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News brief: Timberland fires still burning near Glenoma, Littlerock

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 8:57 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The wildfire at Dog Mountain in eastern Lewis County isn’t expected to be fully contained until weekend because the terrain is very, very steep, a spokesperson for the state Department of Natural Resources said this afternoon.

Crews have been battling the fire since it was reported on Saturday afternoon, south of Glenoma on property owned by Port Blakley.

Janet Pearce, the communications manager for the state agency, indicated it is covering 160 acres of but is 60 percent contained.

The expected morning weather is encouraging, according to Pearce.

The fire was one of two large ones that broke out this weekend on area timberland.

The brush fire in the Capitol Forest about eight miles northwest of Littlerock, should be fully contained tomorrow, Pearce said.

The blaze, dubbed the C-Line Fire was 70 percent contained this afternoon and had burned 80 acres, according to Pearce.

West Thurston Regional Fire Authority sent four people there today to assist. The Rochester-Littlerock fire department was the agency that first responded to the fire about 12:15 a.m. on Sunday.

Chief Robert Scott said today it was called in by several people and crews found two bonfires had spread from a gravel pit about three miles south of Capitol Peak, in a common area for “kid parties.”

“Everybody had scattered,” Scott said.

He called it an “off the grid” destination for underage drinking parties

It’s about twice as windy at that roughly 1,000-foot elevation as down below, and embers had blown around, Scott said.

The investigation into the cause is being conducted by DNR, but the bon fires are the point of origin, Scott said.

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News brief: Model Mayhem website not involved in missing Lewis County girl’s case

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 8:13 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Detectives ran into somewhat of a dead end when they followed up a family member’s lead that the 2010 disappearance of Lewis County teen Kayla Croft-Payne may be related to a photographer she met with on a website called Model Mayhem, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said today.


Kayla Croft-Payne

Using a search warrant to get information in mid-March from the company that houses information for the site, deputies were told there was no account history on the website for Croft-Payne, according to the sheriff’s office.

Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said in a news release detectives worked with Internet Brands Inc. looking at all the accounts from Western Washington. They checked the young woman’s identity information, email addresses and used facial recognition imagery in  reverse, according to Brown.

Croft-Payne was 18 and living in rural Chehalis when she was reported missing in the spring of 2010, by a roommate who hadn’t seen her for several days.

Her aunt, Karen Hinton, recently told detectives the girl’s last posting on social media sites suggested she had gone to get pictures taken for a modeling portfolio and asked them to look into Model Mayhem. Hinton had begun working with a Vancouver, Wash.-based organization.

In March, National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation contacted numerous members of the press to describe how Croft-Payne is one of three young women around the country who posted photos and information about themselves on the same modeling website and left for modeling only to never return home.

Brown indicated today that when detectives briefed family members of what they discovered, they were told a family member had located the particular account she had seen and it turned out to be on a different modeling website.

The sheriff’s office will follow up on the new information, Brown stated.

Last week, the Vancouver group announced it has created a task force to investigate online modeling sites which are involved in criminal activity, saying it is aware of many cases that involve rape, trafficking, murder and other violence and abuse toward females.

Brown says the sheriff’s office is actively following up on all leads and tips related to Croft-Payne’s disappearance. They ask anyone who knows anything about the case please call them or contact Crime Stoppers of Lewis County, at 1-800-748-6422.

For background, read “Kayla Croft-Payne: Family of missing girl questions link to modeling website” from  Monday April 29, 2013, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 6:11 pm


• A 63-year-old homeless man was arrested for disorderly conduct yesterday morning after he alarmed two women with his behavior near Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Police were first called to the area about 9:45 a.m. because a man was standing on a corner hollering, “I’m gonna blow your head off, I’m gonna get a gun,” Officer Corey Butcher said. A woman on a sidewalk across the street wasn’t sure who he was talking to but was scared and called 911, Butcher said. Officers eventually located the same man at Dennys restaurant where he was shouting the manager from inside the bushes he had jumped into, according to Butcher. Arthur C. Bass, 63, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 25-year-old Longview man was jailed early this morning after an officer saw him riding a bicycle near the 1100 block of North Tower Avenue without a headlight about 4 a.m. Officer Corey Butcher said he’d just conversed with the man who gave what turned out to be a phony name. When Butcher contacted him about the headlight, the man refused to give any information, Butcher said. Brady M. Kendig was booked into the Lewis County Jail for obstructing a public servant, according to police. He was also arrested for being in possession of medication without a prescription, but Butcher later determined the drugs were properly prescribed to Kendig, the officer said.


