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Read about investigations launched into two mortuaries …

Friday, October 25, 2013 at 6:43 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – KOMOnews.com reports the state has opened investigations into two funeral homes following the mixup of bodies involving Jerry Moon.

Lindsay Cohen writes the Department of Licensing is looking at Dahl McVicker in Kelso as well as Brown Mortuary Service in Chehalis.

Meanwhile, another local family has come forward to tell how when 27-year-old Christina Hammond died in 2007 and her body was cremated, Brown returned to them a bag of jewelry belonging to someone else, leading to questions about whose ashes they received.

King5.com reports the Kelso funeral home was already the subject of a financial investigation.

Read more here.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 7:33 pm

CAT BURGLAR GETS INTO CENTRALIA RESIDENCE

• A Centralia area woman called 911 yesterday after waking up and realizing someone had burglarized her home while she and her children were sleeping. A deputy arriving about 9 a.m. to the 100 block of Mills Lane southeast of town learned the 37-year-old resident got up about 2:30 a.m. to take her medication, which was locked in a safe on a desk in the living room, where she, her daughter and son were sleeping, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The woman said when she got up later, the safe was gone, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. It appeared someone opened a window as well as cut through some plastic sheeting used to block a draft, according to Brown. The safe was later found, destroyed, in a ditch along Centralia-Alpha Road, after a neighbor called to report they’d seen a bluish-green car stop and toss it out, Brown said. Inside the safe were a wallet, old coins, a friend’s white-gold ring and various cards, according to the sheriff’s office.

BURGLARY IN CHEHALIS

• A web cam, a laptop and a Kindle Fire tablet computer were among the valuables missing after a burglary at the 600 block of Northwest St. Helens Avenue in Chehalis. Police were called about 6:30 p.m. yesterday; a door had been left unlocked, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The loss is more than $1,500, Sgt. Gary Wilson said.

DRUGS

• A 21-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of methamphetamine about 8:30 p.m. yesterday at North Washington Avenue and Center Street in Centralia. Luis Ontiveros-Murillo was  booked into the Lewis County Jail, according Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Police took a report yesterday morning that someone broke the back window out of a car at the 1100 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia.

TURKEYS CROSSING HIGHWAY PRECIPITATE CRASH

• Two people were hospitalized after a two-vehicle wreck this morning on state Route 6 about three miles west of Pe Ell when a Dodge Caravan stopped for wild turkeys crossing the roadway and was rear ended. Troopers called about 9:30 a.m. found the Dodge driver, Janet L. Shepperd, 40, of Pe Ell, injured although she was not transported, according to the Washington State Patrol. Both it and the 2013 Ford Edge which struck it were damaged. The Edge’s occupants, Arthur and Barbara Cox, both 73 and both from Grandview, were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the state patrol. Cox was cited for violating the basic speed rule, the investigating trooper reported.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, responses for alarms, misdemeanor assault, suspicious circumstances, a dog being walked on a leash getting clipped by a passing vehicle leaving it with an abrasion on its leg … and more.

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Maurin murder trial: Ed and Minnie go to the bank

Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 9:03 am

Updated at 7:49 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Patricia Hull handled some banking matters for the Maurins the same day the elderly couple went missing nearly 28 years ago.

At his request, she gave Ed Maurin an envelope of $100 bills.

The following morning, after hearing the Maurins were missing, her manager at Sterling Savings and Loan in Chehalis called the sheriff’s office to report what they knew.

Hull was among many individuals who took the witness stand this week in Lewis County Superior Court and talked about the Ethel residents whose bodies were subsequently located off a logging road near Adna.

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Ed and Minnie Maurin

Hull was the savings supervisor at the bank at the intersection of Market and Park streets. She retired in 1991 after 24 years with the institution.

She recalled the Maurins as congenial customers who came in every month or two.

Eighty-one-year-old Ed Maurin phoned her the morning of Dec. 19, 1985 and asked if they had any money, Hull testified.

She recognized his voice.

“I, joking with him said we had a nickel or two,” she said. “He said he needed a little more than that, he wanted $8,500.”

He wanted it in cash, and she suggested she get him a check instead, according to Hull.

“No, no, he wanted currency,” she said. “They were going to buy a car, and that’s the conversation we had.”

Under questioning by attorneys, Hull explained the bank didn’t have that much cash available, and had to get it from a commercial bank.

When Ed Maurin showed up about 10:30 a.m., the money wasn’t yet there, so she asked him to take a seat to wait, she said.

She suggested he ask his wife Minnie Maurin to come in from the car to have coffee or cookies, Hull said.

“He said no, she wasn’t feeling well,” she said.

Hull said she got the impression he was saying he wanted cash because he was dealing with someone up north who didn’t know him.

“He seemed calm, we joked with him and told him he’d have to come through the drive through to show us the car, and he said he would,” she said.

He said, “You betcha,” she testified.

Ed Maurin said he’d go out and ask his wife to come in while they waited. Subsequently when Hull was ready for him, she stepped out the door to motion he should come in, she said.

She saw their car parked, the door opening, he waved back and then he came inside, she said. The windows were fogged up, she recalled.

After signing the documents, he left.

The trial is in its third week. Former Lewis County resident Ricky A. Riffe, 55, is charged with burglary, kidnapping, robbery and murder in the case. His younger brother John Gregory Riffe was about to be charged as well when he died last year.

Hull was questioned by Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead and defense attorney John Crowley. She, and the jury, were shown documents on the overhead screen in the courtroom.

The bloody bank receipt found in the pocket of Ed Maurin’s trousers showed a balance of $36,035.12.

The bank’s copy of the withdrawal ticket she was given to look at showed a balance of zero.

The zero balance made her think he’d closed out the account, she said. But the paper showing the large balance suggested to her Ed Maurin has asked about a balance on another account, she testified.

Hull told of getting a phone call around 4 p.m. the day before Ed Maurin came in, from a customer asking about making a large withdrawal. The bank was closing, and she wasn’t sure who it was, she testified.

Jurors have already heard how the Maurin’s green 1969 Chrysler was found abandoned the following morning in the parking lot of the Yard Birds shopping center, the keys in the ignition, the front seat covered in blood and how law enforcement searched for the couple for days.

