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Onalaskan’s insanity plea in alleged murder of father bolstered by mental exam

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Murder defendant Joshua Leroy Vance was acutely psychotic and responding to “command hallucinations” to kill his father early in the morning on March 7 in their Onalaska home, according to a mental evaluation conducted by a psychologist.


Joshua Vance

Defense attorney David Arcuri submitted Dr. Brett Trowbridge’s professional opinion when he filed a motion asking for an acquittal of his client based on insanity. Vance pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in early May.

Yesterday, in Lewis County Superior Court, the prosecutor’s office said now they would like their experts to examine Vance as well.

Vance, 25, is charged with first-degree murder after allegedly using a knife to attack his sleeping father, 58-year-old Terry Vance on March 7.

The younger Vance is also charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, as he allegedly told a deputy he was going to kill his grandmother, nephew and uncle but couldn’t because he cut his hand.

He remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $1 million bail.

The Centralia College student has already been evaluated by specialists from Western State Hospital who determined he was mentally competent to stand trial, but now they will evaluate him for insanity, according to an order signed by a judge yesterday.

Vance appeared in court for the brief hearing.

According to Arcuri, the guidelines for criminal insanity look at if a person suffers from a mental disease or defect such that they could not comprehend the nature or quality of their act, and, even if they could understand, could not conform their behavior.

Trowbridge wrote in his report, which Arcuri received on June 1, an insanity defense would be appropriate because at the time of the alleged incident, with Vance’s acute mental illness he was unable to appreciate the nature and quality of his conduct.

According to the report from Western State’s previous contact with Vance, he has been hospitalized in the past for command hallucinations to kill himself and harm others. He also has been treated for substance induced hallucinations, according to the report.

His diagnosis’s in the state doctors’ report included psychotic disorder, major depression, amphetamine dependence and alcohol abuse.

Vance told the evaluator he started using methamphetamine at age 11, but had not used it for the previous two years.

Vance’s family say he was being treated for mental health issues at Cascade Mental Health in Chehalis and had gone off his medication because he couldn’t afford it.

If state doctors decide to bring him to their facility to conduct the exam, they can commit him for not more than 15 days and then as soon as is practicable furnish the court with a report on their findings, according to the court order.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said the two sides set a date of Aug. 2 to check in with the judge about the status of the upcoming evaluation.

A trial is scheduled for the week of Oct. 22.

For background, read:

• “Onalaska man pleads insanity in father’s fatal stabbing” from Tuesday May 8, 2012, here

•  “Murder suspect: “When he was good, he was such a good young man”" from Friday March 9, 2012, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 10:44 am



• Centralia police and K-9 Kayo were looking for a wanted subject around 11 p.m. last night in the area of the 300 block of North Gold Street, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police say Galen R. Whitmore, 20, of Centralia, fled from officers and jumped several fences before Kayo caught him with his teeth. Whitmore was booked into the Lewis County Jail,  according to police. The jail roster indicates he was wanted by the state Department of Corrections and also for failing to appear in court related to third-degree driving with a suspended license.


• Deputies are looking for a newer red mini van seen at a home burglary on the 200 block of Brockway Road west of Chehalis yesterday between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. The 68-year-old resident arrived home just before 4 p.m. and found a side door kicked in and found indications someone had rifled through a bedroom, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The dollar loss is as yet unknown, but someone went through documents and jewelry boxes, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• Centralia police say an unknown person stole a refrigerator from a rummage sale on the 500 block of North Tower Avenue. The responding officer noted it is a brown Frigidaire brand.


• Police were called just after 8 a.m. yesterday when a Chehalis man woke up to find his garage door open on the 100 block of Northeast Terrace Road. Sometime after 10 o’clock the night before someone went inside and stole a tool box with various tools including four trays of bright orange Craftsman sockets, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Chehalis police said today a search of a car impounded last week turned up a wallet belonging to a 47-year-old Tumwater woman who recalled getting bumped by a man while she shopped at Staples in Chehalis. The incident led police to refer the case involving Korey E. Cleveland, 43, of Tenino, for a charge of second-degree possession of stolen property, Sgt. Gwen Carrell said. Cleveland was detained last Thursday after leaving a saw shop on State Avenue in Chehalis, when employees became suspicious a check he was attempting to use to buy about $1,000 of goods might be stolen, according to Chehalis police. Because a shotgun was found when he was pulled over and he is not allowed to possess firearms, he was arrested and jailed and his vehicle was impounded, Carrell said. The Thurston County resident to whom the check belonged declined to pursue any charges, Carrell said.


• A 38-year-old Toledo area woman called the sheriff’s office yesterday to report someone in the Washington DC area used her bank card information on Friday to make an online purchase of $133 from the U.S. Postal Service, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Centralia police took a report late yesterday afternoon about stolen checks and subsequent forgeries from the 1600 block of Pike Street. They are investigating, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Police were called just after 5:15 p.m. yesterday about a vehicle prowl on the 2600 block of Cooks Hill Road in Centralia. Just a half hour earlier, the same officer took another report of a prowl in the same area, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 2:25 p.m. yesterday about a vehicle prowl on the 300 block of Northeast Adams Avenue. Taken were sunglasses, keys and some money, according to police. The victim said a neighbor’s vehicle had been prowled as well, Sgt. Gwen Carrell said.


• Centralia police were called to a repeat tire slashing yesterday afternoon at the 600 block of E Street in Centralia.

• Police were called about 10:30 a.m. yesterday to the 100 block of Southwest Eighth Street in Chehalis when a resident found the rear passenger window to his truck broken. It seemed a beer bottle had been thrown at it, possibly from the alley nearby where arguing had been heard, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

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Mental evaluation: Suspect in death, rape of Centralia toddler found competent for trial

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A staff psychologist at Western State Hospital has concluded James M. Reeder is competent to participate in the court proceedings in his Lewis County homicide case, involving the alleged torture and rape of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter.


James M. Reeder

Reeder, 25, was sent to the state mental hospital June 21 after his lawyer requested the evaluation a week earlier.

The report, filed yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court, notes the Centralia man has mild depression and anxiety, attributed to the legal situation he is facing.

“Any of his previous symptoms that may have interfered with his ability to understand court proceedings or assist in his defense appear to have abated,” Dr. Ray Hendrickson wrote in the report.

Reeder has not yet been arraigned, presumably that is the next step in his case. A notation in his court file says he will appear before a judge on Thursday morning.

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

If convicted, he faces a possible maximum penalty of life in prison.


Koralynn Fister

The coroner has said the child died from drowning and blunt trauma to her head. Reeder said he found the toddler face down in the bathtub when he stepped out to grab a towel.

Prosecutors allege at least two incidents of sexual abuse of the little girl during the roughly two month period Reeder lived with his girlfriend Becky Heupel and her two daughters, ages 2 and 4.

Defense attorney David Arcuri did not state in court the reason for requesting the competency review, but according to the report, Reeder said he attempted suicide in the jail, trying to drown himself in the sink.

The report, dated June 29, said Reeder was kept in a ward that allowed 24-hour observation and treatment while he was at Western State.

While there, he was put on medication for depression and anxiety, as well as temporarily for insomnia. He said he hardly slept while at the jail, the psychologist wrote.

During the formal interview, he was cooperative and open, the psychologist wrote. He said he was “sad, depressed, anxious … grieving, mourning … I miss that little girl … don’t know how to explain what happened.”

