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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 11:16 am

ONALASKAN AIRLIFTED AFTER MOTORCYCLE WRECK

• A 67-year-old Onalaska man was flown by helicopter to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with head injuries last night after his motorcycle crashed on the 1200 block of Middle Fork Road, according to the Washington State Patrol. James R. Hazen was negotiating a curve, left the roadway to the east, lost control and came to rest in a yard, according to the state patrol. It happened just before 9 p.m. He was wearing a helmet, but traveling too fast and suspected to be driving under the influence, according to the investigating trooper. Update Monday June 11, 2012 at 8:52 a.m.: Hazen is listed in serious condition in the intensive care unit

TWO ARRESTING FOR BARGING INTO APARTMENT

• A second subject was arrested early this morning in connection with an incident the week before last in which  a stranger walked uninvited into two Centralia apartments looking for someone and saying he would be back since he didn’t find him. Francisco J. Robles,18, was booked into jail about 3:30 a.m. this morning for burglary, according to police. Joshua M. Darnell, 19, was arrested for burglary on Wednesday. One of those inside thought they saw the outline of a gun in a waistband, according to the Centralia Police Department.

STOLEN GOODS FOUND

• Police responding to a dispute on the 1400 block of Lewis Street in Centralia about 5 p.m. on Friday smelled marijuana and subsequently conducted a search in which they found stolen property from a recent burglary, according to the Centralia Police Department. Brett A. Warness, 22, of Centralia, was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of stolen property and a warrant, according to police. Hali R. Klemola, 20, of Centralia, was arrested and booked for obstruction, police reported. Update Monday June 11, 2012 at 5:29 p.m.: Prosecutors did not charge Warness due to some issues with the search, according to Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher.

DRUGS

• A 57-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and warrants on Friday evening after contact with police on the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department. Dennis E. Burns was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

ACCIDENTS

• Riverside Fire Authority was called to a vehicle running into a pole on North Pearl Street at Burt Avenue about 7:20 a.m. today and causing a power outage. The 17-year-old occupant declined to go to the hospital, according to the fire department. He was cited for driving under the influence, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police say a bicycle rider suffered a small cut on her hand and bruises when she and a vehicle collided yesterday afternoon at West Third and J streets.

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Breaking news: Former Pe Ell coach gets almost six years for rape, sexual misconduct

Friday, June 8, 2012 at 3:32 pm
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Todd Phelps listens to his attorney Don Blair after his sentence is imposed in Lewis County Superior Court.

Updated at 5:37 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Calling the case a meeting of a perfect predator and the perfect victim, Judge Nelson Hunt sentenced former Pe Ell girls’ softball coach Todd Phelps to the maximum prison time possible for the rape of a 16-year-old team member.

“It took you more than four months, but you got what you wanted Mr. Phelps,” Hunt said as he pronounced the sentence today. “I’m glad to see you have the support of family and friends, because you’re going to need it.”

Phelps, 52, was given two days shy of six years in prison.

Cuffed and clad in green and white striped jail garb, the former log truck driver looked back only once at his wife and two daughters seated behind him, and that was as he was led out of the Lewis County Superior Court room.

Phelps was convicted by a jury at the end of April of third-degree rape and second-degree sexual misconduct.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead today asked for the maximum sentence. Centralia defense attorney Don Blair asked for 10 months.

In a trial that extended into eight days, prosecutors described how Phelps gradually seduced a girl already troubled with low self esteem and depression and ultimately had sex with her that was clearly against her wishes. The jury took only a little more than four hours to find him guilty as charged.

The victim and her mother both addressed the court today before Phelps’ sentence was imposed.

The victim’s mother blasted Phelps, calling him sick, twisted and out of control for persuading her and her husband to trust them yet robbing their child of her innocence.

“You told our daughter she would be worth going to jail for,” she said. “Well, you got your wish. How do you feel now?”

The now 17-year-old girl described how she trusted him like a kind of super hero, who had her convinced her parents didn’t love her and then left her feeling like less than dirt.

“I never understood the word alone until I was balled up on the floor at Melody and Ben’s house, knowing I could never tell a soul,” she said.

Though her voice broke and she stifled sobs, the teenager continued, telling how she finally stood up and told, “before you could suck the life from me, like a spider to a smaller helpless bug.”

Phelps was forced to quit his job coaching the Pe Ell High School girls softball team in April of last year as he was investigated for violating school boundary policies, including texting the girl who was a team member, being alone with her and a kiss he said was on the forehead.

He was arrested in October in connection with an early April incident in which he had the teen to come by his house and asked her to take off her pants so he could see self-inflicted cuts on her legs.

A month later a charge of third-degree rape was added in connection with a July encounter with the girl at his brother’s Pe Ell home.

Deputy Prosecutor Halstead today reminded the judge the jury found aggravating factors, that Phelps used his position of trust with a particularly vulnerable victim, meaning he could be sentenced above the standard sentencing range.

“Clearly (the victim) has lost something she can never get back,” Halstead said. “And the community of Pe Ell has been torn apart.”

“He’s not safe in the community and not of an age he can be rehabilitated,” Halstead told the judge.

