Posts Tagged ‘By Sharyn L. Decker’

Onalaska family that lost one to knife attack, loses home to fire three months later

Friday, June 8th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Fire claimed an Onalaska home yesterday, the same residence where 58-year-old Terry Vance was slain in early March.

Nobody was injured and no one was home at the time, but the single-wide mobile home is a total loss, according to Lewis County FIre District 1 Chief Mark Conner.

Crews called to the 400 block of Pennel Avenue at about 4 p.m. found the interior fully involved and flames beginning to breach the roof, Conner said.

While they arrived within four minutes of the call, it was a challenge to put out because of a separate roof built above the structure, according to Fire Investigator Derrick Paul.

Members of Lewis County Fire Districts 6 and 5 assisted in battling the blaze.

The family had been gone for a few hours and returned home to see smoke, Paul said. They tried to open a door to get inside to rescue their pets, but were unable to do so because of the heat and smoke, he said.

Bonnie Vance raised her family at the home across from the ball field. Her 11-year-old grandson lived with her, and her grown son resided in a trailer parked on the property. It was not damaged, according to Conner.

Until March 7, another grown son Terry Vance and his 25-year-old son resided there as well. That’s when deputies called to the mobile home found the father dead from multiple knife wounds and arrested Joshua Vance for murder.

Joshua Vance remains in the Lewis County Jail, awaiting an October trial.

Conner said four dogs and a cat perished in yesterday’s fire.

The Red Cross was summoned to help the family with clothing and a place to stay, he said.

Investigator Paul said he narrowed the origin of the blaze to a hallway and is returning today to look at all the possible heat sources.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, June 7th, 2012


• A 19-year-old Centralia man taken to jail last night for a burglary arrest found himself in more trouble when several suspected morphine pills were found in his sock, according to the Centralia Police Department. Joshua M. Darnell had been arrested for incidents that occurred sometime during the past week in Centralia, Sgt. Brian Warren said. He was further booked for possession of narcotics and introducing contraband into the jail, according to police.


• A red 1991 Ford F350 truck was reported stolen from the 2300 block of Foron Road in Centralia sometime between 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday and 5 a.m. yesterday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The locked truck was missing from its parking spot next to a garage, according to the sheriff’s office. it has a license plate of B59764K.


• Police were called just before 3 o’clock this morning to the 1100 block of South Tower Avenue when a resident hard a noise outside and discovered someone had cut the straps from a riding mower on a trailer. A gas can was stolen from another truck on the same property, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A window was broken out a vehicle on the 300 block of North Oak Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday afternoon. Nothing was missing from inside, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A package delivered to a home on the 500 block of South Silver Street in Centralia was stolen from the porch, according to a report made to police around noon yesterday.


• Centralia police arrested a 31-year-old man for felony harassment yesterday morning. Aaron E. Elliott, a Centralia, resident, as booked into the Lewis County Jail following contact with an officer on the 1100 block of F Street, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 63-year-old woman was arrested yesterday for allegedly squatting on a vacant lot on the 100 block of Osborn Road in Ashford. Virginia Creim was cited for trespassing and then released, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It appeared she had been staying in her vehicle parked on the property, according to the sheriff’s office.

Arraignment in Centralia toddler death put on hold

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Centralia man accused of torture and rape in the death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter was scheduled to make his plea in court today, but at the last minute his lawyer asked for a postponement.


James M. Reeder

Centralia attorney David Arcuri did not say why, when he and his client James M. Reeder appeared in Lewis County Superior Court this morning.

Arcuri told the judge that based on his interaction with Reeder “just now”, he wanted to request the hearing be set over one week.

“And because the defense may have other requests,” Arcuri said.

Reeder, 25, is charged with homicide by abuse and related charges, including possession of methamphetamine, following the May 24 death in Centralia of Koralynn Fister.

The toddler was pronounced dead at the hospital after he carried her to a home across the street, saying he stepped out from her bath briefly and returned to find her face down in the tub. Authorities said they found numerous injuries, including signs of rape.


Koralynn Fister

Reeder remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $5 million bail.

