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Accidental free night out for jail inmate

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Updated at 1:13 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An inmate was accidentally released from the Lewis County Jail last night, a 25-year-old man charged just yesterday with harassment, threat to kill.

Joshua E. Blankenship was arrested on Monday afternoon after allegedly pointing an imaginary gun at grocery store employees who detained him for stealing pre-packaged biscuits and gravy in Centralia.

Police said he mimicked shooting sounds at the same time, saying “Pow, pow, pow,” while staff held him down.

Jail Chief Kevin Hanson said he learned of the error this morning.

“We had law enforcement all over searching for him,” Hanson said.

Centralia police located Blankenship and returned him to the Chehalis facility at about noon today.

Blankenship has been described by local police as both a Chehalis resident and a transient.

He was arrested a week ago in Chehalis for allegedly stealing a backpack and attempting to steal a bicycle chained up on a porch. A caller to 911 said he seemed to be speaking in tongues.

On Monday, Centralia officers were called to Fuller’s Shop ‘n Kart on the the 500 block of South Tower Avenue where they were told he was seen walking into the restroom with a food item in his hand, but when he came out he didn’t have it.

He allegedly shoved an employee who tried to block his path and then during an ensuing tussle, the biscuits and gravy fell from his pocket.

Threatening the workers with his pretend gun brought him a charge yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court of harassment. The shove elevated what would have been a shoplifting charge to second-degree robbery.

A judge yesterday afternoon ordered Blankenship held on $10,000 bail.

Hanson said he was let go from the jail yesterday evening because his paperwork wasn’t properly processed.

“My staff read the paperwork wrong and released him,” Hanson said.

Jail staff thought Blankenship could get out on a signature bond, a promise to appear in court, according to Hanson.

Hanson said he didn’t know how dangerous Blankenship is or isn’t, as he hasn’t met him.

Mistakes are bound to happen, with a hugely convoluted paperwork system, Hanson said.

“What I can tell you is nobody’s perfect,” he said. “We process thousands of releases and bookings each year, and it’s not always easy to decipher.”

A Centralia Police Department spokesperson said he didn’t yet know the details, but believed Blankenship was found standing on a street in town and an officer spotted him.

His arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, when a judge may be asked to consider a lower bail amount, according to defense attorney Bob Schroeter who represented him temporarily at yesterday’s hearing.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 11:53 am

LARGE MUSICAL INSTRUMENT VANISHES FROM HOME

• A cello and a 12-gauge shotgun are among the nearly $2,000 worth of valuables missing after a burglary at a north Centralia home. A deputy dispatched yesterday to contact the 36-year-old victim learned the man left his home on the 500 block of Haliday Road about 11 a.m. on Saturday and when he returned at midnight, discovered the thefts, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy was able to locate a forced entry point, but the victim also thought it was possible the front doors hadn’t been properly locked, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Also taken were a Toshiba laptop computer and external hard drive, a digital video camera, costume jewelry and other property, according to Brown. The gun is a model 350 Savage, she said.

OUTDOOR THEFT

• Someone stole a U.S. flag from the front porch of a home on the 500 block of West Pine Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday evening. It is described as approximately 4 feet by 5 feet in size, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 30-foot extension ladder was reported missing from a yard on the 200 block of First Street in Morton on Friday morning.

USED GAME WAS STOLEN

• A 23-year-old Centralia man who showed identification when he sold an X-box to a Chehalis game store on Friday was arrested yesterday for trafficking stolen property. Police followed up after learning the item had been stolen in Thurston County. Booked into the Lewis County Jail was Nicholas R. Dafoe, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

DRUGS

• A pair of underage Centralia men were arrested about 12:20 a.m. today for possession of marijuana at the 2000 block of Borst Avenue in Centralia. Trenton J. Hall, 20, and Donald J. Johnson, 19, were cited also for possession of drug paraphernalia and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Centralia police took a report yesterday of a broken window on a car that occurred overnight at the 300 block of Centralia College Boulevard.

JUST CALM DOWN

• Morton police responded to a residence in the 700 block of Main Avenue about 8:35 p.m. on Thursday regarding a verbal dispute. After speaking with the parties involved, it was determined that one of them would spend the night at a different location in order to calm down, police report.

CRIME STOPPERS

• Lewis County Crime Stoppers is looking for tips regarding a burglary from April 30 at the 2300 block of state Route 505 near Toledo in which witnesses saw a dark colored Nissan or Ford Ranger truck leaving the area with flatbed trailer carrying a John Deere riding lawnmower. The trailer was recovered in Cowlitz County, but the mower is still missing, according to Crime Stoppers. The loss is more than $2,500.  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, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, disputes, suspicious circumstances,   collision in parking lot; complaint a paycheck couldn’t be cashed because of non-sufficient funds… and more.

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No lunch for Chehalis man with imaginary firearm

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 10:14 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A grocery customer who allegedly tried to shoplift pre-packaged biscuits and gravy yesterday found himself arrested for more serious charges after he reportedly made a motion with his hand as though he had a gun, saying “Pow, pow, pow,” while staff held him down.

Police called just before 1 p.m. to the 500 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia were told a suspicious employee tried to block the path of Joshua E. Blankenship who then shoved the employee, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Fuller’s Shop ‘n Kart workers were able to stop him, Officer John Panco said, and when Blankenship then slipped and fell, he spilled his cup of coffee and the food item dropped out of his pocket.

That’s when he made the threat to kill the two employees by drawing his non-existent gun, according to Panco.

Blankenship, 25, from Chehalis, was arrested for second-degree robbery, felony harassment and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

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Attorney: House of The Rising Son founder innocent of fraud

Monday, June 23, 2014 at 9:35 pm
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Judy Chafin, right, and her lawyer Sam Groberg listen as L&I investigator Russell Gow testifies in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Chehalis woman who operated what became controversial halfway houses in Lewis County for newly released prisoners and homeless persons contends she’s innocent of the latest charges against her, allegedly working at the same time she was collecting payments for an on-the-job injury.

A judge will decide.

