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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 9:41 am

WOOD MILL FIRE EXTINGUISHED

• Crews from three fire departments responded about 3 o’clock this morning to a fire at a wood mill in north Centralia. Sawdust inside a baghouse had ignited at the 1300 block of Central Boulevard, according to Riverside Fire Authority. They flooded the inside of the hopper where the burning was mostly contained, Capt. Scott Snyder said. Firefighters were on the scene until roughly 5:30 a.m., he said.

MESSING WITH ORANGE CONES LANDS MAN IN JAIL

• Centralia police called about 5:30 p.m. yesterday to the intersection of North Pearl Street and Reynolds Avenue arrested a 42-year-old man who had allegedly rearranged traffic cones from the construction area in such a way so that if vehicles followed the indicated path, they would have crashed head on. “He was intoxicated,” Officer John Panco said. Paul I. Ramirez, a homeless person, was arrested for reckless endangerment and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

MISSING TRUCK

• Police this morning are investigating a possible stolen vehicle from Mellen Street in Centralia. The victim contacted police about 6:30 a.m. about the blue pickup truck but it’s not clear yet if it might have just been misplaced, according to the Centralia Police Department.

TRACTOR FOUND

• A 35-year-old Pe Ell resident was arrested on Thursday after deputies traced a stolen tractor to his property. The red Massey Ferguson tractor found under cover at the 300 block of Pleasant Avenue had been taken from an open barn area on Roundtree Road in Curtis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Daniel G. Thompson Jr. was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary, according to the sheriff’s office. The investigation is ongoing, Sgt. Rob Snaza said.

MISSING BIKE RECOVERED

• A 41-year-old Centralia man was arrested yesterday evening for allegedly selling a stolen bicycle. The bike turned up on the 300 block of West Magnolia Street in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department. Alex S. Escamilla was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree trafficking stolen property, according to police.

VEHICLE PROWL

• A bicycle was taken from the back of a truck at the 13300 block of Belmont Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police around noon yesterday.

COLLISIONS

• A 24-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for driving under the influence after he allegedly ran into a parked vehicle and continued on from the 900 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia early yesterday morning. Officers arriving about 3 a.m. found a license plate was dropped at the scene which led them to Jacob W. Kreidler, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• Police arrested a 74-year-old Centralia man for driving under the influence after he was involved in a single vehicle collision with a tree about 9 p.m. on Thursday at the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia. Richard C. Wilsie was cited and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• One of two teenaged girls in a single-vehicle accident was taken to the hospital on Thursday evening at the 200 block of Southwest 13th Street in Chehalis. Their car traveled through the grass into the parking lot near the playground missing a tree but striking another vehicle, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. Both cars sustained serious damage, Capt. Casey Beck said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, violation of no contact order, misdemeanor assault; responses for disputes, drugs found in dressing room at Wal-Mart, a Dachshund wandering inside Wal-Mart … and more.

CORRECTION: The item about the arrest involving a stolen tractor found in Pe Ell on the property of Daniel G. Thompson Jr. has been updated to reflect his correct age. The sheriff’s office initially provided erroneous information.

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Maurin murder trial: Testimony of Riffe admission to inmate leads to dual complaints

Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 7:59 pm
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Jonathan Meyer, Will Halstead and Bruce Kimsey of the prosecution team face the judge’s bench in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lawyers on both sides in the Ricky Riffe murder trial accused each other of misconduct as the fifth week of proceedings began to wind down.

The conversation in Lewis County Superior Court before the jury was called into the courtroom on the surface was about whether a local attorney should be called to the witness stand but at its root revolved around whether a jailhouse snitch got a deal in exchange for saying Riffe confessed to him.

Defense attorney John Crowley told the judge he would file a motion for prosecutorial misconduct and would be asking  that Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead be disqualified from the case.

Halstead, who is handling the prosecution along with elected Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer, shot back.

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Erwin Bartlett

“I hope Mr. Crowley attaches the threatening email he sent that he would not file it if the state would stipulate to certain facts,” Halstead said. “That in itself is misconduct.”

Judge Richard Brosey ruled the informant’s lawyer should be called, saying the jury is entitled to know if the inmate did or did not get “consideration” in exchange for his testimony.

Under questioning by Halstead late last week, Erwin Bartlett denied he was getting anything in return for taking the stand, but when presented with the plea agreement document, said he didn’t remember much about the hearing as his liver ailment was causing him pain.

Brosey indicated he’s listened to many informants over the years and said his impression was Bartlett may have expressed confusion by design and it might be that he’s “smart like a fox”.

Crowley told the judge his client’s case was irreparably damaged by the matter.

Jurors sent home for the weekend were told to return Tuesday morning because Monday is a holiday. However, court is scheduled to begin for the attorneys early that day as they argue the defense motion.