Elected Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer, who is handling the case for his office, asked the judge to sign an order allowing the child’s body to be released from the coroner.

Arcuri would only say after the brief hearing there are some important tasks an attorney needs to do before an arraignment can place.

For example, making sure the client understands the charges and is competent to stand trial, Arcuri said, noting those were only generic examples.

Arcuri is a court appointed attorney; he said Reeder has been unemployed for the past year.

Judge James Lawler agreed they would return to the courtroom next Thursday morning for arraignment and setting a trial date.


For background, read “Father of Centralia toddler who died speaks out” from Saturday June 2, 2012, here

News brief: Centralia police looking for person of interest after trailer burns

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Authorities are investigating a suspected arson that occurred in north Centralia last night.

Firefighters called at 9:55 p.m. to the 300 block of Kearney Street found a 30-foot travel trailer fully involved in flames at the back of the fenced property, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

The fire was threatening adjacent houses and another trailer, but they managed to put it out before it spread, according to Fire Chief Jim Walkowski.

Nobody was hurt and nobody was inside it when it happened, but police are looking for the individual who used to live in the trailer, according to authorities.

He is a person of interest, Centralia Police Department Sgt. Brian Warren said this morning.

Walkowski described the damage as significant.

The cause is under investigation by the police and fire department Joint Fire Investigation Team, according to the chief.

Multi-million dollar lawsuit coming in deputy-involved shooting in Napavine

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An attorney representing the family of a 33-year-old Napavine man fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy last year filed a claim for as much as $10 million saying despite the fact backup was mere seconds away, the deputy made a reckless decision to engage in an unnecessary confrontation.


Steven V. Petersen

“Steven V. Petersen was unarmed, standing in the middle of an intersection when he was gunned down by Lewis County Sheriff’s Officer Matthew McKnight,” Tacoma lawyer John R. Connelly Jr. wrote. “McKnight’s ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ approach to law enforcement that night, had devastating consequences for the decedent and his family.”

Connelly called it a clear cut civil rights case, noting his intent to file a complaint in federal court.

It happened on June 20 in Napavine, when police and deputies responded to an approximately 2 a.m. call that Petersen left stab holes in the door of his ex-girlfriend’s mobile home while trying to get inside and then left on foot.

Deputy McKnight found Petersen a few blocks away, and after Petersen refused to take his hand out of his pocket and began to charge McKnight, the deputy fired four shots, according to the account given by local authorities. The dead man had no knife.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer concluded McKnight’s use of deadly force was justified, based on an investigation conducted by outside law enforcement officers. McKnight was also cleared by an internal review at the sheriff’s office.

The Tacoma attorney’s tort claim against the county was rejected last week by the group that provides Lewis County with liability insurance, Washington Counties Risk Pool.

Sarah S. Mack, the attorney representing the risk pool and the county, said the deputy’s use of force was reasonable, in her May 31 denial letter to Connelly.

“Indeed, there is no doubt that Deputy McKnight made the decision to use lethal force out of an objective fear for his own safety and the safety of those around him,” Mack wrote.

The tort claim was filed with the county in early April, offering to discuss a resolution, but noting the intent was to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court at the end of a 60-day period imposed by statute.

One of the four lawyers representing the Petersen family said yesterday they intend to file within a couple of weeks.

The attorneys represent Petersen’s father, Steven O. Petersen and his 10-year-old son Lars V. Petersen. The senior Petersen and his wife now have legal guardianship of the boy. The younger Petersen’s wife died just weeks before he did.

The attorney, Julie Kays who works with Connelly, said the child struggles daily with the loss of a dad he dearly loved.

He was a good dad, she said, always there at his son’s games.

“I can tell you this, when grandpa reached out, his objective on behalf of himself, Steven and his young grandson is to make sure the truth comes out,” Kays said yesterday. “Our firm is committed to conducting a thorough investigation of this matter.”

Kays said the facts that have so far been made public are based on “the word of one officer, the one who shot and killed an unarmed man from a distance away.”

The firm, Connelly Law Offices in Tacoma, is working the case with Chehalis attorneys Dave Jones and J. Vander Stoep, of Vander Stoep, Remund, Blinks and Jones.

