Archive for February, 2015

Deadly Winlock fire: Investigation, grieving, continue

Friday, February 27th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters and investigators continued their work today, trying to uncover what ignited the blaze that claimed three lives and nearly consumed a two-story home in Winlock.

“We’re out going through the scene today,” Lewis County Fire District 15 Assistant Chief Kevin Anderson said. “Going through the remains of the house.”

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807 N.E. First Street

The Lewis County coroner yesterday recovered the partial remains of three individuals and has yet to verify their identities or release their names.

Winlock Police Department Chief Terry Williams said he hasn’t confirmed the ages of all the family members involved in Thursday’s early morning morning fire.

The father, whose name has not been released, and his two boys escaped the fire physically uninjured. The mother and two little girls who were right behind him did not.

“I think they’re 3 and 4,” Williams said today.

She had them on her hips or under her arms, carrying them out, Williams said. They were found right where he would have expected them to be, some 10 to 15 feet from the front door.

The family had been asleep, and the father had no ideas what caused the fire, Williams said.

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807 N.E. First Street / Google

The survivors were in their nighttime apparel, and a life-long Winlock resident has headed up efforts to collect clothing for them, as well as household items.

Brandon Patching said the boys, ages 7 and 9, are average to slim. The father could likely wear large or extra large, he said.

Patching also spearheaded a candlelight vigil last night, held at the site of the world’s largest egg, which the south Lewis County town is known for.

“Being a small town, that’s what we do,” Patching said. “That family needs to know that we’re all there for them.”

Connie Sneed, who became acquainted with the couple at first through the Winlock community Facebook group, early yesterday coordinated with Umpqua Bank in town to set up a donation account.

She’s anxious to get it out of her name, but hasn’t talked directly to the father yet, she said today.

His brother phoned her earlier today – she assumed because the police chief thought they should connect – on the father’s behalf.

“He said he’s very, very appreciative, he’s just barely hanging in there, his brother said; he’s just trying to hang in there, he’s not doing real well,” Sneed said.

Sneed said the father is up north with his family. She said the couple had come to Winlock a year or so ago from Coupeville.

He asked her if she could help get the donated items stored, because he’s going to need them soon, she said.

The brother told her what’s really needed is money, for services and relocating, she said.

“I want him to be able to put her and those babies to rest, and not have to skimp on anything,” Sneed said.

Umpqua Bank continues to accept monetary donations; Mayor Lonnie Dowell said donors can just tell them it is for the fire victims.

Any donations of clothing, or household goods can be taken to the Christian Fellowship in Winlock on Cemetery Road. Also, Patching is happy to continue accept them at his workplace at Aaron’s in the Twin City Town Center in Chehalis, as long as it’s arranged ahead of time with a phone call. He can be reached at 360-740-6060.

Patching and Sneed can also be reached for details via posts on Lewis County Sirens Facebook page.

The fire investigation is being conducted by Sam Patrick, under the direction of Chief Williams.

The chief expected they would continue working into this evening.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod indicated this morning his office is working with the family, keeping them informed of their progress of confirming the identities, so the three can be released and laid to rest.

•••

For background, read “Deadly Winlock fire: Sifting though charred rubble” at 3:39 p.m., here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, February 27th, 2015

HIT AND RUN ONE

• A 41-year-old Centralia man who reportedly “hit on” on woman at a Chehalis bank yesterday, then backed into her vehicle and drove away without stopping was arrested later for hit and run. Police were called about 12:40 p.m. to the 200 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue where the 41-year-old woman said he had been harassing her, they got into a short disagreement and after he hit her car, he just said ‘it’s fine’ and left, according to the Chehalis Police Department. An officer tracked down the man’s sport utility vehicle during the night at a motel, and he admitted having been at the bank but didn’t recall hitting any vehicle, according to police. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said it wasn’t clear if he intentionally backed into her vehicle. Douglas M. Martin was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

HIT AND RUN TWO

• It was just before 10 o’clock in the morning when a 21-year-old motorist came around a corner fast and struck a parked vehicle as well as a rhododendron in a flower bed outside the Lewis County Coroner’s Office. It happened on Wednesday, at the 500 block of Northwest Center Street, and Curtis J. Ebner was arrested for driving under the influence, for hit and run, and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