Crowley represents Riffe, the 55-year-old former Mossyrock resident who was arrested last year at his home in Alaska and charged in the December 1985 shotgun deaths of an elderly couple who lived in Ethel.

Prosecutors contend Riffe and his now-deceased younger brother were responsible, that someone forced Ed and Minnie Maurin to drive to their bank to withdraw thousands of dollars and then to the woods near Adna where they were shot in their backs inside their car and dumped along a logging road.

Jurors since early October have heard dozens of state’s witnesses describe the day the couple vanished from their home, seeing them with someone else in their green sedan and observing  an unshaven man in an Army jacket with a gun at or near Yardbirds Shopping Center in Chehalis where the car was abandoned. Both Riffe and his brother John Gregory Riffe have been pegged as the person in a composite drawing and in photo montages.

A former drug dealer has testified Riffe told him he thought they got away with it, a woman who conducted an online relationship with him has said he made references to it and a Mossyrock man said he remembers overhearing the brothers planning it. But prosecutors have no fingerprints or DNA evidence that ties either brother to what has been described as one of the most horrendous murder cases in Lewis County.

When Bartlett took the witness stand on Oct. 31, he was forthright about his own crimes and how he came to be locked up in the Lewis County Jail, in an adjacent cell to Riffe early this year.

The now-50-year-old told of escaping New Mexico State Penitentiary where he was serving time for two counts of attempted first-degree murder – he said he took an axe handle to two men he caught on his living room floor with his wife.

When asked, he said in prison he built couches for a dental office and one day took the guts out of one of them, climbed inside and got loaded onto a flatbed truck. Bartlett said he was free for six months and 11 days before he was apprehended and ended up serving about 13 and half years.

He returned to Washington in 2007 and this past winter was serving six months in the Lewis County Jail for assault, he testified.

Bartlett lives in Hoquiam, but considers Chehalis his hometown. He told of getting to know Riffe earlier this year.

“I met Rick probably several days after I was in the medical unit,” he said. “I told him what I was in for, he told me what he was there for.”

Later, after Bartlett returned from a medical furlough and was caught trying to smuggle a prescription medication back into the jail, he tried to negotiate for leniency in exchange for information on fellow inmates, he testified.

His charge was a felony, possession of a controlled substance by a prisoner.

“What consideration did you receive?” Halstead asked him.

“None, I was told by you I wouldn’t get any,” Bartlett said.

Under questioning by Halstead, he began to describe the conversations he and Riffe had.

“First, I want to say, when you get locked up like we are, you really tend to say things,” Bartlett said. “I laid my heart out.”

He shared what he knew about his fellow inmate, that he said he lived in Alaska, loved the outdoors and fishing and hunting, and did odd jobs.

“I know he had sleep apnea and COPD, a respiratory problem,” he said.

Bartlett said Riffe showed him pictures of his wife and children and that they both liked to read Westerns.

“I believe this conversation happened through the vent,” he said. “We call it the “cell” phone.”

“He told me that he committed a crime, that he had killed two old people and that’s what happened,” Bartlett testified.

The witness went on to say Riffe told him that he had help, he thought an accomplice who was “no longer here.”

He said they took one of the individuals to the bank, and maybe said the cops might have a picture of the ATM driving through, according to Bartlett.

Riffe also complained about his well-paid attorney from Seattle not coming to see him, not talking to witnesses, he said.

“He told me it was a bad, bad mistake,” he said. “I think the first time he told me he did it, the second time he said allegedly.”

Under questioning by Crowley, Bartlett said he has already pleaded guilty to the smuggling charge and wasn’t sure why he hasn’t yet been sentenced.

Asked if he was receiving anything in exchange for his testimony against Riffe, he said it’s never a sure thing, but he sure hopes so.

The defense attorney put a document in front of the witness and asked if prosecutors were going to recommend he get a 30-day sentence.

“As I said, I don’t remember anyone discussing this with me,” Bartlett said.

The witness recalled he was looking at 12 months maximum, given his background.

The document was signed by Halstead, the one who prosecuted his case.

The jury was sent out of the room, when Halstead objected.

Crowley told the judge he’d gone to the clerk’s office the day before and gotten a copy of Bartlett’s case documents.

Halstead told the judge it was Bartlett’s attorney’s bad habit to attach a copy of the plea offer sheet to the filing.

“This document was not in discovery,” Crowley told the judge.  “Obviously there is consideration, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

“I’m not going to let this go.”

Centralia lawyer David Arcuri was called as a witness subsequently and testified he had no idea what his client Bartlett told law enforcement about Riffe.

The plea agreement however, was if Bartlett testified truthfully in the Riffe case, Halstead would tell the judge he should get 30 days for bringing drugs into the jail but if he didn’t, Halstead would seek the maximum sentence, according to Arcuri.