Defense attorney Blair said he understood the jury found the aggravating factors, but the standard range for the crime is six to 12 months.

He asked the judge to keep in mind the testimonials from supporters which had been placed in the court file.

“Todd is 52 years old and has never (before) been charged with a crime,” Blair said.

Phelps chose not to address the court.

For the second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor, a gross misdemeanor, Phelps was given the maximum of 364 days.

For the third-degree rape, a felony, he was given four years plus 364 days. The judge allowed one day for community supervision.

The judge said the two sentences should be served consecutively.

After he announced the sentence, Judge Hunt explained that when a maximum sentence is requested, he asks himself if it is the worst he’s seen of the particular crime in question.

“The answer is a resounding yes,” Hunt said.

The judge signed the orders, including Phelps’ notice of intent to appeal.

•••

For background, read:

• “Former Pe Ell coach faces charge of third-degree rape of teenage student” from Tuesday November 29,  2011, here

• “Pe Ell coach rape trial set for next week, judge denies request to dismiss charges” from Wednesday March 21, 2012, here

• “Trial opens for former Pe Ell coach accused of sex crimes with teen” from Wednesday April 18, 2012, here

• “Pe Ell rape trial: Girl tells of kissing” from Friday April 20, 2012, here

• “Pe Ell rape trial: Teen testifies about alleged rape” from Saturday April 21, 2012, here

• “Pe Ell rape trial: Teen answers questions from defense attorney” from Tuesday April 24, 2012, here

• “Pe Ell rape trial: Family provides alibis for former coach” from Thursday April 26, 2012, here

• “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

Friday, June 8, 2012 at 11:17 am

PATROL CAR HUGGER BOOKED

• A 21-year-old man who said he wanted to go to jail with his older brother who was arrested on a warrant yesterday was told he was free to leave but instead grabbed the hood of a patrol car, leaned over it and refused to let go, according to police. Michael J. Smith, 21 of Vancouver, Wash., subsequently was taken to the Lewis County Jail where he was booked for obstructing a public servant, according to the Chehalis Police Department. It began with a report of two males fighting at the Lewis County Mall. An officer who caught up with the subjects in front of Yard Birds discovered Jesse D. Smith, 27, of Centralia, had an outstanding warrant from Clark County related to failing to appear in court on a misdemeanor arrest, Officer Linda Bailey said. The younger brother kept saying he wanted to go with his brother, and when he refused to back off, was arrested too, according to Bailey.

THEFT

• A nail gun was stolen from a garage on West Second and North Pearl streets in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday afternoon.

• A stolen pickup truck was recovered yesterday on Lowery Lane in Centralia, but its tool boxes were empty, according to the Centralia Police Department.  The red 1991 Ford F350 truck went missing the day before from the 2300 block of Foron Road, according to police.

• Police were called just before 7 p.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of Belmont Avenue where they were told somebody used the victim’s credit card that was stolen in Chehalis. The case is being investigated, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 28-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine when he was searched following his arrest for a warrant yesterday afternoon in Centralia. Jeremiah R. Johnson was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer on M and West First streets, according to the Centralia Police Department.

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Onalaska family that lost one to knife attack, loses home to fire three months later

Friday, June 8, 2012 at 9:22 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Fire claimed an Onalaska home yesterday, the same residence where 58-year-old Terry Vance was slain in early March.

Nobody was injured and no one was home at the time, but the single-wide mobile home is a total loss, according to Lewis County FIre District 1 Chief Mark Conner.

Crews called to the 400 block of Pennel Avenue at about 4 p.m. found the interior fully involved and flames beginning to breach the roof, Conner said.

While they arrived within four minutes of the call, it was a challenge to put out because of a separate roof built above the structure, according to Fire Investigator Derrick Paul.

Members of Lewis County Fire Districts 6 and 5 assisted in battling the blaze.

The family had been gone for a few hours and returned home to see smoke, Paul said. They tried to open a door to get inside to rescue their pets, but were unable to do so because of the heat and smoke, he said.

Bonnie Vance raised her family at the home across from the ball field. Her 11-year-old grandson lived with her, and her grown son resided in a trailer parked on the property. It was not damaged, according to Conner.

Until March 7, another grown son Terry Vance and his 25-year-old son resided there as well. That’s when deputies called to the mobile home found the father dead from multiple knife wounds and arrested Joshua Vance for murder.

Joshua Vance remains in the Lewis County Jail, awaiting an October trial.

Conner said four dogs and a cat perished in yesterday’s fire.

The Red Cross was summoned to help the family with clothing and a place to stay, he said.

Investigator Paul said he narrowed the origin of the blaze to a hallway and is returning today to look at all the possible heat sources.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm

DRUGS FOUND IN SOCK

• A 19-year-old Centralia man taken to jail last night for a burglary arrest found himself in more trouble when several suspected morphine pills were found in his sock, according to the Centralia Police Department. Joshua M. Darnell had been arrested for incidents that occurred sometime during the past week in Centralia, Sgt. Brian Warren said. He was further booked for possession of narcotics and introducing contraband into the jail, according to police.