MISSING HELICOPTER

• A remote-controlled helicopter was among the items stolen in a break-in reported yesterday at the 1700 block of state Route 7 outside of Morton. Someone burglarized a shop building sometime since Monday and also made off with a toolbox and two chainsaws, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

ANOTHER MISSING CHAINSAW

• Sometime between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. yesterday, someone stole a Stihl chainsaw from a residence on the 500 block of Antrim Road outside Winlock, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

MORE THEFT

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning a 20-year-old homeless person was arrested for the alleged theft of a credit card when a deputy responded to a dispute on Wednesday at the 200 block of Joppish Road outside Centralia. While there, the deputy learned Jesse S. Shannon had taken the credit card from the other individual involved in the argument, according to the sheriff’s office. Shannon also allegedly made some $2,400 worth of charges on the card in Tumwater, an allegation being handled by the Tumwater Police Department, detective Sgt. Steve Aust said. Shannon was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree theft, according to Aust.

CAR PROWL

• Police were called about 7:40 a.m. yesterday to the 400 block of South Gold Street in Centralia where a set of keys had been stolen from a vehicle.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, suspicious circumstances, collisions on city streets … and more.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Updated

SHOWDOWN

• Centralia police say a 37-year-old man yesterday jumped out in front of a patrol car nearly causing a wreck and demanded to fight with the officer. It happened about 6:45 p.m. in the area of Delaware and Fulton streets, according to the Centralia Police Department. The office demanded to see the man’s identification, the man ran off across the railroad tracks. He was quickly located and taken into custody, according to police. Then, the subject reportedly threatened to find the officer off-duty and kill him, according to police. Charles R. Simpson was arrested for harassment and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

FIGHT

• Centralia police found two young men had been fighting when they responded to loud voices and a possible break-in at the 400 block of South Tower Avenue about 12:50 a.m. today. One was 20, the other 24, according to the Centralia Police Department. One walked away and the other was transported to the hospital for treatment, according to police. Bo D. Rupert and Anthony F. Boone, both from Centralia, can expect to receive summons to appear in Centralia Municipal Court for fighting in public, according to police.

THEFT

• Centralia police were called about a theft at the 200 block of Floral Street about 11:30 a.m. yesterday. Missing are a moving dolly and a Craftsman tool chest, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called yesterday about a refrigerator missing from a vacant rental house on the 200 block of South Street in Centralia.

• A portable stereo was reported stolen from a vehicle on the 1000 block of B Street in Centralia about 6:20 a.m. today.

STEALING POWER

• A homeless man who went into an empty mobile home and used electricity inside was arrested overnight for second-degree burglary in Centralia. Terry L. Bryan, 35, was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer about 12:15 a.m. at the 1700 block of Cooks Hill Road, according to the Centralia Police Department.

COLLISION

• A 43-year-old woman was hospitalized after her car and a semi-truck collided yesterday on northbound Interstate 5 just south of the Lewis-Thurston county line. Firefighters responding about 1:30 p.m. describe the vehicle damage as moderate and the woman as in stable condition. She was the only person person in her vehicle and the only one injured, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, drugs, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for shoplifting, protection order violation … and more.

Deadly Winlock fire: Sifting though charred rubble

Thursday, February 26th, 2015
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The search for bodies at the fire scene on Northeast First Street is a slow process.

Updated at 5:04 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

WINLOCK – The scene was somber as an investigator examined the area inside the blackened shell of what was a two-story house, hovering in the basket of a manlift while firefighters assisted below.

“We believe we have a location of one of the victims,” Winlock Police Department Chief Terry Williams announced shortly after 12:15 p.m.

A woman and two little girls didn’t make it out when fire broke out overnight. A father and two boys are said to be in the care of the Red Cross.

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Winlock Police Chief Terry Williams

“It’s just heart wrenching,” Winlock Mayor Lonnie Dowell said.

“My heart goes out to them,” Dowell said. “I can’t imagine losing half my family.”

The north end of the main street through the little town that sits three miles west of Interstate 5 is blocked off today, with barricades and yellow tape.

Chief Williams said the blended family had lived there perhaps a year; they were renting. He didn’t release any names.

“I knew of them,” Williams said.