Judy Chafin, 62, was in Lewis County Superior Court this morning when a bench trial began that is scheduled for three days.

Chafin is charged with 30 counts of forgery and two counts of first-degree theft, based on benefits received from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries and Social Security disability.

Defense attorney Sam Groberg said the state agency had already investigated and decided not to pursue charges against his client before a second investigation was conducted, leading to the current case which was filed in September.

“She doesn’t dispute she applied for and received benefits from L&I and Social Security,” Groberg told the judge. “The dispute we have today revolves around whether or not this is work.”

Groberg said Chafin’s activities didn’t amount to work, as defined by the state agency.

His client’s position is that she wasn’t working, never worked and didn’t receive any money, he said.

“Also the fact that she didn’t disclose 100 percent fully, doesn’t rise to theft first,” Groberg said.

Chafin founded she called the House of the Rising Son in Chehalis between 2006 and 2007 and in subsequent years, managed other similar homes around the county, according to authorities. She suffered an on-the-job injury in September 2006, while working as a certified nursing assistant at  Tiffin House in Centralia.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg said the L&I disability payments she received were called time loss benefits, based on the idea she could not perform any work.

“Ms. Chafin was supposed to report if she worked at all, no matter how little,” Eisenberg told the judge.

Eisenberg said she started as treasurer of the House of The Rising Son but eventually took over the entire organization.

She performed landlord-like services, such as collecting rent, paying utilities and was responsible for evictions, he said.

Charging documents alleged that since 2006, Chafin wrongly received in excess of $90,000 in benefits.

Eisenberg told the judge she also negotiated a contract with two individuals to perform activities similar to those she provided when working at Tiffin House.

Eisenberg said the organization expanded during 2010, 2011 and 2012 to as many as 10 other similar homes.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler is hearing the case.

Chafin began to get a lot of attention from law enforcement and then city and county officials beginning about two years ago when residents on a rural Chehalis road complained they didn’t want multiple felons, especially registered sex offenders, living together under one roof in their neighborhood. Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield vowed to do everything he could to shut her down.

Earlier this year, she was sentenced  to 30 days of house arrest, for a prescription drug offense, she said was simply an oversight on her part. Prosecutors had initially charged her also with delivery of drugs and with a forgery, but dropped all but the possession of seven and half pills of morphine charge before her trial began.

At the time, she said she was entirely done with what she called her mission, having chosen not to fight the various zoning actions and finding places for the various tenants to live.

She has described the home owners of the various House of The Rising Son properties as individuals who got tired of renting to drug addicts, and said her number one house rule was no drugs or alcohol.

•••

For background, read:

• “Discord on Nix Road: Newest arrivals unwelcome” from Saturday March 3, 2012, here

• “The backstory: Intelligence gathering, possible fines and code enforcement tools “not normally used” from Sunday March 4, 2012, here

• “The sun sets on House of the Rising Son” from Thursday March 20, 2014, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, June 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm

MOTORCYCLIST HURT IN CHEHALIS

• A 33-year-old motorcyclist was airlifted after a collision yesterday on the 1100 block of North National Avenue in Chehalis when he hit the rear of a flatbed tow truck which was backing onto the street. Firefighters called about 2:30 p.m. found the man with broken leg bones, possibly a broken shoulder and not very responsive, Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Casey Beck said. Chehalis police detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said the rider was traveling northbound and the tow truck had been attempting to turn around and its back end was in the street. The Chehalis area man was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital and then flown to Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, according to responders. He’s currently listed in stable, serious condition, according to a hospital spokesperson. Wilson said the wreck remains under investigation.

ON THE LOOKOUT FOR JIM BOB

• Deputies yesterday got a break in a hit and run case from Friday night in Onalaska in which a driver who slowed then stopped for loose pigs in the roadway was struck in the rear end, totaling her Toyota Camry. The 67-year-old woman said it was about 8:30 p.m. at the 300 block of Leonard Road and the white van simply drove around her and continued south, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A similarly described van was later found parked behind an outbuilding off Gore Road and its owner called the sheriff’s office yesterday to say they had brought home a hitchhiker named Jim Bob, who had borrowed the vehicle go buy cigarettes and said he’d run into a ditch, according to the sheriff’s office. The case remains under investigation, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

WINLOCK BURGLARY

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning that a 61-year-old Winlock-area man believes he was either laying down or perhaps was gone to the store when someone came into his residence and stole an HP laptop computer and a digital camera. It happened on then 900 block of Byham Road sometime between 9 a.m. last Tuesday and 2 p.m. on Thursday, according to the sheriff’s office. The loss is estimated at $680.

MISSING XBOX TURNS UP AT GAME STORE

• Chehalis police were called on Friday afternoon to a game shop on the 1600 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue in Chehalis when an individual called saying they found their stolen X-box there. The item was taken back to the police department and officers will be working with law enforcement in Thurston County regarding follow up, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Chehalis police detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said it appeared someone sold it to the business which would then resell it.

MISSING MEDS

• Chehalis police took a report yesterday from a customer who said she accidentally left her pain meds at a restaurant on Southwest Interstate Avenue and when she returned to retrieve them, they were gone. The case is under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

SUSPICIOUS FIRE

• Police are investigating a brush fire that broke out behind the former Chehalis Inn on Friday, prompting 911 calls from motorists on Interstate 5 who reported flames about 10 feet tall along a fence. Firefighters called about 1:10 p.m. to the 100 block of Southwest Interstate Avenue said a maintenance person got out a garden hose and prevented any damage to the wood fence. The burned area was about 10 feet in diameter, Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Kevin Curfman said. The motel is now a Howard Johnson’s.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license,  trespassing; responses for alarms, disputes, misdemeanor theft, misdemeanor assault, collision on city street, german shepherd biting a passing bicyclist, vehicles driving off county roads into yards, unattended backpack in Wal-Mart’s parking lot, an inmate upset about being in jail who smashed a sprinkler head and flooded the floor; complaints of the smell of marijuana in an apartment building, a man at a bar yelling, screaming and dancing around, a large man observed with his jeans around his ankles masturbating on the Lewis County Community Trail off Cabe Road west of Chehalis … and more.