They’ve retained a retired King County Sheriff’s Department major crimes detective who spent the majority of 28 years investigating homicides, including officer-involved shootings, Kays said.

In the narrative in the tort claim, the Petersens’ attorney writes that back up units were each roughly 30 seconds to one minute away from McKnight’s location at the intersection of West Vine Street and Second Avenue, but McKnight did not wait for them.


West Vine Street and Second Avenue, Napavine

McKnight had turned his patrol car around and driven toward Petersen who was walking in the middle of a deserted street,” he wrote. “Steven did not run or hide.”

“Officer McKnight immediately got out of his car, stood in the “V” of the open door, pulled out his firearm and pointed it directly at Steven.

“McKnight made no request for backup, and made absolutely no effort to calmly interact with Steven.

“Instead he pointed a firearm at Steven and within less than 30 second(s) shot and killed him.”

The Petersens’ attorney claims Petersen was standing well over 20 feet away. The county’s attorney states Petersen was less than 20 feet away.

Mack, the county’s attorney, includes that when the deputy ordered Petersen to the ground, Petersen responded with something to the effect of, “It ain’t gonna happen buddy.”

“Deputy McKnight then saw Mr. Petersen’s body posture change, saw him flex his shoulders and come forward, beginning to advance on the deputy,” Mack wrote in her response.

The Petersens’ claim summarizes that it was a  confrontation with an unarmed man who posed no threat and was recklessly created by the deputy.

“Officer McKnight’s poor decision making, inexperience, lack of training and lack of sound judgement  resulted in his unlawful use of excessive force against Steven,” Connelly wrote.

McKnight, 27, had been with the sheriff’s office a little more than four years. Sheriff Steve Mansfield said at the time he was one of the younger officers they’d hired, and he thought it was McKnight’s first law enforcement job.

Kays said the people of Lewis County have a stake in law enforcement officers having proper training, proper supervision and making appropriate decision in the field when using deadly force.

“That’s what our investigation is going to focus on and review,” she said.

She just finished a trial last week in federal court in which their firm won a $1 million jury verdict in a case about excessive police force.

The case was Ostling v. the city of Bainbridge Island, and the jury found the city failed to train officers how to deal with mentally ill individuals, she said.

The county is represented by the Seattle law firm of Patterson, Buchanan, Fobes, Leitch and Kalzer.

For background, read “Details emerge in Napavine officer-involved shooting” from Saturday July 2, 2011, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012


• A mother and her 23-year-old son were arrested at gunpoint as they came out of the drive through at McDonalds in Grand Mound yesterday. It began about 8:30 a.m. when 23-year-old Justin P. Capps bolted from Centralia Municipal Court as he was being taken into custody, according to police. It was for a misdemeanor warrant, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. A court security officer chased Capps for a block or two. Police subsequently called Capps’ cell phone. He didn’t answer, but he called back to see who it was and got Reichert who told him to come back, or else, police said. A detective spotted their car at McDonalds, Reichert said. Capps was arrested for third-degree escape and obstructing. His mother, Janice L. Capps-Johnson, 54, was arrested for rendering criminal assistance. Both of the Centralia residents were booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• Police were called about 6:30 p.m. yesterday about a burglary at the 300 block of North Washington Avenue in Centralia. The resident had not been at the home for a week as he was moving out and arrived to find the door standing open and unspecified items missing, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A pair of cows were reported stolen from the 500 block of Oyler Road southwest of Ethel. The owner said they were there on Monday but when he returned yesterday to feed them, they were gone, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A check of the fence line suggested no signs they could have left on their own, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. They are valued at $2,000, Brown said. No description was readily available.


• A homeless man from Longview was arrested yesterday afternoon after a Toledo area resident came home to find a stranger in his home on the 5400 block of Jackson Highway. Craig A. Olson, 50, told the resident he lived there, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Olson also told arriving deputies his wife had let him inside and she was an “international cop”, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Brown said deputies had gotten numerous calls the night before from area residents saying someone – believed to be Olson – was ringing door bells and asking for a ride. Nothing was stolen but Olson was arrested for residential burglary and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Brown. It appeared he came in through an unlocked window, she said.