• A 33-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver after he was contacted by an officer about a warrant around 5:30 p.m. at the 1000 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Steven Ingle Jr. was booked into the Lewis County Jail,  according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Police were called just before 9:30 p.m. yesterday when a citizen spotted someone trying to break into a shed on the 1000 block of Grand Avenue in  Centralia. The suspect took off on a bicycle and was not located, according to police. Nothing appeared to be missing from the shed,  according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police were called about 9:30 p.m. yesterday when the victim of a vehicle prowl caught a teenager breaking into his vehicle at the 1000 block of West Main Street but the boy got away before officers arrived. He was described as about 16 years old with curly, dark, long hair and a suntan, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• The Olympian reports a Chehalis couple were jailed for allegedly beating a man on a downtown Olympia street, breaking several bones in his face. News reporter Jeremy Pawloski writes Reginal Brown, 25, and Jonell Brager, 21, were each arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault early Saturday morning after a patrol officer spotted one of them knock the victim to the ground and the other pummel him.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for driving with a suspended license, warrant, misdemeanor assault; responses for minor vehicle accidents, disputes, alarm, possible DUI; complaints of loud music  … and more.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, May 6, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Updated at 7:42 p.m.


• A man on his way to church in the Mossyrock area yesterday morning is credited with stopping a structure fire from ruining people’s belongings at a storage business on the 100 block of Kjesbu Road. Lewis County Fire District 3 Chief Doug Fosburg said crews were called about 7:45 a.m. to a former chicken barn converted to 22 plus storage units. The passerby grabbed a fire extinguisher and kept the fire contained to a mechanical room containing a compressor, a welder and the electrical panel box that is suspect, according to Fosburg. The items in the other units didn’t even suffer smoke damage, he said.


• Tenino area firefighters were called about 1:45 p.m. yesterday when embers from a pile of stumps being burned spread and caused a brush fire at property on High Valley Lane off 143rd Avenue Southwest. Crews were dispatched about 1:45 p.m. and were on the scene roughly seven hours, protecting structures including homes from the fire that spread to about five acres, Thurston County Fire District 12 Battalion Chief Jim Fowler said. “The wind was just way too windy for anybody to be burning anything yesterday,” Fowler said. Firefighters from the state Department of Natural Resources were summoned and used a small excavator to dig a trail around the area, he said. It was stopped at nine acres, according to DNR.


• At noontime today, DNR reported the fire in east Lewis County on Dog Mountain had burned about 100 acres within a 170 acre area of forest land, but called it 50 percent contained. Bulldozers, fire engines and water-dropping helicopters are employed in the task of extinguishing the fire that was initially fanned and spread by dry east winds, according to public information officer Chuck Turley. Steep terrain increases the challenge of reaching pockets of burning material, Turley noted. Members of all five fire districts in the east end, along with some from Napavine and Toledo, responded on Saturday and worked into the late evening with crews from DNR and personnel from Port Blakely, the timber land’s owner. DNR said today approximately 80 individuals continue to be assigned to the fire fight south of Glenoma. The cause remains under investigation, according to Turley.


• A noontime update on the wildfire in the Capitol Forest northwest of Littlerock pegged it as only 6 percent contained, with about 80 people working to put it out. The fire has burned 60 acres of land that contains logging slash and 20-year-old trees, according to DNR. Some recreation trails and roads in the area of the C-Line and C-400 roads remain closed, according to a news release. Crews from West Thurston Regional Fire Authority initially responded about 12:15 a.m. on Sunday after a report of a fire at Capitol Peak. Bucoda’s Fire Chief Jim Fowler was among those who responded as he and a fellow firefighter teaching nine students at the McLane-Black Lake Fire Department on Sunday loaded their class up and headed to Capitol Forest. It was unexpected field training for a wild land Firefighter II class, Fowler said.


