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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, February 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm

BOMB ON BUS A JOKE, BUT NOT SO FUNNY TO DEPUTIES

• A 16-year-old girl was arrested on Friday for allegedly making a bomb threat on a Rochester school bus. Thurston County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called about 3:45 p.m. to 191st and Elderberry Street Southwest where the drive had pulled over with some 38 students on the bus, according to sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin. They pulled the student off the bus and concluded it was her intent to just pull a prank, Elwin said. She reportedly had said, “Everybody scream there’s a bomb.” She was taken to the Thurston County juvenile Detention facility and booked for a felony, according to Elwin.

LOTS OF THEFTS

• An approximately one ton piece of equipment vanished sometime overnight from the 100 block of North Pearl Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Saturday morning. The Centralia Police Department described it as a hydraulic “thumb” from an excavator. it appeared somebody hooked up to it, drug it into an alley, loaded it onto a vehicle and hauled it away, according to police. The steel item has the numbers 33003T welded onto its side, according to police.

• A deputy was called Saturday night to a burglary at the 2500 block of Seminary Hill Road in Centralia where somebody had stolen cash from a locked safe and other items, including a bottle of Valium and a box syringes totaling more than $16,000, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It happened sometime between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. that night, the sheriff’s office reported.

• Somebody stole an upright freezer, a Kenmore front-loading washer and dryer, a Craftsman tool chest containing tools, a chainsaw and other items from a barn on the 700 block of Coal Creek Road in Chehalis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The report made Friday indicated the burglary occurred sometime between Wednesday and Friday, the sheriff’s office reported.

• Centralia police were called just before midnight on Friday to a business on the 100 block of High Street where somebody broke in and stole several jackets.

• Centralia police were called Friday about a theft from a residence on the 1000 block of L Street. Details were not readily available.

• A deputy was Sunday morning to the 100 block of Bunker Road west of Centralia where somebody had broken into a cabin and also stolen wiring from a bulldozer, a dump truck and a generator. Also, batteries and two bikes were missing. The loss was estimated at $2,600.

• A Salkum resident reported on Saturday he purchased a chainsaw the day before for $300 and then suspected it might have been stolen and it was, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Kly L. Thompson, 23, of Mossyrock, was subsequently arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for trafficking in stolen property and possession of stolen property, according to the sheriff’s office. Thompson admitted taking the chainsaw from a friend on the 300 block of Winston Creek Road, the sheriff’s office reported.

• A deputy was called Saturday to the 100 block of Avery Road West outside Chehalis where a Hewlett Packard laptop computer had been stolen. A 19-year-old Winlock resident, Rodney S. Creech, was subsequently arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree theft, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A 46-year-old Centralia woman was arrested with a stolen ATM card in her purse after deputies contacted her in connection with a card stolen from another Centralia woman, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported today. The report was made Friday that the card had been taken sometime in the previous two days, according to the sheriff’s office. A deputy learned from the bank the card had been used 22 times, including at the Lucky Eagle Casino, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. Photos from the casino led a deputy to Lorrie A. Landry who was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree theft, Brown said.

• A white 1992 Mazda pickup was stolen sometime between Wednesday and Friday from where it had been parked at a store on the 700 block of Leonard Road in Onalaska, according to a report made to the  Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is estimated at $2,000.

A green 1991 Honda Accord was stolen from the parking lot on the 600 block of Centralia College Boulevard sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Friday, according to police. Its license plate reads 089 ZCS.

• A blue 1991 Chevrolet S-10 pickup was reported stolen from the 400 block of South Iron Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Friday. Its license plate rads A63038V.

• Chehalis police were called Friday night to the parking lot at Wal-Mart where an individual reported he returned to his car after being gone for about an hour and discovered someone had stolen $250 cash and a quarter ounce of medical marijuana from his locked vehicle, which was still locked when he returned. Chehalis police detective Sgt. Rick McNamara said that was a first, for a prowler being nice enough to re-lock a vehicle after prowling it.

• Centralia police took a report on Friday from the 1300 block of Alexander Street about about a vehicle being prowled twice over the previous month. A stereo was stolen, according to the centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Centralia police were called last nigh to the 400 block of South Diamond Street where someone had smashed a potted plant against a collector vehicle.

• Chehalis police were called Saturday morning to Washington and Park Street about the back window of a vehicle being smashed out.

• Centralia police were called about two slashed tires at the 2800 block of Russell Road on Saturday that had occurred overnight.

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St. Helens quake shakes east end

Monday, February 14, 2011 at 11:43 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

This was updated at 12:25 p.m.

A 4.3 magnitude earthquake this morning near Mount St. Helens was felt in Morton, Mossyrock and Randle, but no damage has been reported.

Sgt. Ross McDowell, of Lewis County Emergency Management, said the 10:35 a.m. quake was shallow, only about three miles deep.

The earthquake was six miles northwest of the volcano and 19 miles south of Morton, according to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

McDowell said its in the same area where two weeks ago more than a dozen small earthquakes were felt.

This morning’s shaking was followed about two minutes later by a 2.5 micro-quake. And one more of 2.3 magnitude at 11:35 a.m.

McDowell said his office received about a dozen calls from people who said they felt it.

By contrast, the quake on Nov. 16 near Mossyrock was about nine miles below the surface and initially recorded at 3.5 and upgraded to 4.2. It made the list of notable Pacific Northwest earthquakes since 1993, compiled by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

McDowell said people should remember we live in an earthquake zone and they should be prepared, because there is little or no notification for earthquakes.

Washington state typically experiences over 1,000 earthquakes each month, according to Lewis County Emergency Management. Of these, approximately two dozen a year are large enough to be felt.

Usually the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network offers preliminary data and adjustments are made during the following 48 hours or so as they gather information.

The public can follow the earthquake data at the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network’s website.

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Morton, Winlock, pitch sites for new state prison

Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 8:47 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A site selection team for a new 1000-bed prison facility visited Morton and Winlock last week, looking at multiple properties in the two communities, both of which invited the state Department of Corrections to consider them.

“Jobs, that’s what prompted this,” said Pat Hart, a retired Morton business man who helped bring prison officials to the East Lewis County town. “That is what we need, jobs. It’s bad out here; unemployment is pushing 25 percent.”

DOC plans to construct a what it calls a new male reception center in Western Washington. It’s the place offenders go first, to be evaluated for physical, mental health, security and other needs and to determine the particular prison where they will serve their time, according to DOC.

The Washington Corrections Center in Shelton serves that purpose now, but prison authorities want to return it to its original role as a multi-custody prison and increase the number of beds in the system.

At the end of 2010, state prisons housed some 16,000 inmates spread out through 13 facilities, according to DOC.

Prison authorities say the construction of a facility specifically sited and designed for intake management purposes will increase efficiencies and result in lower construction costs as DOC expands to meet expected future capacity needs.

Interested communities had a Jan. 6 deadline to submit their proposals. The team has 16 sites to look over. Proposals came from as far north as Snohomish County, as far west as Raymond and south to Castle Rock. Grand Mound is also among them.

Hart, who toured with the team and others on Tuesday, said they looked at one site off state Route 7 just north of town owned by the state Department of Natural Resources and another owned by Hampton east off of Priest Road.

He thought the visit went well and that Morton would make a good place for the center.

“For one, the city is seriously for it, they want it,” Hart said.

Also, having Morton General Hospital right there is something other communities can’t offer, he said.

And it would be very good for Morton as well, he said, noting it could bring an estimated 300 corrections officer jobs, with their family-wage pay.