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Notes from behind the news: What did we do before there was Lewis County Sirens?

Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 11:43 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Well, many of you know I really, really like gathering information and writing news stories about crime, cops, courts, fire, and what-have-you in greater Lewis County.

It’s something I’ve done here for more than a dozen years.

When I decided to launch an independent online-only news site, I was able to re-double my dedication to providing news that is accurate, timely, fair, balanced, and most of all, newsworthy.

I work hard to avoid disappointing my readers.

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Sharyn L. Decker

Often that means I’m punching away at the keyboard at 9 o’clock at night. Sometimes it means I set my alarm for 5 a.m.

It always means I ask myself, what do readers want to know about this? And I reach out to get answers; and confirm the “facts” that I’m not certain about.

Well, it’s been four years now.

That’s right.

Lewis County Sirens celebrates its four-year-anniversary this month.

I still enjoy very much getting up each morning and digging up what no other news outlet has found.

Sometimes it’s just a snippet, or a snapshot of the previous 24 hours as in Sharyn’s Sirens Roundup where you can read about select calls and encounters involving local police and fire departments.

Sometimes it’s in-depth coverage over time of a significant event: think John Booth triple murder on Wings Way, or Ronda Reynolds suicide or homicide with court case and coroner’s inquest, or Ronald Brady and the intruders outside his Onalaska house.

And then other times, it’s every kind of thing in between.

I don’t know who said it first, but it stuck in my mind; that news reporters are the ones who bring us the first draft of history. What a tremendous responsibility that is.

It’s been rewarding for me, and I’m pretty sure its been a refreshing bit of reading for many who live in, work in or care about this area.

I actually had 1,000 readers the same month I launched, June 2010. By the end of that year, Lewis County Sirens.com was approaching the circulation of the local daily newspaper here.

Twelve months later, my number of readers had more than tripled.

Today, Lewis County Sirens.com has well over 50,000 readers. That’s huge in a county with a population of somewhere around 75,000 people.

That’s more than five times the number of people who subscribe to the newspaper here.

Really, it’s not surprising it has become wildly popular, because crime (and high school sports) are the most-read parts of any newspaper. Plus, and mainly, I think, my reputation as a trusted news source is solid.

Readers spend an average of about five minutes navigating around my news site during each visit. And best of all, what has really grown is how readers contribute through their comments.

It along with its companion Facebook page – which is a horse of a different color really, but is also a wealth of reader contributed information and commentary – have grown into something I wouldn’t quite have imagined four years ago.

Lewis County Sirens has found a bit of time to reach further out into the community, through an opportunity to support Centralia’s live theater, in a small way. And now, as co-media sponsor of the upcoming DB Cooper Music Festival. Doing my part to help give us all a break from the trauma, drama and disaster that comes with focusing on crime daily, and when it happens.

Will Lewis County Sirens be around four years from now?

It’s hard to say.

As many of you know, being an entrepreneur has its challenges. Me, I’m that and a dedicated news reporter. Those are two tall pairs of boots to fill at the same time.

And I’m just one human. I really do only have two feet.

So, as Lewis County Sirens celebrates four years, I’m going to suggest that any of you who find it a truly valuable resource in our community consider what, if anything, you might do to ensure its continued publication.

Feel free to simply keep reading and enjoying it for no charge. I grew up with the idea of free news, and I like that. In fact, absolutely do continue reading. The larger the number of readers, of visits, of page views, the more valuable the advertising space is to those who want to promote what they do.

And that’s what supports Lewis County Sirens when it comes right down to it, the advertising.

While I think I’m a pretty terrific news reporter, the one who fills the boots in the ad sales department hasn’t done a whole lot to make sure that area businesses, organizations and other enterprises know what an amazing opportunity exists with an ad on the news site.

There simply is nowhere else locally to reach so many people, for so little money. We get hundreds of thousands of page views each month.

So readers, I’m asking you, if you’re a fan, if you are someone who really wants to help, then think about your own business, or someone close to you, who could benefit from placing an ad on the most-read local news site. And then tell them about it.

I’m feeling so good on this fourth “birthday” that I’ve come up with a special pricing deal – a super good one, actually – for anyone who launches an ad before June 30. Ask me about it.

Also, there’s that little yellow “donate” button on the right hand side of the news site. This may sound like a public television pitch, but if you like what you are reading, and feel it’s worth paying for, and can afford to, consider making an ongoing small donation, or consider a one-time contribution.

Whatever suits you. Whatever feels right.

If money is too tight, but you still feel like you really want to contribute to the ongoing success of this resource, one way to do that, if you happen to be on Facebook, is whenever you read a particularly interesting news item, hit the share button and blast a link to all your friends.

That’s pretty much it for Lewis County Sirens’ birthday wish list.

Well, okay, there is one other thing, for anyone who may be feeling a bit of appreciation and can’t think of any other way to show it. Since you asked …

You could send me a Starbuck’s gift card, and consider the caffeine an investment in helping me get through one of the coming news cycles. ;)

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Notes from behind the news: Sunday Sirens music break

Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 6:30 am
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Vicci Martinez, a finalist on The Voice, is among the entertainers who will take to three different stages when the DB Cooper Music Festival touches down at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds on Aug. 2.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Ready for a Sunday sirens music break?

Last week, news of another drowning, this time a 17-year-old boy, and then a tragic and deadly explosion at a fireworks business … Let’s turn it off for a few.

I’m going to listen to Vicci Martinez, one of the performing artists who will take the main stage at the upcoming all-day party at the fairgrounds that is the DB Cooper Music Festival.

Lewis County Sirens.com is co-media sponsor of the event, in part because I think we all need a time out where we simply have fun.

I’m working my way up to be able to take a day-long break, by practicing five minutes at a time, periodically.

Described as a pop singer-songwriter grounded in acoustic rock, Martinez graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma.

She was a finalist on NBC’s The Voice in its first season, and before that appeared on CBS’s Star Search and won the regional tryouts for the first season of American Idol.