The state said they expect to rest on Tuesday. The defense will then begin to call its witnesses and closing arguments could take place, or at least begin, by the end of the week.

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John Crowley looks through case exhibits at the end of the day.

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Maurin murder trial: Internet chat with the suspect

Friday, November 8, 2013 at 9:28 am
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Deb George responds to attorney’s questions about herself and her online relationship with murder suspect Ricky Riffe.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Debra George testified yesterday about online conversations she had with murder defendant Ricky Riffe that over a period of time sometimes included exchanges related to the 1985 Maurin murders.

George, 57, said she had a Facebook account in her and her husband’s name and at some point, Riffe made a friend request meant for his old high school buddy, but he ignored it. A month or so later, she responded and they developed a private long distance email relationship that took place over about a year and a half, according to George.

“What did Rick tell you about sex and dead people? That he used to do that over dead people?” George was asked.

“We talked about different things like that, yeah, but we knew we would never do that,” she replied.

George told the prosecutor Riffe spoke of doing it in graveyards and and such places because nobody could catch him.

Did you tell detective Kimsey that Riffe talked about having sex where the Maurins were killed, she was asked? And what did she say to Kimsey about that?

“I couldn’t tell him much because I didn’t want to be killed,” she said.

George is among the final witnesses for the prosecution in Riffe’s kidnapping, robbery and murder trial that began early last month in Lewis County Superior Court.

Riffe, 55, was arrested and charged last year in the deaths of Ed and Minnie Maurin, the elderly Ethel couple whose bodies were found dumped on a logging road near Adna on Dec. 24, 1985.

The former Mossyrock man who moved to Alaska in the late 1980s chatted with George sometimes daily, according to the woman.

They communicated over Facebook, Gmail and video chat, she said. She testified she deleted all of it.

According to George, she once broached the subject of the homicides with the man she suspected was involved.

“I was telling him a story about some guy talking about a murder back in the 80s,” she said.

Through her testimony and the lawyer’s questions, it appeared she mentioned a name of a local man she’d talked with about it, and Riffe chuckled and said the man was a “snake in the grass.”

She was just very curious, George testified.

“He asked me who they thought did it,” George said.

George spoke of one time simply asking Riffe what happened to the bloody clothes.

He turned off the web cam, but she could still hear him and she thought Riffe was talking to himself, according to George.

Riffe said he said he gave them to someone else to bury by the lake, according to George.

“Do you remember detective Kimsey asking if the clothes were burned?” Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer asked her.

“Yeah, they weren’t. And I was shocked,” George replied.

Do you remember talking to detective Kimsey about Mr. Maurin being struck in the back of the head? she was asked.

“He got hit in the head when he wouldn’t get out of the car,” George said.

George came to the attention of law enforcement because her husband Les George said she’d been communicating with Riffe.

After she attended Riffe’s first court appearance in July of last year, detective Bruce Kimsey asked to interview her.

At times her testimony was confusing, as she repeatedly responded she didn’t recall “at this time.”

She admitted she was afraid of testifying.

Under questioning by defense attorney John Crowley, she acknowledged a head injury that made her forgetful and that she was taking medication for a variety of anxieties.

Crowley queried her about why she only just this week made mention of the injury to Ed Maurin’s head, insinuating it didn’t come from his client.

“Well, how else would I have known that?” George asked.

She denied she followed news of the case or spoke with her sister who had been attending the trial.

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Two of Minnie Maurin’s children, Denny Hadaller and his sister Hazel Oberg, observe proceedings during the Riffe murder trial.

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Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer, left, and detective Bruce Kimsey confer during a court recess.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 9:34 pm

HATCHET ASSAULT SUSPECT ARRESTED IN WYOMING

• The 31-year-old Randle man sought in connection with a hatchet attack last Friday was picked up early yesterday morning at a gas station in Rock Springs, Wyoming, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Robert J. Spradlin allegedly beat an acquaintance with the blunt end of the small axe at a home on the 200 block of Savio Road. The 54-year-old victim suffered several broken ribs, a punctured lung and had defensive wounds on his hands, according to the sheriff’s office. Sgt. Rob Snaza said the prosecutor’s office is working on the extradition process to bring Spradlin back to Lewis County.

TRACTOR MISSING

• A deputy was called yesterday morning to the 200 block of Roundtree Road in Curtis about a red 1984 Massey Ferguson tractor stolen from an open barn area. It happened sometime after 8 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is estimated at $5,000.

OTHER THEFT

• An officer took a report yesterday from the 500 block of South Ash Street in Centralia regarding a gold bracelet stolen approximately two months ago, according to the Centralia Police Department. They have a suspect and are investigating, according to police.