Reeder also – when asked – said he’s always been paranoid, not liking to go to bars or Wal-Mart, for example, because people talk about him and look at him.

The psychologist indicated he felt that was more like a personality trait or a symptom of anxiety.

The report included a diagnosis of adjustment disorder, but did not elaborate on what that meant.

Reeder was taken away by police from the couple’s West Oakview Street area home the day Koralynn died, and arrested that night. He is being held on $5 million bail.

Reeder had been unemployed for about a year, but previously worked as a flooring installer, according to the report.

One portion of it offers basic self-reported biographical information: such as he is currently separated from his wife who has a 5-year-old son, and that he has a 2-year-old daughter he fathered with a girlfriend.

His attorney has described him as a lifetime Lewis County resident, who attended W.F. West High School through the 11th grade.

He has no felony criminal history, but in February 2011 was convicted of a gross misdemeanor, fourth-degree assault and in January 2007 was convicted of misdemeanor possession of marijuana, according to the Western State Hospital report.

He suffered a concussion in a motor vehicle accident as an eighth grader, according to the report.

He told the psychologist he has used, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Although Reeder denied current thoughts of suicide or wanting to harm himself, the psychologist recommended he see a mental health provider.

CORRECTION: This news story has been updated and corrected to reflect a trial date has not yet been scheduled for Reeder.

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

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Updated at 5:10 p.m.


• Two mornings in a row, Centralia police have responded to burglaries at businesses in which cash was stolen. An officer checking out an alarm about 3:10 a.m. today at the 2300 block of North Pearl Street found the building had been broken into. Yesterday morning about 8:30, an officer was called to a business on the 200 block of South Pearl Street for a burglary as well, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Police were called just before 7 o’clock yesterday morning to the 100 block of Virginia Drive in Centralia where a female said her 21-year-old boyfriend bit her in the shoulder. An officer was told it happened during an argument about him not wanting to get up with the baby, according to Centralia police. He left before police arrived, police said.


• A 16-year-old student at Green Hill School for boys is in trouble after he allegedly kicked, punched and spit at six staff members who were trying to place him in solitary on Sunday afternoon, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The case will be referred for possible charges of third-degree assault, Sgt. Gwen Carrell said.


• A 43-year-old Lincoln Creek area resident called the sheriff’s office yesterday to report she discovered her bank debit card was compromised online. An unknown individual somehow used her card to make a purchase from a business in Maine, totaling $378.06, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Two rifles, an X-Box and hunting gear were missing after a burglary on the 200 block of Schoonover Road near Mossyrock, according to the lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy was told it happened sometime between Wednesday and Sunday, according to the sheriff’s office.


• Two women allegedly caught racing on South Pearl Street near Centralia College were cited after being contacted by an officer about 10:20 p.m. yesterday.


• A 21-year-old Olympia man, Blake G. Moreland, was arrested for driving under the influence when he was spotted traveling the wrong direction on North National Avenue in Chehalis just after 1 o’clock on Sunday morning, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday.


• Police were called just after 5 p.m. yesterday about tires slashed on the 1400 block of Logan Street in Centralia. An officer took a similar report a few hours earlier at the 400 block of North Oak Street, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning to R.E. Bennett Elementary School where someone had spray painted a large swath of the backside of the building with graffiti. Similar graffiti was found on a business nearby on the 100 block of South Market Boulevard, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Sgt. Gwen Carrell said she could not decipher the gray-blue lettering.


• Somebody blew up a mail box on the 100 block of Cousins Road outside Chehalis causing grass and a tree to catch on fire, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday. A deputy called early Sunday morning was told it occurred about 11 p.m. the night before, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Chehalis police were called when someone found a small black handgun on a garbage container outside the St. Helens Apartments on North Market Boulevard on Saturday morning. It turned out to be a toy and was taken into lost and found, according to Chehalis police.


• Chehalis police were called just before midnight on Saturday about individuals dancing in the fountain in front of the library downtown. It appeared they had put soap in it. No arrests were made.


• The Chehalis Fire Department was called about 9 p.m. yesterday to a grass fire at Southwest Newaukum Avenue and Sylvenus Street. It was knocked down in about 10 minutes, according to Fire Capt. Casey Beck.


• went to an award ceremony in Chehalis yesterday to tell the story of a 5-year-old boy who two weeks ago called 911 to get help for his ailing father. The Centralia boy, Quincy Hall, didn’t know his address but did know how to call for help. Read how dispatchers quickly found his location using tracking information from the cell phone the child used. See their video here

• The Seattle Times published a story yesterday about how cell phone companies are responding to thousands of requests each day from police for customer’s locations, text messages and call details, frequently without warrants and not just in emergencies. Read more here

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Sheriff: It’s safe for further witnesses to come forward following arrest in deaths of Ethel couple

Monday, July 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Dennis Hadaller takes questions from the news media about his mother and her husband's 1985 deaths.

Updated at 8:19 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Although deputies have arrested a former Lewis County man for kidnap, robbery and murder in the 1985 deaths of Ed and Wilhelmina Maurin, the sheriff is calling upon more people who might know something to come forward.

News of yesterday’s arrest at the suspect’s home outside King Salmon, Alaska took most of the elderly couple’s surviving family members by surprise this morning; when Sheriff Steve Mansfield announced to the news media his office has solved the case that’s more than 26 years old.


Rick Riffe

Rick Riffe, 53, and his brother John Gregory Riffe, 50,  have long been primary suspects in the cold case, according to the sheriff.

John Riffe died last month of ill health, just after the sheriff’s office prepared their probable cause statement, Mansfield said.

Authorities say potential witnesses were threatened by the brothers, even with death, if they spoke up.

“We’re very confident now one is dead and the other in custody, (other) witnesses will come forward,” Mansfield said this afternoon. “We would like to hear from them.”

At a press conference this afternoon in Chehalis, Mansfield and Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer indicated it’s not like there was suddenly a “smoking gun” that led to the arrest.


John Gregory Riffe

Mansfield called it a long, tedious, frustrating case that the sheriff’s office felt was strong back in the early 1990s, but wasn’t able to persuade the prosector to move forward on.

Meyer said he filed the charges on Friday and got a $5 million arrest warrant.

Meyer likened it to a puzzle.

“You look at all the witness statements, go through the timeline and realize we have all the pieces we need,” Meyer said.

Sheriff’s detective Bruce Kimsey has worked the better part of seven years on the case and it’s been his sole assignment the past four months, according to Meyer.

The affidavit of probable cause offers information pointing to the brothers from several individuals; none of the witnesses are named in the document.

Rick Riffe is still in Alaska, and is being  processed for extradition back to Lewis County to stand trial.

The Maurins, Ed, 81 and “Minnie” 83, vanished from their Ethel home Dec. 19, 1985. Their car was found abandoned the next day in the parking lot at Yard Birds and their bodies discovered Dec. 24, 1985 off a logging road near Adna.

The sheriff’s office says it believes the brothers forced the couple to drive to their bank, Sterling Savings and Loan in Chehalis, and withdraw $8,500 before cutting them down with a shotgun inside their car.

Family members of the Maurins sat in on the press conference.

Minnie Maurin’s son, former Lewis County Commissioner Dennis Hadaller, briefly spoke to those assembled. The 84-year-old’s voice broke as he did.

Hadaller thanked prosecutors, the sheriff’s office, and especially detective Kimsey whom he said has become a close friend.

“Also, I want to thank all the private citizens that came forward under threat of death and gave us information,” Hadaller said.