THEFT OF FORD F350

• A red 1991 Ford F350 truck was reported stolen from the 2300 block of Foron Road in Centralia sometime between 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday and 5 a.m. yesterday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The locked truck was missing from its parking spot next to a garage, according to the sheriff’s office. it has a license plate of B59764K.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Police were called just before 3 o’clock this morning to the 1100 block of South Tower Avenue when a resident hard a noise outside and discovered someone had cut the straps from a riding mower on a trailer. A gas can was stolen from another truck on the same property, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A window was broken out a vehicle on the 300 block of North Oak Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday afternoon. Nothing was missing from inside, according to the Centralia Police Department.

MISSING MAILING

• A package delivered to a home on the 500 block of South Silver Street in Centralia was stolen from the porch, according to a report made to police around noon yesterday.

HARASSMENT

• Centralia police arrested a 31-year-old man for felony harassment yesterday morning. Aaron E. Elliott, a Centralia, resident, as booked into the Lewis County Jail following contact with an officer on the 1100 block of F Street, according to the Centralia Police Department.

LIVING ON THE LAND

• A 63-year-old woman was arrested yesterday for allegedly squatting on a vacant lot on the 100 block of Osborn Road in Ashford. Virginia Creim was cited for trespassing and then released, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It appeared she had been staying in her vehicle parked on the property, according to the sheriff’s office.

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Arraignment in Centralia toddler death put on hold

Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Centralia man accused of torture and rape in the death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter was scheduled to make his plea in court today, but at the last minute his lawyer asked for a postponement.

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James M. Reeder

Centralia attorney David Arcuri did not say why, when he and his client James M. Reeder appeared in Lewis County Superior Court this morning.

Arcuri told the judge that based on his interaction with Reeder “just now”, he wanted to request the hearing be set over one week.

“And because the defense may have other requests,” Arcuri said.

Reeder, 25, is charged with homicide by abuse and related charges, including possession of methamphetamine, following the May 24 death in Centralia of Koralynn Fister.

The toddler was pronounced dead at the hospital after he carried her to a home across the street, saying he stepped out from her bath briefly and returned to find her face down in the tub. Authorities said they found numerous injuries, including signs of rape.

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Koralynn Fister

Reeder remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $5 million bail.

Elected Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer, who is handling the case for his office, asked the judge to sign an order allowing the child’s body to be released from the coroner.

Arcuri would only say after the brief hearing there are some important tasks an attorney needs to do before an arraignment can place.

For example, making sure the client understands the charges and is competent to stand trial, Arcuri said, noting those were only generic examples.

Arcuri is a court appointed attorney; he said Reeder has been unemployed for the past year.

Judge James Lawler agreed they would return to the courtroom next Thursday morning for arraignment and setting a trial date.

•••

For background, read “Father of Centralia toddler who died speaks out” from Saturday June 2, 2012, here

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News brief: Centralia police looking for person of interest after trailer burns

Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 9:45 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Authorities are investigating a suspected arson that occurred in north Centralia last night.

Firefighters called at 9:55 p.m. to the 300 block of Kearney Street found a 30-foot travel trailer fully involved in flames at the back of the fenced property, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

The fire was threatening adjacent houses and another trailer, but they managed to put it out before it spread, according to Fire Chief Jim Walkowski.

Nobody was hurt and nobody was inside it when it happened, but police are looking for the individual who used to live in the trailer, according to authorities.

He is a person of interest, Centralia Police Department Sgt. Brian Warren said this morning.

Walkowski described the damage as significant.

The cause is under investigation by the police and fire department Joint Fire Investigation Team, according to the chief.

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Multi-million dollar lawsuit coming in deputy-involved shooting in Napavine

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 8:21 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An attorney representing the family of a 33-year-old Napavine man fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy last year filed a claim for as much as $10 million saying despite the fact backup was mere seconds away, the deputy made a reckless decision to engage in an unnecessary confrontation.

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Steven V. Petersen

“Steven V. Petersen was unarmed, standing in the middle of an intersection when he was gunned down by Lewis County Sheriff’s Officer Matthew McKnight,” Tacoma lawyer John R. Connelly Jr. wrote. “McKnight’s ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ approach to law enforcement that night, had devastating consequences for the decedent and his family.”

Connelly called it a clear cut civil rights case, noting his intent to file a complaint in federal court.

It happened on June 20 in Napavine, when police and deputies responded to an approximately 2 a.m. call that Petersen left stab holes in the door of his ex-girlfriend’s mobile home while trying to get inside and then left on foot.

Deputy McKnight found Petersen a few blocks away, and after Petersen refused to take his hand out of his pocket and began to charge McKnight, the deputy fired four shots, according to the account given by local authorities. The dead man had no knife.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer concluded McKnight’s use of deadly force was justified, based on an investigation conducted by outside law enforcement officers. McKnight was also cleared by an internal review at the sheriff’s office.

The Tacoma attorney’s tort claim against the county was rejected last week by the group that provides Lewis County with liability insurance, Washington Counties Risk Pool.

Sarah S. Mack, the attorney representing the risk pool and the county, said the deputy’s use of force was reasonable, in her May 31 denial letter to Connelly.