• A 31-year-old Centralia man allegedly threatened three males with a knife after they intervened while he was allegedly beating his girlfriend inside a vehicle in an alley in Centralia yesterday evening. Officers called about 5:35 p.m. say the trio pulled Pioquinto Rodriguez-Garcia off the 41-year-old woman and he slashed all four tires n the vehicle before fleeing the area on the 600 block of Marion Street. Police found Rodriguez-Garcia a short distance away and also took into evidence a knife police dog Lobo found in a nearby yard, according to the Centralia Police Department. The initial dispute was because the girlfriend didn’t want Rodriguez-Garcia driving while intoxicated, according to police. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for two counts of second-degree assault, misdemeanor assault and malicious mischief, police reported.


• About a dozen young people found themselves in trouble over the weekend when a Centralia mother returned home and found her son and daughter were hosting a drinking party, and which subsequently included a 20-year-old male getting transported to the hospital. Deputies and Centralia police arriving at the 1100 block of Long Road about 12:15 a.m. on Saturday found the unconscious subject laying outside in massive amounts of vomit and summoned aid, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The cases involving one 19-year-old and 10 other individuals under 18 were referred to prosecutors for filing of charges, according to the sheriff’s office. A 16-year-old who was reportedly seen trying to open the doors of all the patrol vehicles on the scene was taken to the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• A deputy was called Saturday to the 200 block of U.S. Highway 12 south of Chehalis about a cargo trailer stolen overnight from Garrison Auctioneers. The 1991 trailer with a black top and white sides has a license plate of 804 6UY, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It was taken sometime between 6 p.m. on Friday and 7 o’clock the following morning, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• Deputies retrieved a mountain biker on Saturday night who headed up a forest service road in East Lewis County wearing only shorts and a light shirt, not realizing that there was four feet of snow at his destination and found himself in the dark with no flashlight. The 37-year-old Cinebar resident called 911 about 9 p.m. on  his cell phone and asked for help getting back down, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He had planned a ride to Newaukum Lake and around Rooster Rock, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. He was located about five miles up the Forest Road 71, and taken home, Brown said.


• It took lawyers until about 4 p.m. today to pick a jury for the first-degree murder trial of Centralian Weston G. Miller. Miller, 30, is accused of shooting 43-year-old David Wayne Carson in Miller’s house on B Street on March 13 of last year. He claims self defense, prosecutors say it was an unprovoked attack. Opening statements are set to begin in the morning in Lewis County Superior Court.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for driving with a suspended license, warrants; responses for minor vehicle accidents, shoplifting, intoxicated people, kids and dogs running around without supervision, parental custody issues, possible suicide, wallets missing and found  … and more.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 11:48 am


• No overnight fires in Centralia since the arsons early Friday morning at the church building on West First Street, the Centerville western store at the north end of the Centralia Outlets and the attempted arson at Cooks Hill Community Church, according to Riverside Fire Authority. Chief Jim Walkowski recommended the public be extra watchful after the night that kept crews hopping from call to call. Two other blazes were extinguished the same night – at a coffee stand in north Chehalis and a church in north Centralia – but those were not deemed suspicious.


• Someone broke a window to get inside a residence on the 800 block of K Street in Centralia and ransacked two bedrooms. The break in was reported about 11:40 a.m. on Friday. It wasn’t immediately clear if anything was missing, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Tires and rims were stolen from a backyard on the 1100 block of Crosby Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Friday evening.


• Police reported yesterday someone threw paint on a grave marker at the cemetery on the 1800 block of Van Wormer Street in Centralia.

• Centralia police took reports yesterday of damage to vehicles at the 400 block of South Oak Street and the 300 block of West Pine Street.


• Public safety personnel are cautioning residents that with the first hot days of spring – with temperatures in the 80s – rivers and lakes are still very cold and pose dangers. Lewis County Fire District 5 Lt. Laura Hanson says life jackets and other personal flotation devices are recommended and children should be closely supervised at all times while swimming and near water. Last May, authorities theorized it was a very warm day and very cold Chehalis River that caused an otherwise healthy 16-year-old Rochester boy’s death. The combination can cause a person’s diaphragm to constrict and make it suddenly hard to breathe. Rochester High School student Christopher Puentes-Garay was with friends and relatives on May 16 when he tried to swim across and went under. New underwater hazards such as limbs and logs can be expected to have been created over the winter as well, according to Hanson. Hanson shared a lifejacket discount coupon offered from Seattle Children’s Hospital and Big 5 Sporting Goods, which can be downloaded here


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, DUIs; responses for minor vehicle accidents, misdemeanor theft … and more.