On Wednesday, the team visited Winlock to view two properties in the town’s urban growth area and another south off of Knowles Road, according to Mayor Glen Cook.

It’s not so much the jobs that make the center attractive to Cook, as they would be slow in moving into the area, Cook said.

The reception center would be a very good utility customer and could be an anchor in a future industrial park, he said.

The mayor thinks the community has a good shot at getting the Department of Corrections to choose them.

“I have a positive feeling on it,” he said.

Hart said they were told the site selection team was about halfway finished with its touring and hopes to narrow the field to three by the end of March.

The team is looking for 40 to 50 acres available for purchase and development with utilities available or planned and less than a 30 minute drive to Interstate 5 or I-90, as well as nearness to police, fire and emergency services which are willing to respond and within a reasonable distance to a shooting range, according to its criteria.

The state legislature last year approved funding to find a location and for pre-design costs but have not yet approved funds to build the new facility, according to DOC.

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Proposals for sites for a new prison came from as far south as Castle Rock and as far north as Snohomish County.

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Randle murder defendant free on bail

Friday, February 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm
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Erik R. Massa, center, waits for court to begin with his lawyers, Chris Baum, left and Joe Mano.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter


CHEHALIS – Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher asked a judge today to set bail in the Randle murder case at $25,000 unsecured, but with 10 percent of that posted with the court.

The defendant, forty-three-year-old Erik R. Massa of Randle, was accompanied by two lawyers in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon who agreed with the recommendation.

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Guy LaFontaine

Massa is charged with second-degree murder in the March death of Guy W. LaFontaine, 58, of Federal Way. The two men are related by marriage.

Massa, a taxidermist, was arrested last March 14 after LaFontaine died from  blunt force injuries to his head, torso and extremities and Lewis County sheriff’s detectives found evidence including a broken shotgun with blood on it in an empty silo next to Massa’s shop. He was released from jail three days later, with prosecutors telling a judge they did not yet have enough evidence to charge him.

Meagher charged Massa last week with first-degree assault, but on Monday upgraded the charge.

Six of LaFontaine’s family members and a former co-worker from Todd Shipyards in Seattle were in the Chehalis courtroom for this afternoon’s proceedings.

Meagher told the judge he was confident about the bail arrangement since Massa has no criminal history and owns a home here. He asked the judge to limit Massa’s travel to Lewis County.

Chehalis attorneys Joe Mano and Chris Baum are representing him.

Baum said his client has already surrendered all his firearms to Mano.

Judge Richard Brosey agreed with the bail arrangement.

Charging documents describe a night in which LaFontaine – who had gone to Randle to go fishing – called his wife and said he had been beat up and he thought he was going to die.

According to the documents: His wife Gail picked him up and took him to Morton General Hospital where they found both his eye sockets were broken and he had a broken arm.

At 3:45 a.m., the hospital advised a sheriff’s deputy they released LaFontaine because they couldn’t keep him in his bed.

LaFontaine’s wife took him to St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way where he was pronounced dead.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled LaFontaine’s death a homicide.

Massa’s arraignment was scheduled for Feb. 24.

Massa is one of six people charged in Lewis County with murder for homicides that occurred during 2010. His is the only second-degree murder case.

The others are:

• Ronald A. Brady, 60, is charged with first-degree murder for the April 19 shooting death in Onalaska of Thomas McKenzie, 56. Also, first-degree assault. Bail: $50,000 unsecured bond

• Richard Joseph Frank Roth, 65, is charged with first degree murder for the Nov. 4 shooting death in Winlock of Jackie Marie Lawyer, 64. Bail: $500,000

• Jack A. Silverthorne, 20, is charged with first-degree murder for the death of Austin King, 16, whose body was found in Morton on July 20. Bail: $2 million

• Ryan J. McCarthy, 29, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the Aug. 21 shooting deaths in the Salkum-Onalaska area of David West Sr., 52, David West Jr., 16, and Tony Williams, 50. Also extortion. Bail: $2 million

• John A. Booth Jr., 31 is charged in the same deaths as McCarthy but with aggravated first-degree murder for West Jr. and Williams and attempted first-degree murder of Denise Salts. Also extortion. Bail: $10 million
•••

Read previous story on Massa and LaFontaine here

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Bus driver apparently “passed out” and crashed into building once before

Friday, February 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A video camera aboard the Twin Transit bus that drove into a Chehalis house this week shows the driver “wasn’t really coherent” after he started to make a left turn and until he ran into the house, police say.

Seventy-year-old Federico J. Mestaz was put on administrative leave while the collision is being investigated.

Police called Wednesday morning when the mid-sized bus plowed through a fence and yard before striking the home suspected the cause was related to some sort of medical issue.

Chehalis Police Department detective Sgt. Rick McNamara indicated this morning the videotape bolsters that theory.

Twin Transit General Manager Ernie Graichen would not release the driver’s name but said bus driver Fred Mestaz crashed into a light pole and awning of a bank on Pearl Street in Centralia in October of 2004.

Grachien would not confirm it was the same bus driver.

In the 2004 incident, Mestaz apparently passed out before running into the Bank of America, according to Grachien.

He returned to work after six months and an extensive medical evaluation, Grachien said.

Nobody was hurt in this week’s accident at the corner of Southwest 13th Street and Southwest McFadden Avenue, but a 66-year-old woman inside the home escaped likely serious injury only because she’d left her bed to sleep upstairs with a colicky grandchild, according to her family.

Grachien said on Wednesday the driver who hit the house was a 15-veteran with an “excellent record.”

All of Twin Transit’s 14 busses have video cameras inside which show multiple views, according to Graichen.

This morning, Sgt. McNamara watched the video and said it shows the driver “slump” a little to the left as his left arm relaxes and that hand drops off the steering wheel and becomes limp. His right hand was still on the wheel but the bus continues into the house, McNamara said.

Just before that, he has a coffee cup in his hand which he puts down and starts coughing, according to McNamara. He didn’t know if the coughing was related to the moments in which he appeared “incoherent.”

Grachien said he couldn’t answer if the driver would be let go, as the circumstances are still being investigated. In 2004, he didn’t have sufficient grounds to dismiss the driver, he said.

McNamara said he doesn’t expect Mestaz will be cited for the collision.

The bus company and its insurer – Washington State Transportation Insurance Pool – are conducting an investigation.

Graichen said he understands the insurer is getting estimates to repair the home and will take care of that.

The dollar amount to fix the 15-seat bus is not yet available, he said.

•••

Read Wednesday’s story “Chehalis bus versus house collision a mystery” here

•••

KIROtv.com posted video from inside the bus. See it here

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Sabrina Kostick snapped this photo with her phone of the bus and house at the corner of Southwest 13th Street and Southwest McFadden Avenue in Chehalis.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, February 11, 2011 at 9:56 am

COUNTERFEIT BILLS TO PAY UTILITY BILL

• An individual attempting to pay their utility bill in Centralia with three phony $20 bills was questioned yesterday by police. The Centralia Police Department reports the person was released after an officer concluded they did not know the money was counterfeit.

STOLEN HONDA

• A 1992 Honda Accord reported stolen from the 200 block of West Hanson Street in Centralia yesterday morning was later found with the wheels, tires and stereo missing at the 200 block of Jones Road, according to the Centralia Police Department.

PILLS PILFERED

• Centralia police took a report of the theft of medication from a home on the 500 block of West Fourth Street yesterday evening.

• An officer took a report yesterday afternoon of the theft of medication from a vehicle on the 1600 block of South Gold Street in Centralia.