Former Mayor Glen Cook who operated the machine to help Fire Investigator Samuel Patrick take photos from above, lives just down the street. Cook said when he phoned 911, he could see a little glow at the back of the house. Before he could finish explaining the location to the call taker, flames were coming out everywhere on the first floor, he said.

Another neighbor spoke of an explosion that rocked his house and woke his family up.

Chief Williams was dispatched at 2:45 a.m., just 10 minutes after the fire department was called out. He had only initial information from the man who lived there.

“The father indicated he grabbed the two boys and headed out the door,” Williams said. “She was right behind him, and he told her to get down, get down low.”

She didn’t come out, Williams said.

“He’s not even certain what happened,” Williams said of the father.

The residence, at 807 N.E. First Street, was built in 1904, according to county records. The Lewis County Assessor’s most recent information notes the one bathroomed home as in fair to average condition and heated with space heaters.

A representative of Puget Sound Energy said it was served by natural gas.

The front door of the main floor faced First Street. The house had a sort of basement on the backside, so it could be considered three stories, Williams said. Today, the top floor was gone.

Assisting Williams and his department were detectives from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Napavine Police Chief Chris Salyers, and members of the fire departments.

They were taking up debris layer by layer, searching for victims. Specialists from the Washington State Patrol came to create a map of the premises, once a suspected victim was found.

A fire investigator for Puget Sound Energy arrived at about noon.

Williams said the oldest of the children is a 9-year-old boy. The school district sent out a message this morning stating they will be providing support as needed to students and staff.

Mayor Dowell said a vigil is going to be held tonight, at the park in the center of town where the giant egg is. Umpqua Bank is accepting donations in an account already set up, he said.

Williams, who has been a police officer in Winlock since 1979, said its the third fire with child victims he can recall.

“They’re never easy, especially when there’s children,” he said.

Update: Just after 4 p.m. today, Chief Williams indicated investigators have recovered the remains of three victims, by way of the department’s Facebook page. The investigation into the cause of the fire will continue, according to Williams.
•••

For background, read “Possibly fatal house fire erupts in Winlock” from Thursday February 26, 2015 at 6:14 a.m., here

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Citizens should expect travel delays on Northeast First Street thorough the day.

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Examining the interior of what was a two-story house.

Possibly fatal house fire erupts in Winlock

Thursday, February 26th, 2015
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House burns on Northeast First near Jabez Street in Winlock. / Courtesy photo by Bethany Weaver Spalding

Updated at 8:30 a.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters are on the scene in Winlock where a house fire may have claimed three lives.

Lewis County Fire District 15 and three neighboring fire departments responded to multiple reports at 2:36 a.m. of a residential fire on the 800 block of Northeast First Street, near Jabez Street.

They found a large fire within a two-story home and attacked it from the exterior because of the large amount of fire present, according to District 15 Assistant Chief Kevin Anderson.

A man and two school-aged boys escaped, but initial information is a female and two female children were not able to get out, according to authorities.

Crews were still engaging in fire suppression efforts just before 6 a.m., according to Anderson.

Approximately 20 firefighters from Lewis County Fire Districts 15, 20, 2 and 5 battled the blaze.

Anderson states the Winlock Police Department is investigating to confirm that three individuals are inside, as well as the cause and origin of the fire.

Winlock Police Chief Terry Williams said just before 7 a.m., that he’s not yet able to get inside. The home is pretty much burned to the ground, he said.

Firefighters are still putting water on the structure, he said.

“Trying to get the heat down, pulling it apart,” he said.

Citizens should expect travel delays on Northeast First Street thorough the day.

Next door neighbor Mark Spalding said he awoke to an explosion that shook his house and got his family members out of bed.

“I didn’t know if it was our house, or whose house,” Spalding said.

He, his wife and his 14-year-old son ran toward the neighbor’s home, where they saw flames so high they were starting to touch the trees, he said.

Spalding said the man who lives there came running up to him on the road.

“The guy came up and put his hands on my shoulders just crying and screaming to help save his wife, his kids,” Spalding said.

It was too hot to get close to the house, Spalding said.

The Winlock School District issued a statement this morning, saying the students who attend their district are safe with the father in the care of the Red Cross, but three family members are unaccounted for.

“We will be providing support as needed to students and staff,” the statement said.