• Police were called to the 2100 block of North National Avenue after Hub City Car Sales found a shotgun in the backseat of a car they repossessed. The weapon was taken for safe keeping by the police department, Officer Linda Bailey said yesterday.


• A 19-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for harassment yesterday afternoon in Centralia. Zachary J. Johnston-Penrose was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer on the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were summoned to the DSHS office at the Lewis County Mall on Monday afternoon after an employee received a voice mail telling her she and another worker were going to die a painful death. The caller was upset her assistance had been cut off, according to the Chehalis Police Department. However, she is homeless and could not be located to get her side of the story, Officer Linda Bailey said.


• Chehalis firefighters were summoned to Wal-Mart about 11:30 p.m. yesterday for an electrical fire related to a deep fat fryer in the deli. An employee said it was sparking even after he shut off the breaker and so he used a fire extinguisher on it. Damage was minimal and the store on Louisiana Avenue did not need to be evacuated, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.

News brief: Wood dust sparks fire at Centralia sawmill

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Firefighters use a ladder truck to survey the hopper for fire damage. / Courtesy photo by Riverside Fire Authority

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An explosion and fire in a wood dust hopper prompted an evacuation at a Centralia sawmill today, but damage was minimal, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Crews were called just before 2 p.m. to Northwest Hardwoods on the 1000 block of Galvin Road, according to Fire Chief Jim Walkowski.

The fire was contained to the dust collection system, without extension to nearby or surrounding structures, Walkowski said in a news release.

Firefighters remained on the scene for an extended period, extinguishing the burning wood dust as it was unloaded from the hopper and loaded into trucks for disposal, according to the chief.

No injuries were reported.

They were assisted by the Chehalis Fire Department and West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.

News brief: Napavine home burns

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

While the double-wide mobile home looks good from the outside after a fire, the interior does not, according to fire Lt. Laura Hanson. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 5

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Nobody was injured, but some pets are unaccounted for and a family of three is displaced after a residential fire in Napavine today.

Crews called about 1 p.m. to the 100 block of Woodard Road found heavy smoke coming from a double-wide mobile home, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

No one was home at the time, according to department spokesperson Lt. Laura Hanson.

Hanson said the home and its contents are believed to be a total loss. Three adults who live there were offered assistance from the Red Cross, according to Hanson.

She said she understood a cat and a dog were missing.

District 5 was joined by members of Lewis County Fire District 6 and 15.

The cause is unknown, according to Hanson.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Updated at 12:22 p.m.


• A 52-year-old Chehalis area man was arrested yesterday after security video allegedly captured an image of him starting a fire inside a dumpster behind a gas station south of Chehalis. A deputy called to the Texaco station on the 100 block of U.S. Highway 12 contacted Tim C. Johnson, a resident of the adjacent RV park, who said he did it because he was mad at the  owner of the store, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The owner Harneck Dhudwal told the deputy it occurred about 12:30 a.m. yesterday. Johnson was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for reckless burning, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Someone forced their way through a back door of a garage to get inside an Onalaska home and stole more than $14,000 worth of jewelry yesterday. A deputy called to the 800 block of state Route 508 was told it happened sometime between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Among the missing valuables were two gold wedding bands and many gold and diamond pieces, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Also, $30 cash was stolen, Cmdr. Steve Aust said.

• A deputy was called yesterday to a residential burglary on the 100 block of Tillicum Drive southeast of Chehalis. Stolen was a television, two computers and jewelry, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. An intruder broke a basement window to get inside, sometime between 8 a.m. and 1:20 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office. The loss is estimated at more than $4,500.

• A Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun was stolen from a home on the 100 block of Middle Fork Road southeast of Chehalis yesterday sometime between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. There was no forced entry into the home, according to the sheriff’s office.


• Centralia police were called about 5:30 p.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of Delaware Avenue when an individual pulled a board from a fence and tried to enter a yard. The subject was spotted and fled, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was described as about 5-feet 8-inches tall, thin, with short black hair, according to police.


