Posts Tagged ‘By Sharyn L. Decker’

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, May 26th, 2013


• A shopping spree for two Pierce County men ended yesterday with their arrests at the Centralia Outlets for organized retail theft and possession of methamphetamine. Police called about 5:30 p.m. to the 1300 block of Lum Road regarding a shoplifted purse found a pair of suspects in an adjacent store and a vehicle with merchandise inside it from places such as Aeropostale, Corning, Nike, Sunbirds in Chehalis and Sears at the Lewis County Mall, according to the Centralia Police Department. When one of the men was patted down, an officer discovered suspected stolen goods such as sunglasses and gloves, along with a tie from another retailer, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. “They cuffed him,” Reichert said. One of the subjects was seen kicking a bag under a patrol car; it contained suspected meth, according to police. The total value of the goods was $1,665, but it only takes hitting three or more stores to push a misdemeanor shoplifting offense up to the felony of organized retail theft, according to Reichert. Police counted approximately nine victim businesses. Centralia has lately become somewhat of a destination location for “northerners” engaging in this type of activity, Reichert said. Roland T. Hunter, 52, of Tacoma, and Matthew D. Drennan, 36, of Edgewood, were  booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• A 39-year-old Rochester man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine following a traffic stop about 10:50 p.m. on Friday on West Main Street and North Washington Avenue in Centralia. An officer asked James W. Strothman if he wanted to retrieve anything from his vehicle before it was impounded and he asked for a small black bag, according to police. The officer checked to make sure it didn’t have any weapon inside before handing it over and found a handgun and a baggie of a powdered substance, according to police. The Rochester man was booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• Centralia police were called just before 9 a.m. yesterday to the 1500 block of South Gold Street after a woman discovered someone had taken her purse and keys from the back of her truck. She was getting ready to leave and set them there while walking a dog, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A leather jacket was reported stolen from an unlocked car at the 1100 block of West Pear Street in Centralia on Friday morning.


• A 62-year-old Olympia man was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital after a single-vehicle collision yesterday evening on Interstate 5 near Vader. Troopers called about 6:30 p.m. to the southbound lanes near milepost 58 found that traffic had slowed in front of Bill Bakke who was unable to stop. Bakke moved to the left into the concrete barrier, then rotated back the other way coming to rest in the right lane, according to the Washington State Patrol. His 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt was described as totaled. He was cited for following too closely, according to the state patrol.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, DUI, 49-year-old woman walking in the middle of the roadway disrupting traffic; responses for possible identity theft, for shoplifting such as a man pushing a baby stroller at Outlet stores, alcohol and energy drink from grocery store … and more.

Police: Centralia shopping dispute culminates with man, children attacked with pepper spray

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Tacoma woman is jailed after she reportedly used pepper spray to break up a brawl between her grown son and another man outside the Centralia Outlets yesterday afternoon then chased the subject, spraying him and two children who were with him.

Police and aid were called about 3:15 p.m. to the shopping center on the 100 block of West High Street. Tamala J. Summerhill, 53, was arrested, according to the Centralia Police Department.

“Spraying the guys to break up a fight is one thing,” Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. “But chasing him across the parking lot is a whole different ball of wax.”

As to why she used the streaming pepper spray on two boys, ages 8 and 9, she had no explanation, according to Reichert. She was arrested for two counts of third-degree child assault, he said.

It began with an exchange of words between the two males as they stood in line inside one of the stores and the 22-year-old son picking a fight when they got outside, according to police.

“The victim gets the suspect down, the female whips out the pepper spray,” Reichert said.

The 38-year-old Tumwater man got up and ran to his vehicle; she follows, he said. He and the boys were standing outside the vehicle when she let go with more pepper spray, according to Reichert.

Medics treated the patients, none were hospitalized.

Jesse E. Summerhill, 22, also of Tacoma, was arrested for misdemeanor assault, his mother was booked for the felony assaults, according to Reichert.

White Pass School District prevails in wrongful death lawsuit involving student

Friday, May 24th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The lawsuit against White Pass School District – sued by the family of a sophomore who committed suicide – is over, with a Lewis County Superior Court judge ruling this morning school officials had no duty to notify Brian Stephens’ family of a suicide note they learned of or a possible suicide pact between two students

Brian Stephens, 16, was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head, inside a Tacoma man’s vacation mobile home in Packwood in May 2009.


Brian Stephens

His grandmother Debbie Reisert, with whom he lived, never heard about the note until months afterward. She wasn’t called when the high school counselor brought her grandson into his office to ask him if he was suicidal.

Days before Brian’s death, one of his friends had taken 30 Ibuprofen pills one morning and then went to school. When the counselor learned of it,  the boy was taken away in an ambulance to Morton General Hospital where he was treated and subsequently released.

A female classmate told counselors Brian had passed her a  note in English class, writing that if his friend killed himself, he would too.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed last year by Brian’s family never went to trial.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey today granted a summary judgement requested by the school district.

“Is there a duty in the first place?” Brosey asked lawyers this morning. “That’s the issue we’re dealing with today.”

Brosey said the answer was no, based on case law.

“If the court of appeals or the Supreme Court want to declare there is, that’s up to them,” he said.

Tukwila attorney Philip Talmadge who represented the White Pass School District said the district feels horrible about the tragic circumstances, but they are not legally culpable.

The school counselor talked to the young man and he denied he was suicidal, Talmadge said.