Yesterday, Mike Haunreiter took the stand to describe what he stumbled upon days later on Stearns Hill road outside Adna.

Haunreiter said he worked at the coal mine, they’d gotten off early, had a parking lot party and then he went for a drive on logging roads, to look for deer. It was the morning of Christmas Eve.

Something by the roadside caught his eye, but it wasn’t until his way back down he looked closer, Haunreiter said.

At first he thought it looked like a “Susie doll”, like they’d practiced CPR with in a recent session, he said.

“But a Susie doll doesn’t have a housecoat on,” Haunreiter said.

When he realized he was looking at a dead body he got back in his truck, speeding away in fear, according to Haunreiter. But then he stopped at a house to say he needed to call 911.

Dr. William J. Brady was the pathologist who conducted autopsies late that afternoon and evening at a mortuary in Centralia.

On Ed Maurin he found wounds on the top of his head, like two blows from a heavy object. One shotgun blast in the middle of his upper back below his neck killed him immediately, he described.

His stomach was empty, but Minnie Maurin had eaten fairly recently, he said. The doctor recalled removing three rings from her fingers.

Brady indicated Ed Maurin had a pacemaker, a bit of hypertension and a somewhat enlarged heart, but otherwise was in good health. The same could be said for 83-year-old Minnie Maurin, who suffered from arthritis, but had an excellent heart, according to the doctor.

The blast that killed her entered through her left shoulder and toward her cheek and neck, he said. She too would have died instantly, he said.

Testimony resumes this morning.

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Missing: Chehalis business owner makes appeal for return of totem pole

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 8:06 pm
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Fred Wildhaber’s face is among the features on lost family heirloom.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Jeremy Wildhaber wants his totem pole back.

He called police after realizing it was missing but he’s not sure it was even actually stolen, he said.

Among the features on the 15- to 16-foot tall pole are an eagle, a salmon and a couple of faces, including his father’s, Wildhaber said.

“It’s kind of a family heirloom and its been part of the building since we’ve owned it almost,” he said.

It was previously the centerpiece column at his dad’s business Industrial Specialists and for a time was stored in a barn, but Wildhaber was preparing to have the paint touched up so it could be displayed at his new Jeremy’s Marketplace and Restaurant when it opens, he said.

He’s been remodeling the building on the 500 block of West Main Street in Chehalis, and was keeping it in a storage building about a block south, on the Darigold property.

It accidentally got left out by workers on Friday who were moving items around in the building and forgot to put it back inside, he said. He estimates it weighs as much as 400 pounds.

“It would have taken several guys and a trailer to move it,” he said.

He’s thinking, however, that since it was left laying on pallets, near a pile of walls to be discarded, someone may have thought it was bound for the dump and taken it home, he said.

Wildhaber is asking whoever has his totem to please return it. Or call him and he will come pick it up.

“I’m not going to press charges,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to chop it up for firewood because they’re afraid they’re gonna get in trouble.”

It’s not even complete as is, according to Wildhaber. He still has the detachable wings and ears.

Wildhaber can be reached at 360-827-0093.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Updated at 7:30 p.m.

WOMAN CARJACKED ON FREEWAY SOUTH OF CHEHALIS

• A 34-year-old Longview man was arrested last night after he allegedly rear-ended a woman near Napavine and then instead of exchanging driver information, got into her vehicle and stole it. The 50-year-old victim called 911 about 9:30 p.m. from the northbound offramp of Interstate 5 near milepost 72, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. She said when she got out to contact him, he walked past her and got into her 2009 Chevrolet Equinox and drove away, according to the sheriff’s office. The stolen vehicle was spotted in Chehalis near the 13th Street interchange, where a deputy began to pursue it, and a chase of more than 30 miles continued up the freeway, involving multiple law enforcement agencies, according to Sgt. Rob Snaza. Snaza said the driver exited at Lacey, and then got back onto Interstate 5 heading south until he was finally stopped with the assistance of so-called spike strips about 10 miles later.  Michael A. Vienola was booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle and attempted eluding, according to the sheriff’s office.

OUT-OF-CONTROL

• Centralia police say they booked an 18-year-old girl into jail last night after she allegedly kicked an officer and tried to bite a nurse while she was being treated at the hospital for alcohol consumption. Breann M. Pearson was arrested for third-degree assault after the approximately 11:20 p.m. incidents connected with the 1300 block of View Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.

UNWANTED VISITOR

• Centralia police say they investigated an incident at the 600 block of East Third Street on Monday night in which a 16-year-old  girl entered the property and assaulted the owner after she was asked to leave. Police are asking prosecutors to consider a charge of first-degree burglary but did not arrest the girl or her companion who they have not identified,  according Centralia Police Department.

BURGLARY RANDLE

• A deputy was called yesterday to the 100 block of Kiona Road in Randle following a burglary in which two chest freezers, a 20-inch flat screen television and air compressor and other items were taken, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is more than $1,400, according to the sheriff’s office.

STOLEN FIREARMS

• A resident of the 200 block of Winston Creek Road reported a handgun and other items missing after an acquaintance who had been staying there left, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday. Jeremy C. Patterson, 27, of Ethel, was being sought by the sheriff’s office but was picked up by Centralia police at the Centralia Outlets with the alleged stolen firearm on Monday, according to authorities.

• Police were called about 8 o’clock this morning to the 100 block of Cedar Crest Place in Napavine where someone smashed out the window from a vehicle and stole a Savage bolt-action hunting rifle. The missing gun has a stainless steel barrel, a black synthetic stock and a Bushnell scope on it, according to the Napavine Police Department.

FUNNY MONEY

• Centralia police arrested a 25-year-old Tenino man for allegedly attempting to pend a counterfeit $50 bill at a grocery store on the 600 block of Tower Avenue. Kyle S. Parker was  booked into the Lewis County Jail early yesterday morning, according Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 26-year-old Lakewood resident was arrested for shoplifting and possession of heroin yesterday afternoon in connection with the 1200 block of Lum Road, according to the Centralia Police Department. Jodi L. Logan was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• A 21-year-old Centralia woman was arrested around 9:15 p.m. yesterday for shoplifting and possession of unspecified drugs in connection with the 500 block of South Tower Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department. Natalie Sanchez-Anderson was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• Police arrested a 37-year-old Centralia resident for possession of methamphetamine late Monday night in connection with the 1200 block of North Pearl Street.  Kelly M. Davies also had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant and was was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, girl fight and other assault, bicycle theft and other misdemeanor theft, shoplifting, minor collisions, student being bullied, intoxicated person, possible runaway teen, dispute complaint of racial slurs on a window, neighbor dogs who will not stay home, swerving for deer and wrecking … and more.