The phantom writer for DB Cooper’s festival promotional materials says she’s the daughter of a Mexican plumber dad and an ESL teacher mom, who first took the stage at the age of 16.

She’s performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, had a hit that reached #12 on VH1, with more than 250,000 singles sold. Her latest single is called Otra Cancion.

She’s good, let’s just listen to her.

This is her song, “Come Along” featuring Cee-Lo Green, here
•••

Hey, it looks like early bird ticket prices were extended to June 30.
DB Cooper Music Festival
Two dozen or so acts – enough for three different stages – featuring blues, folk, funk, soul, rock, jazz, bluegrass, southern rock, beachy and more.
When: Saturday, Aug 2, 2014 doors open at around 11 a.m.
Where: Southwest Washington Fairgrounds, 2555 North National Avenue, Chehalis, Wash.
Ticket Price: $25 – $40
Early Bird Tickets $25: – Price good until June 30, 2014
Show Type: Festival
Restrictions: 21 & over, ID required
Parking: $5 per vehicle
For all the details: http://dbcoopermusicfestival.com/index.shtm
Tickets sales online, here

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Coming to our town; early bird tickets still available.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, June 20, 2014 at 11:21 am

NO PARTY FOR CENTRALIA MAN

• A 27-year-old Centralia resident was arrested last night after he allegedly attempted to shoplift food, a half gallon of pineapple rum, a fifth of cotton candy vodka and a pint of regular vodka from Safeway. Police responding about 9:45 p.m. to the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue booked Lucas D.C. Bryan into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree theft, according to the Centralia Police Department.

MOST OF MISSING CAR FOUND

• A car stolen in April from Centralia turned up last night on a logging road near Curtis; up on blocks and missing three of its wheels, its stereo and several other parts, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The red 1999 Chrysler 300 was recovered around 6 p.m. on the 400 Line off Lost Valley Road, according to the sheriff’s office. It’s value was $500, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

DOG-GONE

• Centralia police were called to Providence Centralia Hospital about 5:30 p.m. yesterday by a man whose 7-month-old Pit bull puppy vanished from his car. The windows had been left down, according to the Centralia Police Department.

WILDFIRE ASSISTANCE

• Three firefighters from Lewis County Fire District 5 returned home yesterday from assisting on the wildfire in Eastern Washington, where they helped with structural containment. Firefighter Maria Kennedy said they headed to Selah on Tuesday night and worked the next day. The Yakima-Herald Republic reports the fire that blackened nearly 9,000 acres outside Selah – believed to have been caused by target shooting in dry grass – was completely contained last night. A group from the Toledo fire department went as well, according to Kennedy.

PRE-FOURTH OF JULY MESSAGE FROM THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL

• The state fire marshal is reminding the public that in Washington, fireworks must be purchased from a licensed retail fireworks stand during the legal sales period. The purchase of fireworks over the internet is illegal, State Fire Marshal Charles M. Duffy says.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, misdemeanor theft, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarm, disputes, graffiti, possible fraud, collision on city street, driver all over the road, a male taking a nap on someone else’s front lawn … and more.

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Police: Organized crime defendant created “hit list” of key witnesses

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 9:47 pm
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Forrest E. Amos, facing a trial on a third strike offense, appears in court as he is charged with witness intimidation from inside the Lewis County Jail.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An alleged local drug trafficker who police believe continued his activities from inside prison walls last year now stands accused of a plan to hurt or intimidate witnesses in his upcoming trial, including having someone cut the brakes or plant a bomb in the car of Ryan “No Legs” Shewell.

Shewell, a former Chehalis resident, feared Forrest E. Amos, and moved out of town after agreeing to testify, according to local prosecutors. He lost his lower legs and fingers to a disease he contracted as a child.

Amos, 31, was charged late last year in Lewis County Superior Court with leading organized crime, in connection with sales of Oxycodone before he was sent to prison and while he was there, allegedly, using fabricated telephone numbers and other means to direct and set up deals on the outside. A conviction would be a third strike for the former Chehalis area man.

Lewis County prosecutors yesterday charged Amos with four counts of intimidating a witness.

They claim he managed to smuggle a “hit list” out of the Lewis County Jail where he has been held since December.

His sister Sylvia Pittman, 27, was arrested Tuesday and charged yesterday with the same offenses, as police allege she delivered the list to another so-called supporter-conspirator in the Azteca parking lot in Centralia earlier this year. She told police she was trying to help Amos beat his charges, according to court documents.

The page had four names and addresses on it, according to prosecutors.

Amos is being held on $1 million bail, requested by prosecutors previously because, they said, even behind bars, he wasn’t really controllable.

Yesterday, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg asked a judge to place him in solitary confinement pending his trial.

Judge Nelson Hunt said he couldn’t do that but did order that Amos be prohibited from using a telephone or the jail’s internet-based video visitation. He also ordered that all of Amos’s mail would be searched, except any that specifically has his lawyer’s name and address on it.

According to charging documents, Amos has been using some of the same methods in jail he was using in prison to gather supporters who would in turn help him tamper with witnesses in an attempt to get out of his pending charges.

Law enforcement has been monitoring him, and learned Amos was also using “legal mail” to continue his criminal intentions without detection, according to prosecutors.

Centralia’s Officer Adam Haggerty contacted Lt. James Pea at the jail who assured him it was not possible to use legal mail in that fashion, charging documents state.

“However, it was later discovered that it was in fact happening,” prosecutors write.

The court documents don’t go into any detail about how legal mail is supposed to work at the Lewis County Jail or how its process was corrupted.

Charging documents allege Amos has used supporters in attempts to pressure his former girlfriend, a key witness, Jennifer Lantau not to testify.

The documents describe how a confidential source of Officer Haggerty’s revealed to Haggerty in mid-April information about Amos’s plans.

Haggerty was told, according to charging documents, Amos wanted supporters to drive to Port Orchard to physically harm Shewell, as well as hurt another witness Kari Arndt-McBride.

He allegedly wanted another key witness Katherine Levy Miles verbally intimidated.