“Indeed, there is no doubt that Deputy McKnight made the decision to use lethal force out of an objective fear for his own safety and the safety of those around him,” Mack wrote.

The tort claim was filed with the county in early April, offering to discuss a resolution, but noting the intent was to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court at the end of a 60-day period imposed by statute.

One of the four lawyers representing the Petersen family said yesterday they intend to file within a couple of weeks.

The attorneys represent Petersen’s father, Steven O. Petersen and his 10-year-old son Lars V. Petersen. The senior Petersen and his wife now have legal guardianship of the boy. The younger Petersen’s wife died just weeks before he did.

The attorney, Julie Kays who works with Connelly, said the child struggles daily with the loss of a dad he dearly loved.

He was a good dad, she said, always there at his son’s games.

“I can tell you this, when grandpa reached out, his objective on behalf of himself, Steven and his young grandson is to make sure the truth comes out,” Kays said yesterday. “Our firm is committed to conducting a thorough investigation of this matter.”

Kays said the facts that have so far been made public are based on “the word of one officer, the one who shot and killed an unarmed man from a distance away.”

The firm, Connelly Law Offices in Tacoma, is working the case with Chehalis attorneys Dave Jones and J. Vander Stoep, of Vander Stoep, Remund, Blinks and Jones.

They’ve retained a retired King County Sheriff’s Department major crimes detective who spent the majority of 28 years investigating homicides, including officer-involved shootings, Kays said.

In the narrative in the tort claim, the Petersens’ attorney writes that back up units were each roughly 30 seconds to one minute away from McKnight’s location at the intersection of West Vine Street and Second Avenue, but McKnight did not wait for them.

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West Vine Street and Second Avenue, Napavine

McKnight had turned his patrol car around and driven toward Petersen who was walking in the middle of a deserted street,” he wrote. “Steven did not run or hide.”

“Officer McKnight immediately got out of his car, stood in the “V” of the open door, pulled out his firearm and pointed it directly at Steven.

“McKnight made no request for backup, and made absolutely no effort to calmly interact with Steven.

“Instead he pointed a firearm at Steven and within less than 30 second(s) shot and killed him.”

The Petersens’ attorney claims Petersen was standing well over 20 feet away. The county’s attorney states Petersen was less than 20 feet away.

Mack, the county’s attorney, includes that when the deputy ordered Petersen to the ground, Petersen responded with something to the effect of, “It ain’t gonna happen buddy.”

“Deputy McKnight then saw Mr. Petersen’s body posture change, saw him flex his shoulders and come forward, beginning to advance on the deputy,” Mack wrote in her response.

The Petersens’ claim summarizes that it was a  confrontation with an unarmed man who posed no threat and was recklessly created by the deputy.

“Officer McKnight’s poor decision making, inexperience, lack of training and lack of sound judgement  resulted in his unlawful use of excessive force against Steven,” Connelly wrote.

McKnight, 27, had been with the sheriff’s office a little more than four years. Sheriff Steve Mansfield said at the time he was one of the younger officers they’d hired, and he thought it was McKnight’s first law enforcement job.

Kays said the people of Lewis County have a stake in law enforcement officers having proper training, proper supervision and making appropriate decision in the field when using deadly force.

“That’s what our investigation is going to focus on and review,” she said.

She just finished a trial last week in federal court in which their firm won a $1 million jury verdict in a case about excessive police force.

The case was Ostling v. the city of Bainbridge Island, and the jury found the city failed to train officers how to deal with mentally ill individuals, she said.

The county is represented by the Seattle law firm of Patterson, Buchanan, Fobes, Leitch and Kalzer.

•••
For background, read “Details emerge in Napavine officer-involved shooting” from Saturday July 2, 2011, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 10:03 am

MAN FLEES COURTROOM

• A mother and her 23-year-old son were arrested at gunpoint as they came out of the drive through at McDonalds in Grand Mound yesterday. It began about 8:30 a.m. when 23-year-old Justin P. Capps bolted from Centralia Municipal Court as he was being taken into custody, according to police. It was for a misdemeanor warrant, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. A court security officer chased Capps for a block or two. Police subsequently called Capps’ cell phone. He didn’t answer, but he called back to see who it was and got Reichert who told him to come back, or else, police said. A detective spotted their car at McDonalds, Reichert said. Capps was arrested for third-degree escape and obstructing. His mother, Janice L. Capps-Johnson, 54, was arrested for rendering criminal assistance. Both of the Centralia residents were booked into the Lewis County Jail.

CENTRALIA BURGLARY

• Police were called about 6:30 p.m. yesterday about a burglary at the 300 block of North Washington Avenue in Centralia. The resident had not been at the home for a week as he was moving out and arrived to find the door standing open and unspecified items missing, according to the Centralia Police Department.

THEFT OF LIVESTOCK

• A pair of cows were reported stolen from the 500 block of Oyler Road southwest of Ethel. The owner said they were there on Monday but when he returned yesterday to feed them, they were gone, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A check of the fence line suggested no signs they could have left on their own, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. They are valued at $2,000, Brown said. No description was readily available.