 

Morton resident to pay for hoax that evacuated lumber mill

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
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Marcus T. Dantinne, left, accompanied by attorney Shane O’Rourke, told the judge he was sorry for what he did.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 24-year-old who called in an anonymous bomb threat to a Morton lumber mill and admitted to police he just wanted to get a friend out of work so they could hang out was sentenced today to house arrest.

Marcus T. Dantinne pleaded guilty to threat to bomb property, a felony. He apologized this morning in Lewis County Superior Court.

“I truly am greatly sorry for all the badness I’ve caused throughout this,” Dantinne told the judge. “I’m seeking attention from Cascade Mental Health right now.”

Dantinne, who lives with his mother in Morton, was arrested on Nov. 17, after the scare that shut down Alta Forest Products just north of town of some 60 employees. The company’s mill in Shelton was also evacuated because they didn’t know if the threat was site specific.

Police traced the call to Dantinne who reportedly took the phone apart so he wouldn’t be discovered.

Dantinne spent two days jail before being allowed to wait out his case by posting an unsecured, but co-signed  $10,000 bond. His mother was with him in the courtroom today.

He faced a standard sentencing range of three to nine months of lockup, but the lawyers agreed to recommend he be sentenced as a first-time offender, meaning zero to 90 days in jail.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead and defense attorney Shane O’Rourke agreed he should serve one month, and suggested to the judge he be allowed to do so under electronic home monitoring.

This morning in court, O’Rourke read a letter from Dantinne’s social worker regarding his eligibility for the alternative; she expressed he suffered from severe social anxiety, and that confinement at the county jail would be detrimental.

The young man has several issues, one of which is autism spectrum disorder, but has been very focused on his outpatient treatment, according to the letter.

Judge Nelson Hunt went along with the sentence.

“Kind of a stupid reason for a bomb threat,” Hunt said. “Usually there’s more to it, than I want a day off with my friend.”

Hunt advised him he has lost his right to possess firearms, and ordered him to begin his electronic home monitoring stint by the evening of March 17.

Dantinne will be under supervision for a year, during which he will have to comply with all his treatment requirements, according to Halstead.

Not yet determined, is the amount he will owe in restitution.

Halstead told the judge the mill indicates the hoax cost them a tad bit over $42,000.
•••

For background, read “Authorities: ‘Dumb’ bomb threat brings class B felony charge” from Wednesday November 19, 2014, here

Changes underway in Lewis County Sheriff’s Office’s dealings with mentally ill

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – They called it mental health first aid.

Providers from Cascade Mental Health have been teaching local law enforcement officers about the many disorders people are affected by and how to best deal with them in the field, as well as how to obtain resources for them.

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Sheriff Rob Snaza

Over the past two weeks or so, 52 officers from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies each got five hours of training at the clinic’s Centralia location, according to the sheriff’s office.

It’s part of partnership between the sheriff’s office and Cascade Mental Health, that is already in place at the jail and is expanding.

Deputies and corrections officers are often the first to see and deal with people suffering from mental health disorders, and they continue to see many of them, according to Sheriff Rob Snaza.

Snaza says the jail is not always the best place for them.

“Law enforcement has a tough job of needing to enforce laws, yet apply basic understanding of mental health disorders to specific situations so they can try to seek appropriate resources to help people,” Snaza stated in a news release announcing the training earlier this week.

Corrections Bureau Chief Kevin Hanson notes in the news release his people and Cascade Mental Health have been working together, well, for many years.

They are in the process of strengthening programs already in place to ensure the best possible outcomes for those affected by mental health issues, according to Hanson.

Hanson recently shared with the Lewis County Board of Commissioners that he and Deputy Chief Bruce Kimsey were accepted as board members at Cascade Mental Health.

Hanson also said regular meetings are now underway for what they are calling Mental Health Alternative Programs, something that is akin to an informal mental health court.

The prosecutors and courts are on board with it, he said.

The sheriff’s office is also developing something called a Crisis Intervention Team / Critical Incident Response Team to work both at the jail and out in the field, according to Chief Deputy Stacy Brown.

Sheriff Snaza is allowing those who are interested to undergo further training in regard to that, according to Brown.

Undersheriff Wes Rethwill told county commissioners at a recent meeting the sheriff’s office is ahead of the curve on what is a huge issue across the state, across the country.