Finally on the list, was Heather Caulkins. Amos wanted someone to plant heroin and a gun in her vehicle and then call Crime Stoppers, charging documents allege.

Also charged in the intimidation are “John Does”, as the state believes there are several co-conspirators involved who are as-yet unidentified.

Amos’s alleged drug trafficking organization from inside prison walls came to light a year ago when Centralia police revealed an investigation that spanned four counties and caught up to some 20 individuals including a nurse practitioner; an investigation during which items seized included  approximately 1,650 illegal prescription pills, 156 marijuana plants, five vehicles, $19,000 cash and a house in south Chehalis.
•••

For background, read:

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

• “Alleged Lewis County Oxycodone dealer charged with organized crime” from Wednesday December 4, 2013, here

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Feds, state investigating fatal explosion at Maytown fireworks facility

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 6:30 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The employee who died after an explosion yesterday at a Maytown fireworks company is identified as 75-year-old Bill Hill, a Thurston County resident.

In a statement issued yesterday, Entertainment Fireworks Inc.’s vice president of operations Ken Julian extended the business’s heartfelt sympathy to family and friends.

He called it a tragic accident affecting a small company that’s like a family.

“When something like this happens, it is devastating,” Julian stated. “We have been in business more than 16 years and nothing like this has ever happened as safety is our number one priority and we pride ourselves on our highly qualified staff.”

Two others, including an owner, were injured. A 25-year-old male employee was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and a 52-year-old man with a burned hand went to an Olympia hospital.

Early information from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office was that Hill died enroute to Harborview, but Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock said today Hill died at the scene – from inhalation of combustible materials –  as he was being prepared for transport.

It happened just before 10 a.m. at the front of an outbuilding on the 13000 block of Reeder Road. A witness said he heard and saw what he estimated were about 15 commercial fireworks explode at about roof level of the buildings.

Julien indicated shells were being prepared for shipping. A fire department spokesperson said she understood workers were inserting what she called electronic matches.

The company produces fireworks shows, and according to its website has 21 explosives storage buildings at the site.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Labor and Industries said the business has not had any safety complaints, incidents or inspections for a number of years and its storage facilities are properly licensed by L&I.

It is the only work-related fatality involving fireworks in the state in decades, L&I spokesperson Elaine Fischer said.

They have begun investigating the incident, but may not be able to finish until after a report is completed by the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. ATF is the lead investigating agency, Fischer said.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 2:36 pm

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AT CENTRALIA MOTEL

• A 23-year-old Chehalis man apparently angry because he thought the mother of his child was texting another man was arrested after police were called to Motel 6 in Centralia last night, where he had allegedly blocked her from leaving and then kicked in a door when she took her phone in the bathroom. Officers responding about 11:30 p.m. to the 1300 block of Belmont Avenue learned she was able to get out to her car where he broke the glass before he took off running, according to the Centralia Police Department. She thought he was going to kill her and the 5-year-old child was present when it occurred, police said. Subsequently located and booked into the Lewis County Jail was Nicholas L. Gonzalez, for felony harassment, unlawful imprisonment and second-degree malicious mischief, police said.

POLICE: TRIO BARGES INTO WOMAN’S HOME

• A 45-year-old Chehalis woman was hospitalized after a fracas last night at an apartment on the 200 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue. Officers called about 10:40 p.m. were told two heavy set females and a male arrived and beat up the woman, according to the Chehalis Police Department. They apparently were trying to retrieve some property that belonged to someone else, according to police. “I don’t know what property they were after but they just barged in and committed assault, which is burglary,” detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said. Arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail were Angela M. Johnson, 27, and Don K. Gonzales, 25, both from Chehalis and Saleana A. Valencia, 19, from Olympia, according to Wilson. Prosecutors declined to charge them and they were scheduled to be released today. Wilson said this morning he was still waiting to hear back from the hospital about the woman’s injuries.

UNPLANNED WARRANT SWEEP

• Centralia police ended up arresting three wanted men after a passenger of a vehicle they were watching at the 1300 block of Belmont Avenue in Centralia jumped out and ran upstairs into a motel room. It happened about 1 p.m. yesterday at Motel 6 and the individual they were originally looking for wasn’t found until later in Bucoda, according to the Centralia Police Department. Dana M. Johnson, 33, a homeless person, was arrested and booked for outstanding warrants and for an earlier investigation of residential burglary, according to police. Sgt. Kurt Reichert said there were three people left in the car, which an officer held at gunpoint and when officers knocked on the motel room, they arrested others there. It appears there were about a half dozen altogether, but Reichert wasn’t certain if the passenger was among those arrested. Booked into the Lewis County Jail were Stephen D. Pierce, 35 of Oakville, for an earlier investigation of burglary; Steven N. Romero, 20 of Centralia, for an earlier investigation of vehicle theft; and Forrest S. McMillian, 27 of Oakville, for several warrants, according to police.

SUSPECT SPEAKING IN TONGUES

• Chehalis police called about a skinny male who seemed to be speaking in tongues at about 12:45 p.m. yesterday arrested a 25-year-old homeless man who allegedly stole a backpack and also was seen on someone’s porch on Southwest Cascade Avenue attempting to take a bicycle which was chained up. Joshua E. Blankenship was arrested for third-degree theft and then released, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

STOLEN LICENSE PLATE

• Centralia police took a report about 5 p.m. yesterday regarding a license plate plate stolen off a vehicle at the 2000 block of Borst Avenue. The Washington state plate reads: B01598M, according to the Centralia Police Department.

ELDERLY PE ELL WOMAN VICTIMIZED BY BURGLAR

• Someone walked through an unlocked front door at a home in Pe Ell and stole a jewelry box from a bathroom in the master bedroom belonging to an 88-year-old woman. A deputy called to the 500 block of North Main Street learned the box contained about $3,000 worth of rings and necklaces, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning. It happened between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

DRUGS

• A 38-year-old Chehalis resident wanted on a warrant was arrested after he was seen about 7:30 p.m. near Sixth Street and William Avenue; and a pipe was found with powder in it that field tested positive for methamphetamine, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Kelly M. Davies was booked into the Lewis County Jail for the warrant and for possession of meth, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

PHONE SCAMMERS

• Centralia police took a report yesterday from the 200 block of Downing Road from an individual who said they got a phone call from someone saying their power bill was past due and if they didn’t pay $1,200, the electricity would be shut off. It was an attempted scam, according to the Centralia Police Department. The advice from police: If anyone calls you asking for money, you ought to first verify the information independently. “Don’t call them at the phone number they give you, look it up,” Sg. Kurt Reichert said.

