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Ricky Riffe: Former Mossyrock man returns from prison to argue over coming trial

Friday, August 22, 2014 at 8:21 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Convicted murderer Ricky A. Riffe is back in town, transported from prison where he’s serving a virtual life sentence back to the Lewis County Jail as his lawyer is asking a judge to move his upcoming child sex abuse trial to another locale, citing his inability to receive a fair trial in Lewis County.

Defense attorney John Crowley blames the news media, and prejudicial publicity.

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Ricky Riffe

“Ricky Riffe was a defendant in one of Lewis County’s most notorious unsolved murder cases,” Crowley wrote. “Drawing both local and national media purporting the crime was solved as soon as he was apprehended.”

Riffe, now 55, was arrested in mid-2012 and extradited from his longtime home in King Salmon, Alaska to Lewis County where he was charged in the 1985 kidnapping, robbery and shotgun deaths of Ed and Minnie Maurin, an elderly Ethel couple. The former Mossyrock resident was found guilty after a six-week trial late last year.

Not long after he arrived, prosecutors filed separate charges that he raped and molested his 9-year-old step-daughter in the mid-1980s, saying new information came to light during the Maurin investigation.

A court hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, on Crowley’s motion for a change of venue.

The lawyer claims inflammatory headlines and also comments from the public on online stories illustrate how his client would not face an impartial jury in Lewis County, in the filing made earlier this month.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer responded in a one-page filing that he disagrees with Crowley’s contentions and stated the request is premature.

The trial was initially set for February, but has been postponed until the week of Sept. 8.

Riffe was booked into the local jail this morning.

Riffe was given nearly 103 years last December, after prosecutors persuaded a jury that he at the very least was an accomplice to their other longtime suspect who was deceased, his younger brother John Gregory Riffe.

With no DNA evidence or fingerprints, but nearly 100 individuals testifying, he was convicted as charged in the case in which the Maurin’s were apparently forced to drive to their Chehalis bank and withdraw a sizable amount of cash before being shot in their backs and dumped on a logging road outside of Adna.

Riffe maintains he’s innocent in both cases. He has appealed his convictions.
•••

For background, read “Riffe maintains innocence in face of sentence of more than a century for Maurin murders” from Tuesday December 3, 2013, here

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Defendants in large-scale fuel theft out on bail

Friday, August 22, 2014 at 1:54 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Three of the individuals implicated in trafficking stolen fuel from a residence in Doty have pleaded not guilty and are out of custody awaiting trials, but law enforcement is still looking for the man they say owned a canopied pickup truck with darkened windows which held two large fuel tanks, a portable pump and a nozzle.

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John Lewis, aka Jason A. Lewis

The man identified as Jason A. Lewis, 47, was arrested when deputies searched the property on Elk Creek Road late last month, but after he made bail, the sheriff’s office concluded he really was John Lewis. They haven’t seen him since.

Detectives were led to their suspects from nighttime surveillance video at a Texaco station on U.S. Highway 12 in Silver Creek from July 28 that showed three vehicles arrive and somehow pump about $6,000 worth of fuel without paying.

They subsequently found numerous containers of gasoline including a 55-gallon drum of it and other items such as a half dozen plug-in access keypads for gas pumps at the Doty property.

Charges were filed Aug. 1 against Lewis, 28-year-old Harold E. Lusk who resides on the Elk Creek property, and Raymond T. Hankins, 48, from Yelm. Prosecutors subsequently charged Lusk’s girlfriend, 20-year-old Alyssa J. Hanson with trafficking in stolen property and possession of methamphetamine.

Lusk and Hanson both appeared in Lewis County Superior Court early last week and again yesterday, when they got dates set for their trials.

Taken from the Silver Creek business was about 1,600 gallons of regular unleaded gasoline, highway diesel and off-road diesel, according to charging documents.

The trials are all on the court calendar for this autumn.
•••

For background, read “On the run: Lewis County deputies seeking three in connection with large-scale fuel theft” from Sunday August 10, 2014, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, August 22, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Updated at 6:42 p.m.

DRUGS

• A 30-year-old woman from Texas arrested at Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon for reportedly taking food from the deli and eating it in the McDonald’s seating area with her companion was booked into the Lewis County Jail when a search of her purse turned up a variety of pills without proper prescription documentation, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Department spokesperson Linda Bailey said Kimberly R. Lawson and John C. Vaughn were being watched by security staff and threw away the packaging of the product, valued at just over $20. Both were arrested for third-degree theft and jailed, Bailey said.

MISSING HONDA CAR

• Centralia police were called about 11:20 a.m. yesterday regarding the theft of a white 1993 Honda Accord from a parking lot at the 200 block of North Pearl Street.

POLICE: HAM HILL BURGLARY SOLVED

• A 35-year-old Bucoda man was arrested yesterday for allegedly driving another male to a home on the 1100 block of Ham Hill Road last month for a burglary. On July 18, the resident returned home to find a window pried open, some of his belongings outside in the grass and tire tracks in the yard, according to police. A laptop computer for which he had a serial number for was missing and its information entered into a law enforcement database, charging documents state. A Centralia police detective yesterday was summoned to a Bucoda home by a Thurston County Sheriff’s Office detective who was there on another matter and found the stolen computer, according to the court documents. Curtis W. Hoffman who resides there with his mother and her caregiver, told Centralia detective Pat Beall what he had done, according to charging documents. Hoffman was booked into the Lewis County Jail and charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with residential burglary. His bail was set at $25,000.