STOLEN FIREARM FOUND

• Centralia police report a stolen gun was recovered yesterday after a pawn shop on the 800 block of West Main Street discovered and reported they had a stolen weapon. Sgt. Stacy Denham said it is a firearm that has apparently been stolen multiple times. An investigation is ongoing.

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Frost Road Trailer Park homicide: Lawyers still waiting for defendant’s mental health evaluation

Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Attorneys continue to wait for a report from Western State Hospital to find if 65-year-old Richard Joseph Frank Roth is competent to stand trial for first-degree murder in the November fatal shooting of his trailer park neighbor.

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Jackie Marie Lawyer

Roth was arrested and subsequently charged in the Nov. 4 death of 64-year-old Jackie Marie Lawyer in Winlock.

Prosecutor’s alleged Roth retrieved a handgun from his property and confronted Lawyer near the trailer park mailboxes after an argument between the two about him “snitching” on her for her dumping wood stove ashes in the woods.

A trial date has not been set because, at the request of his attorney Mike Underwood, Roth was sent first to the state mental hospital to be evaluated. Underwood said at the time it was his standard protocol for a case of this seriousness.

Roth is back in the Lewis County Jail, but was not brought to the courtroom today for a scheduled review hearing.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher told the judge the report was being typed up as he spoke and asked that they reconvene next Thursday on the matter.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 10:11 am

TRUCK RUNS OVER FARM PLOWS

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office will be tracking down the driver of an 18-wheeler who left the scene after damaging two antique ornamental farm plows as it tried to turn around in a Chehalis driveway last night. The big rig, belonging to Swift Trucking, also drove across landscaping at the 100 block of Taylor Road, according to Chief Deputy Stacy Brown.

MOTORCYCLE STOLEN

• Centralia police took a report yesterday evening that a 50cc Honda motorcycle went missing from the 2400 block of Seward Avenue sometime since Sunday.

VANDALISM

• Centralia police were told yesterday a building on the 1100 block of West First Street had been “egged”.

IGNORE SCAM EMAIL FROM “FBI” AGENT, SHERIFF’S OFFICE SAYS

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office this week said it is beginning to get a few citizen reports of receiving emails which Chief Stacy Brown calls the “Agent John Edwards FBI scam”. Brown is hoping to get the word out to prevent any recipients from being victimized. A copy of one of them, in a sample Brown distributed to the news media, reads in part: “Urgent attention: beneficiary” The attachment, purportedly from an FBI agent, describes trunks confiscated at JFK Airport in New York which contain $4.1 million and a document “which bears your name as the receiver of the money …” The message continues that the sender will assist in procuring a necessary certificate in order for you to avoid being arrested, interrogated and prosecuted for evading the taxes. Brown calls the people behind the email “yahoos”.

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Benefit concert will help Lewis County Chaplaincy Services

Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 8:00 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The volunteer chaplains who respond to assist in traumatic events around Lewis County need new pagers and jackets.

Kevin Curfman, president of Lewis County Chaplaincy Services, said they secured those items years ago through a grant and since, have basically been funded by donations from churches and businesses.

2011.0205.chaplain.benefitA benefit concert for the group featuring the Voetberg Family of stringed instrument musicians is set for the evening of Saturday Feb. 19.

The chaplaincy services started in 1989 to respond with police, firefighters and the coroner’s office to support family members and emergency workers, according to Curfman.

The 16 men and women are trained to, for example, be with the family of a cardiac arrest victim or at a house fire and explain what’s going on. They help put those in need in touch with the Red Cross.

“If a spouse needs a ride to the hospital, they can do that,” Curfman said. “Basically, they’re just there to support the family.”

They do the majority of death notifications with the Lewis County Coroner’s Office.

The fundraising event will be held at 6 p.m. at Bethel Church of the Assemblies of God, just east of Interstate 5 at exit 72 in Napavine. There’s no admission fee, but donations will be accepted.

Proceeds will benefit the group with needed equipment and ongoing expenses.

Curfman says more information can be found on the organization’s web site or their Facebook page.

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Read about Castle Rock examined as potential prison facility site …

Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 7:17 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Longview) Daily News reports a site selection team for a new 1000-bed prison facility visited Castle Rock yesterday as they consider various locations.

News reporter Barbara LaBoe writes state prison officials hope to narrow 16 sites down to three finalist next month.

Other properties under consideration are in Winlock, Morton and Grand Mound, according to LaBoe.

The team visited also visited Winlock yesterday, looking at what amounts to three sites, according to Mayor Glen Cook.

The team visited Morton on Tuesday and toured two sites.

Read LaBoe’s story here

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Chehalis bus versus house collision a mystery

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm
2011.0209.bus.v.house

Sabrina Kostick snapped this photo with her phone this morning of the bus and house at the corner of Southwest 13th Street and Southwest McFadden Avenue in Chehalis.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

This was updated at 7 p.m.

CHEHALIS – Police say they don’t know what caused a Twin Transit bus to crash into a Chehalis house this morning.

No passengers were onboard and nobody was injured, but the bus and the home sustained significant damage, according to authorities.

However, it was a close call for Mei Liu, who had gotten up very early and gone upstairs to stay up with her colicky grandchild, according to a family friend. Her bed is in the downstairs corner that was struck, he said.

“Luckily she wasn’t sleeping in her bed, she would have been under all that debris,” Matt Howard said.

Aid and police called at about 7:30 a.m. to Southwest 13th Street near William Avenue said the bus had been traveling eastward. It plowed through a fence and the yard before striking the split-level home.

Chehalis Police Department detective Sgt. Rick McNamara said initial indications are it was probably a medical issue with the driver and not anything mechanical with the vehicle.

“He said he was turning left and the next thing he knows is he was hitting the house,” McNamara said. “Something happened. He can’t explain it and we can’t explain it.”

Brickwork was knocked off the building and the wall pushed in, a little bit, McNamara said.

Twin Transit General Manager Ernie Graichen said the driver is a 15-veteran with an “excellent record.”

The driver was checked out and appeared to be fine, Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Kevin Curfman said.

However, he was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital to be checked out and for a post-accident drug test, according to Graichen. The driver’s name was not released.

Forty-four-year-old Hieu Duong said he was brushing his teeth when he felt a jolt.

“Suddenly the house moved, like somebody put a bomb outside,” he said.

It scared his children, he said, but the main thing is no one was injured, especially his mother-in-law.

“She’s lucky,” his wife Liu Li said.

“She might not (have made) it,” he said.

The couple, who own the South Pacific Bistro nearby, were expecting a contractor tomorrow to estimate the damage.

The 15-seat bus was towed to a repair facility.

Twin Transit will conduct an investigation, Graichen said.

McNamara said he didn’t know if the driver would be cited.

2011.09.bus.v.house

Plywood now covers the corner of the Hieu Duong and Liu Li's home in Chehalis.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 12:59 pm

STOLEN STUFF

• Centralia police were called yesterday afternoon to Kentucky Fried Chicken where somebody had stolen a caddy for their grease container from behind the building. Officer Chris Fitzgerald said the wheeled cart from the business on the 600 block of West Main Street very well could have seemed like a useful item for one of the many homeless people who go there looking for discarded food.

• A black 1993 Honda Accord was reported stolen from the Wal-Mart parking lot in Chehalis on Monday afternoon, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said the owner said they were in the store on the 1600 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue for about an hour and came out and it was gone. Its license plate reads AAT 1215.

• A deputy was called early Tuesday to a break-in on the 100 block of Carroll Way in Adna, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A door had been forced open.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday a generator was reported stolen from a home under construction on the 100 block of Davis View Drive in Centralia.

