of the boys it was,” he said.

John Gregory Riffe passed away on June 12 of last year, after charging documents had already been drawn up for him, with the identical allegations as his brother.

The trial in Lewis County Superior Court is in its third week.

More and more time has been spent with the jury sent out of the courtroom while the lawyers and Judge Richard Brosey argue rules of evidence.

Seattle-based defense attorney John Crowley has increasingly complained the prosecution is “dancing down thin-iced roads” by getting witnesses to make comments that ultimately aren’t allowed, but the jury still hears them. He calls it the trickle effect, contending the state’s strategy is to drop enough extra hints the jury will be swayed his client is guilty

One such debate was conducted over the death in Alaska in 1992 of John Gregory Riffe’s wife. While prosecutors wanted a witness to mention it, Judge Brosey barred the comment they sought.

Crowley said it was an accidental death or suicide, although the gossip was she was murdered.

Read about investigations launched into two mortuaries …

Friday, October 25th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – KOMOnews.com reports the state has opened investigations into two funeral homes following the mixup of bodies involving Jerry Moon.

Lindsay Cohen writes the Department of Licensing is looking at Dahl McVicker in Kelso as well as Brown Mortuary Service in Chehalis.

Meanwhile, another local family has come forward to tell how when 27-year-old Christina Hammond died in 2007 and her body was cremated, Brown returned to them a bag of jewelry belonging to someone else, leading to questions about whose ashes they received.

King5.com reports the Kelso funeral home was already the subject of a financial investigation.

Read more here.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

CAT BURGLAR GETS INTO CENTRALIA RESIDENCE

• A Centralia area woman called 911 yesterday after waking up and realizing someone had burglarized her home while she and her children were sleeping. A deputy arriving about 9 a.m. to the 100 block of Mills Lane southeast of town learned the 37-year-old resident got up about 2:30 a.m. to take her medication, which was locked in a safe on a desk in the living room, where she, her daughter and son were sleeping, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The woman said when she got up later, the safe was gone, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. It appeared someone opened a window as well as cut through some plastic sheeting used to block a draft, according to Brown. The safe was later found, destroyed, in a ditch along Centralia-Alpha Road, after a neighbor called to report they’d seen a bluish-green car stop and toss it out, Brown said. Inside the safe were a wallet, old coins, a friend’s white-gold ring and various cards, according to the sheriff’s office.

BURGLARY IN CHEHALIS

• A web cam, a laptop and a Kindle Fire tablet computer were among the valuables missing after a burglary at the 600 block of Northwest St. Helens Avenue in Chehalis. Police were called about 6:30 p.m. yesterday; a door had been left unlocked, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The loss is more than $1,500, Sgt. Gary Wilson said.

DRUGS

• A 21-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of methamphetamine about 8:30 p.m. yesterday at North Washington Avenue and Center Street in Centralia. Luis Ontiveros-Murillo was  booked into the Lewis County Jail, according Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Police took a report yesterday morning that someone broke the back window out of a car at the 1100 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia.

TURKEYS CROSSING HIGHWAY PRECIPITATE CRASH

• Two people were hospitalized after a two-vehicle wreck this morning on state Route 6 about three miles west of Pe Ell when a Dodge Caravan stopped for wild turkeys crossing the roadway and was rear ended. Troopers called about 9:30 a.m. found the Dodge driver, Janet L. Shepperd, 40, of Pe Ell, injured although she was not transported, according to the Washington State Patrol. Both it and the 2013 Ford Edge which struck it were damaged. The Edge’s occupants, Arthur and Barbara Cox, both 73 and both from Grandview, were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the state patrol. Cox was cited for violating the basic speed rule, the investigating trooper reported.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, responses for alarms, misdemeanor assault, suspicious circumstances, a dog being walked on a leash getting clipped by a passing vehicle leaving it with an abrasion on its leg … and more.

Maurin murder trial: Ed and Minnie go to the bank

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Updated at 7:49 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Patricia Hull handled some banking matters for the Maurins the same day the elderly couple went missing nearly 28 years ago.

At his request, she gave Ed Maurin an envelope of $100 bills.

The following morning, after hearing the Maurins were missing, her manager at Sterling Savings and Loan in Chehalis called the sheriff’s office to report what they knew.

Hull was among many individuals who took the witness stand this week in Lewis County Superior Court and talked about the Ethel residents whose bodies were subsequently located off a logging road near Adna.

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Ed and Minnie Maurin

Hull was the savings supervisor at the bank at the intersection of Market and Park streets. She retired in 1991 after 24 years with the institution.

She recalled the Maurins as congenial customers who came in every month or two.