• Centralia police yesterday took a report from the 1300 block of Oxford Avenue about the theft of medications from the mail.

DRUGS

• A 53-year-old Onalaska man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine when he was picked up on a warrant about 2 o’clock this morning at a residence on the 3400 block of state Route 508, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Bill J. Lane was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A 37-year-old Centralia woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and for reportedly providing a false name to law enforcement just after 1 p.m. yesterday, at the 200 block of North Railroad Avenue in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department. Elizabeth I. Stockham was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

POLICE TALK MAN INTO GETTING HELP

• Centralia police responded about 2 p.m. yesterday to the Mellen Street bridge for a distraught male. Officers spoke to the individual who appeared to be confused and upset and persuaded him to accept medical attention, according to the Centralia Police Department.

COLLISION

• A horse and its teenaged rider were uninjured but a vehicle sustained major damage when the horse got spooked and ran from a driveway into the driver’s door of the SUV yesterday afternoon on the 100 block of Carroll Way in Chehalis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, shoplifting; responses for alarm, suspicious circumstances, disputes, collisions … and more.

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Lewis County woman dead after trying to swim away from deputy

Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 30-year-old Packwood area woman is dead after she was pulled from the Black River near Rochester last night, apparently in an attempt to flee the law.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said she and a 34-year-old man were contacted in a vehicle parked with its lights off near the boat launch near School Land Road about 8 p.m.

As the deputy was checking information on her, the driver’s door swung open and she ran toward the river, Sgt. Ray Brady said.

“She jumps into the water and starts swimming away from him,” Brady said.

Firefighters responded about 8:22 p.m. and with the use of thermal imaging equipment spotted the woman floating about a quarter mile downstream, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. It was approximately 9:05 p.m., according to Chief Robert Scott.

Her head was above water, but she was hypothermic and incoherent, Scott said. Responders said she was treated for exposure but then medics had to perform CPR enroute to the hospital.

Brady said she passed away about 2:30 a.m.

The woman had arrest warrants from the state Department of Corrections and related to possession of methamphetamine, according to Brady.

As far as they can tell, that may be the reason she ran, he said.

“It’s really kind of tragic, trying to flee some warrants, and have it end in the death of someone,” Brady said.

The Thurston County Coroner’s Office identifies her as Kristina L. Jorden.

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Missing Tacoma man’s vehicle, and a body found off highway cliff outside Packwood

Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Updated at 8:24 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Skeletal remains discovered east of Packwood have not been identified but they were found near the wreckage of car registered to a Tacoma man who was reported missing last year.

Detectives rappelled 275 feet down an embankment today to examine the find off of U.S. Highway 12 about seven miles west of White Pass, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Two men hiking in the area yesterday afternoon came across the vehicle and the remains over a cliff near the highway, according to the sheriff’s office. Authorities waited until daylight conduct the recovery operation, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said in a news release.

They were assisted by Packwood Search and Rescue members at the scene near milepost 143, according to Brown.

Nothing indicated a crime and investigators believe the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed and left the roadway; the highway has no guard rail in that area, according to Brown.

The remains have not been positively identified, but authorities are  operating under the assumption at this point they belong to the missing man, according to Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod.

McLeod said he’s hopeful he’ll be able to make a confirmation fairly quickly with dental records.

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Maurin murder trial: Suspect is ‘witty’

Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 9:04 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The wife of Ricky Riffe’s high school friend Les George took the witness stand yesterday where she was asked about a long distance email relationship that took place over about a year and a half between herself and the murder defendant.

Debra George tearfully and seemingly reluctantly spoke of sometimes daily conversations over Facebook, Skype and through Gmail.

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Ricky Allen Riffe

“Did Rick ask you if people were talking about the homicides?” Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer asked.

Yes, she said, but they never mentioned the Maurins by name.

Prosecutors have indicated they believe Riffe was keeping tabs on  the Lewis County investigation even as he was thousands of miles away in Alaska.

“Did you save those emails?” she was asked.

“No, he told me not to,” Deb George testified.

She said she thought Riffe didn’t want her husband or anyone else to see them.

Jurors in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday heard that her computer, as well as two computers from the Riffe household in King Salmon were seized and forensically examined a few weeks after a detective last year learned of the exchanges.

As the trial comes to the end of its fifth week, prosecutors continue in their attempts to prove Riffe is responsible for the December 1985 shotgun deaths of Ed and Minnie Maurin, the elderly Ethel couple whose bodies were found dumped off a logging road near Adna.

The now-55-year-old former Mossyrock man was arrested at his home in King Salmon, Alaska last year not long after the other prime suspect – his younger brother – passed away.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective Bruce Kimsey spent his second day on the witness stand yesterday, sharing more of what he learned about the defendant when he flew to Alaska to confront him and subsequently to bring him back to Lewis County.