UNINVITED GUEST REMOVED BY DEPUTIES

• A homeless man from Longview was arrested yesterday afternoon after a Toledo area resident came home to find a stranger in his home on the 5400 block of Jackson Highway. Craig A. Olson, 50, told the resident he lived there, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Olson also told arriving deputies his wife had let him inside and she was an “international cop”, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Brown said deputies had gotten numerous calls the night before from area residents saying someone – believed to be Olson – was ringing door bells and asking for a ride. Nothing was stolen but Olson was arrested for residential burglary and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Brown. It appeared he came in through an unlocked window, she said.

FIREARM PICKED UP BY POLICE

• Police were called to the 2100 block of North National Avenue after Hub City Car Sales found a shotgun in the backseat of a car they repossessed. The weapon was taken for safe keeping by the police department, Officer Linda Bailey said yesterday.

HARASSMENT

• A 19-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for harassment yesterday afternoon in Centralia. Zachary J. Johnston-Penrose was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer on the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were summoned to the DSHS office at the Lewis County Mall on Monday afternoon after an employee received a voice mail telling her she and another worker were going to die a painful death. The caller was upset her assistance had been cut off, according to the Chehalis Police Department. However, she is homeless and could not be located to get her side of the story, Officer Linda Bailey said.

FRYER FIRE EXTINGUISHED IN DELI

• Chehalis firefighters were summoned to Wal-Mart about 11:30 p.m. yesterday for an electrical fire related to a deep fat fryer in the deli. An employee said it was sparking even after he shut off the breaker and so he used a fire extinguisher on it. Damage was minimal and the store on Louisiana Avenue did not need to be evacuated, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.

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Read about Ron Reynolds seeks five years pay to resign school principal job …

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 12:03 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Longview) Daily News reports Ron Reynolds is asking district officials to pay him more than $400,000 to resign his position as principal of Toledo Elementary School.

Reynolds was placed on paid leave after an October coroner’s inquest jury ruled unanimously his then-wife Ronda Reynolds’ 1998 death was homicide and named him and his son Jonathan as responsible. No charges were brought for lack of evidence.

Read news reporter Natalie St John’s story here

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News brief: Wood dust sparks fire at Centralia sawmill

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 8:24 pm
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Firefighters use a ladder truck to survey the hopper for fire damage. / Courtesy photo by Riverside Fire Authority

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter


An explosion and fire in a wood dust hopper prompted an evacuation at a Centralia sawmill today, but damage was minimal, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Crews were called just before 2 p.m. to Northwest Hardwoods on the 1000 block of Galvin Road, according to Fire Chief Jim Walkowski.

The fire was contained to the dust collection system, without extension to nearby or surrounding structures, Walkowski said in a news release.

Firefighters remained on the scene for an extended period, extinguishing the burning wood dust as it was unloaded from the hopper and loaded into trucks for disposal, according to the chief.

No injuries were reported.

They were assisted by the Chehalis Fire Department and West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.

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News brief: Napavine home burns

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm
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While the double-wide mobile home looks good from the outside after a fire, the interior does not, according to fire Lt. Laura Hanson. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 5

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter


Nobody was injured, but some pets are unaccounted for and a family of three is displaced after a residential fire in Napavine today.

Crews called about 1 p.m. to the 100 block of Woodard Road found heavy smoke coming from a double-wide mobile home, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

No one was home at the time, according to department spokesperson Lt. Laura Hanson.

Hanson said the home and its contents are believed to be a total loss. Three adults who live there were offered assistance from the Red Cross, according to Hanson.

She said she understood a cat and a dog were missing.

District 5 was joined by members of Lewis County Fire District 6 and 15.

The cause is unknown, according to Hanson.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

Updated at 12:22 p.m.

SHERIFF’S OFFICE: MAN JAILED FOR STARTING FIRE

• A 52-year-old Chehalis area man was arrested yesterday after security video allegedly captured an image of him starting a fire inside a dumpster behind a gas station south of Chehalis. A deputy called to the Texaco station on the 100 block of U.S. Highway 12 contacted Tim C. Johnson, a resident of the adjacent RV park, who said he did it because he was mad at the  owner of the store, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The owner Harneck Dhudwal told the deputy it occurred about 12:30 a.m. yesterday. Johnson was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for reckless burning, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

RESIDENTIAL BURGLARY

• Someone forced their way through a back door of a garage to get inside an Onalaska home and stole more than $14,000 worth of jewelry yesterday. A deputy called to the 800 block of state Route 508 was told it happened sometime between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Among the missing valuables were two gold wedding bands and many gold and diamond pieces, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Also, $30 cash was stolen, Cmdr. Steve Aust said.

• A deputy was called yesterday to a residential burglary on the 100 block of Tillicum Drive southeast of Chehalis. Stolen was a television, two computers and jewelry, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. An intruder broke a basement window to get inside, sometime between 8 a.m. and 1:20 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office. The loss is estimated at more than $4,500.

• A Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun was stolen from a home on the 100 block of Middle Fork Road southeast of Chehalis yesterday sometime between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. There was no forced entry into the home, according to the sheriff’s office.