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Maurin murder trial: More testimony, and the arrest

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 9:12 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Jurors in Lewis County Superior Court have been moved through time as they hear from witnesses testifying in the Maurin murder trial, from December nearly 28 years ago to last year’s arrest of a suspect.

The trial of 55-year-old Ricky A. Riffe began its third week with yet another local person who recalled passing by Ed and Minnie Maurin’s home on U.S. Highway 12 in Ethel the morning they went missing on Dec. 19, 1985.

Marjorie Hadaller, now 75, who also lives in Ethel, said she drove by around 7:30 or 8 a.m. with her sister and remembered seeing all the lights on in their house.

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Ed and Minnie Maurin

She told jurors she noticed a white van parked with someone standing next to it and made a comment to her sister about it.

Ed, 81, and Minnie, 83, weren’t at home for a Christmas party they were hosting at noon that day. Their car was discovered abandoned the following morning in the parking lot at Yard Birds in Chehalis, with blood soaked onto its front seat. Their bodies were located days later on a logging road near Adna.

Beverly Jestrine took the witness stand yesterday telling how she contacted law enforcement after an appeal was made for information.

Jestrine was out Christmas shopping that same day and remembered pulling into the entrance on the west side of the Yard Birds parking lot in Chehalis when a car to her right made the same left turn, cutting her off.

“If I hadn’t been going slow and saw him, I’d have T-boned him,” she said.

Jestrine said she noticed the driver was sitting very close to the driver’s side door – almost against the window – and wearing a knit cap and coat of navy or dark green.

When she left the shopping center, 20 or 30 minutes later, she saw a man walking briskly up Kresky Avenue holding a gun, with a towel and when he reached in his pocket, he dropped something that looked like three small cylinders and a piece of paper, she said.

“He had like a 5 o’clock shadow,” she said. “Other than the back and the side, I did not get a good look at his face.”

Ruth Lascurain lived in Cinebar and also took a trip to Yard Birds that day.

She parked on east side of building, and testified she noticed a green car parked with its lights on. Lascurain said she saw a guy she thought was with another person, and saw him walk towards the car.

“I saw him walk to the back of the car, maybe he bent down, I thought he was going to turn the lights off,” she said.

She didn’t see his face, but recalled baggy-ish clothing, that seemed like big Army coat, she said.

Another witness said he contacted police after hearing the news.

James Heminger saw a person walking north away from Yard Birds on Kresky, carrying a shotgun in his right hand,

“Not really skinny, not really heavy, nothing remarkable,” Heminger said of the man.

Leslie Mauel, was a 911 dispatcher then and today is the supervisor at the Lewis County 911 Communications Center.

Mauel testified it was about 2 o’clock that afternoon when he saw a car parked at saw at Yard Birds – which he described as a black vinyl and pea green car – with its lights on, and they were dim.

Jurors were brought forward in time yesterday to the latter part of 2003, when then-Lewis County Sheriff John McCroskey had a detective go through and review all the evidence, to find what he could send off to be tested for DNA. That was not long after Minnie Maurins’ son Denny Hadaller hired a pair of private detectives to look into the case.

Jurors were brought forward in time again to when the current Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield decided to put a new detective on the old case.

Mansfield said he assigned detective Bruce Kimsey to the case, since both he and Kenepah were older and he wanted to make sure a younger person who would be around longer was familiar with the case.

William Gifford was an Alaska state trooper who was asked in March of last year to assist Kimsey, who had asked him to locate the Riffe brothers. He took the witness stand yesterday as well.

Giifford said he arrived in the small village of White Salmon as a recreational fisherman, checked out the Riffe’s house a couple of times and had a trooper to fly over to get a look as well.

Subsequently that summer, he, Kimsey, two other investigators and Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead went to make the arrest, he said. John Gregory Riffe had died.

After knocking and getting no answer, Gifford said he heard the sound of an oxygen machine, and having a concern of a medical issue involving Ricky Riffe, he opened the door and shouted out, Gifford testified.

The response from upstairs was, “Who the f*** is it,” he said. He said he was Bill Gifford, Alaska state trooper.

The response was, “What the f*** do you want,” Gifford said.

Riffe came downstairs and was arrested.

Ricky A. Riffe, 55, is charged with burglary, robbery and murder in the case.

Elected Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer and Senior Deputy Prosecutor Halstead are prosecuting the case. Riffe is represented by Seattle-based attorney John Crowley, assisted by paralegal Richard Davis.

The trial resumes this morning.

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Examination of 2010 Morton plane crash yields some answers

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 10:07 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – As the third anniversary approaches of the crash that killed three aboard the plane belonging to a Chehalis-based eye clinic, the entryway to the local airport has been named in honor of the pilot, but authorities still aren’t exactly sure what happened.

The Cessna 340A wrecked about 10 minutes into its flight, in the mountains northeast of Morton on Oct. 25, 2010. No one survived.

Perishing were two employees of Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute and their pilot Ken Sabin. He and technician Rod Rinta, 43, both resided in Chehalis. Ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Shenk, 69, was from Woodland.

A probable cause report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board in August indicates it’s most likely the pilot experienced a partial loss of power of the right engine and after incorrectly turning into the failed engine, the plane became uncontrollable. The airplane continued a clockwise descending turn as it dropped off the radar at more than 10,000 feet, according to the report.

The issue with the engine was not determined because examination of the Cessna did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation, according to the NTSB.

The flight began at the Chehalis-Centralia Airport and was enroute to  Lewiston, Idaho.

Airport Manager Allyn Roe said the question still isn’t answered as to what made Sabin turn into the engine.

“Those reports aren’t ever nice to read,” Roe said. “They will cite pilot error nine out of 10 times.”

Sabin, a member of the Centralia-Chehalis Airport Governing Board, was an experienced pilot with thousands of flight hours who clearly knew not to do that, he said.