He said the grandmother claimed she had previously had a long conversation with the counselor, asking him to inform her if he noticed anything amiss. But the counselor Justin Neilson didn’t recall the conversation exactly the same way, he said.

“Before you can have liability, you have to have a duty, as a matter of law,” Talmadge said.

He said it’s a question for the legislature, should it want to make such laws. There are many variables that would need to be addressed, he said.

“The Idaho legislature did that,” he said.

The family attorney Kevin Coluccio said he doesn’t yet know if they will appeal.

“I think what’s disappointing to us, is the school district won’t be held accountable for withholding information about kids,” Coluccio said. “Because mom and grandmother didn’t have the information, they couldn’t take action.”

Coluccio said some changes have been made, in part due to efforts by his clients.

The governor recently signed legislation that requires suicide education training for educators and some notification requirements, he said.

He called Brian’s death, or any child to suicide, a great tragedy.

“My hope is that this caused them to re-evaluate, to take more seriously the threat of teen suicide,” Coluccio said.

For the in-depth story surrounding Brian Stephen’s death, read “Packwood teen’s suicide to be revisited, in court” from Sunday July 1, 2012, here

Jail time for bong-smoking baby’s mother

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Rachelle L. Braaten pleads guilty to “delivery” of marijuana in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Centralia mother who was captured on cell phone video offering up a marijuana bong to her toddler’s mouth was sentenced today to six months in jail.

Rachelle L. Braaten, 24, admitted what she did as part of a plea agreement, and the judge went along with it.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler called the recommendations appropriate, given the particular facts of the case.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke and defense attorney Sam Groberg told the judge what Braaten did involved a foolish lapse of judgement by a young mother while in the company of pot smokers in her home.

“It was at least those things,” Lawler told Braaten. “You’ve got to take care of your child.

“Being a parent means you have to protect your child; hopefully you’ve learned your lesson.”

Braaten and the boy’s father were arrested in early March.

Centralia police initially said they went to the home on the 1400 block of Delaware Avenue to confiscate marijuana plants, but court documents described the anonymous video they received as the primary reason for law enforcement’s visit to the home.

No charges have been filed in connection to the marijuana plants; the deputy prosecutor said it turned out there was evidence 25-year-old Tyler J. Lee was  validly prescribed medical marijuana and validly providing it for a second person.

According to the documents, Braaten told police she knew she shouldn’t be giving her son a hit off the bong, but felt “peer-pressured.”

She has no criminal background.

The video, which caught the attention of a worldwide audience on news sites, includes the sound of laughter from a number of people as the child approaches the marijuana smoking device which the mother is holding, and when his mouth gets close to its top, the little one rears back and coughs.

Braaten pleaded guilty today to delivery of marijuana, which carried a sentence of zero to six months, as well as a violation of a no contact order.

The charge which was dropped –  delivery of a controlled substance by a person over 18 to a person under 18, domestic violence –  has a standard sentencing range of 51 to 68 months.

“Our big thing is once she takes responsibility for what happened, I don’t think she needs to be subjected to the high sentencing range,” O’Rourke told the judge.

Both of her sons were taken by Child Protective Services initially. It wasn’t discussed in court where they are now.

Under the terms set forth by CPS, Braaten began attending parenting classes at Centralia College, which stopped when she was put in jail for violating the no contact order last month, O’Rourke told the judge.

Lawler said she could have contact with her son under the conditions allowed by CPS, but he made it part of the court order she continue parenting classes.

He implored her to embrace the course as an opportunity to become the very best mother possible.

“You’re young, you don’t have a lot of experience,” the judge said. “There’s a lot to be learned.”

For background, read “Police: Marijuana smoking toddler taken from Centralia parents” from Friday March 8, 2013, here

Kennewick man rescued after falling into Ohanapecosh River

Friday, May 24th, 2013

The victim is pulled back over to safety as the diver, left, looks on. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 10

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 24-year-old camper northeast of Packwood was rescued after he slipped into a glacial river while on a morning walk.

The Kennewick man was staying with friends and family in an unimproved area about a quarter mile south of Mount Rainier National Park off state Route 123, according to authorities.

He got too close to the edge of the Ohanapecosh River and slid about 25 feet into the swift water, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said. Packwood Fire Chief Lonnie Goble said the current swept him to the opposite bank, where he yelled for help.

His companions drove to Packwood to make a 911 call, which came about 7 a.m., responders said.

Responders set up a pulley system, with help from the man.

A sheriff’s deputy who is trained in swift water rescue entered the 40 degree water and was pulled to the other side, where he put a harness on the victim who was pulled back to awaiting rescue teams, according to the sheriff’s office.

The river is about 25 to 30 feet across at that point. The man was definitely hypothermic, but otherwise okay, Goble said.

He was checked by EMTs and transported to the Packwood Fire Department where he was able to get a hot bath, according to Goble.

Responding with sheriff’s office, the fire department and swift water specialists was Packwood Search and Rescue. They were at the scene about two and half hours.

While some were setting up the rope system, others tossed the man bags of warm, dry clothing, hot liquids to drink and shoes, according to Goble.

The fire chief said the area, known as the Cedar Brook camping area, has seen two drownings in the last decade and four to five water rescues.

“The rocks, they’re very slick,” he said. “They’re always wet.”


Starting to set up for rescue at Ohanapecosh River. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 10



Boat that couldn’t be used because of the rapids. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 10


Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, May 24th, 2013
according to the Centralia Police Department.