Eighty-one-year-old Ed Maurin phoned her the morning of Dec. 19, 1985 and asked if they had any money, Hull testified.

She recognized his voice.

“I, joking with him said we had a nickel or two,” she said. “He said he needed a little more than that, he wanted $8,500.”

He wanted it in cash, and she suggested she get him a check instead, according to Hull.

“No, no, he wanted currency,” she said. “They were going to buy a car, and that’s the conversation we had.”

Under questioning by attorneys, Hull explained the bank didn’t have that much cash available, and had to get it from a commercial bank.

When Ed Maurin showed up about 10:30 a.m., the money wasn’t yet there, so she asked him to take a seat to wait, she said.

She suggested he ask his wife Minnie Maurin to come in from the car to have coffee or cookies, Hull said.

“He said no, she wasn’t feeling well,” she said.

Hull said she got the impression he was saying he wanted cash because he was dealing with someone up north who didn’t know him.

“He seemed calm, we joked with him and told him he’d have to come through the drive through to show us the car, and he said he would,” she said.

He said, “You betcha,” she testified.

Ed Maurin said he’d go out and ask his wife to come in while they waited. Subsequently when Hull was ready for him, she stepped out the door to motion he should come in, she said.

She saw their car parked, the door opening, he waved back and then he came inside, she said. The windows were fogged up, she recalled.

After signing the documents, he left.

The trial is in its third week. Former Lewis County resident Ricky A. Riffe, 55, is charged with burglary, kidnapping, robbery and murder in the case. His younger brother John Gregory Riffe was about to be charged as well when he died last year.

Hull was questioned by Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead and defense attorney John Crowley. She, and the jury, were shown documents on the overhead screen in the courtroom.

The bloody bank receipt found in the pocket of Ed Maurin’s trousers showed a balance of $36,035.12.

The bank’s copy of the withdrawal ticket she was given to look at showed a balance of zero.

The zero balance made her think he’d closed out the account, she said. But the paper showing the large balance suggested to her Ed Maurin has asked about a balance on another account, she testified.

Hull told of getting a phone call around 4 p.m. the day before Ed Maurin came in, from a customer asking about making a large withdrawal. The bank was closing, and she wasn’t sure who it was, she testified.

Jurors have already heard how the Maurin’s green 1969 Chrysler was found abandoned the following morning in the parking lot of the Yard Birds shopping center, the keys in the ignition, the front seat covered in blood and how law enforcement searched for the couple for days.

Yesterday, Mike Haunreiter took the stand to describe what he stumbled upon days later on Stearns Hill road outside Adna.

Haunreiter said he worked at the coal mine, they’d gotten off early, had a parking lot party and then he went for a drive on logging roads, to look for deer. It was the morning of Christmas Eve.

Something by the roadside caught his eye, but it wasn’t until his way back down he looked closer, Haunreiter said.

At first he thought it looked like a “Susie doll”, like they’d practiced CPR with in a recent session, he said.

“But a Susie doll doesn’t have a housecoat on,” Haunreiter said.

When he realized he was looking at a dead body he got back in his truck, speeding away in fear, according to Haunreiter. But then he stopped at a house to say he needed to call 911.

Dr. William J. Brady was the pathologist who conducted autopsies late that afternoon and evening at a mortuary in Centralia.

On Ed Maurin he found wounds on the top of his head, like two blows from a heavy object. One shotgun blast in the middle of his upper back below his neck killed him immediately, he described.

His stomach was empty, but Minnie Maurin had eaten fairly recently, he said. The doctor recalled removing three rings from her fingers.

Brady indicated Ed Maurin had a pacemaker, a bit of hypertension and a somewhat enlarged heart, but otherwise was in good health. The same could be said for 83-year-old Minnie Maurin, who suffered from arthritis, but had an excellent heart, according to the doctor.

The blast that killed her entered through her left shoulder and toward her cheek and neck, he said. She too would have died instantly, he said.

Testimony resumes this morning.

Missing: Chehalis business owner makes appeal for return of totem pole

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
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Fred Wildhaber’s face is among the features on lost family heirloom.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Jeremy Wildhaber wants his totem pole back.

He called police after realizing it was missing but he’s not sure it was even actually stolen, he said.

Among the features on the 15- to 16-foot tall pole are an eagle, a salmon and a couple of faces, including his father’s, Wildhaber said.

“It’s kind of a family heirloom and its been part of the building since we’ve owned it almost,” he said.

It was previously the centerpiece column at his dad’s business Industrial Specialists and for a time was stored in a barn, but Wildhaber was preparing to have the paint touched up so it could be displayed at his new Jeremy’s Marketplace and Restaurant when it opens, he said.