“It’s the circumstances you’re given; you may or may not have a chance of getting out of it,” Roe said.

This summer, the entry drive at the south end of the airport was named Ken Sabin Way in his memory. Sabin was retired from Security State Bank and had more than 40 years experience as a pilot.
•••

For background, read:

• The NTSB report, here

• “Bad weather prevents recovery of plane crash victims” from Wednesday Oct. 27, 2010, here

• “Chehalis Cessna’s last transmission: ” ‘We’re losing it’ from Saturday Nov 20 2010, here

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Maurin murder trial: New information in old case takes both sides by surprise

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 7:31 pm
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A small number of spectators observe proceedings in Lewis County Superior Court, where former Lewis County resident Ricky Riffe is on trial for kidnapping and murder.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The judge in the Maurin murder trial was informed this afternoon that both prosecutor and defense attorney learned for the first time today, a witness allegedly spoke to Ricky Riffe while he and his now-dead brother were wiping finger prints from the car nearly 28 years ago.

“It’s an obvious surprise,” Riffe’s Seattle-based attorney told the judge.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said it was new information from a man already on their witness list.

“Yes, that’s correct, the first time we heard of the conversation was today,” Meyer said.

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Ricky Allen Riffe

The trial for Ricky Riffe, 55, is in its third week in Lewis County Superior Court. He is charged with burglary, kidnapping, robbery and  murder in the December 1985 deaths of an elderly Ethel couple, Minnie and Ed Maurin.

Very little, if any, testimony has been about anyone conversing with the suspect.

Jurors have heard numerous witnesses speak of seeing a man at various key places that day, often noting him wearing a dark stocking cap, wearing an Army jacket or carrying a gun. They have heard about heard several sightings of the Maurin’s 1969 Chrysler on Dec. 19, 1985, carrying the couple with a person in the backseat.

Meyer told the jury when the trial began all the blood and DNA evidence came back to match the Maurins and their family. Today, jurors heard from former detective Ross Kenepah that none of the approximately 65 finger prints collected in the case match Riffe.

Meyer said the coming witness said he made small talk with Riffe and his since-deceased younger brother John Gregory Riffe. The brother was about to be charged in the case last year along with the defendant when he died.

“The individual said he was watching the news which had a story and two pictures side by side,” Meyer told the judge.

The witness indicated the person on the left was Rick Riffe who was on the right side of the car, and Greg Riffe said maybe you should close the door, Meyer said.

Crowley told the judge his problem was that based on the early information he was given that the witness would testify to, his team chose not to conduct their own interview with him.

Crowley said he previously understood the witness would talk about seeing a man with a gun when he was first interviewed by police in 1988, and did not identify anyone from any photo montages.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Brosey indicated the witness couldn’t take the stand until after Riffe’s attorney’s private investigator has had a chance to interview him. Before today ended, the meeting was scheduled for 8 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Prosecutors have said they have as many as 180 witnesses, although exactly how many of them will be called to testify is not clear. So far, about three dozen have taken the witness stand.

It was just last week when another person seeing photos of the Riffes on television after the trial began contacted the prosecutor to say he recognized a picture of John Gregory Riffe.

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Read about mourners at funeral discover stranger inside casket …

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 5:27 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Kirotv.com reports a local family opened the casket to say their final good byes to a loved one and found the wrong dead man inside.

News reporter Richard Thompson reports he learned that Jerry Moon instead had been cremated; and Chehalis’s Brown Mortuary’s parent company declined to comment.

Read about it here.

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Maurin murder trial: What jurors didn’t hear about

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Ricky Riffe, right, consults with defense team member Richard Davis as the issue of his ex-wife Robin Riffe is discussed in court much of yesterday afternoon

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Jurors in the 1985 Maurin homicide case heard yesterday that in 1991, a task force was formed regarding the deaths from several years earlier and a deputy suggested they should try to talk with Robin Riffe. If they could contact her away from her ex-husband Ricky Riffe, they might get some information, jurors were told.

Former Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective David Neiser testified he phoned to where she was in prison in Arizona, introduced himself and he said needed to talk with her about an old homicide in Lewis County.

“She said, ‘you mean the one where two old people were killed?’ ” Neiser testified.

Did you have other contacts with Robin Riffe? Neiser was asked, to which he replied yes. And the jury was sent out of the room.

Neiser, who worked for the sheriff’s office from 1972 to 2009, had already spoken about his role in the investigation. He interviewed the two victims’ families, but only went to some of the scenes, noting he recalled vividly Minnie Maurin’s body lying on the side of the road.

Much of the information heard in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday regarding the investigation came while the jury was out of the room.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead had given a heads up to the court he was going to elicit from the former detective a statement made to him by the now-deceased woman about the case and the detective would testify about taking her for a drive around the county, but wouldn’t be talking about what she did or anything she pointed out.

Defense attorney John Crowley said he wanted to be able to confront the Robin Riffe, but she’s dead so he can’t.

Crowley asserted the actual reason prosecutors wanted the information put before the jury was to make an inference that Ricky Riffe’s ex-wife Robin Riffe must have known something from his client.

Ricky A. Riffe, 55, is charged with burglary, robbery and murder in the case. His younger brother was about to be charged as well when he died last year.

Prosecutors have contended the Riffe brothers are responsible for abducting Ed and Minnie Maurin from their home, forcing them to drive their bank get money and then shooting the elderly couple in their backs, leaving their bodies along a logging road near Adna.

While jurors were out, Judge Richard Brosey asked questions of the attorneys to learn if certain details were relevant, considering anything else Robin Riffe may have told police would not be allowed to come in to trial.

Halstead said it would explain what detectives did next, which jurors would hear about subsequently during the trial.

“It’s how they came onto further information,” Halstead said. “Without that, all these people who pop up in 1991 pop up for no reason at all.”

Brosey wanted to hear for himself first what the detective would say on the stand so potential issues of confrontation or hearsay could be sorted out, Neiser took the witness stand while jurors were still out of the courtroom.

“I want it clearly understood by detective Neiser I don’t want him blurting out anything Robin Riffe said,” Brosey told prosecutors.

Neiser explained how they got Robin Riffe transferred from prison in Arizona to the closer Washington prison for women in Purdy to finish her term.