Homemade mini shotgun discovered with shells in Rochester woman’s SUV. Courtesy photo by Thurston County Sheriff’s Office


• Neglecting to put on her seatbelt got a 23-year-old Rochester woman the attention of deputies last night, who in turn found hidden in the spare tire storage area of her SUV an unspecified quantity of suspected methamphetamine and a tiny home made shotgun. The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office was working a seatbelt emphasis patrol at U.S. Highway 12 and Albany Street in Rochester when at about 7 p.m. a driver was spotted without her seatbelt, according to the sheriff’s office. A deputy who pulled her over found suspected meth on her person and so subsequently impounded and searched her vehicle, according to the sheriff’s office. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said it was just a personal amount of meth found on the driver but more found in the storage area. The handheld shotgun shooting device discovered was homemade, spring loaded and illegal, according to Lt. Greg Elwin. Brianna Carrothers, 23, was arrested for possession of synthetic drugs while armed with a deadly weapon as well as unlawful possession of a short-barreled shotgun, the sheriff’s office reported. Law enforcement officers on Monday began adding extra patrols seeking out motorists who fail to buckle up and those who use cell phones while behind the wheel. The emphasis, which is also taking place around Lewis County  until June 2, is part of a campaign to end traffic deaths and serious injury accidents in Washington by 2030.


• A short foot pursuit and a zap with a Taser ended with a 49-year-old man getting taken into custody yesterday morning near South Gold and East Summa streets in Centralia. Police say when they attempted to contact Jose A. Rodriguez around 8:20 a.m., he ran. He was wanted for an outstanding warrant,  according to the Centralia Police Department. Officers booked him into the Lewis County Jail also for obstructing and resisting, according to police.


• The Centralia mom who gave her toddler a hit off a marijuana bong – which was captured on a cell phone video – will spend six months in jail, a Lewis County Superior Court judge ordered this morning. More to come.

• The lawsuit against White Pass School District – sued by the family of a sophomore who committed suicide – is over, with a Lewis County Superior Court judge ruling this morning school officials had no duty to notify Brian Stephens’ family of a suicide note they learned of or a possible suicide pact between two students. More to come. Meanwhile, for background, read “Packwood teen’s suicide to be revisited, in court” from Sunday July 1, 2012, here


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for shoplifting, misdemeanor assaults, warrant; responses for non-injury collisions, stolen bicycle, gas station drive-off, to assist retrieving a 22-month-old who had locked self inside a bathroom; complaints of someone kicking at the back door to a business at the Lewis County Mall … a complaint by a taxi driver that after he gave a male a ride from Rock Street in Centralia to Yelm yesterday, the customer said he needed to go inside and get some money, but ran down an alley and never returned … and more.

Chehalis parent pleads not guilty to stealing from high school senior fund

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Chehalis father accused of writing himself some $8,000 in checks from the W.F. West High School’s senior class fund went before a judge today and pleaded not guilty.

Robert N. Downs Jr. remains free on his personal recognizance but was ordered to visit the jail to get his finger prints and picture taken.

Downs, 43, hired Centralia attorney David Arcuri to represent him. He was charged last month with first-degree theft and 14 counts of forgery.

The Chehalis Police Department began investigating in January following a complaint from students’ parents the account had less money in it than they thought there ought to be.

The fund comes from a a tradition of adults collectively fundraising during their children’s high school years to pay for graduation-related activities.

When Chehalis police announced their findings in March, they indicated only that $8,200 was taken out and that Downs’ wife, who was in charge of the account, replaced the missing money after she learned of the losses.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer wrote in charging documents an analysis is being conducted on the bank records to determine how much, if any, additional money is missing.  His office is still looking into that, Meyer said today.

Downs was charged on April 30, the same day he was served his summons at his workplace, Green Hill School, the state juvenile corrections facility for boys in Chehalis.

It’s not clear what his job is there or if he is still employed.

Charging documents allege Downs wrote checks between June and August of last year in amounts ranging from $275 to $850. The total is $8,075, according to the court documents. Prosecutors state he forged his wife’s name.

Charging documents don’t offer any indication of what he may have spent the money on.

Downs sat to the right of his attorney this morning in the Chehalis courtroom, sporting slacks, a dress shirt and tie.

Arcuri told the judge he didn’t think it was necessary in the conditions of release order to restrict his client’s travel. His family has a sports tournament in Idaho in June, Arcuri said.

Meyer said the pre-trial limitation to Western Washington is typical.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey ordered Downs not to go outside Washington, Oregon or Idaho.

Meyer said outside the courtroom it doesn’t change the fact of a theft – under Washington state law – even if all the money was put back in the account.

“So, can I take $10,000 from your account, and put it back when I get caught?” he asked by way of an illustration.

Meyer contended the funds were not returned to the account until after questions were being asked.

A trial date was set for the week of August 5.


For background read “High school senior class fund in Chehalis under scrutiny” from Tuesday March 19, 2013 at 9:45 p.m., here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013


• A 28-year-old Rochester mother awakened yesterday morning by noises in her living room confronted two subjects carrying away her television. They dropped the TV, one said sorry, and they ran out the door, jumped in a car and drove away, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called just before 9 a.m. to the home on the 10,800 block of 188th Avenue Southwest said she described the intruders as teenage boys, both about 6 feet tall. Their car was a 1990s dark green “junkie” Chevrolet Impala, Lt. Greg Elwin said. Her door had been left unlocked, he said. They managed to get away with a Playstation II, according to the sheriff’s office.