“In the past, they get into the criminal justice system” Rethwill said. “That’s not working, how it’s been handled in the past.”

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

PURSE TAKEN WHILE SHOPPING

• Centralia police were called about 7:35 p.m. yesterday to the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue where someone stole a purse from a shopping cart while the victim was shopping.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police were called about 11:40 a.m. yesterday about the theft of a black 1990 Acura Integra at the 2400 block of Borst Avenue. The car was late recovered,  according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 34-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and an outstanding misdemeanor warrant following a traffic stop about 7:45 a.m. yesterday. Clifford E. Briscoe was contacted on Long Road near the intersection of Alder Street in Centralia and a deputy found a small amount of a substance suspected to be meth, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Briscoe was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, probation violation, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault,  driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, malicious mischief … and more.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

GUNS GONE

• Police were called to a burglary about 5:50 p.m. yesterday at a residence on the 200 block of Southeast Park Hill Drive in Chehalis. The victim returned home to find the front door kicked in, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Among the property missing was a Smith and Wesson revolver, a watch and a $100 bill, according to police.

• Someone stole a firearm from a home on the 1200 block of Jalyn Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday. The rifle looks like an AK47, but only shoots .22 caliber bullets, according to the Centralia Police Department.

MEDS MISSING

• Prescription medications was reported stolen from the 200 block of Centralia College Boulevard in Centralia yesterday, according to police.

TRUCKS TAKEN

• Centralia police took a report yesterday of a red and gray 1983 GMC pickup getting stolen from the 2300 block of Sirkka Avenue.

• Police were called yesterday to the 300 block of North Tower Avenue regarding a maroon 1991 Toyota pickup truck stolen sometime since Friday. It has a license plate reading B25903V, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Chehalis police took a report of a vehicle prowl at the 800 block of Hillburger Road near the Willapa Trail. The victim was gone about 20 minutes and returned to find the driver’s side window broken, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, protection order violation, driving under the influence, possession of liquor by minor, responses for teenage dine-and-dash, collision on city street, intoxicated driver in a ditch … and more.

Human remains recovered off Kresky Avenue hillside

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
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Detectives and the coroner’s office had to hike into the trees to recover the remains of a female.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Human remains found by a survey crew on a wooded Chehalis hillside yesterday are those of a female, but authorities don’t know who she is.

Chehalis Police Department detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said, after finishing up the recovery today, there were no indications of foul play.

Police were called about 12:45 p.m. yesterday to the 2200 block of Northeast Kresky Avenue after the discovery, about a quarter mile east of the roadway, according to police. Officers hiked into the scene and confirmed the remains were human.

Chehalis detectives, members of the Lewis County Coroner’s Office and a forensic anthropologist spent the morning today collecting evidence and making the removal.

Wilson said the mostly skeletal remains were laying out in the open. There were no signs of a transient camp or something similar, he said.

A little more than four years ago, a homeless man was found dead in his tent in the same general area. He was 67 years old and died of a complication related to cancer.

The area, east of the Yard Birds Mall, is above a swath of property where some earthmoving and cleanup is underway.

Wilson said the police department doesn’t have any missing people. He said he can estimate the individual has been dead around a year, based partly on items they found.

Personal belongings were found near the victim, police said.

The place where she was found was remote, Coroner Warren McLeod said.

“The climb was such a steep angle, the fire department put up ropes for us to hang on to so we wouldn’t fall,” he said.

Both Wilson and McLeod said they found some clues to a possible identity.

“We’re working on a lead on who this person might be,” McLeod said. “We’re going to see if we can find any local dental work or X-Rays.”

The condition of the body is such that no autopsy can be done. McLeod is arranging for the remains to be sent to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office where Dr. Kathleen Taylor, the forensic anthropologist, will examine them.

She will help to try to find out who the female is and do an examination that may help her establish a cause of death, he said.

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Police tape blocks off a trail taken to recover human remains today.

Rural Chehalis man charged with shooting up woman’s car

Monday, February 23rd, 2015
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Taylor R. Rushton goes before a judge for a bail hearing in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 36-year-old Lewis County man accused of going to a female friend’s workplace and shooting up her unoccupied vehicle will get his chance to make a plea in Lewis County Superior Court on Thursday.