Riffe told him’d quit drugs cold turkey when he took a job in Alaska and put that part of his life behind him, according to Kimsey.

Kimsey has suggested the suspect’s attitude changed once he knew “the gig was up”, in contrast to the aloof manner he presented during the interrogation.

“It’s totally different,” Kimsey testified. “He’s more open, willing to talk to me. Willing to joke around and show he had a personality.”

After the July 8, 2012 arrest, he found the suspect not only more relaxed but quite witty, he said.

Kimsey spoke of observing Riffe during his court hearing in Anchorage laughing with other inmates, of conversing over lunch at Chili’s and then a fast food stop on their way to the Lewis County Jail.

When they hit Federal Way, they drove through and ordered burgers, according to Kimsey.

Kimsey walked over to a mini mart and brought back Pall Mall filtered cigarettes, apologizing he couldn’t get exactly what Riffe smoked, he said.

“So, he takes the cigarette out, bites off the filter, spits it on the ground and makes a joke to me,” Kimsey said. “Yes, he laughed.”

Kimsey said during the four-plus hour plane ride, he had continued to go through what all the witnesses have said.

“I’m sitting on his left side, detective Riordan on his right,” Kimsey says.

Riffe still had little to say about the case itself.

“He said, I don’t know. I hope justice prevails.”

“I told him, you can save that for your family and friends,” Kimsey recounted.

“He said, ‘well, it doesn’t look good’,” Kimsey said. “I said, ‘it’s bad.’ And he said, ‘yeah, it’s bad’.”

“Did you ask him if he’d worried?” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead asked.

“I’m talking in his left ear,” Kimsey said. “Did you ever think the day would come when police would come knock on your door and arrest you?”

His answer, “Well yeah.”

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

A TWO-FOR

• A 36-year-old Portland man was arrested about 4 p.m. yesterday in Vader driving a stolen vehicle with a stolen pistol under the driver’s seat after a deputy spotted him driving away a place belonging to someone who had asked the sheriff’s office to watch their property near the intersection of state Route 506 and E Street. The deputy thought it was suspicious and made a traffic stop, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The driver, Dominick J. Perry, told the deputy they were lost, according to the sheriff’s office. Cmdr. Steve Aust said a registration check of the 1986 Mazda RX7 showed it was taken from Portland on Sunday, and the Glock 9 mm handgun stolen from someone else two weeks ago. The gun had a 30-round, high capacity loaded magazine and Perry, being a convicted felon, wasn’t supposed to have a gun anyhow, according to the sheriff’s office. A 34-year-old woman who was in the passenger seat was detained, but was released as she was unaware of the stolen items, according to Aust. Perry was booked into the Lewis County Jail for numerous offenses.

WAL-MART PARKING LOT NAP

• Police called just before 9 a.m. yesterday to a report of a person seemingly passed out behind the wheel of a pickup truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot, with a beer in his hand, ended up arresting the 58-year-old Chehalis man. David W. Wesley was cited for being in physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The case is also being referred to prosecutors for other possible charges as the officer located three handguns – two of them loaded – inside the truck, Sgt. Gary Wilson said. Wesley had an expired concealed pistol license, Wilson said, but the guns were not on his person.

SHED THEFTS

• Centralia police took reports yesterday of storage sheds getting broken into at the 400 block of George Anthony Lane, the 2300 block of North Pearl Street and also the 900 block of Harrison Avenue.

LOST AND FOUND

• An unspecified piece of jewelry was turned into the Chehalis Police Department yesterday after being found on the ground off Louisiana Avenue, according to police.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, violation of restraining order, shoplifting; responses for suspicious circumstances, received counterfeit money, collisions; complaint of a man sleeping inside a clothing drop off box in a parking lot … and more.

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Maurin murder trial: The arrest

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 9:02 am
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Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective Bruce Kimsey speaks to the jury about murder suspect Ricky A. Riffe.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It was the fifth or sixth trip detective Bruce Kimsey had made to Alaska as he reinvestigated the December 1985 slaying of the elderly Ethel couple.

Over the previous seven years, Kimsey had scoured thousands and thousands of pages contained in the roughly 20 binders on the murder case at the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

He’d reinterviewed witnesses, managed to make sure every piece of evidence was tested for DNA and he was ready to learn what the only living prime suspect would talk about.

Kimsey had learned former Mossyrock area brothers Ricky and John Gregory Riffe moved to Alaska sometime in the late 1980s.

Just days before, Kimsey learned John Gregory had died. The detective was ready to arrest Ricky.

It was July 8, 2012 and Kimsey, along with a team that included a deputy to cover his back, a prosecutor and a private investigator, had arrived in Alaska two days earlier. They flew to Bristol Bay and checked into Antler’s Inn, the only motel in the town of King Salmon.