• A real estate employee reported a break-in to an unoccupied home for sale on the 2000 block of Bishop Road in Chehalis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Somebody had gone into the attic and cut wiring, according to a report made to the sheriff’s office on Monday morning.

• Deputies called to a temporarily unoccupied residence in Randle discovered two individuals who had loaded a propane tank stolen from the mobile home into a truck on Sunday night. Two women were arrested at the mobile home on the 700 block of Silverbrook Road.

• Somebody stole a stereo from car on the 1100 block of South Pearl Street, according to a report made to Centralia police on Monday morning.

ASSAULT

• A 37-year-old Centralia man was arrested for misdemeanor assault after allegedly slapping another man on the side of the head at the Lewis County Mall on Monday morning. John S. Youngbrandt was arrested for fourth-degree assault after an officer was called about 9:35 a.m. to the shopping center on Northeast Hampe Way, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said they got two different stories. One man told the officer he was just sitting there when a guy came along and slapped him on the head. The other man said he was bugging him for money and he told him to go away, Kaut said.

VANDALISM

• Centralia police were called yesterday afternoon about two tires being slashed on a vehicle at the 3300 block of Fords Prairie Avenue.

DRUGS

• Centralia police arrested a 38-year-old man early yesterday morning for possession of methamphetamine. Calvin C. Reece, a Centralia resident, was booked into the Lewis County Jail after a contact with an officer about 2:40 a.m. near Mellen Street and Marsh Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.

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Rochester drug dealer gets life for Olympia slaying

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm
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Robert J. Maddaus Jr. sits next to his lawyer in Thurston County Superior Court after he is sentenced to life in prison.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

This was updated at 7:08 p.m. and 8:36 p.m.

OLYMPIA – Robert J. Maddaus Jr., 41, of Rochester, was sentenced this afternoon to life in prison without the possibility of release for the first-degree murder of forty-year-old Shaun Allen Peterson.

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Shaun Allen Peterson

Peterson died handcuffed and shot on an Olympia street early on Nov. 16, 2009.

It was a third strike for Maddaus.

Peterson’s 12-year-old son Joshua was among those who addressed the judge.

“He may not have been the best dad, but he was mine,” Joshua said.

Peterson, a father of two who lived in Tumwater before he died, was a drug dealer who was supplied by Maddaus.

Maddaus’s sentencing in Thurston County Superior Court followed his conviction by a jury last week of murder and numerous other charges related to a weekend of threats as he tried to recover cash and pounds of methamphetamine stolen from his Rochester trailer home.

Witnesses said Maddaus forced Peterson at gunpoint at the Lacey Fred Meyer to put on the handcuffs and then took him another drug dealer’s apartment on Capitol Way Southeast.

Peterson’s mother, Judy Peterson, told the judge her son loved the outdoors, wrote poetry and often teased people.

“He tried several times to get out of the drug world and helped others get out of the drug world,” she said. “He had the biggest heart.”

Peterson’s sister Gaylin Johnson said there were no words to make sense of the tragedy Maddaus brought on.

“He’s an arrogant, disrespectful, heartless human being,” Johnson said.

“Shaun’s death was no accident,” she said. “Bobby handcuffed my brother, shot him repeatedly and left him in the street to die alone.”

More than 50 individuals crowded into the courtroom, with many standing.

Maddaus, dressed in white prison garb, declined an opportunity to speak.

His defense attorney Richard Woodrow offered no words on his client’s behalf.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Bruneau told the judge Maddaus had two prior most serious offense convictions: second-degree assault in Lewis County in 1993 and possession with intent to deliver while armed with a deadly weapon in Thurston County in 1995.

That made it a third strike, and a mandatory life sentence, he said.

Judge Christine Pomeroy was brief.

“At this time Mr. Maddaus, I will sentence you to life in prison without the possibility of release,” Pomeroy said. “The victim was handcuffed and vulnerable.”

Maddaus was sentenced also for two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and four counts of witness tampering, as well as second-degree assault and attempted kidnapping for an incident three days before the shooting.

His lawyer said he will appeal.

“My opinion, I think this case is going to be back in Thurston County for a retrial,” Woodrow said after the proceedings.

Woodrow filed a motion for a new trial, he said, as his office received a typed but unsigned letter yesterday saying one of the juror’s family members who works in family court printed out and gave Maddaus’s criminal history to the juror.

If not for the life sentence, the number of months he faced, which included mandatory five-year firearm enhancements, added up to more than 500 months.

Recently elected Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim said because Maddaus is a persistent offender – from the state’s three- strikes law – those months basically “get consumed.”

“I think the community is a whole lot safer with him in prison,” Tunheim said after the proceedings. “That’s kind of the bottom line.”

•••
Read about the places in Lewis County Robert Maddaus hid out in the 11 days after the shooting until he was captured, here

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Randle taxidermist to face murder charge

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Randle taxidermist is expected in court this week to face charges in the March homicide of a 58-year-old welder from Federal Way.

Erik R. Massa, 43, of Randle, was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with second-degree murder, according to the prosecutor’s office.

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Guy LaFontaine

A relative, Guy W. LaFontaine, had gone to Randle to go fishing but ended up on March 13 at Morton General Hospital with two broken eye sockets and other injuries. LaFontaine died the following morning.

Deputies arrested Massa later that day, but he was released from jail three days later, with prosecutors telling a judge they did not yet have enough evidence to charge him.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher initially charged Massa last week with first-degree assault, but said today a review of the forensic evidence prompted him to upgrade the charge.

LaFontaine died from blunt force injuries to his head, torso and extremities, according to information from his autopsy. He had a shoe print on his head, according to charging documents.

Detectives found a broken shotgun with blood on it in an empty silo next to Massa’s shop, according to charging documents.

LaFontaine worked at Todd Shipyards in Seattle as a welder.

Charging documents give the following account of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office investigation:

A deputy interviewed LaFontaine’s wife Gail on March 13. Her husband said he was going to go fishing near River Ranch Road in Randle.

She got a call from him, in which he said he had been beat up and he thought he was going to die. She found him on a road, picked him up and took him to Morton General Hospital.

Deputy Matt McKnight who responded to the hospital, was told LaFontaine had substantial wounds about his face and arm and told a nurse he was in extreme pain. He also had a broken arm and a bullet in his arm with an apparent fresh entry wound. (Meagher said today it turned out to be a wound from years earlier)

He was not cooperative with law enforcement.

At 3:45 a.m., the hospital advised McKnight they couldn’t keep LaFontaine in his bed and they were releasing him.

LaFontaine’s wife took him to St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way. He was pronounced dead there. Deputies learned of his death from the Federal Way Police Department.

At 8 a.m. that morning, sheriff’s detective Matt Wallace went to the 1,100 block of U.S. Highway 12 where Massa has a home and taxidermy shop. Wallace was looking for LaFontaine’s car.

He found what appeared to be blood on the car’s right door and then a dent on the right passenger door of a Nissan pickup there. Also, on the Nissan’s door, Wallace found “red liquid” with what appeared to be hair matted in it.

Meagher said he believed the two men were related by marriage, but isn’t sure exactly the details.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled LaFontaine’s death a homicide.

Detectives spoke with a man who said he spoke with Massa that morning.

Massa’s father-in-law, Don Roberts who is also Gail’s ex-husband, said to a detective Massa told him LaFontaine had been walking around the taxidermy shop with a shotgun, according to charging documents.

Massa has been summoned to the courthouse in Chehalis at 4 p.m. on Friday.

Meagher said he hasn’t been arrested, but his lawyer Joseph Mano will bring him in.