• Centralia police took a report yesterday morning from the 1800 block of Beach Street about prescription medication missing from the home.

CORRECTION: The news item involving the Texaco gas station has been updated to correctly reflect who was arrested for reckless burning. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office erroneously reported to the news media the name of the owner as the arrestee. Lewis County Sirens apologizes for the error.

Fire breaks out in unoccupied Centralia home

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A fire that did extensive damage to a north Centralia home overnight appeared to have started on or around a couch on the first floor, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Crews called about 1 a.m. to the 1200 block of Delaware Avenue found heavy flames coming from the front of the one and a half story house and already extending into the eves and attic, Assistant Chief Rick Mack said.

A Chehalis firefighter suffered some smoke inhalation and was taken to the hospital as a precaution but was released this morning.

Nobody was living in the home as, Mack said, it was his understanding the owner passed away early this year. The family had an estate sale over the weekend, he said.

The early 1900s wood structure sits just east of the railroad tracks near the viaduct, according to Mack. He estimated the damage at about $50,000.

Investigators were on the scene until after 5 a.m., according to Mack.

“We have interviews to conduct to find out who was there most recently,” he said.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, June 4th, 2012



• A 52-year-old Onalaska man was arrested by the sheriff’s office after he allegedly left voice messages on a 62-year-old woman’s phone saying he bought a gun, was going to blow the back of her head off and drag her by her hair down Burnt Ridge Road. The calls reported on Friday afternoon were traced to Ferryman’s Inn in Centralia where the sheriff’s office says Steven P. Forbes was staying. Forbes, an Onalaska resident, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for felony harassment, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. It’s not clear what the relationship between the two was.


• A deputy was called about 1:40 p.m. on Saturday after two women driving east on state Route 6 at River Road near Dryad saw a teenager walking on the side of the road point what looked like a black pistol at them. The male, who was with a small group of pedestrians, was not found, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He was described as wearing a red plaid jacket and a hoodie, the sheriff’s office said.


• Centralia police are investigating a burglary to a home on the 1100 block of South Tower Avenue that took place yesterday. Police did not mention what was taken, but note they suspect a relative.

• Someone may have climbed up a fire escape to break into a Chehalis apartment where they stole about $200 cash and a gold ring, according to police. An officer called just after 5 p.m. on Thursday to the 1700 block of South Market Boulevard could not find any sign of forced entry, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Chehalis police were contacted by a 57-year-old woman who discovered someone had apparently stolen and cashed three of her checks at the Wells Fargo Bank in Centralia. The loss of $950 was reported on Thursday and remains under investigation, according to Chehalis Police Department.


• Centralia police took a report of a counterfeit $10 bill on Saturday from the 800 block of Harrison Avenue.


• Police were called about 3:40 p.m. yesterday about a car prowl on the 2500 block of Kristin Court in Centralia.

• Centralia police took a report about 5:30 a.m. yesterday of a vehicle prowl on the 100 block of South Tower Avenue. Money and identification were taken, according to police.

• A purse was reported stolen from a vehicle on the 1100 block of Scammon Creek Road in Centralia on Saturday morning.


• A 55-year-old Randle resident was arrested for driving under the influence after a deputy responded to a report about 10 p.m. on Saturday of off-road vehicles traveling on Peters Creek Road. Kirk M. Thompson was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s office.


• A 53-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested  for possession of two grams of suspected methamphetamine and some hydrocodone pills without a prescription following a traffic stop about 12:50 a.m. today in Chehalis. An officer stopped Marianne A. Brown because of a suspended license at Southwest 13th Street and Wilson Avenue in Chehalis, according to the Chehalis Police Department. A police dog “hit” on the scent of drugs in the vehicle and also found a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, according to police. Brown was booked into the Lewis County Jail. A passenger, Kelly Weeks, 32, who allegedly had a prescription bottle with a hydrocodone pill in it – and someone else’s name on it – was arrested but not jailed because she had what appeared to be a seizure and was taken to the hospital instead, according to police.