She was brought to Lewis County, where she went for a ride with detectives he said.

Neiser said he told her they would pretend she was driving and would not stop or turn unless directed by her.

Neiser noted the various points of interest they encountered, such as an area near west end of Lake Mayfield, Perry’s store where there was a telephone booth, a dump site outside of Ethel, Marys Corner where there was a telephone booth, over the freeway at Avery Road and up Highway 603 to Stearns Hill Road in Adna.

Under questioning by Crowley, Neiser told the court:

“She pointed out Perry’s shop and said, that’s where I dropped ‘em off,” Neiser said.

Crowley: “Did anyone else in the investigation have knowledge of some fact regarding Perrys Market?”

Neiser: “Other than your client, you mean?”

Crowley: “Yes.”

Neiser: “No.”

The session continued with the lawyers and the judge sorting out what testimony jurors would not be allowed to hear.

Neiser said detectives attempted to contact Robin Riffe again in November 1994 and learned she had died the day before.

The judge ruled that Robin Riffe directing detectives to various locations during the drive was nonverbal communications which would be inadmissible because the defense would not be able to confront her.

The jury of 12 plus their five alternate jurors were brought back into the courtroom.

It was only about 10 minutes later when  Crowley asked for a mistrial. He noted Neiser’s statement about a deputy telling them they should try to talk with Robin Riffe, while away from his client.

Brosey said he was a bit surprised Crowley hadn’t brought it up while he had the opportunity with the jury out of the room. He denied the motion.

As in the case of nearly all court proceedings, the courtroom is open to the public. Proceedings are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. until noon and 1:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. The courtroom is on the fourth floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center at Main Street and Chehalis Avenue in Chehalis.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, October 21, 2013 at 8:43 pm

FOILED BY ALARMS

• Deputies responding about 5:35 a.m. yesterday to an alarm at a business on the 2800 block of Centralia-Alpha Road east of Chehalis found someone had created a hole in the side of a building and smashed out a small window in the rear. There was no actual entry into Austin Powder, an explosives business, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation is ongoing, according to the sheriff’s office.

BREAKING IN TO RESIDENCE

• A deputy was called yesterday to a burglary at the 800 block of Lucas Creek Road east of Chehalis where someone had, sometime since the day before, stolen more than $5,000 worth of valuables such as a Stihl chainsaw, a backpack leaf blower and other tools, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Morton police were called about a residential burglary at about 3 p.m. on Friday at the 600 block of Westlake Avenue. The case is under investigation, police reported yesterday.

BREAKING IN TO TRAILER

• Someone broke into a travel trailer along the 100 block of Jerrells Road near Mossyrock and stole a sleeping bag, food, mens’ clothing, CDs and a flat screen television, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy responding on Saturday was told it occurred sometime since the Saturday before, according to the sheriff’s office.

VALUABLES MISSING FROM HOME

• Centralia police reported yesterday morning they are investigating the theft of jewelry from a residence on the 900 block of K Street. The suspect may be someone the victim knows, according to the Centralia Police Department.

STOLEN ARTWORK

• Police were called about 2 p.m. yesterday to the 200 block of West Center Street in Centralia following the discovery a collectible item on display was missing.

LIFTED DELI FOOD

• A 23-year-old woman who allegedly fought with store security who attempted to stop her when she left with $12 worth of deli food from the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia was arrested for second-degree robbery on Saturday evening. Centralia police say Briana L. Carrothers, from Rochester, had outstanding warrants and was booked into the Lewis County Jail. She was released without charges from the robbery count pending further investigation.

SIPHONING FUEL

• Someone stole gas from vehicles parked in a lot at the 300 block of South Pearl Street. It was reported Saturday morning and occurred in the night, according to police.

FRAUD

• Centralia police responded to the 1100 block of J Street in Centralia yesterday evening regarding a report of a forged document on a piece of property. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

POWER PILFERING

• Police took a call from an individual at the 1400 block of Delaware Street in Centralia yesterday regarding a neighbor stealing electricity by using and extension cord and an outlet without permission. A summons for third-degree theft is being sent to the suspected offender, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Chehalis police were called about 2:15 p.m. yesterday to the 1600 block of North National Avenue where someone cut through a fence and got into a truck stealing various items.

VANDALISM

• A 45-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested for allegedly intentionally breaking a mirror off a parked vehicle in connection with a location at B and May streets in Centralia on Saturday afternoon. Police say Mary L. Barajas stated she was only trying to get someone’s attention. Barajas was arrested for malicious mischief and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CHASE

• Deputies arrested a 20-year-old homeless person yesterday in connection with a police pursuit the night before northwest of Napavine. According to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, at about 9 p.m. on Saturday deputies were in the area of Harmon and Carroll roads on another matter when a vehicle drove by which they tried to stop but he eluded them. The driver reportedly drove the vehicle off the road, struck a utility pole and fled on foot, according to the sheriff’s office. A track with a police dog was unsuccessful but upon getting information their suspect was present at a location Sommerville Road, deputies arrested Brandon A. Cruzan, Sgt. Rob Snaza said. He had outstanding warrants and was also booked for obstruction and eluding, Snaza said.

FROM THE HAZE

• Morton police were called just after 6 a.m. on Friday about strange flashing strobe lights in the fog near the 100 block of Westlake Avenue. It was a school bus picking up students, according to police.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor theft, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, suspicious circumstances, bar dispute, road rage, collision in a parking lot, collision into a tree, graffiti spray painted in park restrooms, a male reporting people yelled obscene things at him as he walked down the street, reporting party with a videotape of a toddler and a baby left alone in a vehicle in a store parking lot; concerns about hearing voices, someone haunting an individual, shady looking characters in a retail parking lot; complaints of barking dog, loud neighbor music, someone breaking a sink in a bathroom, man urinating outdoors, possible protection order violation by comment on Facebook, train blocking an intersection for about 25 minutes, someone egging a parked car, two teenagers making out “heavily” on the swings at a playground … and more.