He made a plea for anyone with additional information to bring it the sheriff or prosecutor.

Prosecutor Meyer suggested the brothers selected their target more or less at random, because a friend of theirs mentioned the Maurins probably had a lot of money.

The friend, interviewed in 1991, said he used drugs with the Riffes and remembered seeing the couple outside when he and the brothers drove past the house about two weeks before the deaths, according to the affidavit of probable cause. He recalled mentioning they must have money, because they owned all the Christmas trees surrounding their property and their son had a successful logging business, the document states.


Rick Riffe

The same man, a truck driver, told investigators he gave a shotgun to Rick Riffe which he asked him to cut down so he could carry it on the job, according to the document. He said he had trouble getting it back, until two or three months after the murders, the document alleges. The gun was later tossed in Mayfield Lake, according to one witness.

The unnamed truck driver spoke of Rick Riffe having no money and then suddenly buying a commercial-type fishing boat, as well as getting an odd call from Rick Riffe’s wife Robin Riffe, who said, “You wouldn’t believe what Rick’s done,” the document states.

Another individual, in 2004, told investigators he was driving from home in Mossyrock with his mother into town that December when he saw John Riffe in a car with the Maurin couple, but that John Riffe confronted him near the Mossyrock Theater and threatened to kill both him and his mother if he spoke about what he saw, according to the documents.


John Gregory Riffe

The man reportedly came forward after his mother passed away.

This past February, he told detective Kimsey both brothers were in the 1960s green four-door car about a quarter mile from the Maurin’s house, the documents state.

One source, a drug dealer interviewed inside a federal prison in Oregon, recalled selling two ounces of cocaine for $2,200 to Robin Riffe back in December 1985, and getting paid in $100 bills by a man he was able to identify as John Riffe, the documents alleges.

Numerous other people are cited as having told detectives of seeing a man or men who matched the brothers’ descriptions at various places that day, often noting one wearing a dark stocking cap and carrying a gun.

One Mossyrock woman who said she’d never seen the brothers before but heard rumors they were involved, offered sightings in three key locations.

She said when she was driving by the Maurin’s house one morning she saw a white van parked there and a man wearing an Army jacket near the mailbox; the following day she saw Ed Maurin sitting in an old car as she left Security State Bank; and then saw the same van parked on the shoulder of Kresky Avenue near Yard Birds and two men getting into it, according to the document.

Two sheriff’s detectives, a private investigator and Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead flew to Alaska to make the arrest; they were joined by Alaska state troopers, according to Mansfield.

Meyer said Rick Riffe is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery, as well as one count of burglary.

Because of the suspect’s poor health, he is not planning to pursue the death penalty, Meyer said.

The prosecutor said he expects whenever Rick Riffe arrives in Lewis County, he will be taken in front of a judge the next day.

After his arraignment, he will go to trial within 60 days Meyer said.


For background read “Breaking news: Sheriff: Cold case solved in 1985 shooting death of elderly Ethel couple” from earlier today, here

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Breaking news: Sheriff: Cold case solved in 1985 shooting death of elderly Ethel couple

Monday, July 9, 2012 at 9:13 am

Edward, 81, and Wilhelmina "Minnie", 83, Maurin. / Courtesy photo Lewis County Sheriff's Office

Updated at 11:05 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An arrest has been made in what has been described as one of the most horrific homicides in Lewis County, an elderly couple believed abducted from their Ethel home, shot to death and dumped in a wooded area near Adna more than a quarter century ago.

The bodies of Edward and Wilhelmina “Minnie” Maurin were found on Christmas Eve 1985.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office yesterday arrested 53-year-old Rick Riffe in Alaska, according to the sheriff’s office.

The former Lewis County resident and his brother have long been primary suspects in the cold case.

Additional evidence and witnesses finally talking is what helped solve the case, according to Sheriff Steve Mansfield.

“Detectives feel many witnesses did not come forward during the time of the initial investigation due to being fearful of the Riffe brothers and possible retaliation for speaking out,” Mansfield said in a news release.

The two men moved to Alaska in 1987 and John Riffe died a week before detectives purchased tickets to travel there and arrest them, according to the sheriff.

Rick Riffe, who resides in King Salmon, Alaska, was arrested yesterday and will be processed for extradition back to Lewis County to stand trial, Mansfield stated.

Mansfield said his office has developed information the brothers kidnapped the couple from their home, drove them to their bank in Chehalis and forced them to withdraw $8,500 before killing them.

They were reported missing Dec. 19, 1985 after guests arrived for a Christmas party at their house along U.S. Highway 12, and nobody was home. The following day, their car was found abandoned in the Yard Birds parking lot in Chehalis.

The keys were in the ignition and blood stains were found in the car, according to the sheriff’s office. On Christmas Eve day, their bodies were found at the end of Stearns Hill Road.

Former Lewis County Commissioner Dennis Hadaller said he has waited 26 years and seven months for this day.

Hadaller offered rewards and hired private detectives to find who killed his mother and her husband.

“I really appreciate all the help, the sheriff’s department and the people that came forward with new evidence,” Hadaller said this morning.

The Mayfield Lake area resident who is now 84, said he’s “tickled” but the news is sad too, bringing back memories. It didn’t take him by surprise however, he said.

“I’ve been involved all along, we had to keep everything pretty quiet, what was happening,” he said. “I couldn’t even tell my own children or close friends.”

He couldn’t tell even his younger sister Hazel Oberg, he said.

The Toledo woman and her husband were having breakfast when they got the news this morning.

“Well it was a shock for me to hear it on the radio, an awful shock,” Oberg said. “But I’m calming now. It makes me relive it.”

Oberg, 82,  called it a relief.

“In a way, we’re just thrilled,” she said. “I guess you could call it thrilled. I’m in tears.”

A press conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. today with the sheriff, Hadaller and Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer who will share details of the investigation.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, July 8, 2012 at 6:18 pm

A Toyota Prius, of course, can't clear the underside of a flatbed trailer. / Courtesy photo


• A collision on the east side of the state Route 508 South Fork Newaukum Bridge early yesterday morning destroyed a Toyota Prius that slammed into the side of a trailer being pulled by a dump truck that was turning around on the highway. Aid called about 2:15 a.m. found the impact into the flatbed trailer sheered off much of the driver’s side of the car, according to Lewis County Fire District 1. The driver and his female passenger amazingly suffered only minor injuries, Fire Chief Mark Conner said. Conner said the truck driver realized he was over the weight limit for the bridge and was turning around. The speed limit is 55 mph there. The driver had an injury to his left leg, he said. They were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital. The bridge, about five miles east of Onalaska, was shut down about two weeks ago because of significant corrosion and was reopened with weight limits until it can be repaired.


• Lewis County Fire District 3 was called about 11:30 a.m. yesterday to a motorcycle wreck on U.S. Highway 12 about two miles west of Mossyrock. The motorcyclist hit a piece of wood in the roadway, laid his motorcycle down and narrowly missed striking a guardrail, according to Fire Chief Doug Fosburg. His motorcycle was destroyed but he was very lucky, the chief said. “He was able to walk away,” Fosburg said. “He was wearing all the proper safety gear, including a helmet.” The man, who was with a group of riders the chief thought was from Tacoma, declined aid, he said.