COLLISION

• A bicyclist suffered minor injuries in a collision with a vehicle late yesterday afternoon at the 1200 block of North Pearl Street, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, burglary, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, disputes, misdemeanor theft, collision on city street, telephone harassment via texting, suspicious circumstances … and more.

 

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News brief: Local oxycodone dealer goes back to prison

Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 8:41 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The accused prolific local trafficker of pain medications was sentenced yesterday to 12 years behind bars, following a plea deal that helped him avoid a third strike and a life sentence.

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Forrest E. Amos,

Forrest E. Amos, 31, has been held in the Lewis County Jail since late last year when he was released from prison and charged with a multitude of offenses based on a lengthy investigation by Centralia police.

He originally faced 26 varied charges including leading organized crime, but on July 31 pleaded guilty to 14 offenses. Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead dropped the charge of organized crime.

Halstead also dismissed four counts of intimidating a witness, in a case from this summer in which Amos was suspected of planning from inside the jail to have associates hurt or pressure witnesses against him.

Law enforcement estimated that in 2011 when Amos was aggressively dealing Oxycodone, that he was the main supplier of the synthetic opiate within Lewis County, possessing and dealing thousands of pills a month. Charging documents outlined how Amos reportedly continued to traffic drugs to the outside through others from behind prison walls.

The former resident of Napavine and Chehalis agreed not to appeal his convictions or sentence in any way, according to court documents.

Among the crimes to which he was sentenced were delivery of  Oxycodone while incarcerated during 2013 as well as during 2012 before he was locked up.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey signed an order that included one year of supervision following his release, as well as numerous financial legal obligations including repaying $13,800 for his court-appointed attorney Don Blair.

•••

For background, read, “Police: Organized crime defendant created ‘hit list’ of key witnesses” Thursday June 19, 2014, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Updated at 7:46 p.m.

POLICE: SHOPLIFT GOES PHYSICAL

• Centralia police were called about 4:15 p.m. yesterday to a grocery store on the 500 block of South Tower Avenue where they were told a 45-year-old man fought with loss prevention officers after stealing a raspberry beer. James C. Weatherford was arrested for second-degree robbery and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. Lewis County prosecutors declined to file that charge.

COLLISIONS

• Police responded to the 1200 block of Kresky Avenue in Centralia about 5:10 p.m. yesterday where they found a vehicle had driven off the roadway into a field, and the driver left. Phillip A. Pinotti, 22, of Centralia, was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• One of four possible patients was taken to the hospital after a two-vehicle collision on the 2100 block of North Pearl Street yesterday evening involving a car and a pickup truck. Police  called about 7:30 p.m. said one pulled out in front of the other. A girl was transported with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

FIFE POLICE SEARCH MORTON RESIDENCE FOR WANTED PERSONS

• Officers from the Fife Police Department yesterday were joined by local sheriff’s deputies in looking for a pair of wanted subjects suspected to be hiding at a home in the Morton area. Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Steve Aust said they were searching for a man and a woman from a shooting incident in the north Pierce County town back on Aug. 11. About a half dozen officers went to the residence on the 800 block of Davis Lake Road yesterday afternoon but did not find them, Aust said. Fife police have been looking for the pair following a contact with an officer about 1:05 a.m. a week ago Monday in which an officer responding to a call about a near robbery encountered a dark blue Ford Explorer driven by a female and engaged in a struggle with her but got trapped in the vehicle’s open door as she put it in reverse, reportedly dragging the officer briefly, according to the Fife Police Department. The officer fired into the vehicle, which fled south toward Tacoma, and at one point on Interstate 5, someone from the vehicle may have fired through the back window at a pursuing patrol car, according to police. Fife police reported the suspect vehicle was later located unoccupied in Spanaway; it had been struck by gunfire and appeared the occupants may have sustained injuries. Aust said he didn’t know why the couple would have been in Lewis County.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• A former Adna area resident extradited from Virginia where he was serving in the U.S. Navy was sentenced yesterday for molesting a young relative when they lived together following the December 2007 flood. The girl told a detective it began when he was 17 and she was 9 and occurred over a two-year period, according to charging documents. Edward J. Guenther, 23, pleaded guilty as charged in Lewis County Superior Court to one count of first-degree child molestation and one count of first-degree child rape. Judge James Lawler yesterday morning agreed with the recommendations of of both attorneys that Guenther be given what is called a Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative. “I’m satisfied this is appropriate, I think both Mr. Guenther and society will benefit from this,” Lawler said. “Given the evaluation, I find he is amenable to treatment.” Under the agreement, Guenther must spend one year in jail and successfully complete a five-year long psychosexual treatment program. If he fails, he has an 11-year prison sentence waiting for him, defense attorney David Arcuri said. He will be monitored by the state Department of Corrections during that time and for the rest of his life, and must register as a sex offender, Arcuri said. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer told the judge the victim was not opposed to the deal. One of the requirements for a defendant is they must be willing to admit what they did, Arcuri said. “This is not a guy who hangs out in parks, snatches girls and throws them in the bushes,” Arcuri said. “Those guys can’t do SSOSAs.” Guenther was charged last December, and has been held in the Lewis County Jail since mid-January.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarm, disputes, misdemeanor theft, suspicious circumstances … and more.