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Crime in Centralia, especially thefts, leaps upward

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 9:39 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Crime in Centralia increased at disturbing levels last year, with property crimes up almost 44 percent, Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg reported yesterday.

The crime rate in Lewis County’s largest city was the highest it’s been in five years, according to Berg.

The chief attributes the rise partly to to a poor economy.

“The condition of our local economy and the release of known criminals back into our community no doubt contributed to the increase,” Berg wrote in a news  release.

The figures come from the preliminary crime statistics compiled for the Washington State Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chiefs as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The chances of a resident being a victim of a property crime last year was almost 8 percent.

Garage and storage shed burglaries accounted almost exclusively for the sharp increase in burglaries last year, according to Berg.

“The police department continues to work these crimes as an emphasis of the anti-crime team, along with their street level drug enforcement efforts,” Berg wrote.

He notes that in 2009, the city experienced one of the lowest crime rates since uniform reporting was implemented 50 years ago, but all those gains were wiped out last year.

The overall crime rate in Centralia went up by 41.1 percent last year, compared with the year before. But property crime increased by 43.7 percent and violent crime only 13.6 percent.

Berg’s numbers show:
• Theft: up 52.9 percent (from 550 incidents to 841)
• Burglary: up 39.7 percent (from 151 to 211)
• Felony assault: up 38 percent (from 50 to 69)

Some offenses declined or were unchanged:
• Rape (down 35 percent)
• Murder and robbery (unchanged)
• Motor vehicle theft (down 1.5 percent)
• Arson: (down 53 percent)

As a department, they are frustrated with the marked increase, Berg wrote.

On the brighter side, he notes that over time, the trend is still downward, the chances of resident being a victim of a violent crime is less than 1 percent, and the department’s clearance rate for crimes improved by 3.3 percent over the previous year.

Berg writes the department continues to work cooperatively with neighboring law enforcement agencies and neighborhood groups to address the challenges of drugs and crime, but asks for the public’s help.

“Preventing crime is a community responsibility, he writes.

His appeal to the public: Secure your home and valuables, and report suspicious activity to the police.

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UCR rate 2001 - 2010 Centralia

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Read what Chehalis bail bondsman said about cop killer Maurice Clemmons’ GPS ankle bracelet …

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 1:02 am

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Seattle Times reports recently released documents provide new details about missed opportunities, including how Maurice Clemmons managed to get away with cutting off his GPS tracking bracelet – used by Jail Sucks Bail Bonds of Chehalis – days before he opened fire in a Lakewood coffee shop killing four police officers.

Read the Seattle Times news story here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, February 7, 2011 at 11:56 am

ASSAULTS

• A 32-year-old Onalaska man was arrested early Saturday morning after he allegedly tried to strangle the father of his girlfriend during a disagreement over him moving out of the home, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Obadiah D. Ratkie, 32, was arrested for second-degree assault following the call just before 1 a.m. to an apartment on the 300 block of Second Street West in Onalaska. The 48-year-old victim declined aid, Chief Stacy Brown said. Ratkie was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

• A trio of young people were arrested for hitting and punching a 35-year-old man at the bowling alley on the 1500 block of South Gold Street in Centralia on Saturday evening and within less than 30 minutes, one of the suspects, a female, was accused of getting into  physical altercation at the Fairway Shopping Center with a 39-year-old woman, according to Centralia police. Officers called about 6 p.m. were told by the first victim his ex-girlfriend showed up with some other people and assaulted him, police said. Delores M. Lima-Perez, 21, of Chehalis, was arrested for misdemeanor assault from the first situation and then for the same offense which involved hitting and scratching in the second incident, according to police. Centralia Police Officer Paul McCormick said it wasn’t clear what the disputes were about but said, “It seems like kind of a triangle.” Also arrested for fourth-degree assault were her sister, Inez M. Lima-Perez, 21, of Chehalis; Jovanny Montenegro Perez, 20, for Chehalis; and Omar Perez Ramirez, 19, Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

THEFT AND BURGLARY

• Somebody crawled through a small kitchen window at an apartment on the 1500 block of North National Avenue in Chehalis and made off with pain pills, according to a report made to Chehalis police on Saturday morning. Missing were an estimated 15 to 20 Oxycontin pills, according to police.

• Centralia police took a report of the theft of medication (unspecified) from the 500 block of South Ash Street on Friday morning.

• Centralia police took a report about a burglary to a business on the 100 block of North Tower Avenue on Friday morning.

• An estimated $4,440 of items were stolen from a shop building in Randle, according to a report taken on Saturday afternoon. Among the items taken sometime in the previous two weeks from the building on the 300 block of Old Barn Road were tools, a generator and a Suzuki motorcycle, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A deputy took a report of a break-in to a shed at the 200 block of Jorgenson Road in Onalaska on Friday morning. Missing was a device used to tune a car stereo into an iPod, valued at $85, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Centralia police took a report Saturday at the 300 block of North Tower Avenue that a vehicle had been stolen sometime the night before, but it was found abandoned about a mile away before the day ended.

• Chehalis police were called Saturday evening to a vehicle prowl at K-Mart on Northwest Louisiana Avenue.

• A deputy was called about 11 a.m. on Saturday to the 900 block of Hillberger Road outside Chehalis where two juveniles were seen running from a vehicle that had been prowled. It appeared a large rock had been used to break a window and two purses inside were missing, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Centralia police were called about three vehicles being broken into on Saturday morning on the 1500 block of Belmont Avenue. Nothing appeared to be missing, but it seemed someone had tried to actually steal a Honda passenger car, according to Centralia police.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police were called Sunday morning to the 900 block of Southeast Washington Avenue where somebody had thrown dog poop on a vehicle.

DRUGS

• Deputies found numerous baggies of suspected methamphetamine, various unprescribed pills and drug paraphernalia when they searched a trailer and a woman on the 3800 block of Cooks Hill Road in Centralia on Friday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies had accompanied a Department of Corrections officer there who was making contact with a 42-year-old woman, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. The case was referred for possible charges of possession of drugs, Brown said.

UNDERAGE DRINKING AT DANCE

• Two underage males were detained for being intoxicated at a dance on Saturday night at W.F. West High School in Chehalis. The school principal called police because he suspected the 17-year-old Chehalis by and 20-year-old Napavine had been drinking, according to Chehalis police.

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Three guesses as to who helped murder suspect Maddaus hide out …

Sunday, February 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

OLYMPIA – After the slaying of a drug dealer in Olympia almost 15 months ago, the Rochester man who came to be the prime suspect hid out in places like a woman friend’s home in Rochester, a motel in Centralia and, briefly, at Robbie Russell’s Chehalis residence, while his get away car got put in an Onalaska body shop to be repainted, according to witness testimony.

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Robert John Maddaus Jr.

Robert J. Maddaus Jr., 41, of Rochester, and four others at the Capitol Way Southeast apartment scattered after 40-year-old Shaun Allen Peterson was fatally shot.

Maddaus was convicted last week of first-degree murder and other charges in Thurston County Superior Court. Peterson, who resided in Tumwater when he was killed, was found handcuffed and dying on the street outside another drug dealer’s apartment early on the morning of November 16, 2009.

Jurors began hearing the case in Judge Christine Pomeroy’s courtroom on Jan. 12.

Witnesses for Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Bruneau described the days prior to the shooting as a weekend in which the Rochester supplier of drugs to street level dealers through Thurston and Lewis counties was trying to track down who had robbed his home of five pounds of methamphetamine and $30,000.

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Shaun Allen Peterson

Defense attorney Richard Woodrow attempted to show it was Maddaus’s acquaintance Matthew Tremblay who killed Peterson, and probably by accident.