INTRUDER CHASED FROM YARD

• Centralia police were called about 5:30 p.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of Delaware Avenue when an individual pulled a board from a fence and tried to enter a yard. The subject was spotted and fled, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was described as about 5-feet 8-inches tall, thin, with short black hair, according to police.

THEFT

• Centralia police took a report yesterday morning from the 1800 block of Beach Street about prescription medication missing from the home.

•••
CORRECTION: The news item involving the Texaco gas station has been updated to correctly reflect who was arrested for reckless burning. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office erroneously reported to the news media the name of the owner as the arrestee. Lewis County Sirens apologizes for the error.

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Fire breaks out in unoccupied Centralia home

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 8:49 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A fire that did extensive damage to a north Centralia home overnight appeared to have started on or around a couch on the first floor, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Crews called about 1 a.m. to the 1200 block of Delaware Avenue found heavy flames coming from the front of the one and a half story house and already extending into the eves and attic, Assistant Chief Rick Mack said.

A Chehalis firefighter suffered some smoke inhalation and was taken to the hospital as a precaution but was released this morning.

Nobody was living in the home as, Mack said, it was his understanding the owner passed away early this year. The family had an estate sale over the weekend, he said.

The early 1900s wood structure sits just east of the railroad tracks near the viaduct, according to Mack. He estimated the damage at about $50,000.

Investigators were on the scene until after 5 a.m., according to Mack.

“We have interviews to conduct to find out who was there most recently,” he said.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, June 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Updated

DEATH THREAT

• A 52-year-old Onalaska man was arrested by the sheriff’s office after he allegedly left voice messages on a 62-year-old woman’s phone saying he bought a gun, was going to blow the back of her head off and drag her by her hair down Burnt Ridge Road. The calls reported on Friday afternoon were traced to Ferryman’s Inn in Centralia where the sheriff’s office says Steven P. Forbes was staying. Forbes, an Onalaska resident, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for felony harassment, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. It’s not clear what the relationship between the two was.

SHERIFF’S OFFICE: GUN POINTED AT MOTORISTS ON SR 6

• A deputy was called about 1:40 p.m. on Saturday after two women driving east on state Route 6 at River Road near Dryad saw a teenager walking on the side of the road point what looked like a black pistol at them. The male, who was with a small group of pedestrians, was not found, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He was described as wearing a red plaid jacket and a hoodie, the sheriff’s office said.

BREAK-INS

• Centralia police are investigating a burglary to a home on the 1100 block of South Tower Avenue that took place yesterday. Police did not mention what was taken, but note they suspect a relative.

• Someone may have climbed up a fire escape to break into a Chehalis apartment where they stole about $200 cash and a gold ring, according to police. An officer called just after 5 p.m. on Thursday to the 1700 block of South Market Boulevard could not find any sign of forced entry, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

MISSING CHECKS CASHED

• Chehalis police were contacted by a 57-year-old woman who discovered someone had apparently stolen and cashed three of her checks at the Wells Fargo Bank in Centralia. The loss of $950 was reported on Thursday and remains under investigation, according to Chehalis Police Department.

FAKE BILL FOUND

• Centralia police took a report of a counterfeit $10 bill on Saturday from the 800 block of Harrison Avenue.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Police were called about 3:40 p.m. yesterday about a car prowl on the 2500 block of Kristin Court in Centralia.

• Centralia police took a report about 5:30 a.m. yesterday of a vehicle prowl on the 100 block of South Tower Avenue. Money and identification were taken, according to police.

• A purse was reported stolen from a vehicle on the 1100 block of Scammon Creek Road in Centralia on Saturday morning.

DUI ON ORV

• A 55-year-old Randle resident was arrested for driving under the influence after a deputy responded to a report about 10 p.m. on Saturday of off-road vehicles traveling on Peters Creek Road. Kirk M. Thompson was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s office.

DRUGS

• A 53-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested  for possession of two grams of suspected methamphetamine and some hydrocodone pills without a prescription following a traffic stop about 12:50 a.m. today in Chehalis. An officer stopped Marianne A. Brown because of a suspended license at Southwest 13th Street and Wilson Avenue in Chehalis, according to the Chehalis Police Department. A police dog “hit” on the scent of drugs in the vehicle and also found a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, according to police. Brown was booked into the Lewis County Jail. A passenger, Kelly Weeks, 32, who allegedly had a prescription bottle with a hydrocodone pill in it – and someone else’s name on it – was arrested but not jailed because she had what appeared to be a seizure and was taken to the hospital instead, according to police.

•••
CORRECTION: The news item involving the gun pointed at two women on state Route 6 has been updated to correctly reflect they were traveling in a vehicle(s). The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office erroneously reported to the news media the victims were on foot.

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Burglary suspect sought near Napavine

Monday, June 4, 2012 at 9:42 am

Updated at 10:55 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Deputies are looking for a burglary suspect who ran off into the woods near the 800 block of Pleasant Valley Road west of Napavine yesterday afternoon when his wife was arrested.