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News brief: Truck, body recovered near Randle

Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 12:10 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A body found with a pickup truck yesterday afternoon south of Randle has yet to be identified but an autopsy is scheduled for today.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said the vehicle is registered to a man from Bonney Lake who was reported missing on May 27.

The discovery was made by brush or berry pickers at the end of the 161 road, which is off Forest Service Road 23, Cmdr. Steve Aust said.

Detectives aren’t suspecting foul play, Aust said.

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One man dead from Centralia knife fight

Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 11:13 am

Updated at 5:12 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office confirmed this morning the 38-year-old man involved in a fight at a Centralia home on Monday night has died.

He and the 35-year-old resident from the home at the 2700 block of Harrison Avenue were both taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with stab wounds.

No names have yet been released.

The sheriff’s office related on Tuesday morning they learned the 38-year-old and a 33-year-old woman went to the residence shortly before midnight, and a fight ensued between the two men.

Initial information from the resident indicated the dispute was over the woman they both had dated. But she left before law enforcement arrived.

The 38-year-old was said to have stabbed the 35-year-old with an unknown object. The 35-year-old told deputies he grabbed a kitchen knife and used it.

The 35-year-old has been released from the hospital, according to Cmdr. Steve Aust.

Detectives are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

•••

For background, read “Two Centralia men injured in knife fight, one on life support” from Tuesday Aug. 19, 2014 at 10:23 a.m., here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Updated at 4:21 p.m.

STOLEN FIREARM FOUND

• A 19-year-old Centralia resident was arrested yesterday at the 300 block of M Street in connection with a shotgun stolen from the 200 block of L Street. The gun was taken last Wednesday and reported missing Monday, according to the Centralia Police Department. Jonathan C. Siler was recognized by the victim, when surveillance images were viewed, according to police. The firearm was retrieved yesterday in Winlock, Officer Patty Finch said. Siler was booked into the Lewis County Jail for burglary and trafficking in stolen property, according to Finch.

MISSING TV RECOVERED

• Centralia police recovered a 60-inch plasma television yesterday for the Rent-A-Center which had been rented and then sold to someone else, according to the Centralia Police Department. The $1,560 item was found at the 1200 block of Centralia Avenue, according to police.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Chehalis police took a report yesterday from Southeast Winchester Hill Drive that someone had rummaged through a pickup truck in the previous few days. It didn’t appear anything was taken, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• A plea deal was put together in which an Onalaska man admitted to no wrong doing, but pleaded guilty today to offenses which could result in a sentence of life in prison, with the potential to be released after about three and a half years in connection with allegations of sexual abuse of a teenage relative. Richard L. Crumbliss, 44, was arrested in April and has remained held in the Lewis County Jail. Lewis County prosecutors changed the charges to the more serious counts of second-degree assault with sexual motivation related to an incident reported during spring break of this year and second-degree child molestation related to the girl’s other recent disclosure that when she was 12 and and she traveled with him in his semi truck, he gave her strawberry vodka and engaged in sexual activity with her, according to Deputy Prosecutor Mark McClain. Crumbliss made his so-called Alford plea to Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler this morning. The former volunteer firefighter and part time substitute bus driver was represented by attorney David Arcuri. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 1, after an evaluation is conducted by the Department of Corrections so the state agency may offer its recommendation of how much time he should get.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, obstructing, resisting arrest, misdemeanor assault, violation of no contact order; responses for alarm, disputes, drunken teenager, misdemeanor theft, suspicious circumstances, failure to return rented home furnishings, collision on city street, jogger bit by golden lab; complaint of loud neighbor music … and more.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 2:15 pm

CHILD PORN COMPLAINT

• Chehalis police were called to the Holiday Inn Express on Northwest Liberty Place yesterday evening following the discovery a man was using the hotel’s business center to look at what was described by the reporting person as child pornography. Detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said the individual left the area and the incident is under investigation. It remains to be seen if material was downloaded and was illegal, according to Wilson, and nobody knows if it was a hotel guest or a trespasser.

BURGLARY CENTRALIA

• A deputy was called to a home on the 1800 block of Salzer Valley Road outside Centralia yesterday where a 55-year-old man reported someone broke the front door glass and stole about $1,100 worth of valuables, including binoculars and a coin collection as well as bank statements and checkbooks. It happened sometime between 7:30 p.m. on Sunday and 11 a.m. yesterday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Centralia police were called yesterday about 12:40 p.m. regarding a firearm stolen from a residence on the 200 block of L Street.