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Maurin murder trial: Witnesses testify about a green sedan

Monday, October 21, 2013 at 8:55 am
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Defendant Ricky Riffe, far right, and his legal team listen to testimony in his murder trial in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Jurors for the Maurin murder trial heard witnesses over the final two days of testimony last week who passed by the elderly couple’s Ethel home, who saw what may have been the Maurin’s 1969 Chrysler traveling in several places such as Jackson Highway, Avery Road at North Military Road, and Bunker Creek Road as well a woman who gave a description of a man heading away from the Yard Birds Shopping Center where the abandoned vehicle with a blood-stained front seat was discovered on Dec. 20, 1985.

Ed Maurin, 81, and Minnie, 83, Maurin were reported missing the day before; their bodies were located the following Dec. 24.

Lindsay Senter, of Mossyrock, was one of three truck drivers who drove U.S. Highway 12 regularly nearly 28 years ago that testified. Senter was delivering a load of logs to from East Lewis County to Longview and recalled seeing two males walking west on the highway around 8 o’clock that morning.

After hearing the news of the slayings, he contacted the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office to share what he observed.

It was past Harms Road and before the house where the Maurin’s lived, according to Senter. One of them was carrying something that could have been a gun, covered by a cloth, according to Senter. He didn’t actually see a weapon, he said.

“It just seemed like it was, it looked like that,” he told Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead.

Robert Lyons passed the house three times each day in his log truck, and knew the couple most of his life, as he’d gone to school with Minnie’s children, Dale, Delbert, Denny and Hazel, he said.

“I seen they had company that morning,” Lyons said when he took the witness stand in Lewis County Superior Court. “I thought, that’s awfully early to have company.”

Lyons said he saw the Maurin’s car parked at the house, as well as a white car which could have been a 1970s model.

It had to have been shortly after 8 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., he said.

Morton resident Norman Layman told the court the Maurin’s two-toned green car passed him on Ethel Hill, west of their house during his second trip of the day.

He knew of the couple because he knew Minnie’s son Denny Hadaller, he testified.

It was foggy, he was westbound moving probably less than 20 mph, he said, and it would have been between 10:30 and 11 a.m.

“As I looked down, I thought it was Marion, the lady, in the front seat, I thought,” Layman said. “I couldn’t tell what was in the backseat.”

He could see the driver’s legs, he said.

Under questioning from Halstead about what he told police decades ago, Layman agreed he’d said he thought there were two people in the front and maybe one person in the back.

Kathryn Gunderson was then in her early 30s and living just south of Chehalis. Gunderson testified that a day or two after reading about the homicides in the news, she called law enforcement to tell them what happened that day as she headed into town up Jackson Highway.

Gunderson testified she got behind a dark green, good-sized car somewhere south of Ribelin Road. She couldn’t see inside it, she said, but it may have turned off at Main Street.

Under questioning, she said she previously told police there were three people in the car, but said she had been making a guess.

Steve Amoroso lived in Winlock and worked a swing shift at Green Hill School in Chehalis, arriving at 2:15 p.m. that day, jurors heard.

He came across the car at a four-way stop, he said.

What caught his attention, he testified, was the young male sitting directly behind the driver, with his arm on back of the front seat. Amoroso noted being in law enforcement he noticed the passenger obviously wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, and was “actively” looking the other direction.

Amoroso was northbound on North Military Road, just west of Interstate 5, and preparing to make a right turn onto Avery Road, he said. The car was pointed west on Avery and it moved into the intersection very slow, he said.

The two elderly people in the front seat were staring straight ahead, and the car’s brake lights came on twice as it moved through the intersection, he said. He described the third occupant as probably 18 to 20 years old, with a partial beard and wearing a dark blue watchman’s hat.

The witness with the most detailed description of a car and its occupants was a retired truck stop manager who contacted the prosecutor after seeing television coverage when trial began to say he recognized a photo shown of the now-deceased John Gregory Riffe.

Frank Perkins told jurors of the Chrysler pulling up to a gas pump off Interstate 5 exit 72, next to the Rib Eye restaurant around 8:30 a.m. that day, stopping briefly and then driving away.

Ricky A. Riffe, 55, is charged with burglary, robbery and murder in the case. His younger brother was about to be charged as well when he died last year.

Prosecutors have contended the Riffe brothers are responsible for abducting the Maurins from their home, forcing them to drive to Sterling Savings Bank in downtown Chehalis to withdraw money and then shooting them in their backs with a sawed off shotgun, leaving their bodies along Stearns Hill Road outside Adna.

Another witness before last week ended took jurors out to Adna in his recollections of Dec. 19, 1985.

Ken Paul, from Woodland, sells real estate today but back then he worked in the timber industry, he said.

Paul said he was driving a large piece of logging equipment from state Route 6 where it had been worked on, up Bunker Creek Road to a job site. It was an an International skidder and he was moving at only about 10 mph, he testified.

All the vehicles passed him, but a full-sized older car followed him for quite awhile and then passed him quite slow as he headed up, and he could see in its rear window, he said.

“What I noticed was an individual in the back seat, a silhouette,” he said.

He assumed it was a man, he said, he thought it was in the center of the seat.

Five to ten minutes later, the same car was coming back towards him, and he saw an elderly couple in the front seat. The driver appeared in a trance, distraught, according to Paul.

“He was looking straight ahead,” he said. “He never looked at me, he had a faraway look in his face.”

Two more witnesses testified a car they saw on Bunker Creek Road looked like the 1969 Chrysler belonging to the Maurins they were shown on the overhead screen in the courtroom.

Janice Duncan lived about two miles up from state Route 6 and after getting her children off the school, walked up the road to see how a neighbor was doing, she said.

“It was a green car, very similar to one that goes by a lot,” Duncan said.

She estimated it could have been 10 to 10:30 a.m., but she didn’t see who was inside it, she said.

Dennis Dahlstrom of Chehalis has lived in Lewis County all his life.

He was working in the area, and it was either late morning or early afternoon when he observed the car, he testified.

“Cars (there) usually are going 60 mph,” Dahlstrom said. “This one was traveling fairly slow.”

William Reisinger testified he was on Bunker Creek Road when he saw a 1969 Chrysler headed up it with three occupants and then racing back down it in the 11 o’clock hour that day.

Reisinger who said he was born and raised on a farm on the 400 block was expecting his mother and her boyfriend who drove a green car just like the one on the big screen, he said.