CORRECTION: The news item involving the gun pointed at two women on state Route 6 has been updated to correctly reflect they were traveling in a vehicle(s). The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office erroneously reported to the news media the victims were on foot.

Burglary suspect sought near Napavine

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Updated at 10:55 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Deputies are looking for a burglary suspect who ran off into the woods near the 800 block of Pleasant Valley Road west of Napavine yesterday afternoon when his wife was arrested.

Todd E. Fears, 39, of Kelso, is described as 6-feet tall, weighing about 250 pounds with a shaved head wearing khaki cargo shorts and a black T-shirt, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


Todd E. Fears

The sheriff’s office suspect the couple in an interrupted burglary yesterday morning just south of Winlock in which more than $6,000 worth of jewelry was stolen, as well as other break-ins in the area during the past week, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

Their vehicle, a light blue 1980s pickup, was found hidden off Lenz Road on private timberland, according to Brown.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone who sees Fears not to contact him but to immediately call 911. He has an outstanding warrant for a probation or parole violation, according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies at about 10:15 a.m. yesterday responded to the 1300 block of Hining Road in Winlock where a resident said he arrived home to find a light blue truck in his driveway and a woman who said she was looking at his house which is for sale, according to Brown. He then saw a male run from the back of his house, who was picked up by the woman after she jumped in her truck and drove off, according to Brown.

When the owner went inside, he discovered he had been burglarized of the jewelry, Brown reported.

Later, just before 4 p.m., a couple who matched their description stopped by a home on the 800 block of Pleasant Valley Road asking to use the phone because their vehicle was broke down, according to Brown.

The resident was suspicious because of break-ins in the area and called 911, Brown said. Arriving deputies detained Alicia J. Fears, 42, but her husband fled, Brown said. She was booked into the Lewis County Jail for burglary.

Their truck was found about two miles to the south, according to Brown.

Just last week, after deputies investigated a residential burglary on the 400 block of Berry Road, west of Napavine, they said there had been a suspicious male and two females walking up and down Berry Road during the previous two weeks. In one case, a woman went to someone’s door and asked to use the bathroom, but then ran away.

A similarly described truck was implicated in a residential burglary in early May on the 500 block Cedar Creek Road near Toledo.

Assault suspect barricades self inside Centralia home

Monday, June 4th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia’s SWAT team was called out to the 3100 block of Galvin Road last night after a suspect in a domestic assault locked himself inside his home and refused to come out.

Police said Kyle W. Elliott, 35, had a previous weapons violation, several felony convictions and neighbors indicated he had been seen recently in possession of firearms.

It began about 7:50 p.m.

Police negotiators tried to contact Elliott by telephone and with a loudspeaker for an hour and a half before “flash devices” and pepper spray were introduced into the home, according to a news release from the Centralia Police Department.

He immediately answered the phone, according to police.

Elliott was taken into custody without further incident and was booked into the Lewis County Jail for fourth-degree assault, but he likely faces additional charges, according to police.

Officers found body armor in his room and planned to further search the home for guns, according to the news release.

Upstairs fire chases three from Chehalis home

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Firefighters extinguish a blaze at a Ninth Street house in Chehalis. / Photo by Branden Willson

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A woman, her brother and 95-year-old mother escaped their burning house in Chehalis yesterday afternoon, a fire that might have been caused by a cigarette.

The top floor of the one and a half story home was destroyed.

Crews were called about 3:30 p.m. a residential neighborhood on Southwest Ninth Street, a block west of Market Boulevard.

Ramona Staker rested on the sidewalk across the street, holding her small dog, as firefighters pulled blackened and damaged materials out an upstairs window after the flames were extinguished.

“I’ve got awesome friends, and my God watches over me,” she said. “We’re safe.”

Staker said they had just returned from helping at a church garage sale and ordered pizza when she heard the smoke detector go off.

“I immediately went upstairs and it was already full of black smoke,” Staker said.

She didn’t remember how her dog got out, but a friend who had seen smoke and went in before firefighters arrived said Staker carried it out.

“I ran in,” Jeri Watkins said. “Her mom kept going back in to get her brother.”

Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Ted McCarty said five firefighters from Centralia, six from neighboring Lewis County Fire District 6 and he joined the crew of two on duty.

“The guys made entry and found half to a third of it (upstairs) already on fire,” McCarty said. “They got a good stop on it.”

McCarty, who is also a fire investigator said he hadn’t yet pinpointed the cause, but was told the brother had been smoking upstairs earlier, and the brother had discovered the bed burning.

Raymond Staker was treated at the scene for first and second degrees on his forearm. He said it happened when he lifted the mattress to look.

The family wouldn’t be able to stay there until repairs were made, according to McCarty. The Red Cross was contacted to assist them, he said.

“They made a great stop inside, everyone got out okay, so it’s a good day,” he said.


Ramona Staker is comforted as she watches crews remove fire damaged materials from her house.



Lewis County Fire District 6, Riverside Fire Authority and the Chehalis Fire Department put out the house fire in Chehalis.

Father of Centralia toddler who died speaks out

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

David Fister holds a photo taken on his daughter Koralynn's first birthday.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – In the weeks before 2-year-old Koralynn Fister died, her father wasn’t able to see her except for once, when he said he practically “kidnapped” his child from her mother.

David Fister and Becky Heupel lived together for about three years in Centralia, but separated around the time their little girl turned two, in early March, Fister said.

“I lost my job about nine months ago,” the 29-year-old said. “Before that, we were as happy as can be.”

The Iowa native who moved west to be with the woman he met online worked as the night closer at Subway in Centralia. Heupel stayed home and took care of Koralynn and her older sister, he said.


Koralynn Fister

“She was always a loving mom, would jump through hoops to do anything for the girls,” he said. “She never laid a finger on them.”

After the breakup up, the parents had a verbal agreement that Fister would take Koralynn every Wednesday and Thursday.

And then Heupel stopped answering his texts, he said. She had been saying Koralynn was sick, he said.

In mid-April, Fister said, he went to the home they had shared off West Oakview Street and demanded to have his daughter, he said.

At first, her mother said no, and “Kora wailed like I’d never heard,” he said. “She’d never done that before.”

Then she gave in and Fister took the toddler to his aunt and uncle’s Centralia home where he now lives to stay the night, he said.

“She was so happy to see me that day,” he said. “I just hung out and watched cartoons with her.”

He cooked her Spaghetti-O’s for dinner.

Fister never saw his only child alive again, he said.


James M. Reeder

Last week, police were called to the West Oakview Street neighborhood, where Heupel’s new boyfriend said he found Koralynn face down in the bathtub when he stepped out to grab a towel. He said her mother and older sister had left a couple hours earlier.

He had carried the unclothed child to a front porch across the street and asked neighbors for help. Koralynn was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

That was a week ago Thursday.

The boyfriend, 25-year-old James M. Reeder, was arrested that night after the Centralia Police Department interviewed him and Heupel. Police said she was not a suspect, although they asked Child Protective Services to take her 4-year-old into temporary custody.

Reeder was charged on Tuesday. Authorities say they found numerous injuries on the little girl, including signs of torture and rape. The coroner said she died from drowning and blunt head trauma.

As a storm of fury in the community has unleashed over the death, calling for the harshest punishment for the alleged perpetrator and even for the child’s mother to burn in hell for not protecting her young, Fister isn’t badmouthing the woman he loved.

“I will say, Becky is one of the best moms I’ve ever known,” he said.

It doesn’t add up, that she would have allowed a new boyfriend to stick around if she knew he was hurting her child, according to Fister.

“I don’t feel Becky had anything to do with anything,” he said. “I have to believe that.”

Fister called the mother of his child both naive and sharp, and a strong person. He’s only seen her a couple of times since it happened, he said.

“She came by my uncle’s house to give me a hug and tell me she’s sorry,” he said. “She said she was sorry about 10 times.”

Sorry for keeping Koralynn away from him, sorry for everything that happened, he said.

Fister said he didn’t know Heupel had a new boyfriend, except that Reeder was at the house the day he picked his daughter up.

Reeder is a friend of the father of Heupel’s 4-year-old daughter, from “back in the day,” he said.