Witnesses described themselves and others as smoking methamphetamine and sometimes heroin at many of the locations “visited” throughout trial testimony, including the 1819 Capitol Way SE apartment of Dan Leville and Falyn Grimes that night.

Olympia police were called to the shooting scene at 2:43 a.m. that morning.

Maddaus and Matthew Tremblay, now 30, both testified the other was the shooter but agree they fled the area together in Maddaus’s dark green Volkswagen Jetta.

They drove to Rochester to the mobile home of Josephine Lundy, a woman who has said she’s known Maddaus some 20 years.

Lundy testified only that Maddaus called her and said he was coming over. She said she went to bed and didn’t even know where in her home on U.S. Highway 12 that Maddaus slept.

Tremblay testified Maddaus told him to start cleaning out the car and that Maddaus hid the gun and handcuffs. Tremblay stayed there a couple of hours during which Maddaus made several calls, looked for gasoline to put on his arms, took a shower and went to sleep, Tremblay told the court.

Tremblay’s girlfriend Amanda Harader testified she got a call from him, asking her to pick him up. “He sounded like he was scared, upset, he wasn’t acting normal,” the 23-year-old woman testified.

The couple said she brought Tremblay’s supply of methamphetamine and Tremblay sold three ounces to Lundy at Maddaus’s request before they left.

The couple said they then switched motels, from the Quality Inn in Olympia to one in Lacey.

They were picked up by police on Nov. 17, on Highway 101 headed toward Mason County on the way to meet her sister and David “Nate” Hoffman, according to witness testimony. “Fat Nate” – who said he was Tremblay’s business partner – testified he and Tremblay were going to leave town.

The other three individuals at the Capitol Way apartment testified that after they heard, but didn’t see, gunshots, they fled to an upstairs apartment of a friend.

Leville and Grimes said they stayed upstairs into the following day, hiding out because she had a warrant and they were scared. Jesse Rivera said he later went back downstairs to their apartment and slept until he had to go to work at Fishtail Brewery where he was a cook, while police conducted an investigation out on the street. Rivera wasn’t contacted by police until Dec. 9.

Maddaus testified last week when he left Lundy’s in Rochester he met Robbie Russell in Grand Mound and went to Russell’s home in Chehalis while Russell arranged for someone else to pick up the Jetta.

“I needed to kind of hide out for a minute, because I needed to figure out what was going on,” Maddaus said.

Maddaus didn’t describe who Russell was, but one witness testified he was a drug dealer who was supplied by Maddaus.

Maddaus only stayed at the Jackson Highway residence a short time because there were a “bunch of people hanging out”, he said. Then Russell found a friend’s place for him to say, Maddaus said.

As the Olympia Police Department continued to investigate the death and round up those they thought might be involved, Maddaus stopped answering his cell phone, according to phone records in the case.

Maddaus testified he spent a couple of days at the King Oscar Motel off Harrison Avenue in Centralia, at another motel and then, if he remembered correctly, back to the King Oscar. Russell helped him get rooms, he said.

A now-23-year-old who calls herself Maddaus’s niece, spoke of visiting him twice at a motel across from the Centralia Factory Outlets. Chelsea Williams said she brought a girlfriend of her “uncle” over to stay there and picked her up two days later.

Dale Carter, who has an auto body and paint shop at his Burnt Ridge Road home in Onalaska, testified that Maddaus contacted him and said he wanted to bring his Jetta in and get the rest of the body work done on it.

Carter was already doing work on an Acura that belonged to Maddaus and he was told to put that “on hold”, he said. Two men he didn’t know delivered the Jetta the next day, Carter testified.

The dark green metallic Jetta was being primed so it could be painted a charcoal color when Olympia police detective Chris Johnstone and a Lewis County sheriff’s deputy came and impounded the car, according to witness testimony.

Testimony didn’t reveal all the places those from the apartment hid out until their arrests, but did show Leville and Grimes were not arrested until Dec. 5 at the Little Creek Casino in Mason County.

At one point before Maddaus was captured, he visited the Tumwater home of another drug dealer, Theodore Farmer.

Farmer testified Maddaus was wearing a long blondish wig when he was brought there by a “Hispanic guy”. They spoke of creating an alibi that Maddaus was with him getting a tattoo done between midnight and 3 a.m. when Peterson was shot, Farmer testified.

Maddaus was coming from the home of a Nisqually man when he met up with Russell at Russell’s Chehalis travel trailer home on Nov. 27.

Maddaus said Russell contacted him and said they needed to go check on the progress of the Jetta.

However, what he didn’t know was three days earlier, detective Johnstone had contacted Russell in Rochester – when he had been stopped by deputies – and asked him to cooperate in picking Maddaus up. He agreed.

Russell asked the detective if he would help out with some charges he had in Lewis County, Johnstone said.

Johnstone testified he spoke with the prosecutor, “who only said he would take any assistance that he gave the police into consideration for his charges, but no formal agreements or promises were made.”

Maddaus knew a warrant had been issued for his arrest. In court last week, he described what happened next on Nov. 27, 2009: “Robbie had the cops waiting for me.”

Johnstone testified he knew ahead of time Russell would be driving a red Corvette and had been in phone contact with Russell throughout the night. Lewis County sheriff’s deputies and their SWAT team had assembled hours earlier to assist in the capture.

“I was at the bottom of his driveway,” Johnstone said.

Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Rob Snaza and detective Dan Riordan got word the car was leaving and got behind it as it turned off Jackson Highway onto Rush Road, according to Lewis County Sheriff’s Office incident reports.

The driver at first pulled over, but then sped away fishtailing. Snaza used his patrol car to tap the rear of the Corvette, intentionally spinning out the fleeing car. The car slid sideways into the ongoing lane, hit a culvert and went airborne.

Maddaus was taken into custody.

The Corvette was held at Lewis County’s evidence facility.

When the car was searched, detectives found a loaded nine millimeter pistol beneath the passenger floor mat, more than $35,000 cash and a green backpack which contained pounds of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, according to testimony.

The $35,920 in currency was inside a locked bank bag which was in a black Tommy Hilfiger bag found on the floorboard, Olympia Police Officer Dan Smith testified. The Hilfiger bag also contained a copy of the search warrant for Maddaus’s residence, he said.

The drugs were inside a pea-green backpack found behind the seats, according to Smith. It also held a prescription with Maddaus’s name, a passport and an M-80, along with the “food saver” containers, he said.

The drugs inside the backpack amounted to a little less, according to Smith’s testimony, than charging documents initially alleged.

They included: approximately one and three-quarters pounds of methamphetamine (street value of more than $120,000); nearly a half pound of cocaine (street value of more than $15,000); and about one third pound of heroin (street value of $12,000).

Maddaus was sentenced to one year and a day on the drug possession charges in Lewis County.

Russell was not charged in connection with the events of Nov. 27, 2009, but in December got a six-year prison sentence when his four Lewis County cases were wrapped up into one plea agreement.

Testimony in the murder trial didn’t reveal exactly the status of everyone who was in the apartment the night of the fatal shooting, but:

Tremblay said he is in prison now for trafficking in stolen property and gets out in September.

Leville said he made a plea deal for attempted possession of a controlled substance, but has not yet been sentenced.

Grimes said she also made a deal, avoiding prison, and thinks she’s already served her time.

Rivera got “use” immunity in exchange for his testimony. He’s the only one of the group that didn’t have a prior felony record, according to the prosecutor.

Detective Johnstone says he doesn’t know who robbed Maddaus’s home of drugs, it wasn’t part of the investigation.