He was in his truck heading into Chehalis to pick up some bolts for a trailer when he saw the car approaching, he said. He slowed to almost a stop, rolled down his window and put his hand out. But it wasn’t who he thought, he said.

Reisinger said instead, there was a woman with a man driving and a person with dark hair leaning up on the seat. The driver was solemn-faced, but didn’t appear distressed, he testified.

“I’d say in his 70s, he just kinda looked at me,” he said.

On his return trip, as he got close to the farm, Reisinger saw what he thought was the same car coming around the corner, somewhat over the center line, causing him to move toward the edge of the road, he said.

“He was probably going 70, it was a pretty good clip,” he said.

Reisinger said it was his impression it was the grandson taking grandparents car for a joyride. He didn’t see the gender of the driver, he said, but thought the green of the jacket or the dark hair made him think it was the person previously in the backseat.

In hindsight, it was like a getaway, he said.

Former Lewis County Deputy William Forth was on routine patrol that morning; the elderly couple wouldn’t be reported missing for several hours.

Forth recounted how he was leaving the Adna store at the intersection of Bunker Creek road near state Route 6, when a green full-sized car coming inbound, 20 to 30 feet away caught his attention.

Its driver looked at him so directly, in a way that made him think he ought to pull him over and at least learn his name, because he looked like he may have just committed a crime, Forth testified.

Forth described the driver as a caucasian he estimated in his mid to late 20s, wearing a stocking cap with dark hair showing from under it, and a beard that was heavy but not full grown. He told the court he was wearing a winter coat that was dark, he believed was multi-colored and it seemed like had some green in it.

Forth pulled his patrol car behind the sedan and both sat at the stop sign to the highway for 30 to 40 seconds, although it seemed like forever, he said. There was no oncoming traffic, and the driver continued looking at him through the rear view mirror, he said.

Then the car pulled out and headed east, he said.

Forth was due at an office Christmas party and said he had his finger on the switch to flip on his lights, but for reasons he still wonders about to this day, he didn’t do it, he said.

As he passed the car at the freeway, and it got onto the turn lane to head north on Interstate 5, he looked at the driver again, and said he recalls seeing a red blanket over the seat. Forth estimated it all occurred between 10:40 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Forth continued to talk about the days that followed and what began to go through his mind.

He heard of the Maurin’s disappearance the next morning, he said, and left for vacation that afternoon.

Over the weekend, he stopped into the garage where detectives were processing the elderly couple’s found car. Forth said he was focused on his conversation with detective Herrington, but something began turning in his head about the vehicle, like a name on the tip of your tongue, he said.

During his week-long vacation, Forth testified, he awoke at 3 o’clock one morning and it hit him where he’d seen the same car. Forth testified he has never had a doubt in his mind it was the same one.

In 1991, after he’d left the sheriff’s office and worked as roads superintendent for the county, detectives showed up at his office one day, he said, and showed him some photos. He picked one out who was the individual he believed he saw near the Adna store.

Under questioning in court, Forth told of working with now-detective Bruce Kimsey last year and selecting a person from a group of photos as the driver. He said he was positive of who it was because he recognized the eyes.

Forth said he had only learned the day before he testified that he’d selected two different individuals.

Jurors also heard from a woman who gave a description of a man walking  away from the Yard Birds Shopping Center where the abandoned vehicle with a blood-stained front seat was subsequently discovered.

Virginia Cummings said she had returned something she’d bought and was heading home to Salzer Valley in Centralia.

Cummings testified she exited the east side of the store’s lot to head north on Kresky and ahead of her walking the same direction on the left shoulder was a young man she was so certain was her neighbor, so she was going to give him him a lift.

“I don’t recall if I stopped or I just slowed,” she said.

The young man was dressed and built just like her neighbor, she recalled but as she was right beside him, she saw his face wasn’t the neighbors, she said.

He would not look at her, she said.

Cummings testified she didn’t recall that he was carrying anything or had a beard, but described him as wearing a navy blue skull cap, with dark hair that curled up around it, and his attire was an Army fatigue jacket, levi blue jeans and a black style boot, she said.

The trial began with opening statements on Oct. 8. It’s third week begins today. Jurors have been told they could be in court as long as six weeks.

As in the case of nearly all court proceedings, the courtroom is open to the public. Proceedings are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. until noon and 1:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. The courtroom is on the fourth floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center at Main Street and Chehalis Avenue in Chehalis.

http://www.lewiscountysirens.com/?p=21748

Former Deputy William Forth testifies about his encounter with the green sedan and the photos he identified as its driver.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 10:03 am

Police would like to talk with the individuals whose pictures were captured before surveillance cameras disappeared.

SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS GONE, BUT EFFECTIVE

• Chehalis police were called to the Visiting Nurses business on the 700 block of South Market Boulevard on Thursday because someone stole two outdoor security cameras. While the devices went missing during the night, the images remained on the video equipment inside, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The pictures showed a male and a short female with short dark hair come into view, Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said. Officers would like to talk with the two suspects, according to Kaut.

ASSAULTS

• A 22-year-old Centralia man was arrested Thursday night for allegedly striking his sister with a bat during a dispute. Police called about 5:30 p.m. to the 1700 block of Maple Valley Drive in Centralia booked Riley J. Youckton into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree assault, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called to Green Hill School for Boys on Thursday to investigate a physical dispute with multiple participants. There was a fight between two student-inmates in a classroom during which another fight broke out in the hallway with several more boys, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Staff at the juvenile corrections facility dealt with it and police responded afterward, Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said. He wasn’t aware of any serious injuries yesterday or many details, but the report wasn’t yet completed, Kaut said. While the “numerous” individuals involved didn’t want to press for charges, police will be asking the prosecutor to evaluate the case for the offense of rioting, according to Kaut.

THEFT

• Centralia police took a report of appliances missing from bank-owned property at the 700 block of Bengal Court yesterday.

FRAUD

• An officer took a report yesterday from the 1700 block of West Mellen Street in Centralia regarding an unknown suspect using a woman’s credit card on the Internet. The two-paragraph report didn’t list when or how the discovery was made or the amount in question, according to Centralia Police Department Sgt. Kurt Reichert. Oftentimes with these types of crimes, while the victim is local, the official victim – the bank – is in another jurisdiction and so the case belongs there, according to Reichert. The reports are mostly perfunctory, he said. The woman may very well be reimbursed by her credit card company and the eventual victim who takes the loss may be the vendor, Reichert said.