• Chehalis police took a report yesterday afternoon from an individual on West Main Street about getting a phone call from someone posing as a representative of the Internal Revenue Service, who wanted money. Sgt. Gary Wilson said there’s not much local police can do in these types of situations, in part because sometimes the scammers are calling from a foreign country. “We just warn people, if the IRS calls you, it’s not the IRS,” he said. They contact people by mail, not over the telephone, he said.

CHEHALIS BUSINESS SETTLES VIOLATION OF HAZARDOUS MATERIAL LAW

• The owners of Del’s Feed and Farm Supply Store in Chehalis agreed to pay a fine of $134,400 for failing to report it was storing more than 10,000 pounds of propane at each of five locations, including Chehalis, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “Emergency responders rely on this information for their safety and to help protect nearby residents during an emergency, such as a fire or an earthquake,”  a spokesperson for the EPA said in a news release yesterday. Tractor Supply Company operates 18 Del’s Feed and Farm Supply Store in Washington and once made aware of the violations, quickly took steps to comply, according to EPA spokesperson Hanady Kader. Propane, sometimes referred to as liquefied petroleum gas, LP-gas, or LPG, is highly flammable. Under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, facilities that store threshold quantities of certain hazardous chemicals are required to submit an inventory of each of those chemicals to the State Emergency Response Commission, the Local Emergency Planning Committee and the local fire department.

WRECK

• Three people were hospitalized after a head-on crash last night in Winlock caused by an intoxicated underage driver that totaled two Honda Civics. A deputy responding about 9:20 p.m. to the 300 block of South Military Road concluded that the car carrying Enrique J. Hernandez, 20, and a 20-year-old passenger was traveling too fast and slid into the oncoming lane, running into a car driven by a 54-year-old man, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. All three are Winlock residents and were transported to Providence Centralia Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to the sheriff’s office. Hernandez was subsequently booked into the Lewis County Jail for driving under the influence, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. He was also cited for not carrying liability insurance, she said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarm, dispute, shoplifting, broken vehicle window, collision on city street, someone taking a motor vehicle without permission, harassing phone calls, harassing texts, someone said they thought they witnessed a drug deal in a parking lot, a shoeless drunk man in a bar yelling and being rude, a drunken individual knocking on doors at an apartment building trying to get someone to put him up for the night … and more.

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News brief: Appeals judges reject each of Pe Ell man’s claims on rape conviction

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 8:14 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The former Pe Ell girls’ softball coach convicted two years ago of rape of a teenage team member lost his court appeal.

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Todd D. Phelps

Todd Phelps, 52, was sent to prison for six years after a trial that extended into eight days, where prosecutors described how he gradually seduced a 16-year-old troubled with low self esteem and ultimately had sex with her that was against her wishes.

The former log truck driver was convicted of third-degree rape and second-degree sexual misconduct in May 2012 in Lewis County Superior Court.

A three-member panel of the Washington State Court of Appeals unanimously rejected each of Phelps arguments. The opinion was issued yesterday.

The issues he raised were many. The appeal was countered by Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh.

Through his Olympia lawyers Jodi Backlund and Manek Mistry, Phelps claimed:

(1) the trial court violated his and the public’s right to an open and public trial during jury selection; (2) the trial court violated his right to be present during jury selection; (3) the information charging Phelps with second degree sexual misconduct with a minor was deficient; (4) the trial court failed to give a unanimity instruction for the second degree sexual misconduct with a minor charge; 5) the prosecutor committed misconduct during closing arguments, and (6) Phelps’s trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments.

The decision was authored by Judge Linda Cj Lee, with Judge Thomas R. Bjorgen and Judge Bradley A. Maxa concurring.
•••

For background, read “Pe Ell rape trial: Guilty as charged” from Friday April 27, 2012, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 7:24 pm

SKETCHY VAN

• Deputies have their eyes out for a dark green Chevrolet Astrovan that was seen seemingly suspicious at an Onalaska home yesterday and also pulling in and out of driveways on Davis Lake Road in Morton. A 28-year-old woman who believes its occupants were looking in her mailbox called 911 last night after she saw two males running from the back of her house and leaving in the van at about 7:15 p.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. That happened at the 3000 block of state Route 508, according to the sheriff’s office. The woman followed the vehicle to Cinebar Road and took a picture, but then got nervous because her children were with her, and returned home, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Nothing appeared to have been stolen, Brown said. The van has black running boards and the two men looked to be about 40 years old, of average height and weight, according to Brown. Anyone who sees it is asked to call the sheriff’s office right away, as deputies would like to speak with the men about their activities, Brown said.

DRUGS

• Centralia police responding about 5 p.m. yesterday to someone trying to break into vehicles in the parking lot at the Outlet mall on the 1300 block of Lum Road arrested a 47-year-old woman from Fife for possession of methamphetamine. A 40-year-old Tacoma man was arrested for a warrant and possession of PCP, but aid was called to evaluate him because he was lethargic. He was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital to be checked out. Larry B. Robinson was subsequently booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. Prosecutors declined to charge the woman and she is to be released.

BIG GUY WITH WARRANT

• Several law enforcement officers congregated in the area near Applebees in Chehalis yesterday afternoon when they learned from Portland police a man who had left the state of Oregon in violation of his probation was there with his wife, and she might be in danger. It was just before 3 p.m. at the 1600 block of Louisiana Avenue and the woman said she was fine but 27-year-old Jordan Solomon was taken into custody, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Police said the 6-foot-6-inch tall man smashed his head against the inside of a patrol car window, popping it out. He was booked for his warrant and for third-degree malicious mischief, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said. Wilson indicated Portland police were able to track the vehicle using its GPS system provider because the woman may have been endangered. He said the large police response was made because Solomon has a bad history with police.