Taylor R. Rushton was arrested last week and ordered held on $50,000 bail.

The arrest came after an investigation of an incident that took place at the beginning of the month at the Chevron station on Mellen Street in Centralia.

Police called about 2 a.m. on Feb. 7 found several small holes in the front quarter panel of Nichole Perry’s small four-door car, according to charging documents.

Charging documents state Perry told police Rushton had shown up about 11 p.m. and accused her of taking his car key and then returned three hours later and fired upon her vehicle.

The clerk said she was inside when she saw the green truck pull up near her car, Rushton get out, pull out a handgun and shoot it four or five times, the documents state.

Charging documents say the green Ford Ranger was last seen approaching the freeway entrance; and another witness described its driver as 5-feet 8-inches tall wearing a baseball cap.

Officers recreating the scene concluded the shots were fired from a close distance and also fired towards the north, so persons walking or driving on Mellen Street could have been harmed, the documents allege.

Police believe the two are or were dating, and but when Rushton appeared in court last week, defense attorney Don Blair said both of them deny ever having any kind of relationship.

Rushton was arrested on Wednesday and on Thursday prosecutors charged him with one count of drive-by shooting, alleging it was a domestic violence incident. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors asked for him to be held on $100,000 bail, citing the dangerousness of the incident. Blair argued against that, noting the rural Chehalis resident has lived here his whole life, has a job and owns his own home.

“He made no efforts to flee, he has no criminal history,” Blair told the judge.

Judge Nelson Hunt said the fact the two denied a dating relationship meant any motive is unknown, necessitating higher bail.

The firearm used had not been located by police, according to the court documents.

Blair said he expected Rushton was going to retain him. His arraignment is Thursday morning.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Updated at 8:25 p.m.

TIP JAR TAKEN, ONE ARRESTED

• Police arrested a 34-year-old man yesterday for allegedly stealing a tip jar from a business on the the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia, and found him in a car which had been reported stolen. Officers were called about 10:20 a.m. and soon after came across the suspect vehicle on Mellen Street at Ellsbury Street, according to the Centralia Police Department. James E. Reinke, described as transient, said a friend had loaned him the car but Reinke was booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle, according to police. Some dollar bills were recovered, as well as the tip jar, according to police.

BARTENDER ASSAULTED

• A bartender that tried to detain a patron who tried to leave without paying for his food and drinks was struck in the face and the customer subsequently arrested for robbery on Friday night in Centralia. Officers called about 7:25 p.m. to the 100 block of North Tower Avenue booked Chase N. Ettner, 30, of Centralia, into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AUTO THEFT

• Chehalis police took a report about 11:40 a.m. on Saturday of a car stolen from Northwest Chehalis Avenue and Prindle Street. The 1999 red Acura Integra was found about 1 o’clock this morning parked and unoccupied at Mellen and Yew streets in Centralia. It was returned to its owner, according to police.

BURGLARY

• Someone pried open a door at a home on the 400 block of Westlake Avenue in Morton last week. Police were called about 11 a.m. on Thursday and it appeared nothing was missing, according to the Morton Police Department.

EQUIPMENT STOLEN

• Someone stole about $5,500 worth of property from a shop building on the 100 block of Highway 603 west of Chehalis sometime during the week that ended on Saturday. Among the missing items were an air compressor, pressure washer, chainsaws and a table saw, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Welding equipment was reported stolen from the 700 block of Yew Street in Centralia on Friday morning, according to the Centralia Police Department.

OTHER THEFT

• Centralia police took a report about 10 o’clock yesterday morning regarding the theft of wheels and tires from the 1700 block of Harrison Avenue.

DRUGS

• A 33-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine when a white powdery substance was discovered after he was detained for allegedly shoplifting at Sun Bird Shopping Center on Saturday. Police responded to the approximately 11:15 a.m. report at the 1700 block of North National Avenue and booked Jesse J. Wheeler into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

ALLEGED HAY THIEF CAUGHT

• Police were called about 11 a.m. last Monday to the 100 block of Nielson Road in Mossyrock about a goat allegedly getting into a neighbor’s barn and eating their hay. The animal was accused of causing other unspecified problems as well, according to the Morton Police Department. Its owner was talked to and warned to keep the goat home or they would be cited, according to police.