• Someone got into a shed at the 100 block of Alexander Street in Centralia and stole a bug zapper and a shop vac, according to a report made to police yesterday.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning that a $500 pickup truck belonging to the county was stolen from near the orange gate at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds between 11 p.m. Sunday and 9 o’clock yesterday morning. The white Chevrolet S10 had a broken out back window, a county logo on its door and an exempt license plate reading 40954C, according to the sheriff’s office.

MAILBOX PILFERING

• Centralia police were called to the 1800 block of Van Wormer Street about 8 o’clock yesterday morning about the theft of checks from a mailbox.

STUMBLING DRUNK

• Chehalis police were called twice yesterday afternoon about a very drunk pedestrian, first when he fell onto his face on a sidewalk near Northwest Prindle Street and then less than an hour later because he was laying next to the railroad tracks. Both times he refused any help and this morning was out and about upright, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license, violation of no contact order; responses for alarms, disputes, small grass fires, misdemeanor theft, suspicious circumstances, violation of no contact order, failure to return rented home furnishings, collisions on city streets, including Twin Transit bus hitting parked vehicle … and more.

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Two Centralia men injured in knife fight, one on life support

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 10:23 am

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Two men are hospitalized with stab wounds after a fight at a Centralia home last night about a woman they both have dated.

Aid called to the 2700 block of Harrison Avenue about 11:30 p.m. found two injured males and transported them to Providence Centralia Hospital. Both were subsequently taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Deputies are looking for the woman they believe can provide a witness statement, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

“We really need to find her so we can put some of the puzzle pieces together,” Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning.

Brown said it happened at the residence of one of the victims, a 35-year-old man. The other victim was unable to give any information to deputies, she said.

The investigation has revealed thus far that a 38-year-old Centralia man and the woman arrived to the home shortly before midnight and an argument ensued, according to the sheriff’s office.

The 35-year-old told deputies they began fighting, he was stabbed in the neck with an unknown object and the other man yelled he was going to kill him, according to the sheriff’s office.

Brown relates the 35-year-old said he grabbed a kitchen knife nearby to defend himself and stabbed the 38-year-old.

The 38-year-old is on life support in critical condition with knife injuries to his face and head, according to responders.

No names have been released.

Brown said the woman, 33, who the two were arguing over, called 911 but left the scene in a white VW Passat prior to the arrival of law enforcement. She has an unrelated outstanding felony warrant for her arrest, Brown said, perhaps being the reason for her departure.

Detectives believe she may be in Grays Harbor County.

Brown didn’t have details about the nature and number of injuries each man sustained, but firefighters report one victim was stabbed in the lower neck/shoulder area and was in serious condition. Brown described the injuries to the 35-year-old resident as severe and to his neck and face.

Brown said both men are in critical condition.

The object with which the resident was stabbed has not been found, according to Brown, and detectives are continuing their investigation.

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Police: Phone tricksters have detailed customer info

Monday, August 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Centralia business owner is the latest near-victim of a telephone scam which is growing increasingly common.

In today’s case, like others, the caller pretended to be from a utility company which would be shutting off service if the customer didn’t pay up with a  money order immediately.

“Go to Rite Aid, send money Western Union, you have 45 minutes,” Centralia Police Department Officer Patty Finch said, describing the instructions given to the woman.

The woman actually went to Rite Aid, but was cautioned by employees there not to follow through, according to Finch.

She then called police.

Finch said the people at the other end of the phone line possess information which might lead the potential victim to feel convinced they are talking to their actual provider.

They were able to tell the woman her correct service address and her billing address, which are different, Finch said. “So they have information,” she said.

Centralia officers are getting dispatched to such incidents about every two weeks, Finch said.

They commonly claim to be Centralia City Light, Lewis County PUD or Puget Sound Energy, according to police.

The convincing caller says if the person doesn’t act within the hour, their power or water will be shut off. In today’s case, the woman was told her propane was going to be turned off, Finch said.

“Please be advised that none of these businesses operate in that fashion,” Finch said in a news release today. “If you are asked to wire money though Western Union or any other service, this is most likely a scam.”

Her advice: Contact your service provider first before sending money to anyone.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, August 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm

ATTACK LANDS ONE IN JAIL

• A 25-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for second-degree assault after he allegedly got upset and grabbed a female by the throat during a small gathering at an apartment on Friday night at the 1700 block of South Market Boulevard in Chehalis. Another individual broke them apart and when police arrived about midnight, Christian M. Mann was uncooperative and was zapped with a Taser, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Mann was booked into the Lewis County Jail also for harassment, police said. There was drinking going on, according to police.

IDENTITY THEFT INVESTIGATION

• A 31-year-old Centralia area man already in the jail was arrested in connection with a search of a red Chevrolet Tahoe conducted after a brief police pursuit in late July that turned up drugs, checks and stolen identification related to several cases in Thurston County, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Nobody was in the sport utility vehicle when it was found parked in Chehalis, but Michael E. Helgeson is suspected to be involved, according to police.

BURGLARY RANDLE

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning a  42-inch flat screen television was stolen from the 1300 block of Silverbrook Road in Randle sometime between 12 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday while the resident was away.