He’s been remodeling the building on the 500 block of West Main Street in Chehalis, and was keeping it in a storage building about a block south, on the Darigold property.

It accidentally got left out by workers on Friday who were moving items around in the building and forgot to put it back inside, he said. He estimates it weighs as much as 400 pounds.

“It would have taken several guys and a trailer to move it,” he said.

He’s thinking, however, that since it was left laying on pallets, near a pile of walls to be discarded, someone may have thought it was bound for the dump and taken it home, he said.

Wildhaber is asking whoever has his totem to please return it. Or call him and he will come pick it up.

“I’m not going to press charges,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to chop it up for firewood because they’re afraid they’re gonna get in trouble.”

It’s not even complete as is, according to Wildhaber. He still has the detachable wings and ears.

Wildhaber can be reached at 360-827-0093.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Updated at 7:30 p.m.

WOMAN CARJACKED ON FREEWAY SOUTH OF CHEHALIS

• A 34-year-old Longview man was arrested last night after he allegedly rear-ended a woman near Napavine and then instead of exchanging driver information, got into her vehicle and stole it. The 50-year-old victim called 911 about 9:30 p.m. from the northbound offramp of Interstate 5 near milepost 72, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. She said when she got out to contact him, he walked past her and got into her 2009 Chevrolet Equinox and drove away, according to the sheriff’s office. The stolen vehicle was spotted in Chehalis near the 13th Street interchange, where a deputy began to pursue it, and a chase of more than 30 miles continued up the freeway, involving multiple law enforcement agencies, according to Sgt. Rob Snaza. Snaza said the driver exited at Lacey, and then got back onto Interstate 5 heading south until he was finally stopped with the assistance of so-called spike strips about 10 miles later.  Michael A. Vienola was booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle and attempted eluding, according to the sheriff’s office.

OUT-OF-CONTROL

• Centralia police say they booked an 18-year-old girl into jail last night after she allegedly kicked an officer and tried to bite a nurse while she was being treated at the hospital for alcohol consumption. Breann M. Pearson was arrested for third-degree assault after the approximately 11:20 p.m. incidents connected with the 1300 block of View Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.

UNWANTED VISITOR

• Centralia police say they investigated an incident at the 600 block of East Third Street on Monday night in which a 16-year-old  girl entered the property and assaulted the owner after she was asked to leave. Police are asking prosecutors to consider a charge of first-degree burglary but did not arrest the girl or her companion who they have not identified,  according Centralia Police Department.

BURGLARY RANDLE

• A deputy was called yesterday to the 100 block of Kiona Road in Randle following a burglary in which two chest freezers, a 20-inch flat screen television and air compressor and other items were taken, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is more than $1,400, according to the sheriff’s office.

STOLEN FIREARMS

• A resident of the 200 block of Winston Creek Road reported a handgun and other items missing after an acquaintance who had been staying there left, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday. Jeremy C. Patterson, 27, of Ethel, was being sought by the sheriff’s office but was picked up by Centralia police at the Centralia Outlets with the alleged stolen firearm on Monday, according to authorities.

• Police were called about 8 o’clock this morning to the 100 block of Cedar Crest Place in Napavine where someone smashed out the window from a vehicle and stole a Savage bolt-action hunting rifle. The missing gun has a stainless steel barrel, a black synthetic stock and a Bushnell scope on it, according to the Napavine Police Department.

FUNNY MONEY

• Centralia police arrested a 25-year-old Tenino man for allegedly attempting to pend a counterfeit $50 bill at a grocery store on the 600 block of Tower Avenue. Kyle S. Parker was  booked into the Lewis County Jail early yesterday morning, according Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 26-year-old Lakewood resident was arrested for shoplifting and possession of heroin yesterday afternoon in connection with the 1200 block of Lum Road, according to the Centralia Police Department. Jodi L. Logan was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• A 21-year-old Centralia woman was arrested around 9:15 p.m. yesterday for shoplifting and possession of unspecified drugs in connection with the 500 block of South Tower Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department. Natalie Sanchez-Anderson was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• Police arrested a 37-year-old Centralia resident for possession of methamphetamine late Monday night in connection with the 1200 block of North Pearl Street.  Kelly M. Davies also had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant and was was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, girl fight and other assault, bicycle theft and other misdemeanor theft, shoplifting, minor collisions, student being bullied, intoxicated person, possible runaway teen, dispute complaint of racial slurs on a window, neighbor dogs who will not stay home, swerving for deer and wrecking … and more.