ZOOM, ZOOM

• Lewis County troopers say a man caught driving some 90 mph on Interstate 5 yesterday morning, who sped away in the midst of a traffic stop was located hours later a few miles away, his car sitting on an onramp getting a jump start. Trooper Brian Ashley recognized the passenger in a black Volkswagen Passat by the description from the previous trooper’s incident and the subject nearly got away again, according to authorities. The man allegedly rammed the trooper with his shoulder, tried to throw him to the ground and then ran off, according to charging documents. A track conducted by a police dog subsequently ended with Adrian N. Alatorre in custody. Alatorre, 27, from Auburn was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with third-degree assault, failure to obey a law enforcement officer, obstructing a law enforcement officer, making a false or misleading statement to a public servant, and third-degree driving with a suspended license. The defendant who is employed by a construction company in Bellevue, has twice been convicted of attempting to elude, according to lawyers who argued about bail today. Alatorre was ordered held on $75,000 bail.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• A 32-year-old Centralia father of seven was charged today with two counts of child molestation for allegedly touching a young relative’s private parts with his hands and his mouth. Jeffrey A. Bedsole Jr. was arrested on Friday following an investigation that began the week before when the 11-year-old girl’s mother contacted Centralia police. Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told a judge today Bedsole has a stable residence with his wife and children and been in close contact with his pastor as she argued for just $10,000 bail. Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher asked for $25,000 bail for the offenses that have a maximum penalty of life in prison. Judge James Lawler set bail at $50,000. Bedsole works for a lumber company but qualifies for a court appointed lawyer, O’Rourke said. The judge also ordered he have no contact with minors or the alleged victim. His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.

CRIME STOPPERS

• Lewis County Crime Stoppers is looking for information in connection with an arson investigation following an incident last autumn on the 700 block of South Market Boulevard in Chehalis. Sometime between 7 p.m. on Oct. 13 and 8 o’clock the following morning, someone tried to burn debris and a plastic trash container at the back of a building. Crime Stoppers pays up to $1,000 for information leading to the clearance of crimes. Anonymous calls can be made to 1-800-748-6422 or information may be shared online at www.lewiscountycrimestoppers.org

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants,  misdemeanor assault, reckless driving, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, dispute, misdemeanor theft, suspicious circumstances, collisions on city streets … and more.

Lewis County online for sale site leads to robbery at Capitol Mall

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A group of Centralia-area residents are in trouble after they allegedly robbed two individuals who thought they were meeting at the Capitol Mall in Olympia to purchase a car advertised on a Lewis County online for-sale site.

The victims were going to buy a Honda Accord for $1,500 but were approached in the parking lot by two males armed with handguns, according to the Olympia Police Department.

They relinquished the cash they’d brought and then followed a red VW Jetta the men got into and called 911, according to police.

It happened just before 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Arriving officers caught up to one of two backseat passengers who ran away on foot and other officers stopped the Jetta as it entered the onramp to Highway 101, according to police.

The female driver and a juvenile passenger were detained.

Arrested and booked into the Thurston County Jail for first-degree robbery were the driver, Kirstan A. Flat, 19, of Chehalis, and Joshua L. Meza, 18, from Winlock, according to police. Lt. Jim Costa initially described the group as from the Centralia area.

The juvenile in the front passenger seat was later released to a parent, and Costa said he’s not sure what the juvenile’s involvement was.

Police this morning were actively searching for the fourth suspect who had fled the car on foot, according to Costa.

No injuries were reported and it’s not clear if the suspects actually had an Accord to sell.

Mystery of Onalaska coffin revealed, again

Saturday, February 21st, 2015
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The coroner and his deputies take a look at a casket stuck in a creek off the Newaukum River just east of Onalaska.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

ONALASKA – The caravan left the coroner’s office at 8:30 a.m., sharp, today.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod and nine members of his team set out on a mission to retrieve a casket discovered partially submerged in a creek last weekend, get it opened up and deal with whatever they found inside.

If it contained somebody’s loved one, the work would begin to figure out who it was and how to get them and their coffin back into their original burial plot.

If it was empty but suspected of once containing a body, McLeod would still have to find out who the previous occupant was, where they had previously been laid to rest and then tell their family that the remains had likely slipped out and been carried downstream.