• Police are looking for a 52-year-old man who fled his north Centralia home Friday night bleeding after his girlfriend struck him in the head with a  wine bottle. Police were told Gerardo R. Espinosa threatened his live-in girlfriend with a knife at the 1500 block of Windsor Avenue. The bottle to the head gave her time to call 911 but Espinosa left, according to the Centralia Police Department. A track was conducted with a police dog, but Espinosa’s scent was lost about a quarter of a mile away near a friend’s house, Sgt. Stacy Denham said. Police think someone gave him a ride away, Denham said. The 45-year-old girlfriend was not injured, but he is wanted for first-degree assault, according to Denham.


• Centralia police were called about 5 p.m. yesterday about a vehicle that was stolen from a home and then subsequently found stripped in connection with an address on the 800 block of Long Road in Centralia.


• Police were called yesterday morning about two Stihl chainsaws stolen about 10:30 a.m. from the 700 block of North Pearl Street.

• Police took a report about 12:15 a.m. today that a video camera was stolen from a business on the 800 block of B Street in Centralia.


• Centralia police took a report from the 300 block of East Pine Street that someone got inside a vehicle and stole the title and an insurance card sometime between last Tuesday and Wednesday.


• A 2-year-old boy was hospitalized after he fell into a campfire at Rainbow Falls State Park off state Route 6 west of Chehalis. Lewis County Fire District 11 Chief Michael Krafczyk said aid was called about 7:10 p.m. on Friday to the park. “He burned the palm of his hand and his knee but I don’t know the extent of his burns,” Krafczyk said, noting he did not personally respond to the call. The child was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, the chief said.

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News brief: Rochester resident dies in motorcycle accident

Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Updated at 10:52 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 50-year-old Rochester man was killed in a motorcycle wreck this afternoon in south Thurston County, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Troopers were called just after 1:15 p.m. to the collision on Southwest Tilley Road near Goddard Road, east of Interstate 5.

The brand new Harley Davidson was northbound on Tilley Road when it struck a deer in the roadway, according to the state patrol.

The motorcyclist has been identified as Mark T. Mercurio.

Mercurio was wearing a helmet, according to the state patrol. His bike sustained an estimated $5,000 damage.

It’s unknown if alcohol or drugs may have been involved, according to the investigating trooper.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, July 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Updated at 5:08 p.m.


• Firefighters in Pe Ell had to tear the entire tin roof from a large two-story garage yesterday to extinguish a fire that snuck up a wall into the roofline. Crews from Lewis County Fire Districts 11, 13 and 16 were called about 3:25 p.m. to the building on Pe Ell Avenue near the school, District 11 Chief Michael Krafczyk said. They saved all the contents, which were a little bit wet, Krafczyk said. It appeared to have begun on the exterior, but the cause is undetermined, according to the chief.


• Chehalis police arrested a 25-year-old man last night who witnesses said was rolling around in the street on Chamber of Commerce Way. Officers called just before 11 p.m. were told he was also stopping cars and trying to get inside. Chief Deputy Randy Kaut said it appeared the individual just wanted a ride and his way of doing that was just really aggressive. Donald B. Lindberg, of Chehalis, was arrested and booked for disorderly conduct, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Chehalis police were called yesterday afternoon to an unoccupied building on Northeast Meridian Street where the owner said someone had been inside and stripped it of an estimated $30,000 worth of copper piping.

• A Mossyrock man called the sheriff’s office yesterday after someone used his PayPal online service to make a purchase that morning of more than $900. The 66-year-old victim was alerted by PayPal and subsequently was able to prevent the iPad from being shipped, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies have suspect information, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

• Police were called about 10:45 a.m. yesterday to a business on the 400 block of Union Street in Centralia about an overnight burglary. An unspecified amount of cash was stolen, according to the Centralia Police Department. Further details were unavailable.

• A pressure washer and battery-powered weed eater were among the items stolen from a covered area at the 2300 block of Eureka Avenue in Centralia sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A Lacey man who allegedly wheeled a shopping cart with two vacuum cleaners out of Wal-Mart without paying fled on foot when an employee tried to stop him yesterday afternoon. Police called about 5:45 p.m. to the retailer on Louisiana Avenue subsequently found Daniel P. Jacobson, 30, and arrested him for third-degree theft, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The cart was ditched before he ran, according to Deputy Chief Randy Kaut. Jacobson was booked into the Lewis County Jail. Kaut said vacuum cleaners continue to be a hot item for shoplifters, perhaps because they are a high-priced product that can be resold or returned at another location.

• A deputy took a report last night that sometime during the past week someone stole a sign from the end of the driveway at the 600 block of Cannon Road in Packwood. The wood sign painted with white lettering reads “Moon Mountain Lodging,” according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A 25-year-old Centralia man was arrested overnight for vehicle prowl after he allegedly removed a fire extinguisher from a large military vehicle that was on a rail car in north Centralia. A officer contacted Matthew T. Owen about 1:50 a.m. on North Delaware Avenue and Fulton Street, according to police. He and a companion, Joshua D. Clark, 22, Centralia, were both also arrested for trespass, according to the Centralia Police Department. They were then released.


• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning about what looks like gang graffiti spray painted on the side of downtown building that houses the office of criminal defense attorney Bob Schroeter. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said it appeared someone climbed on a roof to leave their mark up high and visible on the 400 block of North Market Boulevard, but didn’t seem to be targeting anyone specifically.

• Two tires were slashed on a vehicle parked on the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made about 1:40 a.m. today.


• A 2001 International fire truck sustained major damage when a driver-in-training failed to negotiate a curve, lost control and rolled it yesterday afternoon south of Ethel. The crew of three from the state Department of Natural Resources were unhurt, but taken to Morton General Hospital for evaluation, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It happened about 4 p.m. on the 1300 block of Spencer Road, near the fish hatchery, according to responders. Lewis County Fire District 8 Chief Duran McDaniel said the truck was on its top in the ditch but its occupants were out when he arrived. Sheriff’s Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said it appeared the 18-year-old driver missed a gear, causing excessive speed. He was cited for “wheels off the roadway,” she said. The three are from Morton.

• Two drivers escaped serious injuries when their semi-trucks collided overnight on Interstate 5 just south of Vader in Cowlitz County. One of them, a 2007 International truck and trailer, was totaled when the driver dozed off and he ran into the back of a 2006 Mack truck hauling two trailers, according to the Washington State Patrol. They were both southbound about 2:30 a.m. when it happened, the state patrol reported. Harry Minges, 63, of Des Moines suffered leg injuries but declined aid, according to the investigating trooper. He was to be cited for second-degree negligent driving. The other truck was able to be driven from the scene.

• Centralia police say they were called about 12:25 p.m. yesterday when a vehicle ran into a building on the 1200 block of Lum Road and then left. Further details were unavailable.

• Police and aid were called about 9:50 a.m. yesterday when a van drove through a yard and came to rest at the front door of a house on South Gold and East Chestnut streets. The driver reportedly nearly struck an off duty police officer’s vehicle as well, according to Centralia police. Mitchell W. Sinclair, 43, of Chehalis, declined aid and was booked for driving on a suspended license and several outstanding warrants, according to authorities.