• Someone broke into an outside cabinet at Dave’s Chevron station in Toledo and stole six to eight recycled car batteries, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy who responded to the 400 block of state Route 506 was told it happened sometime between 11 p.m. on Tuesday and 3:30 yesterday morning, according to the sheriff’s office.


• Centralia police took a report yesterday regarding the theft of a small, bright yellow “pocket” motorcycle from the 500 block of South Pearl Street.


• Centralia police were called to an auto body shop yesterday afternoon at the 200 block of East Summa Street when the victim discovered a car sitting on blocks and missing two of its tires and wheels (wire spoke rims).


• Centralia police were contacted yesterday morning about a diamond ring stolen out of a vehicle sometime during the previous two days. The loss is almost $1,000, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called about 3:30 p.m. yesterday regarding a car prowl at the 1000 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. It wasn’t immediately obvious if anything was missing, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Centralia police responding to a home on the 1200 block of West Main Street about a dispute just before 11 p.m. yesterday ended up arresting a 35-year-old resident for allegedly having a baggie with pills in her pocket she did not possess a prescription for. Melinda M. Murphy was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Chehalis police were called just after 4 p.m. yesterday regarding graffiti spray painted onto an alley-facing garage off Southwest Cascade Avenue. The sliver “bubble” letters are not really decipherable, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Centralia police were called about 1:15 a.m. today to the area just north of East Maple Street and Railroad Avenue after a railroad officer discovered a man sleeping inside a locomotive. Dale L. Wester, of Quilcene, was cited for trespass and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• One lane of northbound Interstate 5 at the 13th Street interchange in Chehalis was shut down for a time yesterday afternoon after a too-tall load on a flatbed trailer struck the overpass and caused some concrete to fall. Troopers and police responded about 3 p.m. found that a forklift being hauled hit the bridge. The truck driver from Ellensburg was cited for a load that was over the legal limit in height, according to the Washington State Patrol.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, failing to register as a sex offender by a transient; responses for misdemeanor theft, alarm, a report of forgery, dispute, parking lot hit and run; complaints of possible inappropriate touching … and more.

Kelso man held on $100,000 bail for Chehalis bank robbery

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Jerrell S. Redmill, right, listens as defense attorney Bob Schroeter speaks on his behalf in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 54-year-old Kelso husband who until recently was employed was driving a gold Chrysler PT Cruiser like the one which pulled out of the front parking lot at Chase Bank in Chehalis after it was robbed.

When law enforcement officers stopped Jerrell S. Redmill’s car on Interstate 5 near Kelso about 30 minutes later, and patted him down, money was falling out of his shorts pockets, dropping onto the ground.

“He didn’t run or fight,” Chehalis Police Department detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.

He asked to speak with an attorney.

Redmill was in Lewis County Superior Court today, charged with first-degree robbery for yesterday afternoon’s events at the bank on South Market Boulevard.

He doesn’t have any criminal history, Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told the judge.

In the benches behind him were his wife, grown daughter and another family member. The longtime Cowlitz County resident owns a home worth about $100,000, defense attorney Bob Schroeter said. He collects about $1,000 a month from unemployment, according to Schroeter.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey set his bail at $100,000.

It was a casual and quiet holdup, according to Wilson.

Court documents say the teller told police she watched an older man enter the bank, pace back and forth for a short period of time in the lobby, and then approach her counter and hand her a note.

He was wearing a baseball cap and dark glasses.

She handed over about $1,000 in $20s, $10s and $1 bills, according to charging documents. He took the cash and the note then walked out.

Wilson said it was a good description given by employees and the manager running over to look out the window to see the car, along with a sheriff’s detective being in the right place at the right time that brought it all together so quickly.

“We relayed that (information) to all the officers in the area,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the PT Cruiser was first spotted by the sheriff’s detective who was driving an unmarked car near milepost 68, the U.S. Highway 12 interchange. But it took time for enough officers to catch up to make a safe traffic stop, he said.

Redmill was pulled over and arrested near milepost 42.

According to charging documents, the cash that fell onto the ground totaled $775. When the car was searched, $270 was found on the driver’s side floor.

In the driver’s pocket door was a note which read, “Give me all your money now!” according to the documents.

Police also collected a baseball cap from the car – blue with a white logo – that appeared to match what the robber was wearing in bank photos.

Charging documents state Redmill has charges from 1982 of criminal mischief and disorderliness.

He will return to court on another day to make his plea.

The same Chase Bank branch was robbed a little more than a year ago by two men who were captured less than 30 minutes later after a brief pursuit by a Centralia police officer and his police dog.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013


• A 46-year-old Centralia woman was arrested after she reportedly took a swing at a neighbor yesterday afternoon. Police called just before 2 p.m. to the 500 block of South Silver Street were told Patsy A. Bartlett was calling the young woman names and when the young woman made a comment to her companion, Bartlett ran up to her and tried to hit her, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officer Mike Lowrey said it sounds like they are not getting along. Bartlett was booked into the Lewis County Jail for fourth-degree (misdemeanor) assault, according to police.


• Centralia police took a report just before 11 a.m. yesterday about kitchenware and fishing rods stolen from a house on the 1000 block of Long Road.

• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning about a wallet stolen from an unlocked vehicle on Southwest Fourth Street near Cascade Avenue.

• Centralia police took a report yesterday about mail-order medication that should have but didn’t show up in a mail box on the 700 block of North Washington Avenue in Centralia.