Earlier this week, Reeder was charged not with murder, as prosecutors had initially indicated they were pursuing, but homicide by abuse.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer described the crime as repeated assaults or torture that ends in the death of a child.

It has the same maximum penalty -  life in prison – and the same standard sentencing range as first-degree murder, according to Meyer.

Reeder was also charged with two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree child rape and possession of methamphetamine.

When police searched the house they found methamphetamine in the suspect’s dresser drawer, according to charging documents.

According to his defense attorney David Arcuri, Reeder is a lifetime Lewis County resident, who attended W.F. West High School through the 11th grade and has been unemployed for the past year.

He is being held on $5 million bail. His arraignment is set for this coming Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court.

Fister was joined this week by his mother, aunt, sister and cousin who flew out from Iowa.

While the first few days he said he drank rum like water, hoping for an ounce of sleep, by the end of this week, he  “just broke,” he said; throwing up from exhaustion and nerves.

Still, he took some time to share about his daughter, who he said he named in part as a play on words from a movie called Coraline.

Fister is unconventional, he likes darker things, being “Goth” and stuff, he said.

The 2009 film by the directors of “The nightmare before Christmas” is about a little girl who gets trapped in a nightmare world, he said.

The “Lynn” part of his daughter’s name is for his sister. The middle name Marie is his mother’s middle name, he said.

Koralynn was a child who was cranky when tired and loved dinosaur chicken nuggets, he said.

His daughter was a climber who get up or down from anything, he said.

“She was not afraid of heights. We called her ‘Monkey’,” he said.

A candlelight vigil held for his daughter in Washington Park last week was amazing, he said. A gathering today where a group that came together on Facebook planned to lay flowers in Heupel’s front yard wasn’t something he wanted to attend.

“I have my own grieving,” he said.

“Sometimes I can’t even find peace in my day to mourn,” he said. “It’s so overwhelming, the responsibility of it all.”

He said Heupel is having an emotional breakdown, but they have a funeral to plan, together.

For Reeder, he says: “I want him to have life. I want him to never see the light of day and hurt anybody else.”

As for the mother of his child: “I have a lot of anger towards her, but I don’t say anything bad about her.”

Fister said he has no money in his wallet right now. He opened an account at West Coast Bank, if anyone want to donate to help pay for funeral expenses, he said.


For background, read “Breaking news: Mother’s boyfriend held for investigation of rape, murder of Centralia child” from Friday May 25, 2012 at 5 p.m., here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

The small building sits next to a vacant house on Harrison Avenue across from the Centralia Food Mart.



• A 21-year-old Chehalis resident was arrested for DUI after a pickup truck plowed through a vacant building in Centralia last night. Police and aid were called about midnight to a curve in the road  where Main Street changes to Harrison Avenue. The 2012 Toyota Tacoma came to rest in a parking lot behind the wood structure described as a detached garage, according to authorities. Police said the driver ran away from the accident but was apprehended nearby. Marcos A. Navarrete was taken to the hospital with minor injuries and then booked into the Lewis County Jail for driving under the influence as well as hit and run, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Police were called just after 3 p.m. yesterday about a woman trying to steal a bottle of liquor from a retailer on the 500 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia. Donna L. Brown. 61, was arrested for third-degree theft and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Police were called about a car prowl about 10:30 a.m. yesterday at the 1000 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia. A stereo was stolen sometime overnight, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 27-year-old Mossyrock woman was arrested yesterday for possession of methamphetamine and several outstanding warrants, according to police. Jessie M. Hindman Glendenning was booked into the Lewis County Jail following her contact with an officer about 2 p.m. at the 300 block of North Railroad Avenue in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Fire investigator Ted McCarty said its unlikely he’ll be able to find the cause of a Thursday night fire in Mineral that destroyed a manufactured home and adjacent barn. The family came home about 8:30 p.m. and noticed the windows appeared black, McCarty said. When they opened the door to go in, that must have allowed enough oxygen to cause it to flare up, he said. It happened on the 500 block of Mineral Hill Road. Nobody was hurt, but they lost a few baby chicks, according to McCarty.