THEFT PACKWOOD

• A riding lawn mower and a push mower disappeared from where they were stored outside at the 100 block of Thompson Road in Packwood sometime in the two weeks before Saturday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The owner’s shed was also broken into, but nothing taken, according to the sheriff’s office.

THEFT CENTRALIA

• Centralia police took a report last night regarding medication stolen from the 1000 block of G Street.

THEFT MORTON

• Someone went into a greenhouse in a backyard at the 300 block of Temple Avenue in Morton and stole $60 worth of plants, according to a report made to police on Saturday morning.

STOLEN AUTOMOBILE

• Chehalis police were called to the 300 block of Northeast Adams Avenue about 7:25 a.m. yesterday regarding the theft of a red 1999 Honda Civic. The car has a license plate of AME 4238, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

SHOPLIFTING ARREST

• A Wal-Mart security person contacted a 32-year-old Yelm resident who allegedly tried to push out almost $500 worth of merchandise from the store on the 1600 block of Louisiana Avenue at about 6:20 p.m. on Friday. Police say the suspected shoplifter began to fight and subsequently was seen by medics because of a rapid heartbeat. Christopher W. Buhl was arrested for third-degree theft and then released, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• A Winlock woman boating with friends on Saturday discovered her purse had been stolen from where it was locked in the truck of her car parked near the north boat launch on Taidnapam Drive sometime between 4:10 p.m. and 7:20 p.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Among the missing items were her concealed weapon permit, cash and credit cards, according to the sheriff’s office. Her bank card was used at Wal-Mart in Spanaway and an attempt to use it was also made at Fred Meyer in Tacoma, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Clothing was also missing, Brown said.

• Chehalis police were called to parking lot at Wal-Mart about 9:40 p.m. on Saturday when a Rochester woman who had been gone for about an hour discovered someone broke the passenger side window of her vehicle and stole her purse. Her debit card was used at the nearby Airport Depot store and also in Seattle, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• A backpack and games were among the items stolen when someone prowled a vehicle on Southwest First Street near Market Boulevard in Chehalis, according to a report made to police about 11 a.m. on Friday.

• Morton police took a report about 7:20 p.m. on Thursday regarding a vehicle prowl at the 700 block of Division Avenue. Someone got into the unlocked vehicle but took nothing, according to police.

DRUGS

• Centralia police responded about 8 p.m. on Friday to the 1100 block of Long Road where they took a male into custody for alleged trespassing and subsequently found suspected methamphetamine on him. His identity is in question, but he was was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail under the name he provided, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Police were called to the 1100 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia just before 11 a.m. yesterday when an apartment resident discovered someone filled her door’s lock and deadbolt with glue.

POULTRY ATTACK

• Chehalis police were called about 10:30 a.m. on Friday to Southeast Magnolia Street where they were told a resident caught a dog killing his chickens. The incident is under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

SKINNY DIPPER CAUGHT

• A 43-year-old Tacoma man was arrested for breach of public peace after a Morton police officer driving across the Tilton River bridge spotted him exiting a swimming hole without any clothing on. It happened just before 10 a.m. last Monday and Jerry DeShazo told the officer he didn’t think anyone could see him, according to the Morton Police Department.

VEHICLE FIRE

• Firefighters were called about 3:40 p.m. yesterday when a fire broke out in the engine of  pickup truck just after an individual parked at the Centralia Outlets off Lum Road. Someone tried to use a fire extinguisher on it and an arriving crew put the flames out, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

COLLISION

• A 22-year-old Chehalis resident admitted he was going way too fast when he wrecked his 1992 Honda Accord on the 2400 block of Wildwood Road in Curtis early Saturday morning. When deputies arrived just before 1 a.m., the driver was not there but it appeared the car had gone into a skid and rolled at least once, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It was totaled and so it was towed, Chief Ciivl Deputy Stacy Brown said. The driver was subsequently found at his home and suffered bumps and bruises, Brown said. He was ticketed, according to Brown.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, trespass, misdemeanor assault, shoplifting, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, disputes, loud music, misdemeanor theft, violation of no contact order, collisions on city streets, dogs left in parked vehicles … and more.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 11:23 am

ANOTHER FIRE ON ABANDONED MILL PROPERTY

• Firefighters called about 2:10 p.m. yesterday to a possible structure fire at the 1800 block of Central Boulevard in north Centralia found a pile of wood and other materials burning inside a large abandoned mill building. The fire was on the same property where a week earlier crews spent hours putting out  burning brush, trees and old equipment. The materials yesterday consisted of a mound of wood and garbage approximately 20 feet by 10 feet, according to Riverside Fire Authority. It was quickly extinguished, and there was no damage to the metal building, Fire Capt. Erik Olson reports. The fire marshal and Centralia police are investigating the cause.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license; responses for bad checks written to a business … and more.

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Former Onalaskan John Booth loses appeal

Friday, August 15, 2014 at 10:38 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Convicted triple-murderer John A. Booth Jr. has lost one appeal, but at least one other is still pending.

The former Onalaskan was sentenced to life in prison for the August 2010 shootings at the home of 52-year-old David West Sr., from whom prosecutors contended Booth was seeking payment of a debt for Robbie Russell, a local drug dealer.