Todd E. Fears, 39, of Kelso, is described as 6-feet tall, weighing about 250 pounds with a shaved head wearing khaki cargo shorts and a black T-shirt, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

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Todd E. Fears

The sheriff’s office suspect the couple in an interrupted burglary yesterday morning just south of Winlock in which more than $6,000 worth of jewelry was stolen, as well as other break-ins in the area during the past week, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

Their vehicle, a light blue 1980s pickup, was found hidden off Lenz Road on private timberland, according to Brown.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone who sees Fears not to contact him but to immediately call 911. He has an outstanding warrant for a probation or parole violation, according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies at about 10:15 a.m. yesterday responded to the 1300 block of Hining Road in Winlock where a resident said he arrived home to find a light blue truck in his driveway and a woman who said she was looking at his house which is for sale, according to Brown. He then saw a male run from the back of his house, who was picked up by the woman after she jumped in her truck and drove off, according to Brown.

When the owner went inside, he discovered he had been burglarized of the jewelry, Brown reported.

Later, just before 4 p.m., a couple who matched their description stopped by a home on the 800 block of Pleasant Valley Road asking to use the phone because their vehicle was broke down, according to Brown.

The resident was suspicious because of break-ins in the area and called 911, Brown said. Arriving deputies detained Alicia J. Fears, 42, but her husband fled, Brown said. She was booked into the Lewis County Jail for burglary.

Their truck was found about two miles to the south, according to Brown.

Just last week, after deputies investigated a residential burglary on the 400 block of Berry Road, west of Napavine, they said there had been a suspicious male and two females walking up and down Berry Road during the previous two weeks. In one case, a woman went to someone’s door and asked to use the bathroom, but then ran away.

A similarly described truck was implicated in a residential burglary in early May on the 500 block Cedar Creek Road near Toledo.

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Assault suspect barricades self inside Centralia home

Monday, June 4, 2012 at 3:31 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia’s SWAT team was called out to the 3100 block of Galvin Road last night after a suspect in a domestic assault locked himself inside his home and refused to come out.

Police said Kyle W. Elliott, 35, had a previous weapons violation, several felony convictions and neighbors indicated he had been seen recently in possession of firearms.

It began about 7:50 p.m.

Police negotiators tried to contact Elliott by telephone and with a loudspeaker for an hour and a half before “flash devices” and pepper spray were introduced into the home, according to a news release from the Centralia Police Department.

He immediately answered the phone, according to police.

Elliott was taken into custody without further incident and was booked into the Lewis County Jail for fourth-degree assault, but he likely faces additional charges, according to police.

Officers found body armor in his room and planned to further search the home for guns, according to the news release.

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Upstairs fire chases three from Chehalis home

Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm
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Firefighters extinguish a blaze at a Ninth Street house in Chehalis. / Photo by Branden Willson

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A woman, her brother and 95-year-old mother escaped their burning house in Chehalis yesterday afternoon, a fire that might have been caused by a cigarette.

The top floor of the one and a half story home was destroyed.

Crews were called about 3:30 p.m. a residential neighborhood on Southwest Ninth Street, a block west of Market Boulevard.

Ramona Staker rested on the sidewalk across the street, holding her small dog, as firefighters pulled blackened and damaged materials out an upstairs window after the flames were extinguished.

“I’ve got awesome friends, and my God watches over me,” she said. “We’re safe.”

Staker said they had just returned from helping at a church garage sale and ordered pizza when she heard the smoke detector go off.

“I immediately went upstairs and it was already full of black smoke,” Staker said.

She didn’t remember how her dog got out, but a friend who had seen smoke and went in before firefighters arrived said Staker carried it out.

“I ran in,” Jeri Watkins said. “Her mom kept going back in to get her brother.”

Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Ted McCarty said five firefighters from Centralia, six from neighboring Lewis County Fire District 6 and he joined the crew of two on duty.

“The guys made entry and found half to a third of it (upstairs) already on fire,” McCarty said. “They got a good stop on it.”

McCarty, who is also a fire investigator said he hadn’t yet pinpointed the cause, but was told the brother had been smoking upstairs earlier, and the brother had discovered the bed burning.

Raymond Staker was treated at the scene for first and second degrees on his forearm. He said it happened when he lifted the mattress to look.

The family wouldn’t be able to stay there until repairs were made, according to McCarty. The Red Cross was contacted to assist them, he said.

“They made a great stop inside, everyone got out okay, so it’s a good day,” he said.

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Ramona Staker is comforted as she watches crews remove fire damaged materials from her house.

•••

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Lewis County Fire District 6, Riverside Fire Authority and the Chehalis Fire Department put out the house fire in Chehalis.

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Father of Centralia toddler who died speaks out

Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm
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David Fister holds a photo taken on his daughter Koralynn's first birthday.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – In the weeks before 2-year-old Koralynn Fister died, her father wasn’t able to see her except for once, when he said he practically “kidnapped” his child from her mother.

David Fister and Becky Heupel lived together for about three years in Centralia, but separated around the time their little girl turned two, in early March, Fister said.

“I lost my job about nine months ago,” the 29-year-old said. “Before that, we were as happy as can be.”