• Centralia police were called Thursday morning regarding the fraudulent use a credit card in connection with the 1000 block of Ellsbury Street.

BAD COMBO: MIRROR, SUNLIGHT, ANTIQUE STORE

• Firefighters were called to a shop on the 300 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia when passersby noticed wisps of smoke through a window inside the business. What happened was the sun was shining through the glass, striking an old antique convex mirror on display and the beam was directed back to just below the edge of the sill, according to Riverside Fire Authority. The Saturday Antique Market is only open one day a week, according to Firefighter Rick LeBoeuf. The call came about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, he said. “It obviously had been doing it for awhile,” LeBoeuf said. The smoldering itself was so minute, that when a person stood in front of the mirror, the smoking stopped, he said. A firefighter scraped off a charred section about three inches in size and advised the arriving owner to move the mirror, LeBoeuf said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence, trespassing, responses for alarms, suspicious circumstances; complaints of someone throwing eggs, intoxicated person bothering customers … and more.

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Sun shines onto mirror, bounces back to window sill.

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Courtesy photos by Terry Ternan

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Deceased transient was musician, who will be reunited with his family

Friday, October 18, 2013 at 9:58 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – When Alicia Wolfe read in the news last Saturday Manabu Ishikawa was going to be buried with two strangers, as one of three unclaimed individuals from the county coroner’s office, she felt compelled to visit his grave in Chehalis.

The Winlock woman didn’t know him, but had met him briefly before he died this summer.

When she checked Ishikawa in at a Centralia motel in June, she thought his name sounded Japanese and asked about it, she said.

“He said he was first generation American,” Wolfe said. “I said oh, my husband’s mother is also.”

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Manabu Ishikawa 1964 – 2013

He smiled at her comment, went to his room and she never talked to him again, she said.

The ceremony on Saturday morning at Pioneer Cemetery along Jackson Highway in Chehalis was organized by the Lewis County Coroner’s Office. The final resting place for three sets of unclaimed cremated remains was gifted by cemetery owners John and Marie Panesko.

Wolfe was really disappointed she didn’t learn about it sooner, so she could attend, she said.

“I’m not sure why a stranger passing away has hit me so hard,” she said.

The 28-year-old woman said she’s worked in the industry most of her adult life and it’s not the first time she’s experienced the death at work of a guest; she’s accepted it as part of her job, she said.

But Ishikawa is someone she’s thought about more than usual. She couldn’t get it out of her mind over the weekend that his family obviously didn’t know where he was, where he was laid to rest.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said all he knew was Ishikawa was 49 years old and a transient person from Grass Valley, California. He said he tried and simply could not locate any relatives.

The remembrance with a chaplain offering prayers on Saturday took place alongside the lawned property inhabited with the remains of more than 300 individuals. It’s historically been a place for those no one else wanted, such as some in unmarked graves who died at the local tuberculosis sanatorium and even a local criminal who met his end through vigilante justice, the nine attendees were told, according to McLeod.

Meanwhile, Wolfe began searching and found a Facebook page for the stranger. One of his friends had posted last month they knew he died, but were trying to account for his whereabouts, she said.

“From what I could gather, they searched social security death records, and learned he had died June 5, but didn’t have any more details,” she said.

Wolfe messaged one of his friends, offering her condolences and explaining Ishikawa’s remains were in Lewis County and he’d been buried, but she would bring him flowers And she didn’t hear back.

Early this week, Wolfe took a bouquet to the hillside graveyard.

So when she ran into John Panesko to ask him to show her the plot, she was somewhat happy to learn the actual burial was rescheduled for yesterday. It was her day off work, so she could be there, she thought.

She messaged Ishikawa’s friend again, to share the news he hadn’t been buried yet, she said.

Finally, on Wednesday, she heard back.

“She said, you’re kidding me, his family loves him very much,” Wolfe said. “They thought he was in Portland or California. You have to go there and tell them not to bury him.”

She did.

Panesko has gotten a phone call from Ishikawa’s sister and an email from his mother in Japan. Ishikawa’s urn has been returned to coroner’s office where it waits to be reunited with his family.

Wolfe spoke to his mother yesterday.

“She called me and told me a little bit about Manabu,” she said.

Wolfe learned he went to music school in California in the 1980s.

“I guess he was like a free spirit, he did what he wanted,” she said. “He traveled around, did as he pleased. He played the clarinet.”

Even though she didn’t actually know, his mother felt he had died, Wolfe said.

His mother told Wolfe her son had a heart condition and chose against medical advice about four years ago not to seek medical intervention.

“She said he believed in God, she said, Manabu’s God is powerful,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe still doesn’t know what he was doing in Centralia.

His mother had a final request.

“She said, I have one more question for you: ‘Manibu had a dog, Swale, and she was special to Manibu and very special to me, and I would like you to find her.”

Wolfe said she knew Centralia police took custody of Ishikawa’s dog upon his death. She made phone calls and learned Swale was taken to the Lewis County Animal Shelter and probably adopted out, she said.

Earlier today, she was waiting and hoping once the new owners were given her phone number from the shelter and information about the situation, she might be able to fulfill the mother’s request.

Tonight, she learned Swale died a few months ago.

Ishikawa’s Facebook page lists his occupation as janitor at nearest pond; he has 493 Facebook friends.

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News brief: Hear local attorneys argue to the state Supreme Court on Ashford murder case

Friday, October 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Three times he’s been found guilty; three times the conviction has been thrown out.

The Washington State Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday about the case of Kenneth L. Slert, who back in October 2000 fatally shot  53-year-old John Benson at a campsite near Ashford.

Slert claimed self defense.

The question is: Did dismissal of four potential jurors for answers to a jury questionnaire violate defendant’s right to public trial?

Watch and listen to appeals attorney Jodi Backlund and  Lewis County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Eric Eisenberg tell the court what should happen next, here

•••
For background, read “News brief: Supreme Court grants hearing on prosecutor’s request to overturn reversal of Ashford murder conviction” from Saturday September 14, 2013, here