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John A. Booth Jr.

Seattle lawyer Stephanie Cunningham argued numerous reasons his convictions in 2011 by a jury should be overturned, but a three-member panel of the Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions.

The 23-page opinion issued earlier this week was authored by Justice Thomas R. Bjorgen, with justices Bradley A. Maxa and Linda Cj Lee concurring.

According to testimony and evidence in the eight-day trial in Lewis County Superior Court, Booth was visiting the Salkum-Onalaska area residence when West brought out a shotgun to get him to leave and Booth shot him with a 9 mm handgun. Prosecutors said the shootings that followed were executions to eliminate witnesses.

Losing their lives that day, along with West Sr., were 16-year-old David “D.J.” West Jr. and 50-year-old Tony Williams of Randle. West Sr.’s girlfriend, Denise Salts, survived. Booth denied shooting them.

Booth’s appeal lawyer claimed that 1) the to-convict jury instruction violated his right to trial by jury and 2) the state presented insufficient evidence to allow a conviction on the attempted extortion charge. In a statement of additional grounds, Booth also alleged that (3) the state obtained evidence against him in violation of the Privacy Act, chapter 9.73RCW; 4) the prosecutor committed misconduct when cross -examining him; 5) the trial court infringed his right to counsel; and 6) the trial court erroneously imposed legal financial obligations that his indigence prevented him from paying.

The appeals court disagreed with most of Cunningham’s contentions.

Booth was sentenced under the state’s so-called three strikes law.

A post-trial motion Booth filed from Walla Walla State Penitentiary asking a judge to to vacate his judgement and sentence however, still has not been argued.

Booth contends eavesdropping on inmates in the jail was governmental misconduct and jeopardized his rights to confidential communications with his lawyers. He called it “ear hustling”.

For that motion, he is represented by Aberdeen-based defense attorney Erik Kupka and his partner.

Booth was convicted in Lewis County Superior Court of one count of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, attempted extortion and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
•••

For background, read:

• “Convict loses argument about burial expenses related to 2010 triple-homicide” from Monday December 16, 2013, here

• “One of John Booth’s appeals to murder conviction grinding slowly through local court” from Wednesday September 4, 2013, here

• “Ear hustling”: Convicted murderer John Booth tells judge about problems at Lewis County Jail” from Friday July 5, 2013, here

• State of Washington, Respondent V John Allen Booth Jr., Appellant – No. 42919-5-II, Unpublished Opinion, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, August 15, 2014 at 11:34 am

MOTORBIKE MISSING

• A 2001 Yamaha YZ125 dirt bike, riding gear, several fuel cans and a trailer jack were stolen from an outbuilding on property at the 100 block of Elma Drive North outside Centralia with the value estimated at $3,355, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy who took a report last night noted it took place sometime between Wednesday morning and 6:30 p.m. yesterday, according to the sheriff’s office.

HANDBAGS SNATCHED

• Centralia police were called to the Coach store at the Centralia Outlets on Lum Road about 1:45 p.m. yesterday to a report a woman grabbed four purses and ran out with them. The loss is more than $1,200, according to the Centralia Police Department. The woman, described only as black with a partially shaved eyebrow was wearing a red sweater and had her hair in a bun, according to police. She was seen getting into a gray Ford Taurus, police said.

CAR PROWL

• Police were called about 6:40 a.m. today regarding a purse stolen from a vehicle at the 2400 block of Fords Prairie Avenue in Centralia.

• Chehalis police were called about 10 a.m. yesterday about a vehicle prowled at the 300 block of Southeast Park Hill Drive.

• Chehalis police took a report yesterday about someone breaking into a car on the 200 block of Northeast Washington Avenue in Chehalis.

PARKING LOT DISPUTE

• Centralia police called about 9 p.m. last night regarding someone slashing two tires in the parking lot on the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue near Starbucks subsequently pulled over a suspect vehicle nearby and found its 20-year-old driver was intoxicated. Ramon Garcia-Simpson was arrested for  driving under the influence and Jorge A. Romero, 35, was arrested for furnishing liquor to a minor, according to the Centralia Police Department. Both Centralia residents were booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police. There had been a dispute between them and the Rochester man whose tires were damaged, but it didn’t appear they knew each other, police said.

COLLISIONS

• A 51-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol about 7:30 a.m. yesterday after a deputy responded to a report a sport utility vehicle struck the wall in the drive through at McDonalds on the 100 block of Kirkland Road in Napavine. Valerie K. Gleason acknowledged she had been drinking, but said it was many, many hours earlier, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. She was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A 28-year-old man from Rock Springs, Wyoming, was arrested for driving under the influence as well as hit and run after his vehicle reportedly struck a fence along the roadway on the 700 block of Howe Road outside Toledo last night. A deputy responding about 8:45 p.m. located Anthony C. Nichols a short distance away and booked him into the  Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, trespassing, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for disputes, suicide attempt, collisions on city streets, suspicious circumstances… and more.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Updated at 8:40 p.m.