As they ordered a late lunch, they realized their waitress was the longtime live-in girlfriend of their suspect so they decided to make their visit then, wanting to catch him home alone.

“I don’t remember a  road sign or a mailbox that said 15 Wolverine Drive,” Kimsey testified.

He described driving a Dodge Caravan on a gravel road toward the neighboring town, where Alaska State Trooper William Gifford knocked on the door of Riffe’s two-story-type home.

“I hear a male say, ‘Who the f*** is it?” Kimsey said.

Gifford identified himself through the door.

“Rick comes down, opens the door and says ‘come inside, I don’t want to let the mosquitoes in’.”

Detective Kimsey took the witness stand yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court as the fourth week of the murder trial opened.

Riffe, 55, is charged with burglary, kidnapping, robbery and murder of Ed and Minnie Maurin, whose bodies were found on Dec. 24, 1985 dumped on a logging road near Adna, with shotgun wounds in their backs five days after they went missing from their home.

Kimsey said he told the suspect they were there to follow up on the murder of Ed and Minnie Maurin.

“He said, who?” Kimsey testified.

Kimsey reminded him it was the same case he’d been interviewed by police about in 1992.

“He said, ‘oh, okay’,” Kimsey said.

Kimsey was inside the home with Gifford and private investigator Chris Peterson. They made small talk, Riffe mentioning he had COPD as he was breathing though an oxygen hose, according to Kimsey. And smoking at the same time, he said.

Riffe’s responses were short, as he was confronted with what various witnesses had offered connecting him to the crimes, according to Kimsey.

The detective said he told him that Jason Shriver had seen him and his brother inside the Maurin’s car with the elderly couple.

And he just responded with “I don’t know what you want me to say’,” according to Kimsey.

Nearly all of Rife’s answers to various questions included I don’t recall, I don’t know, a shoulder shrug or I don’t have anything to add to that, Kimsey testified.

Right in the middle of the relatively serious interview, the phone rang, and to Kimsey’s surprise, Riffe got up and went to answer it, Kimsey recounted.

The detective mimicked a gruff voice on his end of the call offering one and two word responses; it became apparent the suspect must be talking to his girlfriend, he said.

“He got off the phone and said, ‘I just ordered chicken wings’,” Kimsey testified.

Kimsey said Riffe remained well-controlled and matter-of-fact. He described his demeanor as kind of “flat line.”

“Every time I would ask him a question, he would drag on his cigarette and answer me while exhaling,” he said.

But, Kimsey testified, at the same time, he could detect a vein on his neck throbbing.

“My impression, he’s screaming on the inside,” Kimsey said.

Kimsey was asked what he observed as Gifford told him he was under arrest and what for.

“All he said is I’m gonna need my medication and my cigarettes,” Kimsey said. “His shoulders went down; it looked like it relaxed him, to me.”

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead asked about the trip to the Bristol Bay Jail Jail

“He appeared to be calm,” Kimsey testified. “He, it appeared, like, the fight was over.”

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Ricky A. Riffe, far right, and his defense attorney listen to Kimsey’s testimony in Lewis County Superior Court.

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Read about former Chehalis doctor on trial for wife’s death …

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Former Valley View Medical Center director Dr. Martin J. MacNeill is on trial for murder in Provo, Utah.

The (Provo, Utah) Daily Herald reports prosecutors allege MacNeill in 2007 gave his wife Michele a deadly cocktail of drugs in order to purse a love affair with a woman named  Gypsy Willis while defense attorneys say the wife who was found in a bathtub died from a heart condition.

MacNeill worked at the Chehalis medical clinic for just three months when he was arrested in January 2009 on separate federal charges related to identity theft.

Read the latest coverage on the homicide case, here

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It’s election day; have you voted?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Who will be in charge of the fire department where you live?

Half of the fire districts in Lewis County have contested races on the ballot for the position of fire commissioner.

Lewis County has 18 fire districts, the majority of which are run by a three-member board of commissioners.

Ballots for the general election must be postmarked by today or returned to the Lewis County Auditor’s Office before 8 p.m.

See election results here beginning shortly after 8 o’clock tonight.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 9:59 am

Updated at 6:55 p.m.

BURGLARY CHEHALIS

• Someone broke into a home on the 500 block of Coal Creek Road and left with more than $4,000 worth of valuables including a men’s Bolivia gold and diamond watch, a black Washburn acoustic guitar with pearl inlay, a gold melting torch and a MacBook Pro laptop computer, according to a report made yesterday to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It happened sometime between Friday and Sunday, Sgt. Rob Snaza said.