Van travels through fence and up to front door in Centralia. / Courtesy photo

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 11:40 am


• A 24-year-old man was arrested in Centralia overnight when he recovered from getting Tased and took a swing at a police officer. Police were called about 12:08 a.m. to the 1900 block of Ahlers Avenue about a possible dispute and contacted the man who was quite agitated, Officer Wayne Compton said. Twice the man took up a boxing-type stance and finally an officer used a Taser gun on him, Compton said. The officer ducked the punch and was not injured, according to Compton. Brandon M.J. Blarton was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree assault, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Almost $400 worth of prescription drugs were reported stolen from a Silver Creek residence on Tuesday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies called to the home on the 600 block of state Route 122 were told the missing medications included oxycodone, Oxycontin, morphine, Vicodin, lorazepam and diazepam, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. A 29-year-old Onalaska resident was subsequently arrested for burglary, Brown said. Autumn L. Creech was  booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• Centralia police were called about 7 p.m. on Tuesday by an 18-year-old Centralia man who said was he was driving on the 400 block of West Summa Street, a male in a red Ford Expedition pulled up near him and pointed a pistol at him. The victim fled to Chehalis before calling police, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officer Wayne Compton said the victim thought he recognized the individual, but then decided wasn’t sure of that.


• A 16-year-old Green Hill resident is in trouble with a possible charge of second-degree assault after he allegedly struck another inmate in the head – knocking him out briefly – and then stomped on his head while he was on the ground. Police were called to the state juvenile detention center in Chehalis just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday to investigate. Chehalis Police Department Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said the 15-year-old victim was taken to the hospital with a possible concussion and a dislocated shoulder.


• Centralia police arrested a 36-year-old Centralia man for driving with a suspended license and possession of marijuana following a traffic stop about 12:35 p.m. yesterday at Seward Avenue and East Carson Street. Officer Wayne Compton said a passenger, Karrie D. Delafield, 22, of Centralia, was arrested at the same for possession of methamphetamine when a pipe with residue was found. Both were booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. Delafield will be released without charges pending further investigation.

• Genevieve J.M. Purser, 29, of Centralia, was arrested about 2:30 p.m. yesterday at South Washington Avenue and West Cherry Street in Centralia because she was wanted by the Chehalis police for a previous drug violation, according to police When she was searched, a pipe with suspected methamphetamine reside was found, Officer Wayne Compton said. She was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Centralia police were called yesterday just before 3 p.m. to slashed tires on a vehicle at the 1100 block of North Tower Avenue and then again on the 900 block of Marion Street. At about 5:40 a.m., an officer took a report at the 300 block of South Diamond Street that someone smashed out the rear window of a vehicle with a brick.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is looking for information about who it was that slashed a Glenoma man’s truck tire and left an ominous note stating, “Your truck won’t be this pretty next time.” The 66-year-old man called the sheriff’s office late Tuesday night and said he’d parked his truck off the 200 block of Anderson Road in Glenoma when he went for a walk up a logging road, and returned to find the note, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Police were called just before 1 p.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of Johnson Road in Centralia to a complaint kids were throwing eggs at a residence. Just before 9 p.m., a 15-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly throwing eggs at a parked car in the same area, causing damage, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• An apparent fireworks explosion damaged a portable bathroom at the Seminary Hill Nature Park on the 600 block of East Locust Avenue in Centralia. Officers called just before midnight on Tuesday have suspect “leads,” according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Firefighters in Winlock were called to two small grass fires about 3:30 p.m. yesterday, the first at the 700 block of North Military Road and the second about a mile away on the 300 block of Sargent Road. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says a deputy learned three teenage boys had thrown lit fireworks from a vehicle and then stopped on Sargent Road to light off some more. The case, involving an 18-year-old and two 17-year-old Winlock residents was referred to the prosecutors office for possible charges, in part because the youths said they were fireworks purchased from the Chehalis Reservation and not legal to discharge in the area, according to the sheriff’s office.


• Centralia firefighters were called just before 10 p.m. yesterday when a lit lantern-type firework floated into a tree on the 900 block of L Street. It more or less burned itself out but they put water on it, according to Riverside Fire Authority.


• A 23-year-old Centralia man is set to go before a judge this afternoon on a possible charge of third-degree assault for allegedly giving a trooper a black eye and breaking his nose in Chehalis on Tuesday evening. The trooper contacted Don K. Gonzales who was walking up the southbound Interstate 5 off ramp at Main Street carrying two sticks just before 6:30 p.m., according to Chehalis police. At some point Gonzales apparently tried to open up a pocket knife, and Trooper Rob Moore may have attempted to use his Taser gun, according to authorities. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said Gonzales threw the lug nut at Moore’s face and a fight ensued. Passing motorists, including a Centralia police detective, jumped in and restrained Gonzales, according to Kaut. Gonzales was booked into the Lewis County Jail for two counts of third-degree assault, according to police. The department will also suggest two misdemeanor assault charges for Gonzales related to the pair of men who helped – a 24-year-old from Chehalis and a 25-year-old from Napavine, Kaut said. A suspected marijuana pipe was found in the suspect’s pocket, according to Kaut. The deputy chief said he did not know why Gonzales was walking on the freeway. Washington State Patrol spokesperson Trooper Ryan Tanner said this morning Trooper Moore is currently off work and resting at home.


• Deputies assisted a Colorado man and four children yesterday evening who were stranded on an island in the Cowlitz River off Alderwood Drive in Packwood with a raft. The 43-year-old man and the kids – ages 6 to 12 – had been rafting and were unable to cross back because of the swift current, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Rescuers arriving shortly after 5:15 p.m. were able to raft the group down river and out of the water, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. Brown did not say how long the rafters had been stranded, but thought someone who lives nearby may have made the call for help sometime before 4 o’clock.

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School bus driver gets five months jail for groping team members at Onalaska game

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Kenneth W. Sands is taken directly to jail after sentencing in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The attorney for a school bus driver who was arrested last autumn for groping teenage girls after their volleyball game in Onalaska told a judge the behavior was completely out of the ordinary, and related to a manic state caused by his bi-polar disorder.

Kenneth W. Sands, 52, was in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday following a plea agreement in which he would be sentenced for five counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation.

Sands drove a bus for the Rainier School District and was off-duty but had gone to the game in Onalaska last October to support the Rainier team.

He was arrested after he reportedly grabbed a 15-year-old volleyball player’s buttocks as she waited to board the bus, slapped a 16-year-old on the buttocks and then got on the bus and touched the breasts of a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. An adult female said he fondled her during the game.

Olympia lawyer Paul A. Strophy said Sands had just switched medications at the time and was adjusting to the change, plus had used caffeine to counteract the effects of a long bus trip the day before to Forks. Sands pleaded guilty in May.

The two lawyers agreed on the recommended sentence, but Strophy appealed to Judge James Lawler to allow his client to serve his time under house arrest, saying as as former corrections officer, he was extremely anxious about being incarcerated. He also requested time to get his medications set up before the sentence began.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Colin Hayes, one of the teenage victims and her mother opposed the so-called electronic home monitoring.

In a letter from the girl read aloud in court, the girl said now has trust issues with older males and has nightmares about Sands coming to attack her family.

“I feel uncomfortable if Ken’s on house arrest,” she wrote. “I’d feel better if he was in jail.”

Sands spoke to the judge, saying he regretted the events and the circumstances that led up to them.

Judge Lawler imposed 30 days in jail for each of the misdemeanors, suspending most of the rest of the sentence so Sands would for the next 10 years have the remainder of the time hanging over his head if he failed to abide by several conditions.

Four and a half years of the sentence are suspended.

He ordered Sands to be taken to jail immediately following the hearing.

“The fact that he has bi-polar disorder is not a defense,” Lawler said. “It’s something he knows about and deals with or does not deal with at his peril.”