SUSPECT FROM DOMESTIC DISPUTE ARRESTED

• A 23-year-old man was arrested overnight for an incident on Saturday night when he allegedly took $20 from his girlfriend while they were driving between Rochester and Centralia and then threatened to leave her in the woods out past Big Hanaford Road east of Centralia. Police say Marcus L. Deal assaulted her to get the money he said was his and wouldn’t let her away for a period of time. She was able to calm him down and he took her to his home in Centralia; then she went to a relative’s home to call 911, according to Officer Patty Finch. The victim’s injury was minor, Finch said. Deal was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree robbery second-degree and kidnapping, according to Finch.

POLICE: FORGERY FOR EXTRA MEDS

• A 35-year-old from Rainier was arrested yesterday morning at a Centralia pharmacy for forgery after allegedly altering a prescription for narcotics. An officer called about 9:30 a.m. to Rite Aid at the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue was able to contact the doctor and learn it should have been for 100 pills, not 200 pills, according to the Centralia Police Department. Aron D. Shelley was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

FUEL THEFT SUSPECT ARRESTED, WITH STOLEN VEHICLE

• A 43-year-old Centralia man was arrested early yesterday after he was caught allegedly stealing fuel at an auto dealership on the 1900 block of Louisiana Avenue in Chehalis. Uhlmann’s I-5 Toyota has reported thefts of gasoline and asked for extra patrols in the area, according to the Chehalis Police Department, and about 2 o’clock yesterday morning, an officer observed a van, a gas can and a person in the car lot. The individual fled and was located by a police dog about 75 yards away, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said. Jeffery L. Tanner was  booked into the Lewis County Jail, Bailey said. The 2002 Ford Econo Van with him turned out to be stolen from Colville or Yakima County, Bailey said.

OUTBUILDING BURGLED

• A deputy took a report last night from the 400 block of Ingalls Road west of Centralia regarding the theft of two Stihl chainsaws from a shop building sometime after July 15 and before Monday. The loss is estimated at $600, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

CAR PROWL

• Chehalis police were called about 7:20 a.m. today regarding a vehicle prowl on Southeast Winchester Hill Drive.

COLLISION

• A 68-year-old Centralia woman was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol after she was involved in a minor traffic accident at Main and Saxon streets in Centralia last night. Marcia K. Main was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

GLENOMA RESIDENCE DESTROYED BY FIRE

• Firefighters from three districts were called just before 2 p.m. yesterday to the 100 block of Cedar Lane in Glenoma where a single-wide mobile home had caught fire. The structure was fully involved in flames when they arrived and it turned out nobody was living there, incident commander Jeff Jaques said. Jaques, chief of Randle’s fire department said the woman who did, passed away about a week ago. They put out some burning trees and kept the fire from spreading, he said. “I don’t know the cause, I don’t know there was enough left for them to determine the cause,” Jaques said.

CRANE STREET FIRE CREWS WRAPPING UP

• Members of Thurston County Fire District 12 who have been assisting the state Department of Natural Resources at the site of a brush fire on unimproved property off Crane Street since Sunday may get a break tomorrow. District 12 Battalion Chief Jim Fowler said he expects they will finish work there today. A DNR level three incident management team set up at Tenino Middle School has been overseeing it and two other fires this week, the three of them dubbed the Tenino Complex Fire. They are the Johnson Creek Fire about a mile to the east on land owned by Weyerhaeuser, which threatened no structures and another near Roy, according to a DNR spokesperson. Earlier this week, those efforts drew a team from as far away as Nevada. The Crane Street fire on Bluemauer Hill – which was stopped at roughly 13 acres on Sunday night – was the scene of an outdoor party which went into Saturday night, according to Fowler.  Two vehicles and a shack were burned, and workers have found remains that resembled tents, according to Fowler. A DNR investigator was told a barbecue may have tipped over, Fowler said this morning.

FREEWAY SPEED CHANGE

• The speed limit returns to 60 mph today on Interstate 5 through Centralia after months of a 50 mph limit for construction, according to the state Department of Transportation. Work continues however in the zone between Mellen Street and Blakeslee Junction to the north and speed reductions may be put into place again when traffic is shifted while crews retrofit and paint the bridges over the Skookumchuck River, according to DOT. This is the last phase of an eight-year-long, $168 million effort to improve safety and congestion on I-5 in Lewis and south Thurston counties. Construction is expected to be complete in late 2015.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, disorderly conduct, a man who shoplifted bandaids, a woman who shoplifted personal hygiene products; responses for alarm, collisions on city streets, suspicious circumstances, fire response for over-cooked muffin … and more.

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Fire destroys Centralia home, man and pet unhurt

Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 10:27 am

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A rural Centralia home burned overnight but the resident and his dog escaped without injury, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Firefighters called about 3:30 a.m. to the 400 block of Jones Road at the far east end of their jurisdiction found the two-story house fully engulfed in flames, according to Assistant Chief Rick Mack.

The man who lives there was already outside and using a garden hose on it, Mack said.

Chief Mike Kytta reports the fire was too far along to enter the building and was fought only from the exterior.

They were joined by firefighters from Chehalis.