Maurin murder trial: More testimony, and the arrest

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Jurors in Lewis County Superior Court have been moved through time as they hear from witnesses testifying in the Maurin murder trial, from December nearly 28 years ago to last year’s arrest of a suspect.

The trial of 55-year-old Ricky A. Riffe began its third week with yet another local person who recalled passing by Ed and Minnie Maurin’s home on U.S. Highway 12 in Ethel the morning they went missing on Dec. 19, 1985.

Marjorie Hadaller, now 75, who also lives in Ethel, said she drove by around 7:30 or 8 a.m. with her sister and remembered seeing all the lights on in their house.

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Ed and Minnie Maurin

She told jurors she noticed a white van parked with someone standing next to it and made a comment to her sister about it.

Ed, 81, and Minnie, 83, weren’t at home for a Christmas party they were hosting at noon that day. Their car was discovered abandoned the following morning in the parking lot at Yard Birds in Chehalis, with blood soaked onto its front seat. Their bodies were located days later on a logging road near Adna.

Beverly Jestrine took the witness stand yesterday telling how she contacted law enforcement after an appeal was made for information.

Jestrine was out Christmas shopping that same day and remembered pulling into the entrance on the west side of the Yard Birds parking lot in Chehalis when a car to her right made the same left turn, cutting her off.

“If I hadn’t been going slow and saw him, I’d have T-boned him,” she said.

Jestrine said she noticed the driver was sitting very close to the driver’s side door – almost against the window – and wearing a knit cap and coat of navy or dark green.

When she left the shopping center, 20 or 30 minutes later, she saw a man walking briskly up Kresky Avenue holding a gun, with a towel and when he reached in his pocket, he dropped something that looked like three small cylinders and a piece of paper, she said.

“He had like a 5 o’clock shadow,” she said. “Other than the back and the side, I did not get a good look at his face.”

Ruth Lascurain lived in Cinebar and also took a trip to Yard Birds that day.

She parked on east side of building, and testified she noticed a green car parked with its lights on. Lascurain said she saw a guy she thought was with another person, and saw him walk towards the car.

“I saw him walk to the back of the car, maybe he bent down, I thought he was going to turn the lights off,” she said.

She didn’t see his face, but recalled baggy-ish clothing, that seemed like big Army coat, she said.

Another witness said he contacted police after hearing the news.

James Heminger saw a person walking north away from Yard Birds on Kresky, carrying a shotgun in his right hand,

“Not really skinny, not really heavy, nothing remarkable,” Heminger said of the man.

Leslie Mauel, was a 911 dispatcher then and today is the supervisor at the Lewis County 911 Communications Center.

Mauel testified it was about 2 o’clock that afternoon when he saw a car parked at saw at Yard Birds – which he described as a black vinyl and pea green car – with its lights on, and they were dim.

Jurors were brought forward in time yesterday to the latter part of 2003, when then-Lewis County Sheriff John McCroskey had a detective go through and review all the evidence, to find what he could send off to be tested for DNA. That was not long after Minnie Maurins’ son Denny Hadaller hired a pair of private detectives to look into the case.

Jurors were brought forward in time again to when the current Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield decided to put a new detective on the old case.

Mansfield said he assigned detective Bruce Kimsey to the case, since both he and Kenepah were older and he wanted to make sure a younger person who would be around longer was familiar with the case.

William Gifford was an Alaska state trooper who was asked in March of last year to assist Kimsey, who had asked him to locate the Riffe brothers. He took the witness stand yesterday as well.

Giifford said he arrived in the small village of White Salmon as a recreational fisherman, checked out the Riffe’s house a couple of times and had a trooper to fly over to get a look as well.

Subsequently that summer, he, Kimsey, two other investigators and Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead went to make the arrest, he said. John Gregory Riffe had died.

After knocking and getting no answer, Gifford said he heard the sound of an oxygen machine, and having a concern of a medical issue involving Ricky Riffe, he opened the door and shouted out, Gifford testified.

The response from upstairs was, “Who the f*** is it,” he said. He said he was Bill Gifford, Alaska state trooper.

The response was, “What the f*** do you want,” Gifford said.

Riffe came downstairs and was arrested.

Ricky A. Riffe, 55, is charged with burglary, robbery and murder in the case.

Elected Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer and Senior Deputy Prosecutor Halstead are prosecuting the case. Riffe is represented by Seattle-based attorney John Crowley, assisted by paralegal Richard Davis.

The trial resumes this morning.

Examination of 2010 Morton plane crash yields some answers

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – As the third anniversary approaches of the crash that killed three aboard the plane belonging to a Chehalis-based eye clinic, the entryway to the local airport has been named in honor of the pilot, but authorities still aren’t exactly sure what happened.