Sands has been terminated from his bus driving position, according to Strophy.

Because of the conviction, he will have to submit his DNA to authorities but will not be required to register as a sex offender following his release.

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No serious injuries in multiple wrecks on I-5 near Centralia

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 9:46 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A pair of Rochester teenagers were hospitalized after multiple collisions on southbound Interstate 5 near Centralia this afternoon that backed up traffic for at least five miles.

Troopers and aid were called just before 2 p.m. when possibly more than a dozen vehicles were involved in several separate wrecks, according to authorities.

Washington State Patrol spokesperson Ryan Tanner said nobody was seriously injured and preliminary information suggested five different collisions around the area just south of the Lewis-Thurston county line.

Riverside Fire Authority Mike Kytta said besides the two who were transported, a handful of motorists which were looked at by medics had very minor or no injuries and declined further assistance.

Kytta thought he counted 16 vehicles which had all pulled over to the inside shoulder along about a half mile stretch.

He called it a very fortunate and very surprising outcome with so many vehicles on a high speed road.

A memo from the state patrol described one portion of the incident as four vehicles that were damaged when a 1999 Chevrolet Prizm tried to go around others which were slowing for traffic. It was totaled.

It’s driver, Lacy M. Wood, 17, suffered an injury to her right knee, according to the state patrol. Her passenger, William Short, 19, hurt his left knee and right arm, the investigating trooper reported.

Both were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital.

The other three vehicles involved in that collision sustained damage varying from about $500 to $5,000 but were able to be driven from the scene.

The Washington state Department of Transportation indicated the roadway was all cleared by about 3:45 p.m.

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Trooper assaulted on Interstate 5 at Chehalis

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 8:40 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An off-duty police officer and another passerby intervened when a state trooper and a pedestrian scuffled on the side of Interstate 5 at Chehalis this evening.

Aid, and perhaps as many as a half dozen police officers, responded about 6:25 p.m. to the southbound off ramp at Main Street.

Neither were seriously injured, according to responders.

Washington State Patrol spokesperson Trooper Ryan Tanner said he didn’t yet know many details.

“Don’t know why the contact, or why the scuffle,” Tanner said.

The trooper’s glasses were broken when he was hit just below his eye with some kind of metallic object, like a lug nut, Tanner said.

The trooper, whose identity was not released, declined to go to the hospital, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. It wasn’t the kind of injury that required stitches, Fire Capt. Rob Gebhart said.

The other individual had only scrapes, he said.

The passersby took the individual into custody, Tanner said.

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Read about DOL says Lewis County deputy’s license ‘suspended’ ….

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 6:37 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Lewis County Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown tells when she recently went to renew her driver’s license she was told she was suspended.

KIRO 7′s Amy Clancy writes Brown was told she needed to contact authorities in Arizona to sort it out, but it turns her license was flagged under a system that checks about 400 licenses each month in Washington state.

Only about a quarter of those lead to actual suspensions, according to Clancy; Brown’s was cleared.

Read it here

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News brief: Child brings unstable explosives home

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Some of the old, and volatile, items found behind Winlock home. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff's Office

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The sheriff’s office said a bomb squad was at a Winlock area residence this morning to detonate two bucketfuls of explosive items found by a child playing in the woods behind his house.

A deputy was called last night to the 1000 block of North Military Road after the boy picked up the items, took them to his house and told his parents, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The buckets contained commercial blasting caps and approximately 100 feet of detonation cord, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

“They were very old and in poor condition making them extremely unsafe and volatile,” Brown wrote a news release.

Apparently the previous owner of the property died without telling anyone about the explosives stored on his property, Brown said.

Brown stated the sheriff’s office secured the items and requested the Washington State Patrol Bomb Squad.

Brown said the bomb squad responded to the property about 9 a.m. today to detonate the items on the property.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm


• A 21-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for second-degree assault last night after allegedly striking an individual in the face with a miniature wooden bat. Police called about 9:20 p.m. to the 100 block of South Pleasant Avenue in Centralia booked Mele L. McCollum into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Deputies were called yesterday to a home on the 100 block of Talbott Road in Salkum after an individual walked up, opened the door and went inside inside the home saying he was looking for his friend and his quad. The friend no longer lived there, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He reportedly brushed past a 25-year-old resident outside who said it was especially frightening because her five children were inside, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Deputies subsequently found Timothy R. Foltz of Chehalis and arrested him for possession of methamphetamine as well as referred the case for a charge of first-degree trespass, Brown said.


• A 34-year-old Centralia man was arrested yesterday for seven counts of indecent exposure after an investigation into incidents that reportedly took place over the previous several weeks at the 300 block of Big Hanaford Road outside Centralia. Russell L. Bogart was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said two different women in the neighborhood said he had exposed himself to them.


• An undisclosed amount of cash was stolen from a business on the 200 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia overnight, according to a report made to police about 1:30 p.m. yesterday.


• A 35-year-old Winlock man was arrested yesterday after he was allegedly observed leaving the 1300 block of Ferrier Road in Winlock with someone else’s “metal” in the back of his vehicle. Joseph L. Hines was arrested for third-degree theft and then released, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A red 1984 Ford Ranger pickup was stolen from Johnson and Industrial roads in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 6:35 a.m. yesterday. It has a license plate reading B28908C, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Centralia police were called to a home on the 1200 block of Alder Street yesterday afternoon where an individual said medication went missing after he let a friend use his bathroom.


• Police were called about 10:45 a.m. yesterday to the 400 block of Lakeshore Drive in centralia about a boat stolen from the lakefront property. Inside the green 13-foot boat were two wooden oars, life vests and some fishing gear, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 39-year-old Winlock man tossed from his motorcycle and over a gate yesterday was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with a shoulder injury. A deputy arriving to the scene about 6:15 p.m. learned the motorcyclist was coming down Monroe Road when he had some kind of mechanical problem, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The injured man was cited for going too fast, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A Chevrolet Camaro was totaled and its passenger taken to the hospital after a 17-year-old driver swerved to miss a deer at Rogers Road outside Chehalis early this morning. A deputy arriving about 2:15 a.m. learned the car left the roadway near the railroad tracks. The 30-year-old passenger, who was not wearing  seatbelt, hit the windshield, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He was driving with an instruction permit; she was the registered owner, according to the sheriff’s office. She was ticketed for failure to wear a seatbelt, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, July 2, 2012 at 12:42 pm


• Police were called about 4:30 a.m. today to the 200 block of South Diamond Street in Centralia where a resident heard what sounded like someone trying the door knobs and saw somebody using a lighter and attempting to look in the windows of a home. A 44-year-old Centralia man who reportedly previously had come to the home in the middle of the night when the woman’s husband was away was arrested, according to police. Pablo Abrego was booked for stalking and trespass, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 28-year-old Centralia man was arrested for third-degree assault after he allegedly hit a deputy in the arm during a call about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday to Oakview Avenue in Centralia. Jeremiah R. Johnson called 911 saying he had been hit in the head with a cell phone although no evidence was found that had occurred, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Johnson reportedly was argumentative with the deputy leading to the alleged assault, according to the sheriff’s office. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• Centralia police were called just before 5:30 a.m. today to the 1000 block of Freeman Avenue where someone broke into a shed and stole a boat motor.

• A Honda 10 horsepower motor and two batteries were reported stolen from the 400 block of Jorgensen Road near Onalaska on Saturday morning.