When he visited the site earlier this week, he could see the lid was damaged, and knew it was possible any remains had been swept away.

The area, a little more than three miles east on state Route 508, beyond Onalaska’s center, has seen flooding several times in recent years.

The hope was, McLeod would find clues that the steel container was the one that once belonged to a pirate.

A SeaFair pirate, who until a few years ago lived near the South Fork of the Newaukum River, with the help of his wife, transformed a never-yet-used casket into fancy outdoor storage for bottles of liquor, ice and whatever bounty such men would need when they sat around a campfire and smoked cigars.

Susan and Pat Patterson lost their casket-turned-bar after a flood several years ago.

The property where they once lived is, as it turns out, one or two addresses upstream from the caravan’s destination.

Robert and Robin Bryan relocated last summer to a home on seven acres on the south side of state Route 508.

He said today, a neighbor notified him the other day he’d found a casket in the creek behind their home. His wife said they needed to report it to authorities.

“I told him, if there was somebody still in it, they needed respect, needed dignity,” Robin Bryan said.

The caravan arrived just before 9 a.m. to the Bryan’s property, and with shovels in hand, the coroner’s team set out.

Robert Bryan and his 8-year-old granddaughter Crystina Rollins, accompanied them down a brushy, muddy path to the creek.

“You can see it just beyond that sink,” he said.

Previous flood events have left a variety of odd objects in the shallow creek.

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The bottom side of the river-colored steel casket shows an orange-ish tint. Deputy Coroner Sarah Hockett says she can’t see inside, even though it appears one half of a “split-top” may be missing.

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Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod sees the arriving half dozen members of Lewis County Search and Rescue just before 9 a.m. and points to their target.

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Deputy Gabe Frase, red plaid, brings a cable out to attach to the coffin. Chains are wrapped around it. A couple of neighbors have joined those on the creek’s bank to watch.

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Deputy Sgt. Alan Stull pilots the Polaris four-wheeler, a piece of equipment obtained from the military, which has been outfitted with “tracks” to replace its wheels. He revs up the motor as he begins to pull, and the casket starts to rise from its resting place.

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The news media is there.

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Stull pauses, as deputy coroners decide they must dig around the casket first to loosen it further from the grip of the creek bottom. Stull then resumes pulling it toward him.

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The casket has been flipped right side up. “I’ve always wondered what’s in that,” Onalaska Elementary School third-grader Crystina Rollins says. “I’m hoping nothing.” Deputy Curt Spahn pries up the top of the casket.

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They see a mound of mud and gravel inside.

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The see what they think is an ice bucket inside. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Coroner’s Office

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Bingo. They pull out pieces of particle board, with holes bored out, just the size a bottle of rum could sit in. Mystery solved. “This is good,” McLeod says. “We didn’t want it to be somebody.” The time is 10 a.m.

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Deputy coroners examine the interior further. I don’t know why. Maybe hoping to find some pirate loot.

They decide to leave the casket where it lay.

“It’s not occupied, so I don’t have a problem with it,” Robert Bryan said.

The members of the search and rescue team return to their day of winter training elsewhere in the county.

Long time coordinator of the group, Sheriff’s Deputy Gene Seiber said, before departing, he does not recall the Patterson’s pirate casket turning up after the big 2007 flood.

If several years from now, the container is swept away again and found again, it won’t be a closed casket that causes another mystery, since it doesn’t have a lid, Seiber suggested.

Robin Bryan brings out cinnamon rolls for the coroner’s group.

Mission accomplished.

Postscript: Robin Bryan calls a news reporter to say she informed her landlord of what transpired. The landlord handles the estate of the man who previously resided there, and has died, she said.

“She got quite a laugh out of it,” Robin Bryan said. “She said, ‘It’s still there? He knew all about it.’ ”

The former owner had discovered the casket on his property at one time in the past, and reported it, Robin Bryan said. And then it was just left there, she said.

“She got a big laugh out of it, and said I’m so glad you handled that,” she said.

•••

For background, read:

• “Coffin discovered in Lewis County creek” from Tuesday February 17, 2015, here

• “Search and rescue to attempt recovery of partially submerged coffin” from Friday February 20, 2015, here