YOUR MONEY’S NO GOOD HERE

• Centralia police arrested a 35-year-old Auburn man for counterfeiting after he allegedly tried to use fake bills to put money on his account at the jail early this morning, after they arrested him for a warrant. Prosecutors declined to file a criminal charge against him.

MOSSYROCK BREAK-IN

• Morton police report they are investigating a burglary discovered at a Mossyrock business about 6:45 a.m. on June 10, in the 100 block of East State Street. A door was kicked open and approximately $100 was missing, according to police.

MESSAGE FROM THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL

• Sales of consumer fireworks begin on June 28 at noon and end on July 5 at 11 p.m. A number of city and counties have restricted or banned the sale and discharge of fireworks. The state fire marshal recommends to always be sure to check with your local jurisdiction before using fireworks.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, misdemeanor theft such as a book, possible theft of money at a retail business, vehicle hitting mailbox on county road, graffiti in a bathroom at the college, teens on the roof of a school, deer running around on the road, concern about rats by an overflowing dumpster, concern about neighbor dogs without food or water … and more.

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Breaking news: Explosion at Maytown fireworks business injures three

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 11:22 am
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Airlift Northwest takes off with a patient headed to Harborview Medical Center. / Courtesy photo by West Thurston Regional Fire Authority

Updated at 1:39 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Three employees at a fireworks manufacturing company were injured this morning, one fatally, by an explosion and fire in Maytown, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies and firefighters were dispatched just before 10 o’clock to the incident at the 13000 block of Reeder Road; it happened at the front of an outbuilding belonging to the business, sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin said.

A witness who was doing work with a friend outside a house across the street said he heard about 15 commercial mortars. It went on for perhaps 20 seconds, 33-year-old Eathon Wesen of Napavine said.

“All the sudden there was like, boom, boom, boom,” Wesen said. “We looked over there, you could see fireworks going off like at ground level; well, about 10 to 12 feet in the air.”

A 74-year-old man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but  died enroute, according to the sheriff’s office. Two males were taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.

One of them, age 25, subsequently was flown to Harborview, according to Elwin. The third victim is a 52-year-old man with a burned hand, he said.

A spokesperson for West Thurston Regional Fire Authority said workers were inserting detonators into firework displays, to be used at a future event.

The fire chief was at a meeting at the station at the intersection of Maytown and Reeder roads, heard explosions and called 911 then responded, Lt. Lanette Dyer said.

Deputies have secured the scene and conducted an initial investigation, and are now waiting for investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm as well as the state Department of Labor and Industries according to Elwin.

Numerous employees are on the scene, he said. The company is Entertainment Fireworks, he said.

Elwin described the injuries as burns and concussion injuries.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Updated at 7:19 p.m.

POLICE: YOUNG MAN THREATENS TO CUT UP FATHER

• Deputies were called about 11 a.m. yesterday to a home in Mineral where a 22-year-old son had allegedly threatened to shoot his father and then himself. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said an argument took place at the parent’s home on the 200 block of Lutkens Road and the son, who is described as transient, reportedly told his 57-year-old father he was going to place duct tape over his mouth, cut him up and then use a gun. The father was able to go inside the residence and lock the doors to get away from his son, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Arriving deputies found Matthew C. Nyman standing on the front porch, arrested him for felony harassment and booked him into the Lewis County Jail, according to authorities. Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello said it wasn’t clear from the reports what Nyman was upset over, but it appeared he may suffer from a mental health disorder. A judge ordered him held on $10,000 bail when he appeared in court this afternoon, charged with felony harassment, domestic violence. The judge also ordered him to have no contact with his father, Masiello said.

TV GONE

• Centralia police were called about 10:20 a.m. yesterday regarding a flat screen television taken from a room at the 1000 block of Eckerson Road in Centralia.

CHAINSAW GONE

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday that someone stole a $900 Stihl chainsaw when they broke a padlock to a shed on the 100 block of Cinebar Road in East Lewis County. The victim said it happened between 3 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Friday, according to the sheriff’s office.

FRAUD

• An individual called Centralia police yesterday from the 800 block of K Street to report he had learned from his bank someone back in 2010 filed taxes in Florida using his personal information, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DENT GETS MAN LOCKED UP

• A 33-year-old Centralia man was booked into jail last night for allegedly kicking a dent into someone’s vehicle. Centralia police called to the 1600 block of North Schueber Road about 9:20 p.m. arrested Ryan A. McCarter for third-degree malicious mischief and booked him into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

LOST AND FOUND

• A citizen turned into the Chehalis Police Department yesterday a small glass bottle of marijuana found on the side of the road at Southwest 11th Street and McFadden Avenue. Don’t bother checking with the lost and found there, police say, it will be destroyed. Detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said it may be legal for individuals to possess small amounts, but the state of the current law doesn’t mean officers can “deliver” marijuana to even its rightful owner.

TOO FAST FOR CORNER

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office responded yesterday to the 1500 block of Bishop Road south of Chehalis where the Kenworth tractor and trailer loaded with lumber tipped onto its side. The 57-year-old driver from Brigham City, Utah was southbound and traveling too fast for a sharp corner, the sheriff’s office said. He was reportedly uninjured. No ticket has yet been issued, according to the sheriff’s office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, misdemeanor assault; responses for suspicious circumstances, neighborhood parking issues, possible IRS scam over the telephone, an individual who rented a washer and dryer from a business and did not pay … and more.

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Read about Pacific County deputy accused of extortion …

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 9:19 am

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Aberdeen) Daily World reports that 11 criminal charges including extortion and bribery were filed yesterday against a Pacific County sheriff’s deputy following an investigation conducted by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at the Pacific County sheriff’s request.

The newspaper writes that Deputy Vance O. Johnson, 44, has been on administrative leave since April; and that the charges in Pacific County Superior Court stem from on-duty behavior.

Read about it here. KXRO Newsradio has more

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, June 16, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Updated at 6:41 p.m.