• Police were called about 6:40 a.m. on Saturday to the 500 block of East Plum Street in Centralia where someone broke into a shed and took two riding lawn mowers but abandoned them in a nearby field.

• A green push lawn mower and two barbeque grills were stolen from a garage on the 200 block of Hemlock Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Friday.

• A deputy was called Sunday to a landscaping business on the 1300 block of Reynolds Avenue where someone had attempted to steal a radiator from a front end loader overnight. They weren’t successful but caused an estimated $2,000 damage, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Garden lights were stolen in the night from the 200 block of South Buckner Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday morning.


• Chehalis police were called on Saturday morning by an individual who said he left his car parked downtown and his keys were either lost or stolen and all four tires were found flattened.


• Centralia police took a report late Friday night that a two-month-old blue-nosed Pit Bull was stolen the day before from the 500 block of South King Street in Centralia.


• Chehalis police were called about 9:45 a.m. on Sunday by an individual who said they were looking for their mixed-breed white dog that got scared and took off in the area of the 900 block of Northwest Airport Road near the airport and golf course. Police were informed the canine is from Romania and doesn’t know English. No information was available on the outcome.


• A 53-year-old Centralia man was arrested around 5 o’clock this morning after a traffic stop on the 200 block of Centralia College Boulevard for possession stolen property and methamphetamine, according to Centralia police. Richard A. Napier was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 33-year-old Centralia woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and a warrant following her contact with police about 11:30 p.m. yesterday at the 1300 block of Lakeshore Drive in Centralia. Christina R. Harris was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. A 27-year-old Centralia man was arrested about the same time in the same place for possession of methamphetamine following a traffic stop. Robert M. Donyes was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Centralia police. Police did not note if the pair were detained during the same incident.

• Centralia police arrested a 29-year-old Centralia man for possession of methamphetamine on Sunday evening at Harrison Avenue and Johnson Road, Russell E. Charnell was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. A 20-year-old Centralia woman was arrested and booked at the same time in connection with multiple warrants, according to police.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning three people were taken to the hospital following a single-vehicle collision on Saturday night at the 2000 block of Little Hanaford Road outside Centralia. No details were given about the nature of the collision or their injuries except the driver had neck pain but the 1984 Datsun pickup was described as totaled.


• The Olympian reports Tenino has a new police chief beginning today. Very recently retired Lt. John Hutchings of the Olympia Police Department takes over the south Thurston County police agency consisting of four officer and a clerk, according to news reporter Jeremy Pawloski. Read more here.

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Packwood teen’s suicide to be revisited, in court

Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 6:00 am

Brian Edward Stephens: February 11, 1993 - May 19, 2009

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Three years ago, a student at White Pass High School took 30 Ibuprofen pills one morning and then went to school.

When his school counselor found out about it, the boy was taken away in an ambulance to Morton General Hospital where he was treated and subsequently released.

Days later, a buddy of his who was also a student at the school attempted suicide, and succeeded.

The 16-year-old, Brian Stephens, had less than a week earlier passed a note to a girl in English class writing that if his friend killed himself, he would too. The girl told two school counselors.

His grandmother, with whom he lived, never heard about the note until months afterward. She wasn’t called when high school counselor Justin Neilson brought her grandson into his office to ask him if he was suicidal.

Stephens’ family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school district, saying a grave lack of professional judgement led the school counselor to dismiss clear signs Stephens was at risk for suicide, that the district did not provide its employees with mechanisms to respond to such situations and that it failed to have a comprehensive school suicide prevention plan.

“Our position is the school district did not address the risks they should have done with Brian,” the family attorney Kevin Coluccio said.

Teen suicide is a huge issue across the country, and it’s an issue that schools need to deal with, Coluccio said.

It’s is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24, according to the attorney.

The family, through its attorney, claims the school had a duty to notify his parents the teen was talking about suicide at school.

A key part of student safety is proper parent notification practices, the lawyers write in their filing. If a student says they’re not feeling well, parents are called; if they are behind on their vaccinations or not showing up for classes, parents are contacted, the lawyers write.

The school district’s attorney says it does not have such a duty.

Its responsibility is only to protect students in its custody from reasonably anticipated dangers, according to the lawyer, Jerry J. Moberg.

The school district is represented by Moberg as well as James E. Baker at Jerry J. Moberg and Associates in Euphrata. Also representing them is Tukwila attorney Philip Talmadge.

All that remain of the school officials who were involved in 2009 are three of the five school board members. The school district superintendent Rich Linehan, the high school principal and the two school counselors have since left the district.

White Pass Junior-Senior High School, with about 180 students, is in Randle.

Today, Stephens’ grandmother Debbie Reisert still gets sick talking about it, a loss she says has left a gaping hole in their small family.

“I’m really angry about it,” Reisert said. “But I really haven’t talked about it openly in the town.”

Reisert runs a lodging business on Cannon Road in Packwood. She worries about the impact news of the lawsuit and its details could have on the kids involved, she said; the then-16-year-old friend of her grandson who attempted suicide, the girl who told the school counselor about the note.

Both the current White Pass School District superintendent and the school board president declined to comment, referring questions to their attorneys. The lawyers representing the school district have not returned calls for comment.

A claim filed in January asking $3.5 million was denied. The lawsuit was filed at the end of March in Lewis County Superior Court.

“The thing that’s so frustrating for us is he made an assessment that’s so obviously wrong and didn’t give us a chance to intervene,” Reisert said.

She feels like her only grandson would still be alive, if the school had simply picked up the phone and called, she said.

“Brian was an amazing human being,” Reisert said. “He was really, really intelligent. He was very articulate.”

The oldest of three children, he tended toward the Buddhist philosophy, was funny and was the kind of kid that always helped out the underdog, she said.

His mother took him out of Gig Harbor High School his sophomore year and sent him to live with her in Packwood after he got in trouble with some teens who threw something off a freeway overpass at a vehicle, according to Reisert.

Reisert said she spent about 30 minutes with the school counselor when she enrolled her grandson, explaining about his pending court case, and her concerns about the differences in schools.

She asked him to let her know if he was “hanging out with trouble,” she said, to call if he noticed anything amiss.

It was only about six weeks later he was dead.

Court documents and reports from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office offer details of the week in May 2009 that ended in the death of the White Pass High School sophomore.

It was Thursday May 21, 2009 when Stephens was found with a gunshot wound to his head, inside a Tacoma man’s vacation mobile home on Richer Drive in Packwood, three days after he went missing from his grandmother’s home nearby.

The sheriff’s office investigation gives the following account of what transpired during the previous seven days:

One of Stephens’ female classmates was among the many students interviewed by detective Bruce Kimsey.

She told Kimsey of the note Stephens had written her, saying he never explained why he wrote it.

A 16-year-old Packwood boy Stephens had known since preschool said he and Stephens recently had conversation about how they would kill themselves if they were ever to do so. They were walking around Hinkle Tinkle Falls behind the boy’s house.

On Friday May 15, 2009, that boy took 30 Ibuprofen pills and then went to school.

After he was sent to the hospital, the girl went to the school counselor with the information about Stephens’ note. Several of the students were talked to at school that day about the suicide attempt.

The counselor Neilson told a deputy he then questioned Stephens about committing suicide.

“(Stephens) had replied he was not going to harm himself and did not feel like harming himself in any way,” the deputy wrote.

Over the weekend, her grandson was upset about his friend’s suicide attempt, and some of the other kids seemed to blame him for some reason, according to his Reisert.

Stephens had talked about running away back to Gig Harbor, according to some of the students.