• Centralia police were called just before midnight to the 600 block of J Street where they were told a 23-year-old occupant used a chair to break out a bedroom window.


• A 30-year-old Centralia man was arrested for alleged drug dealing after he was stopped on his bicycle yesterday evening on Cooks Hill Road in Centralia, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The contact about 7:30 p.m. with Anthony B. Velazquez came from an ongoing investigation, according to detective Sgt. Gary Wilson. Police found in his possession a plastic baggie with about one-eighth of an ounce of suspected black tar heroin and another baggie with suspected methamphetamine, Wilson said. Velazquez was booked into the Lewis County Jail for conspiracy to deliver heroin and possession of meth, according to police.


• Chehalis police were called about 11 p.m. yesterday by a woman on Southwest 20th Street who said there were three males outside dressed in black and wearing skeleton masks who were yelling, screaming and kicking at each other. Detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said he knew that a warning was given, but he didn’t have further details.


“We call that a clue.”  – Police Sgt. Gary Wilson about the cash falling out of the pockets of the suspected bank robber when he was pulled over yesterday on Interstate 5 near Kelso.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, misdemeanor assault; responses for minor collision, false alarms, disputes, stolen bicycle and other misdemeanor theft, suspicious activity, lost wallet; complaints of kids on the school roof … and more.

News brief: Emergency dispatchers to put spotlight on missing children with balloon release

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lewis County 911 dispatchers will gather at a Chehalis park today and do a balloon release to bring attention to the issue of missing children.

Saturday is National Missing Children’s Day and employees of the county department recently became certified with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“Putting that highlight back on missing kids is what we’re trying to do,” said employee Laura Hanson.

They’ve scheduled a news conference from 1:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. at Stan Hedwall Park on Rice Road in which representatives from the Washington State Patrol and Lewis County 911 will discuss what more folks can do about missing children.

Gordon Trucking will bring one of its semi trucks which features a poster-sized face of the missing Lewis County girl,  Kayla Croft-Payne, Hanson said.

Croft-Payne is among those on Washington state’s missing children list. She was 18 and living outside Chehalis when she was reported missing on May 5, 2010.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: Twenty-five ways to make kids safer, here

News brief: Empty suitcase empties Centralia Post Office lobby

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Streets around the Centralia Post Office were blocked off for about three hours this evening after police responded to an unattended suitcase found sitting in the lobby.

It was empty.

Centralia police were called at 5:03 p.m. to the building on the 200 block of Centralia College Boulevard because the lone piece of luggage was suspicious, according to the Centralia Police Department.

The Washington State Patrol Bomb Squad was summoned and after an examination, concluded it contained nothing, Officer John Panco said.

It was a small gray soft-sided bag, according to Panco.

Thy opened it up, it was empty and there was no information indicating who it might have belonged to, he said.

It was just one month ago when a shoe box found sitting on the sidewalk next to the police department brought a response from bomb technicians. It too was empty.

Kelso man detained after Chehalis bank robbed

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 54-year-old man was picked up on Interstate 5 just north of Kelso following a bank robbery in Chehalis this afternoon.

Police were called just before 3:30 p.m. to Chase Bank on the 600 block of South Market Boulevard. An employee told officers a man in his 50s handed a teller a note demanding money and left in a gold colored PT Cruiser, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

No weapon was displayed and nobody was injured, according to police.

Shortly after the 911 call, a Lewis County sheriff’s detective spotted a vehicle and driver matching the given description traveling southbound on the freeway, police stated in a news release. The car was stopped near milepost 42 and police concluded he was their suspect.

The suspect is identified by police as Jerrell S. Redmill, 54, of Kelso, according to police. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree robbery.

How much money was stolen or if it was recovered was not reported by police.

The same bank was robbed in March of last year, by a pair of local men who got away briefly with less than $2,500 from Chase, moments after a failed attempt at the nearby Twin Star Credit Union – which keeps no cash in its drawers.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Updated at 1:43 p.m.


• Two people were arrested this morning for allegedly stealing a car hoist from a Chehalis business, cutting it up into pieces and selling it to a local scrap yard. Police had been looking for Jeanelle L. Matson and Charles R. Smith since last week when the item was discovered missing from behind an auto shop on Northwest State Avenue, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Sgt. Gary WIlson said he understood they got about $50 scrap value from the $4,000 hoist. He said the Olympia residents – both 48 years old – have been driving around in a U-Haul van. They were picked up about 5 o’clock this morning when Centralia police spotted a woman push open the door to a vacant house on the 1000 block of Eckerson Road. Both were booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of stolen property, he said. Matson was arrested also because she was found in possession of suspected methamphetamine, according to Centralia police.


• Police contacted by a student at W.F. West High School yesterday concerned she was being stalked by an anonymous texter concluded the messages were coming from an unknown person in Memphis, Tennessee. Chehalis detective Sgt. Gary Wilson described it as a random, out-of-the-blue situation and said the girl was advised to block the number.


• Centralia police arrested a 33-year-old man yesterday afternoon in connection with a burglary at an apartment complex on Reynolds Avenue in Centralia where he worked as a maintenance man. Police said Joshua J. Meyers used a key to get access and took drills, activity which was captured on security video. Officers continue to investigate since other items have been reported missing from a complex owned by the same person on the 2900 block of Mount Vista Road, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert. Meyers, of Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Firefighters responded about 2 p.m. yesterday for a brush fire off Coma Road west of Vader. “It was burning in a ditch, starting to get into the timber,” Lewis County Fire District 15 Firefighter Patrick Jacobson said. He estimated the size at 100 feet by 50 feet. Crews from Winlock and Vader extinguished it, he said. Jacobson said he’d only be guessing as to the cause.