On the witness stand, Maddaus said he believed Jessica Abear – a woman who was staying with him – was in on it with Jason Juneau who had been in the mobile home the day before and saw where Maddaus kept his drugs.

Also not answered during the lengthy trial or in court proceedings during Maddaus’s related drug possession case is how it was he seemingly replenished his supply after the robbery.

Maddaus will be sentenced on Tuesday afternoon for first-degree murder, two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and four counts of witness tampering, as well as second-degree assault and attempted kidnapping.

Both attorneys estimates he faces around 50 years in prison.

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Napavine fire chief says he won’t shut off rooftop siren, despite new ordinance

Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 6:35 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

NAPAVINE – The clash between the city and the fire department in Napavine over the department’s rooftop siren continues with the fire chief announcing they will keep using it, despite a new ordinance that says otherwise.

Lewis County Fire District 5 Chief Eric Linn said today it won’t be turned off.

“We haven’t stopped (it). We’re going to continue to use it,” Linn said. “It’s very effective.”

The issue got wide-spread attention when last week the city council voted unanimously to amend the city’s noise ordinance, restricting the siren that sounds when Napavine firefighters get a call.

The move took the fire department by surprise; they hadn’t been notified an ordinance was in the works, according to public information officer Lt. Laura Hanson.

Mayor Nick Bozarth said the move was prompted by the fire department’s “air raid” siren that “broke it’s several-year silence early the next morning following their levy failure in November.”

Linn says reactivating the siren was a response to an increasing number of times his crew’s departures to emergency calls have been delayed by traffic in front of the station.

Bozarth, a volunteer member of the fire department until he was asked to turn in his gear last fall, says the city thinks lights and sirens on the emergency vehicles are sufficient.

In a lengthy memo distributed to the news media today, Linn insinuates the ordinance may not be valid, lays out his case for the public safety reasons for the siren and notes it has a small minority of opposition, despite the big issue it has become in the news media.

“I think there are a few people being very vocal and it’s been picked up by the press,” Linn said.

The chief, who was hired by the fire district’s board of commissioners in June 2009, said he felt it was necessary to outline the situation for the public, through the news media.

“At some point, I’ve got to speak out,” Linn said “Because my crew is taking the brunt of this.”

The chief suggested the city is exaggerating the public’s concerns over the noise, noting the fire district has received only one formal complaint from a citizen and the city has gotten only two formal complaints, both from a council member who is at odds with the department.

Linn points out a list of improvements he’s helped make with the department, an organization he said has seen more than eight fire chiefs in as many years.

Along with increasing the number of volunteer personnel, they have reduced response times on average by two minutes, according to Linn.

Two times in the past two months, firefighter-EMTs have restarted the hearts of patients in cardiac arrest, he said.

“You can’t do that with eight, nine, 10 minute response times,” he said. “The things we’re doing work.”
•••

Read Fire Chief Eric Linn’s memo to the news media here, or by scrolling down

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Guest item: Napavine chief addresses the news media on outlawed rooftop fire siren

Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm

By District 5 Fire Chief Eric Linn

This press release is in response to recent events leading up to the recent decision by the city of Napavine to pass an amendment to an ordinance to silence the fire district’s roof top siren.

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Lewis County Fire District 5 Chief Eric Linn

First and foremost I would like to reiterate the mission of Fire District 5.

“It shall be the mission of Lewis County Fire District 5 to develop, operate and manage the resources granted by the people of the district, to preserve lives and property in our communities by providing services directed toward prevention, management, and/or mitigation of fire, emergency medical, rescue, and disaster incidents.”

That said, I would like to take this opportunity to address the media regarding not only the issue of the siren, but some other concerning issues of interest.

1. The issue of Lewis County Fire District 5 re-implementing the use of the rooftop siren to alert vehicle and foot traffic is in response to an increase in the number of times our crews were delayed during the daytime hours due to cross traffic being held up in front of the station blocking departure.

The siren was set on a timer and intended to only function between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. This was in compliance with the old noise ordinance. It is currently set on the lowest setting and when activated, rings the least number of times (less than 30 seconds) providing a warning and nothing more. Initially the siren miscued twice during the quiet hours as a result of a failure in the 40-year-old timer.

It is unfortunate that this change in procedure has caused such a high level of concern for a limited number of citizens living around the station. To date, District 5 has received two formal complaints on this issue, one in the form of a letter from the city of Napavine, and one email from a concerned citizen.

The city reports that they have experienced an outcry of concern over this issue.

City records reflect only two official complaints and upon further research it appears both were generated by a city council member. This same city council member recently accused the fire district of threatening him by flagging his residence. The district unfortunately had to address requests from employees to protect them from that individual after three well-documented incidents where he verbally harassed them. On one occasion the police department was called by neighbors who reported what they thought was a domestic violence situation due to the loud screaming of said councilman. This councilman has also followed the aid crew while they responded to an emergency, only to sit across the street and observe them. He then followed the ambulance as it left for the hospital.

2. By reviewing the press on this issue I can see why there have been concerns raised by citizens who have been led to believe the siren was turned back on in retaliation for the failure of the levy. This is simply not true.

Turning on the siren was a decision I made based on the fact that I needed to improve response times and reduce stress on our crews. I accept responsibility for this decision and apologize to any citizens that this decision has adversely affected. Upon the first notification from the city (in the form of letter provided interview with the media) the fire district replied to the letter sent by the council and mayor. The district asked to have a sign placed near the station as well as lines painted to curb vehicles blocking the departure of apparatus.

3. After legal review of the adopted amendment to the ordinance our district has been advised by legal counsel that the amendment is in contradiction with the remainder of the ordinance.

We are also told that the city did not follow standards set by the Department of Ecology in following the process to amend a noise ordinance under Washington state law. This is still being investigated.

4. It has been reported that there is a wedge driven between the city of Napavine and the fire district. That simply is not the case.

I can tell you that while the mayor and city council may not agree with the fire district on this topic, we routinely work together with Steve Ashley the public works director for the city as well as Officer-in-Charge Silas Elwood at the police department. Our crews assist with the city on projects when needed and contribute to city functions such as providing traffic control for parades and medical stand by during concerts at the amphitheater.

5. As I’m sure some of you know during the recent events leading up to this decision by the city, the fire district has been forced to take a reactive stance to some of these allegations.

Three times now the district has been contacted via the media well in advance of any official or unofficial notification by the city as to any concerns. These events lead me to believe that this is not just an issue involving the district’s actions.

I believe Mayor Nick Bozarth has a personal and political agenda that he is working toward. He has publicly stated in the past, “It may be time for the city of Napavine to have its own fire department”. I would only guess after being sworn into office he may have discovered the city tax rolls provide approximately $90,000 dollars to the department a year. He may have also realized it would require a vote of the people to reverse  annexation the voters approved long ago to have the district provide fire and life safety services for the city of Napavine.

6. At the time my predecessor Chief Kris Wieland left, the district the Board of Fire Commissioners realized they needed to pick a highly effective proven leader to take his place.

The district had seen more than eight fire chiefs in as many years and they felt one way to improve the agency was to make a long term commitment and investment to a chief that had a plan and experience to improve the district.

The mayor, who had left the department, approached the board of commissioner’s with a plan he felt would prove successful for the district. The board reviewed the plan. The board was seeking not only a plan, but a proven leader to bring the district forward.

At that time the board conducted a nationwide search for a fire chief. During this process I am told that at least 40 people applied. I was selected as the candidate to fill the job, after a comprehensive background and interview process, conducted by board members and representatives of other local fire agencies.