On Monday May 18, 2009: Stephens grades came in the mail, they weren’t good.

“The thing that’s really difficult for me is I got angry at him that day,” Reisert said. “He got bad grades, he wasn’t turning in his homework. I yelled at him and he took off.”

According to Sandra Zacher, a grade school teacher in the district, Stephens had come looking for her son who wasn’t home that afternoon. She said he hung his head down and walked away.

A runaway report was filed that night, a deputy went to the childhood friend’s house on Richer Drive, where he learned the two boys had recently discussed suicide, and listened to a voice message Stephens had left on his friend’s phone, saying he was going to “do it.”

About 4 o’clock the following morning, Zacher’s doorbell rang, and she went to the front door and saw no one was there.

Reisert and Stephens’ mother, Allison Tinney, continued to look for the teenager.

On Thursday May 21, 2009: They went to the friend’s home, and learned from his mother, Zacher, she had noticed the lights on the previous few days at a nearby vacation mobile home.

The three walked over there, Tinney saw her son’s backpack through a window, went inside and found her son dead on a bed with a .22 Winchester long rifle.

The school district superintendent and high school counselor Neilson were among those who arrived at the mobile home as deputies investigated.

A suicide note was found on the back of a piece of homework in Stephens’ backpack. It contents were blacked out in the copy of the report released by the sheriff’s office.

Court documents show his date of death as Tuesday May 19, 2009.

The suicide seemingly came out of nowhere, according to his grandmother.

“He wasn’t even moody ever,” Reisert said. “Brian was just really even all the time, always smiling.

Reisert said she thinks it was a like a fleeting idea he acted on more or less spontaneously.

The lawsuit names as the plaintiffs Stephens’ mother, as well as William Boehm, personal representative of the estate of Brian Stephens.

It is being handled by Coluccio at the Seattle firm of Strittmatter, Kessler, Whelan and Coluccio as well as the Law Office of Skip Simpson in Texas.

Paige Tangney, a past president of the Washington State Association of School Psychologists who has worked in public schools for more 30 years, was asked by the family’s lawyers to evaluate the circumstances of Stephen’s death.

At a minimum, the counselor should have kept Stephens in his office after they spoke about the note he wrote and then picked up the phone to call his grandmother, according to Tangney.

Tangney writes in her filed declaration that a reasonable standard of care is to take any threat of self harm by a student seriously. She describes the protocols many schools have adopted for dealing with potentially suicidal students.

If a student is determined to be a low risk, the parent can advise about the next steps, and is asked to be home when the student gets home from school, Tangney writes. If medium or high risk, the parent is asked to come to school and pick them up.

Tangney writes it appeared Neilson conducted an informal assessment and concluded the teen was either at low risk or not at risk.

Any one of several items the counselor learned, coupled with the note that threatened suicide, made him a significant risk however, she wrote.

“To make a judgement that a student is not a significant suicide risk when they have stated to another student they are going to commit suicide if another student does, the other student has made an attempt, and he has additional risk factors, constitutes, in my opinion, a grave lack of professional judgement as a school counselor,” Tangney writes.

The school district’s attorney, in an answer filed in early May, denies the warning signs were clear or that the counselor failed to properly assess Stephens.

Also, state employees are immune from liability pursuant to a professional judgement doctrine, the district’s lawyer wrote.

“If there was an error in judgement on the part of a professional employee of the school district, it was an honest error in judgment arrived at within the standard of care the school district employee was obliged to follow,” the attorney wrote.

There is currently no date scheduled for when the parties might meet in court.

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Fireman’s tips for a happy Fourth of July

Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Dr. W. William Benton, left and Ron Grant, staff the fireworks stand on South Market Boulevard in the parking lot of Ace Hardware. The Kiwanas Club of Chehalis stand will be open until 9 p.m. on Wednesday, or until their stock runs out.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

While the big day isn’t until Wednesday, fireworks are already on sale and being put to good use.

Riverside Fire Authority’s Assistant Chief Richard Mack wants the public to celebrate safely.

Just last week, a 34-year-old former Toledo man lost part of his hand when a mortar-type firework exploded as he was setting it off in Centralia.

Mack offers the following advice to prevent injuries and fires:

• First, set family boundaries – only adults should light fireworks. Supervision is paramount in keeping children safe.

• Second, fireworks should not be readily available to tempt the curiosity of young children and should be stored in a secured location to prohibit their access.

• Most importantly, talk about safety. Summer weather conditions make grasses and other vegetation dry and vulnerable to fire. The snow and ice storms that occurred in January left a tremendous amount of tree debris on forest floors, which is tinder dry today. Use care in selecting the area where you will be discharging fireworks.

Read “Mortar-type firework explodes in man’s hand” from Friday June 22, 2012, here

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County moves to remove tenants from Nix Road, Clark Road homes housing ex-cons

Friday, June 29, 2012 at 9:24 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Round one: code violations.

Round two: zoning violations.

Lewis County officials continue in their attempts to shut down what they now call boarding houses, two residences in rural communities in which a handful of individuals recently released from prison live together.


110 Nix Road

At issue is a three-bedroom home on Nix Road west of Chehalis where neighbors have said they’re afraid to let their grandchildren outside alone to play as well as a similar operation on the 200 block of Clark Road near Onalaska.

The county has filed a civil suit in Lewis County Superior Court asking a judge to declare the property owners are in violation of zoning rules by using the houses for anything other than single family residences.

Named in the complaint are Judy Chafin-Williams who leases the houses and acts as property manager for the tenants, Janice I. Thompson who owns the properties and Larry G. Gladsjo who is co-owner of the Clark Road property.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield has told a block watch group on Nix Road his goal is to remove the felons from their neighborhood, implementing a zero-tolerance policy for any incidents there and working with other arms of county government to discover if any code or zoning rules have been violated or even craft new ordinances.

Lewis County Commissioner Ron Averill said today the county has  already looked to see if got they’ve got more members of the households than allowed for the particular septic systems.

“At one point they had about nine people and they were informed they were exceeding the septic limit and they had to get that down,” Averill said. “And I understand they did.”

In March, elected officials and other county employees spoke at a block watch meeting for Nix Road, sharing what they believed they could and could not do.

At the time, Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Glenn Carter said among the questions they were pondering is what exactly is meant by “single-family” dwellings. It’s not black and white, he said.

However, the complaint filed Wednesday focuses on where in unincorporated Lewis County single family residences are allowed and where they are not.

Both the Nix and Clark road homes are situated in zones called rural development districts. Multi-family residences are not allowed in those zones.

By contrast, there are areas of the county which were more densely populated before the state Growth Management Act was put into place – such as Onalaska, Packwood, Glenoma and similar communities – where multi-family uses are permitted.

The complaint is for an injunction, declaratory judgement and abatement of nuisance.

Part of the request is for a judge to set monetary penalties if the respondents fail to comply within 30 days of an order.

Chafin-Williams, who oversees the homes as well as similar houses in the cities of Centralia and Chehalis, describes her work as Christian-based, and the owners as people who got tired of renting to drug addicts.

The number one house rule is no drugs or alcohol, according to Chafin-Williams. These are simply people who need assistance getting back on their feet after they’ve done their time in prison, according to Chafin-Williams.

She said she was served notice today of the lawsuit.

“I do have an attorney, and we are going to fight it,” she said.

The property owners Thompson and Gladsjo couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

They have 20 days to file a response to the complaint.

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