• Deputies and aid were called about 9:45 p.m. yesterday to the 300 block of Hewitt Road southeast of Chehalis where a motorcycle struck a deer. The 21-year-old driver from Salkum spoke of leg and arm pain but declined to be taken to the hospital, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. His 2001 Suzuki sustained major damage and was towed, the sheriff’s office said. He was cited for driving without a motorcycle endorsement on his license, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

• Two occupants of a passenger car escaped serious injury yesterday when they blew a stop sign entering U.S. Highway 12 west of Rochester and were hit by a semi truck. Trooper called at 3:30 p.m. to the scene at Moon Road reported the eastbound big rig had begun to slow because its driver watched one vehicle turn right off Moon Road without stopping and suddenly the second car did the same thing, Trooper Guy Gill said. The pair in the car were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with minor injuries and have been released, Gill said. The driver was cited for second-degree negligent driving he said. Her car was heavily damaged on it left side, according to Gill.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for driving with a suspended license; responses for misdemeanor theft, receipt of a counterfeit bill, suspicious circumstances, complaints of drunken yelling man, noisy dogs … and more.

News brief: Rochester logger killed by falling tree

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 28-year-old Rochester resident was killed in a logging accident yesterday morning in Cowlitz County

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office reports deputies and aid called about 9 a.m. to the site roughly two miles west of Cougar learned that Kyle M. Schlesser died instantly when he was struck by a falling tree.

Schlesser and his partner, 43-year-old Owen Fickett of Onalaska, were falling separate trees when it happened, according to the sheriff’s office.

Fickett said he called out prior to dropping his tree to make sure Schlesser knew, and that the tree Fickett dropped hit a second tree which fell onto Schlesser.

The sheriff’s office said in a news release all indications are it was a very tragic accident.

Deputies were told Fickett has 23 years of logging experience without ever causing injury to himself or others. Schlesser has been logging nine years, the sheriff’s office stated.

He is the son of the owner of the logging company, James Schlesser, according to Chief Criminal Deputy Charlie Rozenzweig.

News brief: Centralia marijuana dispensary trial ends with hung jury

Monday, May 20th, 2013

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Lewis County jury deadlocked on whether 47-year-old Lauri Spangler committed a crime in connection with what police said was a medical marijuana dispensary they raided  two years ago shortly after it opened in downtown Centralia.

Spangler was the only one of four individuals in the case to go to trial. The others’ cases are already settled with plea agreements.

She was charged with maintaining a premises for using controlled substances, but her attorney told jurors last week all she did was get the business license and set up the checking account for her boyfriend Colby Cave.

Hub City Natural Medicine opened on Tower Avenue in early 2011 with a city-granted business license which the city said accidentally slid below its radar.

Jurors deliberated about five hours following the two-day trial last week in Lewis County Superior Court.

Lewis County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said jurors didn’t stick around on Friday to talk so that he or the defense attorney might learn what their issues were.

However, documents now available in the court file offer some clues.

Jurors sent a question to the judge on Friday after lunch, asking for the definition of “knowingly”.

The judge’s written answer delivered back to the jury room essentially said he couldn’t answer that, they should refer to their jury instructions.

Within a half an hour, jurors sent out another note, informing the judge they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt queried them individually in open court, asking if they were certain they couldn’t reach a unanimous decision in a reasonable amount of time.

The jurors were all in agreement that they couldn’t reach an agreement.

The judge declared a mistrial.

Meagher said today he hasn’t made a decision on whether to retry Spangler, however, on Thursday he will go ahead and schedule another trial.

“We’ll make our formal decision later,” he said.

For background, read “Centralia marijuana store case goes to trial” from Wednesday May 15, 2013, here

Early May north Centralia church fire could also be arson, officials now say

Monday, May 20th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Investigators are re-thinking the string of fires that struck Centralia churches and other buildings two weeks ago, classifying all of them now as either arson or undetermined.


Centerville Western Store on May 3

In a three-hour span during the early morning hours of May 3, crews were called to four structure fires and then after daylight, learned of a failed attempt at a fifth location.

They still have no suspects or motive.

Initially, a 4 a.m. fire that damaged a wall at Calvary Chapel on Seward Avenue in north Centralia was believed to be caused by an electrical issue, but authorities are reexamining that conclusion in part because of the timing, according to Riverside Fire Authority Assistant Chief Rick Mack.

“It strains credulity to think that it isn’t somehow involved,” Mack said today.

The other undetermined fire is one that struck a coffee stand in north Chehalis at 1 o’clock that morning. Flames were quickly knocked down and while an investigator was considering the possibility of a cigarette butt in a trash can, Mack said they just don’t have enough information to say if it was one thing or another.

Clearly arson and attempted arson were Centralia fires that did minor to moderate damage at the rectory-turned teen center of the Centralia Church of the Nazarene, Cooks Hill Community Church  and Centerville, the western store at the north end of the Centralia Outlets, according to Mack.

Authorities are once again seeking the public’s assistance to find who is responsible.

None of the targets have suggested a person they think police should talk to, Mack said.

Mack spoke of chatter on social media that might reveal clues.