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Second area wildfire breaks out overnight

Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 9:57 am

Courtesy photo by West Thurston Regional Fire Authority

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Air support is on the scene for a 40-acre fire that ignited overnight in the Capitol Forest overnight.

Firefighters from the Rochester and Littlerock area responded about 12:30 a.m. after a 911 caller reported a large fire at Capitol Peak, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.

The blaze is described as approximately eight miles northwest of Littlerock and three miles south of the C Line. The fire chief is asking the public to stay out of the area.

Steep terrain and steady wind with gusts has made it difficult to fight, according to Lt. Lanette Dyer.

Crews from the McLane-Black Lake fire district are on the scene as well as the state department of Natural Resources.

DNR spokesperson  Karen Ripley said smoke is already visible from Olympia.

“There’s an off-road and ATV festival going on this weekend in the forest and there will be unexpected trail closures,” Ripley said.

Ripley said the cause is under investigation. Lt. Dyer called if suspicious, in part because it’s not yet very dry out, she said.

It’s burning on DNR trust land in logging slash and a 20-year-old old plantation, Ripley said.

In Lewis County at the Dog Mountain Fire near Glenoma, Ripley said there is little change this morning from last night.

As many as 50 firefighters were there last evening on property owned by Port Blakely. It too is burning in steep terrain and was described as spotty fires inside a 100-acre perimeter.

Engines patrolled the area overnight and a strong effort will be made today to extinguish the fire, according to Ripley.

For background, read “Breaking news: Large brush fire burning south of Glenoma” from Saturday May 4, 2013, here

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Breaking news: Large brush fire burning south of Glenoma

Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Looking toward Dog Mountain from Falls Road. / Courtesy photo by Miriam DeShasier

Updated at 7:09 p.m. and 8:33 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A large wind-fueled wildfire that started east of Morton this afternoon has spread and is still growing.

Seven fire departments plus firefighters from the state department of Natural Resources are on the scene on Dog Mountain, at the east end of Riffe Lake.

Various reports have suggested the blaze is as large as 200 to 700 acres, but a spokesperson from DNR said the fire was within a 100-acre perimeter but very patchy and spotty.

Only about 10 acres is actually fire, Karen Ripley of DNR said after speaking with the incident commander about 7 p.m.

“There’s a lot of fuel in the area, but not a lot of it has dried out” Ripley said.

Ripley said the Dog Mountain Fire on land owned by Port Blakely is in an area both recently logged and with 8-year-old trees.

Lt. Laura Hanson from Lewis County Fire District 5 said the initial call came in at 1:22 p.m. More than 50 firefighters are working the fire, according to Hanson.

The Taidnapam Park area has been evacuated, but no structures are threatened, according to Hanson.

The incident commander told Ripley the wind is beginning to die down. She said crews would likely be out there for a couple of days.

Dog Mountain, just south of Glenoma,  is known as a favorite spot for hang gliders.

Miriam DeShasier, who lives in Glenoma, took a drive down Falls Road this afternoon and said it appears the east side of Dog Mountain was burning.

“A lot of the smoke is gone from the area now,” DeShasier said this evening.


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Read about state senator’s son arrested for rape …

Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 4:51 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter reports the 14-year-old son of Sen. Brian Hatfield is facing charges of rape and child molestation in Lewis County Juvenile Court.

The state legislator from Pacific County has served the 19th District since 1994; he was re-elected in November to serve the district that now includes a portion of western Lewis County.

News reporter Richard Thompson reports the crimes allegedly occurred at one home in Lewis County and another in Pacific County this past winter involving a juvenile victim.

Read about it here

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Judge sends former Lewis County museum director to prison, criticizes disengaged board

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Deborah Sue Knapp sits with her defense attorney Ken Johnson as she is sentenced for theft.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Judge Richard Brosey blasted board members of the Lewis County Historical Museum today when he sentenced its now-former executive director for stealing possibly more than $200,000 during her time at the helm.

The theft was brought to light after revelations the non-profit’s endowment fund of more than $460,000 was gone.

Both the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney in the case deny Deborah Sue Knapp took all of it, Brosey said. Both say the museum simply lived beyond its means.