The Cessna 340A wrecked about 10 minutes into its flight, in the mountains northeast of Morton on Oct. 25, 2010. No one survived.

Perishing were two employees of Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute and their pilot Ken Sabin. He and technician Rod Rinta, 43, both resided in Chehalis. Ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Shenk, 69, was from Woodland.

A probable cause report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board in August indicates it’s most likely the pilot experienced a partial loss of power of the right engine and after incorrectly turning into the failed engine, the plane became uncontrollable. The airplane continued a clockwise descending turn as it dropped off the radar at more than 10,000 feet, according to the report.

The issue with the engine was not determined because examination of the Cessna did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation, according to the NTSB.

The flight began at the Chehalis-Centralia Airport and was enroute to  Lewiston, Idaho.

Airport Manager Allyn Roe said the question still isn’t answered as to what made Sabin turn into the engine.

“Those reports aren’t ever nice to read,” Roe said. “They will cite pilot error nine out of 10 times.”

Sabin, a member of the Centralia-Chehalis Airport Governing Board, was an experienced pilot with thousands of flight hours who clearly knew not to do that, he said.

“It’s the circumstances you’re given; you may or may not have a chance of getting out of it,” Roe said.

This summer, the entry drive at the south end of the airport was named Ken Sabin Way in his memory. Sabin was retired from Security State Bank and had more than 40 years experience as a pilot.
•••

For background, read:

• The NTSB report, here

• “Bad weather prevents recovery of plane crash victims” from Wednesday Oct. 27, 2010, here

• “Chehalis Cessna’s last transmission: ” ‘We’re losing it’ from Saturday Nov 20 2010, here

Maurin murder trial: New information in old case takes both sides by surprise

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
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A small number of spectators observe proceedings in Lewis County Superior Court, where former Lewis County resident Ricky Riffe is on trial for kidnapping and murder.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The judge in the Maurin murder trial was informed this afternoon that both prosecutor and defense attorney learned for the first time today, a witness allegedly spoke to Ricky Riffe while he and his now-dead brother were wiping finger prints from the car nearly 28 years ago.

“It’s an obvious surprise,” Riffe’s Seattle-based attorney told the judge.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said it was new information from a man already on their witness list.

“Yes, that’s correct, the first time we heard of the conversation was today,” Meyer said.

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Ricky Allen Riffe

The trial for Ricky Riffe, 55, is in its third week in Lewis County Superior Court. He is charged with burglary, kidnapping, robbery and  murder in the December 1985 deaths of an elderly Ethel couple, Minnie and Ed Maurin.

Very little, if any, testimony has been about anyone conversing with the suspect.

Jurors have heard numerous witnesses speak of seeing a man at various key places that day, often noting him wearing a dark stocking cap, wearing an Army jacket or carrying a gun. They have heard about heard several sightings of the Maurin’s 1969 Chrysler on Dec. 19, 1985, carrying the couple with a person in the backseat.

Meyer told the jury when the trial began all the blood and DNA evidence came back to match the Maurins and their family. Today, jurors heard from former detective Ross Kenepah that none of the approximately 65 finger prints collected in the case match Riffe.

Meyer said the coming witness said he made small talk with Riffe and his since-deceased younger brother John Gregory Riffe. The brother was about to be charged in the case last year along with the defendant when he died.

“The individual said he was watching the news which had a story and two pictures side by side,” Meyer told the judge.

The witness indicated the person on the left was Rick Riffe who was on the right side of the car, and Greg Riffe said maybe you should close the door, Meyer said.

Crowley told the judge his problem was that based on the early information he was given that the witness would testify to, his team chose not to conduct their own interview with him.

Crowley said he previously understood the witness would talk about seeing a man with a gun when he was first interviewed by police in 1988, and did not identify anyone from any photo montages.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Brosey indicated the witness couldn’t take the stand until after Riffe’s attorney’s private investigator has had a chance to interview him. Before today ended, the meeting was scheduled for 8 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Prosecutors have said they have as many as 180 witnesses, although exactly how many of them will be called to testify is not clear. So far, about three dozen have taken the witness stand.

It was just last week when another person seeing photos of the Riffes on television after the trial began contacted the prosecutor to say he recognized a picture of John Gregory Riffe.

Read about mourners at funeral discover stranger inside casket …

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Kirotv.com reports a local family opened the casket to say their final good byes to a loved one and found the wrong dead man inside.

News reporter Richard Thompson reports he learned that Jerry Moon instead had been cremated; and Chehalis’s Brown Mortuary’s parent company declined to comment.

Read about it here.