The Iowa native who moved west to be with the woman he met online worked as the night closer at Subway in Centralia. Heupel stayed home and took care of Koralynn and her older sister, he said.

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Koralynn Fister

“She was always a loving mom, would jump through hoops to do anything for the girls,” he said. “She never laid a finger on them.”

After the breakup up, the parents had a verbal agreement that Fister would take Koralynn every Wednesday and Thursday.

And then Heupel stopped answering his texts, he said. She had been saying Koralynn was sick, he said.

In mid-April, Fister said, he went to the home they had shared off West Oakview Street and demanded to have his daughter, he said.

At first, her mother said no, and “Kora wailed like I’d never heard,” he said. “She’d never done that before.”

Then she gave in and Fister took the toddler to his aunt and uncle’s Centralia home where he now lives to stay the night, he said.

“She was so happy to see me that day,” he said. “I just hung out and watched cartoons with her.”

He cooked her Spaghetti-O’s for dinner.

Fister never saw his only child alive again, he said.

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James M. Reeder

Last week, police were called to the West Oakview Street neighborhood, where Heupel’s new boyfriend said he found Koralynn face down in the bathtub when he stepped out to grab a towel. He said her mother and older sister had left a couple hours earlier.

He had carried the unclothed child to a front porch across the street and asked neighbors for help. Koralynn was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

That was a week ago Thursday.

The boyfriend, 25-year-old James M. Reeder, was arrested that night after the Centralia Police Department interviewed him and Heupel. Police said she was not a suspect, although they asked Child Protective Services to take her 4-year-old into temporary custody.

Reeder was charged on Tuesday. Authorities say they found numerous injuries on the little girl, including signs of torture and rape. The coroner said she died from drowning and blunt head trauma.

As a storm of fury in the community has unleashed over the death, calling for the harshest punishment for the alleged perpetrator and even for the child’s mother to burn in hell for not protecting her young, Fister isn’t badmouthing the woman he loved.

“I will say, Becky is one of the best moms I’ve ever known,” he said.

It doesn’t add up, that she would have allowed a new boyfriend to stick around if she knew he was hurting her child, according to Fister.

“I don’t feel Becky had anything to do with anything,” he said. “I have to believe that.”

Fister called the mother of his child both naive and sharp, and a strong person. He’s only seen her a couple of times since it happened, he said.

“She came by my uncle’s house to give me a hug and tell me she’s sorry,” he said. “She said she was sorry about 10 times.”

Sorry for keeping Koralynn away from him, sorry for everything that happened, he said.

Fister said he didn’t know Heupel had a new boyfriend, except that Reeder was at the house the day he picked his daughter up.

Reeder is a friend of the father of Heupel’s 4-year-old daughter, from “back in the day,” he said.

Earlier this week, Reeder was charged not with murder, as prosecutors had initially indicated they were pursuing, but homicide by abuse.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer described the crime as repeated assaults or torture that ends in the death of a child.

It has the same maximum penalty -  life in prison – and the same standard sentencing range as first-degree murder, according to Meyer.

Reeder was also charged with two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree child rape and possession of methamphetamine.

When police searched the house they found methamphetamine in the suspect’s dresser drawer, according to charging documents.

According to his defense attorney David Arcuri, Reeder is a lifetime Lewis County resident, who attended W.F. West High School through the 11th grade and has been unemployed for the past year.

He is being held on $5 million bail. His arraignment is set for this coming Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court.

Fister was joined this week by his mother, aunt, sister and cousin who flew out from Iowa.

While the first few days he said he drank rum like water, hoping for an ounce of sleep, by the end of this week, he  “just broke,” he said; throwing up from exhaustion and nerves.

Still, he took some time to share about his daughter, who he said he named in part as a play on words from a movie called Coraline.

Fister is unconventional, he likes darker things, being “Goth” and stuff, he said.

The 2009 film by the directors of “The nightmare before Christmas” is about a little girl who gets trapped in a nightmare world, he said.

The “Lynn” part of his daughter’s name is for his sister. The middle name Marie is his mother’s middle name, he said.

Koralynn was a child who was cranky when tired and loved dinosaur chicken nuggets, he said.

His daughter was a climber who get up or down from anything, he said.

“She was not afraid of heights. We called her ‘Monkey’,” he said.

A candlelight vigil held for his daughter in Washington Park last week was amazing, he said. A gathering today where a group that came together on Facebook planned to lay flowers in Heupel’s front yard wasn’t something he wanted to attend.

“I have my own grieving,” he said.

“Sometimes I can’t even find peace in my day to mourn,” he said. “It’s so overwhelming, the responsibility of it all.”

He said Heupel is having an emotional breakdown, but they have a funeral to plan, together.

For Reeder, he says: “I want him to have life. I want him to never see the light of day and hurt anybody else.”

As for the mother of his child: “I have a lot of anger towards her, but I don’t say anything bad about her.”

Fister said he has no money in his wallet right now. He opened an account at West Coast Bank, if anyone want to donate to help pay for funeral expenses, he said.

•••

For background, read “Breaking news: Mother’s boyfriend held for investigation of rape, murder of Centralia child” from Friday May 25, 2012 at 5 p.m., here