“The endowment apparently was used as a piggy bank,” Brosey said.

Being on a board is not just a ceremonial job where members can attend meetings once in awhile and nod in agreement, it comes with responsibilities, Brosey told a nearly packed courtroom this afternoon.

“I’m going to impose punishment to Mrs. Knapp for what she did,” Brosey said. “But the board of directors has to take an active role. You can’t just sit there and do nothing.”

The Lewis County Superior Court judge said he was personally offended that the heritage of Lewis County was abused, noting how difficult it is to build endowment funds, and how this scandal will make it even harder.

The endowment was in an account meant to be left untouched, so it could generate interest which could be used for operating costs.

“It’s egregious its depleted,” Brosey said.

Knapp was arrested at the end of 2011, five and a half years after she was hired to run the institution that inhabits a former rail station on Northwest Front Way in Chehalis.

After months of trial preparations and negotiations, the now-53-year-old agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a sentencing recommendation. The hope was she could do about 12 months of jail time on work release, if she could find a job.

That didn’t work out.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead and defense attorney Ken Johnson’s back up plan was to ask the judge to give her one year plus one day, so she could serve her time in state prison instead of in a county jail.

State prison was at Knapp’s request, in part because it’s better equipped to deal with her ill health, according to her attorney.

The top of the legislatively mandated standard range for the crimes to which she pleaded guilty is 14 months.

Judge Brosey today imposed 14 months and ordered her immediately into custody.

Knapp was taken away in handcuffs, although she had hoped not to check into the jail until the evening before transport to prison, because of issues regarding bringing her heart medication into the jail.

Prosecutors alleged Knapp basically doubled her salary for a period of time, by obtaining “draws” that weren’t subsequently accounted for, writing her own payroll draw checks without anyone else’s knowledge and many times listing them in the check register as voided. She used the museum’s debit card to pay personal expenses, in an amount the two sides don’t agree upon.

Halstead had told the court he believed he could prove she took in excess of $124,000 and said it appeared she took more than $200,000, but that wasn’t provable.

“Reports that over $400,000 was taken by Mrs. Knapp, that’s just not true” Halstead told the court.

He said he knew the deal would make outsiders on both sides unhappy, but he wanted both for her to do time and be able to pay restitution.

Knapp’s attorney told the court his client has already paid $20,000 in restitution, money she borrowed from a relative.

“Mrs. Knapp is ashamed and embarrassed to be in this position,” Johnson said. “She would like to apologize to the entire community.”

He took a moment as well to share his view of the museum’s books, noting it operated without a budget or accountability.

“The endowment was used routinely to balance things out, they were living beyond their means,” Johnson said. “Anyone who’s attempted to blame Mrs. Knapp for that in total is simply mistaken.”

The final deal saw Knapp pleading guilty to five counts of first-degree theft.

Knapp herself addressed the judge only briefly. She said she appreciated the judge’s consideration and she was sorry.

Edward Fund spoke to the court as a member of the museum who has been involved in fundraising over the years.

“I just want people to actually learn from this,” he said.

His wife, former museum board member and newly elected Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund, focused on the betrayal, sharing examples of how she felt Knapp manipulated her and others.

“I didn’t know she would go from a very good friend to someone who would exhaust the museum fund,” Fund said.

The museum’s current board of directors is said to contain both old and new members.

For background, read:

• “Knapp confesses she stole money from Chehalis museum as its director” from Wednesday March 13, 2013, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 11:16 am


• Centralia police were called about 6:50 p.m. yesterday to take a report that someone stole a safe and a computer from a residence on the 600 block of South King Street.

• Chehalis police were called about 4:30 p.m. yesterday regarding a burglary at an apartment on the 500 block of Northeast Jefferson Avenue. The resident arrived home to discover the door partway open and its lock broken, according to police. Missing were cigarettes, a piece of jewelry and pain medication, detective Sgt. Gary WIlson said.

• Police took a report from the 900 block of Goff Street in Centralia about 4:10 p.m. yesterday that someone stole jewelry, coin “banks” and other items from a home.

• A deputy was called yesterday to a break-in to a large shop building at the back of property on the 900 block of Ceres Hill Road west of Chehalis. The victim said among the missing items were a propane tank and torch, a ladder and numerous car parts to include one bumper and 15 automobile hoods, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A woman who left her purse in a shopping cart when she went to load her groceries in her car at Safeway in Centralia returned to the cart to find the purse gone, according to a report made to police about 5:15 p.m. yesterday.