Since Mayor Bozarth left the department in 2010, he has made his displeasure of the direction the district is taking quite clear through as many means possible. This is a pattern; as I’ve discovered he has been at odds with at least two former fire chiefs before me.

Up to this point I have focused my time and energy in improving our district operations. To date, with the support of our board of fire commissioners, we have:

• Increased volunteer membership to over 25 and doubled our number of certified EMT’s.
• Hosted two recruit academies for not only our district, but we have also opened them up to our neighboring agencies. We have another class scheduled in March.
• Reduced our response times on average by two minutes to our customers’ door.
• Used a federal grant to improve daytime staffing while our volunteers are at their regular jobs.
• Trimmed our fleet by seven vehicles. Those remaining are needed, and safe to operate. We have taken the proceeds from those sales and invested them in two vehicles that are used every day.

District 5 will continue to use the siren when appropriate to insure the safety of this community and citizens.

It provides a recognizable warning of the activity of our staff and apparatus as they answer alarms and has additional benefit as a back up to our radio and cellular devices. Its unique sound will alert our crews when their radio devices may not be audible (while operating equipment or away from their radio).

The negative response of a few cannot deter our efforts to serve those we are sworn to protect.

Please feel free to contact me with any further questions you may have. I will be available for contact over the weekend by email

Thank you for your attention and commitment to reporting.

Yours in Fire and Life Safety,
Eric A. Linn
Fire Chief
Lewis County Fire District 5
I can be reached at the District 5 Office Monday through Friday at 360-262-3320 or by email at chief5100@lcfpd5.com

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Napavine home consumed by training fire

Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 2:29 pm
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A backhoe operator moves around the remains of a house donated for a practice burn in Napavine. / Photo by Sharyn Decker

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

NAPAVINE – A two-story house on Rush Road in Napavine served as a training site today for firefighters from Lewis County Fire Districts 5 and 6.

Some 30 members of the two departments practiced various aspects of dealing with structure fires, according to Fire  Lt. Laura Hanson.

“We got watch some live fire behavior, do some hose work, it was great,” Hanson said.

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Members of the rural fire districts out of Napavine and Chehalis pause for a group picture during training at a Rush Road house. / Courtesy photos by District 5 Chief Eric Linn

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Read about 35 years of sheriff’s office stories to tell …

Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 3:27 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian writes about the retirement of the longest serving deputy in the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office history, Undersheriff James Chamberlain.

News reporter Jeremy Pawloski notes highlights of Chamberlain’s career which began in 1975 when squad cars still had wind up sirens.

Read about it here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, February 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

MAN ARRESTED AFTER MAKING HIMSELF AT HOME IN VACANT TAVERN

• A deputy was called last night to the old Roadside Tavern on U.S. Highway 12 in Glenoma where someone had taken up shelter. The building is scheduled to be demolished but a 63-year-old man had built himself a fire in the fireplace, telling the deputy he was cold and wet. Frank M. Utzler, from Randle, said he had permission from the previous owner to be there, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The property has however been sold and Utzler was arrested for second-degree trespass, the sheriff’s office reported.

MONEY TAKEN IN CENTRALIA BURGLARY

• Centralia police took a report about 5 o’clock this morning of a burglary to a business on the 900 block of Harrison Avenue. Money was taken, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL IN CHEHALIS

• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning to William Avenue where a vehicle prowl had occurred overnight.

WRECKS

• Firefighters were called about 8:20 p.m. to a collision between a semi truck and a car on northbound Interstate 5 near the Labree Road interchange in Chehalis. The driver of the car was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to Lewis County Fire District 6.

• Firefighters called to a two-vehicle T-bone accident about 7:30 p.m. last night at Kresky and Summa streets in Centralia transported one female driver to the hospital.

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Breaking news: Jury finds “Bobby” Maddaus guilty on all counts

Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 3:02 pm
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Robert J. Maddaus Jr. sits in front of the judge with his back to a large courtroom audience when the jury returns with its guilty verdicts today.

This was updated at 3:59 p.m. and 5:05 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

OLYMPIA – A jury found Robert J. Maddaus Jr. of Rochester guilty today of first-degree murder and each of the other counts he was charged with.

After the verdict, the mother of his victim, forty-year-old Shaun Peterson, had just four words:

“Justice has been served,” said Judy Peterson of Lacey.

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Shaun Allen Peterson

Shaun Peterson was found handcuffed and fatally shot on Capitol Way in Olympia in the early morning of Nov. 16, 2009.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Bruneau laid out evidence over the course of a three-plus week trial that Maddaus forced Peterson to put on handcuffs as Maddaus attempted to find who had robbed his Rochester mobile home of some five pounds of methamphetamine and $30,000 cash. Witnesses said the 41-year-old brought Peterson to an associate’s apartment on Capitol Way and shortly after the men left, five shots rang out in the street.

He is scheduled to be sentenced at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

His lawyer says he will appeal.

“We feel there are a lot of issues for appeal, we’re going to continue on the battle,” Olympia attorney Richard Woodrow said.

How much prison time Maddaus faces is not yet clear, but Bruneau said “a lot.”

“Somewhere between 30 and 50 years,” Bruneau said. “And that’s a conservative estimate.”

The jury of 10 women and two men began deliberations at 1:30 p.m. yesterday, went home for the night and made their decisions by 11:45 this morning.

Maddaus was convicted also of two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and four counts of witness tampering, as well as second-degree assault and attempted kidnapping involving an incident at his home three days before the shooting in which a 25-year-old woman he believed was involved in the theft described being interrogated and shot with a paintball gun.

Peterson’s mother has been present during the trial in Thurston County Superior Court, accompanied at times by Peterson’s sister, his former wife and also Randi Henn who lived with Peterson in Tumwater at the time of his death .

The couple had just had a baby girl the month he was slain. His 12-year-old son was in the courtroom today.

Henn said the trial has been nerve-racking, and she’s glad it’s over. They’re “more than satisfied” with the outcome and the expected prison stay for Maddaus, she said.

“I can’t wait for him to die in there,” Henn said.

Forty-two-year-old David Conn has been sitting in as well. He was jubilant about the verdict.

“Blessings and redemption on Shaun’s soul,” Conn said.

He and Peterson grew up together in on the east side of Olympia.

“We all live in that world and we all make bad choices,” Conn said. “But the fact is, he didn’t deserve what he got.”

Among the witnesses were at least four admitted drug dealers who testified Maddaus was their supplier.

Maddaus denied everything when he testified on his own behalf on Monday, however, he admitted he sold drugs and wanted to find out who had robbed him.

His mother Irene Cudinski saw him for the first time yesterday since November 2009.

The Rochester woman was listed as a witness for the prosecution and as such, was barred from contact with him and from the courtroom until yesterday, she said.

Cudinski was never called to the stand.

She said she otherwise would have attended the proceedings in support of her grown son.

Trina Cristelli, an Elma woman who’s known Maddaus some 20 years, however, did sit through the entire trial beginning on the first day.

Cristelli, who said Maddaus is like a little brother to her, said Maddaus isn’t perfect by a long shot, but he’s not the monster painted by the prosecution.

She said she wouldn’t have been surprised if he was found guilty on some of the counts, but was stunned the jury felt there was enough evidence for murder, beyond a reasonable doubt.

There was no murder weapon, no DNA, no eyewitnesses, she said. Only the testimony from individuals, on both sides, who are in jail and have criminal records, she said.

“My feeling about it was because he was a drug dealer (the jury thought) he was guilty of everything,” she said.

•••

Read yesterday’s news story about the attorney’s closing statements in the trial here