BREAK-IN CENTRALIA

• A 39-year-old Centralia woman called police last night to report someone broke into her home and stole her mason jar full of marijuana. Officers responding about 6 p.m. to the 1400 block of Windsor Avenue learned that three containers of prescription medications were also missing. The woman said when she left, her door was locked and when she returned home it was also locked, according to the Centralia Police Department. Under the new law, if a person is 21 or older, they may possess marijuana in their home and may report it stolen if that happens, Officer John Panco said. The case is under investigation, according to police. There was no dollar amount listed in the report for her loss, according to Panco.

DRUGS

• A 26-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested in connection with an ongoing drug investigation yesterday afternoon when deputies made a traffic stop on the 200 block of Maurin Road in Chehalis. It happened just before 4 p.m. and Kari N. Driver was booked into the Lewis County Jail in connection with alleged delivery of methamphetamine, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Three others were arrested as well, Sgt. Rob Snaza said. “Basically we had been looking for her and she was in the vehicle with all the others,” Snaza said. Snaza said Calvin C. Buhl, 24, of Centralia, was arrested for driving with a suspended license; Hailey E. Athay, 22, Chehalis, was arrested for a warrant and Joshua S. Jacobs, 34, Oakville, was also arrested for a warrant.

HIT AND RUN

• Three males were seen running from a mini van after it crashed into a parked car about 11 p.m. last night at the 200 block of West Cherry Street in Centralia, but court papers left behind are believed to belong to one of them, according to the Centralia Police Department. The incident is under investigation, according to police.

WRECK

• A 46-year-old Kelso man was cited for negligent driving when he reportedly drove into a lane closed for construction on Interstate 5 in Centralia last night and then merged back in striking a Chevrolet Trailblazer. The Washington State Patrol reports both vehicles were damaged, nobody was injured but the 24-year-old driver of the SUV was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital for an unspecified reason. She was treated and has been released, according to the hospital. It happened northbound near the Mellen Street interchange, according to the state patrol. The Hyundai Accent driven by Paul P. Ticknor was able to be driven away from the scene, according to the investigating trooper.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assaults; responses for alarms, graffiti, shoplifting, collisions, disputes; concerns about intoxicated man stumbling into traffic, camo-wearing man with a long gun standing on a sidewalk which turned out to be a local guy who may have been carrying a walking stick; complaints about barking dog … and more.

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News brief: Name released of elk hunter killed by falling tree top

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 8:54 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The hunter who was killed over the weekend when part of a tree fell onto his tent outside Packwood is identified as Joseph R. Gardner, 69, of Kirkland.

An autopsy found Gardner died from multiple internal injuries, stemming from blunt force trauma to his chest and head, according to Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office responded about 3 p.m. on Saturday to the hunting camp at the Cortright Creek Trailhead where a 20-foot length of tree had dropped approximately 100 feet onto the man.

KING5.com talked to Gardner’s brother who said the two went hunting in that same spot nearly every year since they were boys growing up in Randle but he’d never seen the wind like it was that day.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, November 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Updated at 6:36 p.m.

MISSING HUNTER LOCATED

• A 38-year-old Morton man who was hunting and hadn’t been seen since early Saturday morning was found yesterday with mild hypothermia and an injured hip, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said local search and rescue personnel learned shortly after 8:15 a.m. yesterday that searchers from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office were looking for the missing man south of Walupt Lake off the 405 Road in Yakima County. He had last been seen about 6 a.m. on Saturday, according to Brown. He eventually made it to a road where he was found by two individuals; the sheriff’s office was notified about 5 p.m., according to Brown. The hunter apparently was following an elk near a place called the Weed Patch and ended up on the Yakama Reservation in the Two Lakes area, Brown said.

VIOLENCE  IN CENTRALIA

• Deputies called about 5:20 p.m. yesterday to a report of a man pointing a 12-inch chef’s knife into his step-father’s back ended up arresting 26-year-old Christopher J. Draskovich of Centralia.  The unprovoked assault occurred in the kitchen of a home on the 600 block of State Street in Centralia, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The suspect’s family told the sheriff’s office Draskovich had been making threats to kill them over the previous two days, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. When deputies arrived, Draskovich was standing in the street saying his family was trying to kill him, Brown said. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree assault, according to the sheriff’s office.

VIOLENCE IN PACKWOOD

• A 24-year-old Packwood man was arrested for assault in connection with an incident a week ago in which he allegedly left a 42-year-old Packwood man limping and sporting two black eyes, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning. A deputy called to the 100 block of Alta Lane on Oct. 27 noted the incident at the victim’s residence was related to jealousy issues regarding the suspect’s wife, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The victim had a red marks on his back and his forehead, according to Brown. Zakary T. Porter was found at his home and arrested on Friday for third-degree assault and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

VEHICLE THEFT

• Chehalis police took a report yesterday of a red Suzuki Sidekick stolen from in front of its owner’s residence at the 100 block of  Southwest Fourth Street in Chehalis. The Jeepish-type vehicle was there at about 10 p.m. the night before, but by 11 a.m. it had vanished, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The owner said it had been locked and the owner had the keys, according to police. It has a license plate reading ANS 2904, according to police.