• Centralia police took reports yesterday of gang-type graffiti spray painted on a shop and traffic sign a the 2200 block of North Tower Avenue. More graffiti was reported later in the day to a fence on the 1700 block of Hillview Road, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for trespassing, driving with a suspended license, violation of no contact order; responses for shoplifting, minor collision, suspicious people, suicide attempt … and more.

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Arson: String of Centralia fires under investigation

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8:18 am

Response at Centerville Western Store on Lum Road / Courtesy photo by Riverside Fire Authority

Updated at 6:12 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Three fires broke out within less than an hour overnight in Centralia, causing damage at two church buildings and a third at the Outlet Mall.

They are under investigation.

It began about 3:20 a.m. when a female showed up at the front door of the downtown fire station and said she thought there was a fire next to the Centralia Church of the Nazarene on the 1200 block of West First Street, according to Riverside Fire Authority Capt. Tim Adolphsen.

At 3:35 a.m. crews were called to the Centerville store off Lum Road, he said.

And just after 4 a.m., they were notified of another at a church on the 2500 block of Seward Avenue, he said.

Nobody was injured, he said.

Investigators have concluded already the last fire, at Calvary Chapel in north Centralia, was from an electrical issue, but the other two are arson, Chief Jim Walkowski said.

Fire investigators and police going to have a busy day, he said.

“We’re trying to find people who may have wanted to do harm to these buildings,” Walkowski said.

The most seriously damaged was the house just west of the Nazarene Church, which is used for youth activities, according to firefighters. The bulk of the fire was in its garage area however, Walkowski said.

He estimated the loss to as much as $50,000.

“That has been deemed a set fire, that’s an arson,” Walkowski said. “From where it started and the burn patterns, it was definitely a set fire, not an accident.”

The chief said he was just arriving at the scene when they were informed of an alarm activation at Centerville, the western store at the north end of the Centralia Outlets, so he headed that way instead.

Flames there originated in a hot water tank enclosure attached to the east end of the structure, he said.

“We were able to get inside quick enough so they will be open for business today,” Walkowski said.

The chief is asking residents who may have surveillance cameras to take a look at their footage to see if they show any vehicles or even people walking down the streets. And to please call him at 736-3975 or the police department if they find anything.

“We’ve solved lots of fires with these,” Walkowski said.

Four other fire departments, from Rochester to Napavine, assisted, he said.

The fire damage at the church on Seward Avenue was minimal, although it sustained some smoke and water damage, according to Walkowski.

By 10:30 a.m., crews learned of an attempt to burn yet another building, Cooks Hill Community Church on the 2400 block of Cooks Hill Road. They don’t know when it occurred, because it failed.

“One of the workers walked outside and found the side of the church had scorch marks,” Walkowski said.

The chief said they are asking folks to be hyper vigilant, and be sure to move any combustible materials away from the exterior of their homes or buildings.

A fire earlier in the night at the north end of Chehalis remains under investigation as well, he said.

Crews were called about 1 a.m. to the Firehouse Espresso stand on the 2300 block of Kresky Avenue. Flames were found on the backside, which were quickly knocked down, according to Chehalis Fire Department Firefighter-Investigator Jay Birley.

Birley said they had a garbage can behind the structure, and he’s suspicious about cigarette butts.

“It’s looking toward accidental, but I won’t know more till later today,” Birley said.

He’s described the damage to the coffee stand as moderate.


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News brief: Centralia man faces first-degree murder trial for B Street shooting

Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Attorneys confirmed to a judge today they are ready to begin the murder trial on Monday for 30-year-old Centralian Weston G. Miller.

Miller has been in the Lewis County Jail awaiting trial since the  March 13, 2012 fatal shooting of his house guest, 43-year-old David Wayne Carson.


Weston G. Miller

Centralia attorney J.P. Enbody has indicated he will be arguing self defense. Miller has claimed self defense from the beginning.

Police called the afternoon of March 13 to Miller’s house on B Street found Carson dead inside with two bullet wounds in his chest and chased down Miller who had left in a pickup truck. Officers were told Carson and his girlfriend Sara Delsavo had been arguing and Miller told them to stop it.