RUN, RUN, RUN, RUNAWAY

• A 48-year-old Ethel man was arrested following a brief nighttime police pursuit west of Onalaska which turned into a foot chase and ended when the subject running at full speed collided with a building covered in blackberry bushes. Brian S. Steward was wanted on a warrant and was taken into custody, after the early Saturday morning incident, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It began when a deputy was called to a dispute just after midnight on Friday at the 400 block of Burchett Road but Steward left before the deputy arrived, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies learned Steward was driving with a suspended license and had a warrant from the state Department of Corrections and spotted his car near state Route 508 and Tauscher Road, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Brown said Steward didn’t pull over, instead continued down Jackson Highway to a farm where he left his Chevrolet Impala and took off running. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for eluding, Brown said.

DOMESTIC UN-TRANQUILITY

• Police arrested a 62-year-old Centralia woman last night after she allegedly pulled a gun on her roommate. Officers called about 9:40 p.m. to the 900 block of Marion Street booked Rita J. Finegan into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree assault. Prosecutors sent the case to municipal court, which handles misdemeanors.

• A 45-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested this morning after she allegedly entered a home on the 1800 block of Shamrock Avenue in Centralia, illegally, broke several items and assaulted her husband. Tamara L. Twidwell left when police were called about 5:30 a.m. but was located a short time later and booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary and fourth-degree assault, according to the Centralia Police Department.

POLICE: UNRULY NY MAN KICKS OFFICER

• A 64-year-old man from New York who was kicked off a train in Centralia for being disorderly found himself lodged at the Lewis County Jail because he allegedly pushed and then kicked a police officer. Police called about 3:40 p.m. on Friday to the Amtrak station to remove an intoxicated and belligerent passenger from the premises arrested James C. Davis for assault after he pushed an officer, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. He was taken to the hospital first for a pre-booking screening because of the level of intoxication and as the same officer was placing him back into the patrol car, Davis allegedly caught the side of the officer’s head with his foot, Reichert said. He was booked for two counts of third-degree assault, according to police.

BURGLARY AND THEFT

• Jewelry and cash were stolen from a home on the 300 block of Courtland Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police just before noon yesterday. It appears they got in through an unlocked door, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police were called about 1:35 p.m. on Saturday to the 1800 block of Juneman Street where someone had broken into a home and ransacked several rooms, leaving with a lock box and unspecified documents.

• Someone stole a utility trailer during the night from the 2900 block of Borst Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 5:45 a.m. yesterday.

RIFLE CLEANING ACCIDENT WOUNDS ONE

• A 30-year-old Randle man was hospitalized after he accidentally shot himself in the forearm as he was cleaning a .22 rifle on his back porch. Deputies called about 12:20 p.m. on Friday to the 100 block of Baugh Road learned that he was getting ready to test fire the weapon when something dropped and when he leaned down to pick it up, he bumped the trigger, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

THREE INJURED IN WRECK NEAR MAYFIELD LAKE

• Three people were hospitalized after a single-vehicle wreck yesterday afternoon when a 1966 Ford Mustang hit a ditch on U.S. Highway 12 traveling along about 150 feet before colliding head on with the end of a guard rail. Troopers called about 4:40 p.m. to the scene roughly four miles west of Mossyrock found the car totaled, according to the Washington State Patrol. The vehicle had been traveling westbound  and was approaching Mayfield Lake bridge when the driver was distracted by something as-yet-unspecified, according to the state patrol. Transported to Providence Centralia Hospital were the driver Albert L. Cheney, 52, from Centralia; and passengers Denise R. Salts, 55, of Silver Creek, and 3-year-old Aiden Robbins, according to the investigating trooper. Cheney was treated and released and a hospital spokesperson said no information can be released about children. Salts was transferred to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, in Vancouver, where this afternoon she was listed in serious condition. Salts is the same woman who survived a gunshot wound to her face when her boyfriend and two others were slain almost four years ago inside a Salkum-Onalaska area home on Wings Way.

• A semi truck loaded carrying lumber tipped onto its side on Bishop Road near Labree Road in Chehalis this afternoon, but the driver was uninjured, according to Lewis County Fire District 6. Chief Tim Kinder said crews from fire districts 5 and 6 responded about 1 p.m. and tended to the oil that spilled from the engine. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the wreck, according to Kinder.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, violation of protection order, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarms, disputes, vandalism, underage drinking, collisions on city streets, misdemeanor theft such as wallet left in shopping cart, shoplift of dog food … and more.

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Bishop Road near Labree Road in Chehalis this afternoon / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 6

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Tacoma teen’s body pulled from Chehalis River at state park

Monday, June 16, 2014 at 11:31 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Tacoma teen originally from Nigeria experiencing camping for the first time drowned in the Chehalis River over the weekend.

Linsey Mike was 17 years old.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said the young man had only been in Washington for eight months.

Rescuers were called about 3:20 p.m. on Saturday to an area near the falls, by the entrance to Rainbow Falls State Park, approximately12 miles west of Chehalis but didn’t recover his body until yesterday morning.

Mike was camping with a group of friends at the park when they all decided to go swimming in the river, according to responders.

The sheriff’s office said Mike told his friends he was not a good swimmer and one of them told him not to jump in the water, but he did.

“One witness said when he surfaced from the jump, he looked panic stricken and began flailing his arms,” the sheriff’s office stated in a news release. “The witness, a 19 year old female, jumped in to save him but he was flailing his arms so much that she was unable to make contact before he quickly went under water and did not resurface.”

The falls are not tall, but the water is cold and the current is swift.

Members of fire districts in Pe Ell and Dryad-Doty, along with the sheriff’s office swift water rescue team and a diver from Thurston County responded on Saturday afternoon and returned yesterday morning.

His body was found in the same area where he went under, the sheriff’s office said.

It’s the second river drowning in the county in recent weeks and the third drowning locally this spring.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield took the opportunity to issue a statement noting that 90 percent of water-related fatalities could be prevented by wearing life jackets or some type of flotation device, something especially important for those who aren’t good swimmers.