Crews were able to keep the fire from spreading to a storage building, a boat and a pickup truck, according to Kytta.

The house and an adjacent wood shed containing several cords of wood were described as total losses.

Mack said the cause is under investigation, but may be hard to pinpoint given the amount of destruction.

The occupant had been sleeping and was awakened by a smoke alarm, Mack said. When he got up, he saw fire in the area of his enclosed back porch, but couldn’t tell exactly what it was, he said.

The working smoke alarm was key in this situation, Mack said.

“It really is a critical life saving tool,” he said. “As evidenced by this incident here.”

The Red Cross is assisting the resident, according to the fire department.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Updated at 3:40 p.m.

BUTTER KNIFE ATTACK

• A 46-year-old woman was arrested last night after she allegedly stabbed her boyfriend in the chest with a butter knife at the 1200 block of Long Road in Centralia. Deputies called about 11:40 p.m. found the 38-year-old victim had a wound near his collarbone, but he didn’t want any aid, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. They learned he threw lighter that hit her in the arm and she stuck him with the piece of flatware, according to the sheriff’s office. Angela M. Reed was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree assault, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

BANK CARD STOLEN AND USED

• Police took a report from a 61-year-old Centralia man yesterday morning after he discovered that while he was in jail someone used his debit card and drained his account. The card was left at the motel where he was staying on the 1000 block of Eckerson Road when he was arrested, the victim told police . And when he got out after about four months, he went to the bank to make a withdrawal and found he was nearly $5,000 in the red, some of that being attributed to overdraft fees, Officer Patty Finch said. The investigation is ongoing, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BURGLARY CENTRALIA

• Deputies responded about 5 p.m. yesterday to a burglary at the 100 block of Tri-Mountain Lane outside Centralia in which an estimated $500 worth of jewelry was missing from a home. It happened between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and the suspect may have been driving a red  four-door passenger car, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

FELONY SHOPLIFTING

• Chehalis police responded to Wal-Mart about 10 p.m. yesterday after a security person detained one of two females who reportedly left without paying, pushing a shopping cart loaded up with nearly $300 worth of diapers, blankets, clothing and cleaning supplies. One fled on foot but the other reportedly said she was going to sell the items to others, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Arrianna K. Davis, 18, of Kelso, was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for theft with intent to resell, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said.

COLLISION

• An 18-year-old driver was hospitalized yesterday after her car ran off U.S. Highway 12 about a dozen miles east of Packwood and struck a rock embankment. Troopers called just before 11 a.m. report the Toyota Tercel was totaled. Melissa A. Watkins, from Tieton, was transported to Morton General Hospital, according to the Washington State Patrol.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, a man who shoplifted a plum; responses for alarm, disputes, collisions on city streets, car versus deer on state route, suspicious circumstances … and more.

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Forest fire west of Centralia well under control

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 8:39 pm
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By early Monday evening from a little bit beyond Teague Road, the wildfire had calmed. / Courtesy photo by Juan Martinez

Updated

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The fire fight west of Centralia is winding down but crews will continue work a few more days to make sure smoldering wood is all the way extinguished and complete what they call mop up.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Natural Resources said the charred area was mapped at just under 60 acres.

“They were hoping at the end of today’s shift to have it 100 percent contained,” Rex Hapala said this evening.

Hapala said approximately 85 firefighters worked today, at the forest fire site about three miles past the end of Teague Road.

“The fire wasn’t very active at all last night,” Hapala said.

The blaze began on Sunday afternoon with Riverside Fire Authority responding, and personnel from DNR joining them as flames swept through some 25 acres that included 40-year-old timber.

The initial call was about a slash pile observed burning in a clear cut area off a logging road.

DNR set up a base at Centralia High School yesterday morning as numerous firefighters were summoned from  Lewis, Pacific and Cowlitz counties.

The property is DNR Trust Land, managed by the state agency with timber profits benefitting schools.

By yesterday afternoon, DNR Incident Commander Aaron Schmidt estimated the size at 40 acres and called it 25 percent contained. A helicopter dropped water on areas describe as hot spots as firefighters worked in 100 degree weather.

Inmate crews from Larch Creek and Naselle Youth Camp assisted as well.

It was the biggest fire DNR’s Pacific Cascade Region had battled in about two weeks, according to Schmidt.

The closest homes were probably a mile and a half away, at the end of Deep Creek Road out of Adna, Schmidt said.

The National Weather Service yesterday issued a red flag warning for dangerous fire weather, with expected lightning and some was seen in the area this morning, and some moisture came with it, according to Hapala.

Hapala said tomorrow they plan to bring in two new inmate crews to do line work around the perimeter, and create a better buffer zone.

He expects the work will continue through the end of the week.

“We’ll be out there a few more days, continuing to do mop up,” he said. “Some of the bigger fuels are still smoking and burning.”

2014.0810.teagueroad.sundayevening.tracie.trice

Looking south, flames rise from the hillside beyond Teague Road around 8 p.m. on Sunday. / Courtesy photo by Tracie Trice

2014.0811.scan.teague.fire

Teague Road Fire: 08/11/2014 / Department of Natural Resources