“We just encourage people, if they hear anything even if it seems unlikely or remote, we’d like to hear about it,” Mack said today.

No suspicious fires have been reported in the area since that night, but Mack pointed out the burned siding on Cooks Hill Community Church that wasn’t spotted until 10 a.m. that day.

“There may be fires that were set but not discovered,” he said.

He suggested some folks might want to take a look around the exterior of their buildings.

Mack said he, Fire Chief Jim Walkowski and the Centralia Police Department would each be happy to hear from anyone with information.

Crime Stoppers of Lewis County is also calling upon anyone with information to consider making an anonymous phone call to them, at 1-800-748-6422 or leaving a tip online at


For background, read “Arson: String of Centralia fires under investigation” from Friday May 3, 2013, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Updated at 2:49 p.m.


• Police were called just before 2 a.m. yesterday to the 900 block of West Pear Street in Centralia where an intoxicated man said that he had been assaulted by a group of people as he walked home from a downtown tavern. The 26-year-old Centralia resident said he was punched in the face and believed the two females and three males took his cell phone, according to the Centralia Police Department. He said it happened by the railroad tracks, and the males were all 6-feet 2-inches tall, but police don’t have any good leads, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert.


• A pickup truck that was parked behind the Hub Tavern in Centralia and too close to the railroad tracks was “side swiped” by a freight train on Saturday night. Nobody was inside it at the time, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officers called just before 10 p.m. the area near East Locust noted the truck was dragged a bit and its back end significantly damaged, according to police.


• A 22-year-old homeless man who reportedly was threatening people with a metal water bottle, stopping traffic and trying to pick fights with random individuals on Saturday afternoon in downtown Centralia was arrested for disorderly conduct, according to the Centralia Police Department. Nathaniel R.H. Beyer, who comes from Hollywood, was contacted at the 100 block of North Tower Avenue and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.


• Police learned yesterday a pickup truck stolen from  I-5 Toyota in Chehalis turned up in Pierce County stripped and abandoned. An officer called about 1 p.m. on Friday to the dealership on the 1900 block of Louisiana Avenue was told the silver 2004 Ford 250 pickup vanished sometime between midnight and 7 a.m., according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Centralia police say Officer Ruben Ramirez and police dog Lobo were summoned just before 9 p.m. on Saturday to Alpha Way in the Onalaska area to help sheriff’s deputies track a suspect following a vehicle pursuit. The sheriff’s office said it was assisting the state patrol. Further details were not readily available.


• Centralia police are investigating after a male tried to spend two $5 bills which had been cut in half and taped together in downtown Centralia on Saturday. The serial number on one end of the bill was different than the serial number on the other end, so the clerk denied the sale, kept the money and called police, according to the Centralia Police Department. Sgt. Kurt Reichert said if a person has only a portion of a bill – as long as they have more than 51 percent of it – they can turn it in to authorities to get a replacement bill, but it’s not okay to tape it yourself. Theoretically, a person could try to tape together two halves of bills that are each less than 50 percent, he said, which would be criminal.


• Police called just after 6 p.m. yesterday about a tire slashed on a vehicle at an apartment complex in Centralia arrested a 32-year-old Napavine man. Police were told by a witness they had seen Daniel L. Fuchs do it the night before and when he showed up to the scene at the 2800 block of Russell Road, he was arrested for third-degree malicious mischief, according to the Centralia Police Department. He said the tire on his ex-girlfriend’s vehicle was bald and he didn’t want her driving on it, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert.


• A 43-year-old Morton man was cited for speeds too fast for conditions and failing to wear a seatbelt after a back road, nighttime wreck outside Randle in which he missed a corner on a gravel road and traveled off the roadway and down into a “big valley.” A deputy called about 6 a.m. on Saturday learned the man, whose forehead was cut when he stuck the windshield, walked until he was picked up by a passerby and taken to Taidnapam Park near Riffe Lake to get help, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said it happened on the 320-Line, off the 300-Line from the 108 Bridge sometime between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, protection order violation;  responses for minor collisions, vehicle versus bicycle with no injuries (twice over the weekend), misdemeanor assaults, disputes, burglar alarms; complaints of kids playing in the middle of a street, kids throwing rocks, a male stumbling around urinating in public, complaints of noisy neighbors, noisy dogs … and more.

Family pet thought dead after Grand Mound fire brought back to life

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Scooter the dog is revived by Firefighter Kylie Kavanaugh after mobile home fire. / Courtesy photo by West Thurston Regional Fire Authority

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters called this morning to a Grand Mound residential fire managed to contain the blaze to one room and resuscitated a small dog discovered unconscious under a bed.

When they started breaking down the room and pulled out a mattress, they found the little dog, West Thurston Regional Fire Authority Lt. Lanette Dyer said.

It was presumed dead, Dyer said, but was administered oxygen with a child bag-valve mask.

The cause of the 6 a.m. fire in a mobile home at the 6400 block of Southwest 201st Avenue is under investigation.

Dyer said the man and woman who live there were treated for scrapes and minor burns. The female was subsequently transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital, she said.

Dyer said she did not know how the occupants got their injuries, but the woman was hysterical because the pet, Scooter, had not come out of the trailer.

Fire Capt. Brian Christenson had crews treating both the people and the dog, after the dog was located, she said.

Dyer called it a bright spot what is otherwise a devastating event.

Firefighter Kylie Kavanaugh used the mask to help the dog breath.