BREAK-IN

• Centralia police were called about 8:20 p.m. on Saturday regarding a residential burglary at the 900 block of South Tower Avenue. Missing is costume jewelry, according to the Centralia Police Department.

STOLEN SPRAY PAINT

• Two teenagers were arrested yesterday after allegedly stealing spray paint from a backyard on the 1400 block of Oxford Avenue in Centralia and using it on a vehicle. Brandon L. Jones, 18, of Centralia, and a 16-year-old boy were arrested for second-degree burglary following the approximately 3 p.m. incident, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• A 44-year-old Centralia man who was allegedly caught going through a vehicle by its owner was arrested on Friday evening  according to police. An officer called just before 7 p.m. to the 1300 block of Logan Street cited Richard B. Paddock for vehicle prowl and then released him, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 21-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, giving false information to an officer and warrants on Friday night. Devon E. Hall was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact about 8:20 p.m. with an officer at the 100 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

GUN CRIME

• An 18-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for felon in possession of a firearm on Friday morning at the 1100 block of Long Road in Centralia. Kyle A. Long was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

INDECENT EXPOSURE

• A 46-year-old Chehalis man was taken home by an officer to get him out of public after he allegedly urinated in an alley behind someone’s home and was seen through their window. It was about 4:30 p.m. on Friday in the area of Cascade Avenue, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Sgt. Gary Wilson said Brian Ota was somewhat intoxicated and was cited and then released.

SLEEPING BEHIND THE WHEEL

• Deputies called about 7 p.m. on Friday to a report of two unresponsive subjects inside a car with its motor running in the parking lot of the Salkum Library ended up arrested the driver who was reportedly intoxicated. The pair at the 2400 block of U.S. Highway 12 were woken up and Jeffrey D. Swett was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

WRECKS

• An 18-year-old motorist was hospitalized with minor injuries after her vehicle landed on its top partially submerged in a creek on the 800 block of North Gold Street in Centralia on Saturday evening. Centralia police say the young woman crawled out and walked to a friend’s house. She was subsequently cited for driving without a license and other infractions, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 27-year-old Rochester man was arrested for driving under the influence after he lost control of his vehicle and struck two fences in the area of B Street in Centralia on Friday. Jeremiah R. Reed was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, protection order violation, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarms, collisions, shoplifting, stolen bicycles, disorderly person, suspicious circumstances, possible scam phone call, investigating a report of sexual assault; concerns about kitten stuck in blackberry bushes, sick possum in a yard … and more.

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News brief: Randle man assaulted with hatchet, suspect at large

Monday, November 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Deputies are looking for a man who allegedly attacked an acquaintance with a hatchet during an argument in Randle on Friday evening.

The 31-year-old Randle man reportedly then used the small axe to smash out the rear window of the victim’s vehicle, which he subsequently stole.

The sheriff’s office believes Robert J. Spradlin, 31, may be in the company of his girlfriend, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning.

Deputies called about 7 p.m. to the 200 block of Savio Road were told that Spradlin and the 54-year-old man were arguing when the suspect picked up the hatchet and started swinging it, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He then allegedly used its blunt end to strike the man repeatedly in the back and ribs, Brown said.

The victim escaped by hiding; Spradlin fled into the woods, Brown said.

The victim was transported to Morton General Hospital, but then transferred to a hospital in Vancouver as his injuries were worse than initially thought, according to Brown.

Brown said Spradlin returned later to Savio Road, threatened his parents, stole the keys and then took off in the victim’s vehicle. Brown said she didn’t yet know the model or make of the vehicle.

The sheriff’s office asks anyone who knows his whereabouts to immediately call 748-9286.

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News brief: Falling tree top kills hunter near Packwood

Monday, November 4, 2013 at 9:28 am
2013.1104.treelimbkillsDSCN1094.jpg

Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A hunter is dead after the top of an old growth tree snapped off and dropped about 100 feet onto a tent east of Packwood over the weekend.

The 20-foot length missed one of his companions by inches, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies called about 3 p.m. on Saturday to the elk hunting camp say the victim is a 69-year-old man from Kirkland.

It happened at the Cortright Creek Trailhead off Forest Service Road 45 several miles northeast of Packwood, according to the sheriff’s office.

The two had just returned to the tent after the morning hunt when the incident occurred about 2:30 p.m., Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

The man’s hunting partner was able to crawl through the debris to locate the victim who had been struck in the head; CPR was attempted but unsuccessful, Brown said.

2013.1104.treetopmissingDSCN1093

Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.