He said Carson came at him with a knife in his hand, but Delsavo said her boyfriend was unarmed, according to charging documents.

The case got off to a slow start because of questions whether Miller was competent to stand trial.


David Wayne Carson

At one point, Miller was prepared to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, and before that, his attorney indicated his client would be relying upon a defense of insanity / diminished capacity.

Miller has already pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm that grew out of the same investigation.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said the trial is expected to last about four days. The charge is first-degree murder.

For background, read “B Street homicide: Defendant says self defense” from Wednesday March 14, 2012, here

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Updated at 7:57 p.m.


• A 54-year-old Centralia woman making her regular check upon a neighbor yesterday was met at his doorway and hit in the head with a baseball bat, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officers called just after 1 p.m. to the 300 block of West Magnolia arrested Craig A. Olson, 51, according to police. The assault came out of nowhere, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert, who said there was no prior conflict between the two. It appears Olson has “issues,” Reichert said. The victim was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with a cut to her head, he said. Olson was booked into the Lewis County Jail for for second-degree assault.


• A 14-year-old boy at the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center allegedly kicked a staff member causing her to fall down and spit on others yesterday morning because he didn’t want to go back to his room, according to police. A Chehalis police officer is referring the case to juvenile prosecutors for possible charges of assault, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• A Chehalis police officer was summoned to the principal’s office at W.F. West High School in Chehalis yesterday morning regarding a complaint from a 15-year-old girl that she was inappropriately touched by a 14-year-old boy. The case is being referred to juvenile prosecutors for a possible charge of simple assault, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Centralia police were called to the 1000 block of Airport Road yesterday afternoon after a 28-foot travel trailer was discovered missing. A witness had seen a red Dodge pickup towing the white Kit trailer away around 2 p.m., according to the Centralia Police Department. The camping trailer has a license of 1581RV, according to police.


• Gas cans, fuel, tools and other items were discovered missing from a storage shed at the Mineral Creek Cemetery sometime between April 7 and Tuesday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A 43-year-old woman pulled over on her moped on Interstate 5 in Chehalis because she was swerving as she used one hand to eat from a bag of Doritoes ended up in the Lewis County Jail yesterday evening. A deputy noticed the scooter had no license plate and its ignition wires were taped together, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Kristina M. Andrews, of Vancouver, Wash., said she had just purchased the moped from a friend and was heading to Seattle, the sheriff’s office reported. It turned out the vehicle had been reported stolen in Portland, so Andrews was arrested for first-degree possession of stolen property, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• A pair of teenage cousins from the Tacoma area who allegedly stole at gunpoint some marijuana they showed up to buy from a Centralia man in December – and then found their car being shot up as they fled East Van Buren Street – won’t be going to trial. Eighteen-year-old Yahdriel E. Jones was in court today, where attorneys told a judge he intends to change his plea to guilty. Howard E. Ross 19, had already “pleaded out” and agreed to testify, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Kjell Warner said. A 28-year-old Centralia man who had placed an ad online on Craigslist that he had “extra quality meds” up for donation, of $125 per ounce, found himself struck in the face by a pistol on Dec. 15 when he got inside their car in front of his house to conduct business, according to charging documents. Jones will return to a courtroom on Tuesday to change his plea.

• A pair of brothers arrested in January after a marijuana growing operation was discovered in their Seminary Hill Road home have accepted a plea offer and will return to court May 15 for further proceedings. Zeshawn H. Hasnani, 27, and Sohail Hasnani, 24, allegedly sold their product to medical marijuana dispensaries and have been jailed since their Jan. 10 arrest by Centralia police. Attorneys told a judge today the men will change their pleas.


• “I’m not going to hold her on $35,000, this is totally ridiculous.” –  Judge Richard Brosey remarking upon a bail request after being informed Rachelle L. Braaten, 24, was charged with burglary because she went inside her Centralia home, in violation of a no contact order regarding her child. The Centralia mother was initially charged, and ordered to stay away from her toddler, after allegedly giving the little one a hit off a bong.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with a suspended license, misdemeanor assault, responses for non-injury collision, possible fraud, disturbances, suspicious circumstances, suicide attempt, dog fight … and more.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 8:03 pm


• Prosecutors yesterday filed charges against the Chehalis father accused of taking money from W.F. West High School’s senior class fund. Robert N. Downs Jr., 43, has been summonsed to appear in Lewis County Superior Court to face one count of first-degree theft and 14 counts of forgery, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office. Police began investigating in January following a complaint the account had less money in it than students’ parents thought there would be. Police last month said they discovered the husband of a woman in charge of the money signed his wife’s name to 14 checks from the account he wrote out to himself, totaling $8,200. The wife replaced the money back into the account after she learned of the losses, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The fund comes from a tradition of parents collectively starting fundraising during their children’s freshman year to pay for graduation-related activities. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said he believes more than $8,000 was stolen.