“Within a couple of moments, it started taking a couple of breaths, and then the dog’s eyes came open,” Dyer said. “Then dog then began to lick at the mask; they were all pretty excited.”

Scooter was taken to Ford Prairie veterinary Clinic to be checked out for smoke inhalation.

Centralia: Wanted man accidentally delivers himself to police custody

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 21-year-old man who showed up at the Centralia police station wearing handcuffs, asking for help getting them removed found himself instead getting a ride to jail after officers discovered he had an outstanding warrant.

Aaron M. Perez came knocking at the back door about 4 p.m. yesterday, his hands linked together in front of him with genuine Smith and Wesson police handcuffs, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert.

He said his friends were playing around and then pitched the key out onto the lawn so he walked to the police department, Reichert said.

Officers at first wondered where he might have escaped from and a check showed he had a warrant from Lewis County Superior Court for failing to show up for a court date, according to police.

Perez didn’t know he was wanted, Reichert said.

Reichert said he’s heard of this happening elsewhere, but it was a first for him.

“It was pretty cut and dried, other than we were laughing all our a*ses off about it,” he said.

The young man was transported to the Lewis County Jail, and booked, still wearing the cuffs he provided, according to Reichert.


Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, May 18th, 2013


• Three people were arrested last night for allegedly passing several counterfeit $20 bills in Centralia, currency that was produced with a copy machine, according to the Centralia Police Department. “They’re not very good copies,” Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. Officers were called just after 7 p.m. to a business on the 600 block of Harrison Avenue by a merchant who was victimized and provided a license plate number of the suspects, according to police. Subsequently located and booked into the Lewis County Jail for forgery were Jake Johnson Jr., 39; Patricia L. Mohar, also known as Patty Dukes, 42; and Tonya L. McNulty, 43; all of Centralia, according to police. Officers allegedly found three more fake bills in their possession. Reichert said the investigation is continuing into as many as four other similar instances in the area in recent weeks, including one in which someone used two phony twenties to pay their court fine.


• A random check of a license plate just after 6 a.m. yesterday led police to contact five people at a Centralia home and arrest one for being in possession of a stolen vehicle, according to the Centralia Police Department. At least one other person was arrested for an outstanding warrant, police said. Officers got a search warrant for the house on the 2500 block of Borst Avenue to look for the vehicle’s keys, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert. Gabriel Escamilla, 19, who rents a room there was booked into the Lewis County Jail because of the vehicle which had been stolen from Thurston County, Reichert said.


• Police were called about 5:50 p.m. yesterday to  house on the 1000 block of Woodland Avenue in Centralia where someone had apparently tried to remove the knob from the front door. It didn’t appear they got inside, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A pair of 15-year-old Centralia boys caught on Thursday allegedly stealing spray paint from a Harrison Avenue business are also in trouble after reportedly admitting numerous taggings throughout the city over the previous couple of days, according to the Centralia Police Department. The cases are being referred to juvenile prosecutors for evaluation, according to police.


• A 28-year-old Centralia woman who reportedly allowed someone with a suspended license to drive her car found herself jailed last night after the driver forgot to use a turn signal, got pulled over and police found a small baggie of suspected methamphetamine. Tasha R. Hernandez was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of meth after the contact with an officer about 6:40 p.m. yesterday at the 600 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia, according to police.

• Spencer R. Barney, 25, of Centralia was arrested about 6:40 p.m. yesterday at the 600 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia, for an outstanding warrant and also for being in possession of a dangerous weapon; a medium sized knife, according to the Centralia Police Department


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with a suspended license; responses for misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor theft … and more.

Rochester High School student charged with rape

Friday, May 17th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Prosecutors filed charges yesterday against the now-former lifeguard from the Great Wolf Lodge accused of raping a young teenage girl whose family was staying at the hotel and indoor water park.

Nineteen-year-old Alex Eduardo Salazar is a senior at Rochester High School. The alleged victim is 14 years old.


Alex Eduardo Salazar

Salazar was arrested Tuesday afternoon at school and after his court appearance the next day was bailed out by his father.

Jaime Salazar Sr. said they were hiring an attorney today.

Salazar Sr. said he knows what the allegations are and his son has been very open with him.

It’s a totally different story, he said.

“I think it’s going to be a really tough case, but I think it’s going to be okay for him,” Salazar Sr. said. “There’s stuff she’s saying that’s not true.

“Hopefully that will come out in court.”

The younger Salazar is charged with second-degree rape as well as rape of a child in the third degree.

The second charge is based upon a victim who is age 14 or 15  – too young to give consent – with the perpetrator being at least 48 months older.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office has said the girl left willingly with Alex Salazar after his shift ended, the assault occurred in his car on a nearby roadside and that he dropped her back to hotel where she told her family. She had minor injuries, Lt. Greg Elwin said.

The Great Wolf Lodge is a family oriented destination resort in Grand Mound with an indoor water park for guests. Alex Salazar had been working there a little more than six months, according to his father.

Charging documents describe how the girl and her older sister befriended the lifeguard on Monday while in the water park and the sister gave him her phone number.

He texted her later and they arranged to meet; the sisters, another friend and he met in the parking lot and had a conversation in his car, charging documents go on to say.

They all went into the arcade and after some time passed, he and the girl went to his car. Surveillance video shows they left the hotel at 12:05 a.m.

The girl told a deputy she didn’t know he intended to drive away, and became uncomfortable; he parked on the side of a gravel road and they began to kiss, then they decided to get in the backseat, charging documents state.

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