• A chainsaw was stolen from a shop building on the 2400 block of Seward Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday morning.

• Police were called about 10:15 a.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of West Main Street in Centralia about the theft of a business check which was subsequently used to purchase more than $600 of merchandise in  Longview. Police have a suspect in mind and are investigating, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning about a counterfeit $20 bill received by an employee at a business on the 1400 block of Louisiana Avenue. Officer Linda Bailey said an officer would have taken the currency for evidence and run its information through a U.S. Secret Service database to see if it a “known” counterfeit. When police have no local leads, they send fake bills off to the Secret Service, she said.


• Centralia police took a report of graffiti on no parking signs at the 2200 block of North Tower Avenue at about 8:45 p.m. yesterday. Earlier in the afternoon, an officer was contacted a person’s fence on the 100 block of East Roanoke Street being tagged with spray paint.

• An officer was called about 9 a.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of Windsor Avenue in Centralia where a female said someone spray painted her car during the night.


• Toledo area firefighters were called about 3:15 a.m. today when a driver on his way to work encountered a herd of elk crossing state Route 505 near Layton Road. Fire Chief Grant Wiltbank said the vehicle’s airbag deployed and the motorist was uninjured. One female elk was severely injured, according to Wiltbank.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for driving with a suspended license; reports of misdemeanor assaults, shoplifting; complaints of panhandlers near businesses, a person sleeping outside an apartment building who wouldn’t leave … and more.


Vehicle after encountering elk on state Route 505 / Courtesy photo by Grant Wiltbank

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Purse recovered after Centralia robbery, along with drugs and other stolen property

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 6:51 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia police found stolen guns, signs of gang activity and more than a “personal use” amount of suspected methamphetamine when they searched a Logan district house yesterday as they investigated the stick up of a motorist who said she got lost on Centralia streets the night before.

Two people have been arrested for the robbery that occurred about 12:15 a.m. Tuesday at the 100 block of Harrison Avenue.

Centralia Police Department detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald said the Olympia area woman told officers she came to town to help someone move, got lost and pulled into a church parking lot to use her cell phone.

A male appeared of out nowhere and stole her purse and phone at gunpoint, Fitzgerald said. She was reportedly unhurt.

The thief was described as a white male with a distinctive tattoo on his neck wearing jeans and a dark hoodie, according to police. Police were told he fled to a red or maroon sedan which was driven away by a blond female, according to police.

Officers searched the area and eventually located a similar car parked outside a residence on the 1500 block of Delaware, according to Fitzgerald.

Two of the individuals who live or were staying there were arrested. Anthony F. Johnson, 28, from Morton, for first-degree robbery and  Kaylie J. Longmire, 18, of Centralia, for being an accessory to robbery, according to the Centralia Police Department.

A patrol sergeant separately indicated that a 25-year-old Centralia man, David J. Eslick, was arrested just after midnight today, in connection with the robbery as well as for allegedly breaking into the concession stand at the high school football stadium earlier in the night.

Fitzgerald said today detectives were investigating a possible link and believed the participants in the purse theft drove Eslick to the stadium.

Yesterday, a police sergeant said the Olympia woman knew the robbers and was meeting them, but Fitzgerald said that’s not information he was given.

“There may be all kinds of stuff that comes out of this, cause we’re not finished yet,” Fitzgerald said.

During the search of the house, detectives found three stolen firearms, one of which its owner didn’t yet know was missing, according to Fitzgerald.

They also discovered photographs and graffiti in the house that was evidence of gang activity; mostly the so-called Tiny Dukes and some that could be Crips or Surenos connected, he said.

Also found were unspecified items police believe have been stolen in local burglaries as well as the Olympia woman’s purse, according to police.