Posts Tagged ‘By Sharyn L. Decker’

News brief: Hay catches fire inside dairy milking parlor

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Fire investigator Ted McCarty said yesterday there were actually two dairy farm fires in Lewis County recently.

Misty Morning Dairy in Onalaska lost a tractor and tons of hay on Thanksgiving night, but a dairy in Randle faced a fire inside its milking parlor a week earlier, according to McCarty.

As an employee was bringing in the cows at Cowlitz Meadows Dairy on Skinner Road on Nov. 16, he noticed hay in the loft above was on fire, McCarty said.

A bale had fallen against a lighting fixture, according to McCarty. It was quickly put out and no cows were lost, he said.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010


• A 55-year-old hunter whose pickup truck got stuck in the snow outside Randle walked 10 and a half miles into town yesterday after spending the night in his vehicle in the woods, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The man’s girlfriend had called 911 about 9:40 p.m. on Monday and said he was overdue while hunting in an area off Cline Road. Deputies were not able to locate him but had been told he was outfitted with appropriate clothing and an emergency hunting pack, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. A deputy spoke with the hunter, an Olympia resident, yesterday evening who said he had retrieved his pickup truck from Forest Service Road 26 and got home safely, according to Brown.


• Centralia police reported this morning they are on the lookout for a 2003 Toyota Corolla after getting a report on Monday from a Centralia resident who said a man had come to his North Schueber Road home a few days earlier and demanded his car keys at gunpoint. The victim, a man in his 30s, told police he answered a knock on his door and a stranger with a heavy Spanish accent told him to give him his car, according to police. He handed over his keys and the subject drove away, police said. Detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald said they are still sorting out the details and don’t believe the reported robbery was random. The vehicle is a white four-door bearing the license plate 583 ZMO. Police ask if anyone sees it to call 911 immediately.


• Two people – including a Tenino woman – were arrested in connection with last week’s theft of an unmarked sheriff’s office car from in front of the home of a sheriff’s office employee, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday. The black 2002 Chevrolet Impala, outfitted with a police radio and emergency lights disappeared from southeast Olympia sometime between the evening of Nov. 23 and 5 a.m. the next day, according to the sheriff’s office. On Monday, deputies and the Olympia Police department got a tip from Crimestoppers. According to a news release yesterday, the car was found at an apartment complex parking lot on the 1200 block of East Street in Lacey. Arrested were Leah F. Moreno, 25, of Tenino, and Daniel K. Conaty, 22, of Olympia.


• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning to the 200 block of Riverside Drive where somebody had broken into a vacant house. Nothing was missing, but there were muddy footprints inside, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Centralia police were called just before noon on Monday about a break-in to a building on the 2600 block of Eureka Avenue. Nothing was reported missing, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 16-year-old student was arrested for possession of marijuana at W.F. West High School in Chehalis on Monday, according to police. He was booked into Lewis County Juvenile Detention, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The amount in question was “not very much”, detective Sgt. Rick McNamara said.


• Four teenage boys were arrested for trespass after a neighbor complained they were sitting on the roof of a vacant Chehalis house 15th Street on Monday.


• A 22-year-old Chehalis man was arrested after he allegedly used pepper spray or something like it on three people in downtown Chehalis. Police were called just before 2 a.m. Sunday to the 400 block of North Market Boulevard where the subject apparently had gotten into a dispute with a female and sprayed her, according to Chehalis police. When a man and woman intervened, he reportedly used it on them as well, detective St. Rick McNamara said. Ryan E. Smith was arrested for fourth-degree assault and then released, according to police. A second call at about the time just up the street of another fight in front of the Code Red bar drew Centralia police officers to assist, McNamara said. No one was arrested following that call, he said. McNamara said it was Code Red’s last night of being open. “It was their last big party, I think,” he said.

Fatal fire victim had candles burning throughout tiny apartment

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Ron R. Meeks survived a motorcycle accident that put him a coma for two months, being struck by a car and getting hit by a train, but it was either a cigarette or a candle that ignited a fire in his Centralia apartment and ended his life earlier this month.

“The man has been through a lot,” his niece Melody Matson said. “And just to think, something like this happens, his family just can’t believe it.”


Ron R. Meeks / Courtesy photo

Meeks, 56, was found dead from smoke inhalation when firefighters searched his smoke-filled apartment Magnolia and Iron streets early on the morning of Nov. 1.

Riverside Fire Authority Chief Jim Walkowski said investigators have narrowed down the ignition source.

“He smoked, and it was in the area he frequented,” Walkowski said. “And he had candles burning throughout the apartment.”

The fire department is waiting for tests on fragments of metal that might have been a candle base, Walkowski said. It could be weeks or months before the results are returned, according to the chief.

Walkowski is a fan of battery-powered faux candles. He doesn”t use real candles in his home, he said.

It’s tough, because people like their ambiance, but they get knocked over, they get put too close to combustible materials and people forget about them, he said.

Firefighters didn’t find a smoke detector in the apartment, only a ring on the ceiling where it once had been, according to the chief.

Meeks moved into the apartment in February, initially with his girlfriend but she had moved out about three weeks before the fire.

Other than a brief period 20 years ago in Portland, it was the first time he’d ever lived on his own, according to his younger sister Karen Ames.

He suffered major brain damage in a motorcycle wreck when he was in his late 20s, Ames said. He had to learn to walk and talk all over again, she said. He didn’t work after that, she said.

“If you didn’t know him, he would remind you of someone who was born slow,” Ames said.

Ames, who lives near Ogden, Utah, reluctantly added that her brother was incarcerated before that.

“Reform school, he spent time in jail,” she said. “It was drugs. He had a drug problem since he was very, very young.”

Ames said she was told the autopsy and toxicology tests showed he was clean however.

“He really was a little bit of a wild child, but he had a good heart,” she said.

Matson, who lives in Olympia, helped him get the tiny Centralia apartment. He wanted his 43-year-old niece to take charge of his money, she said.

“He was all there, but like if you gave him $500, he’d spend it in an hour, Matson said.

She said she visited him the Friday before he died and he had another one of his wild ideas, she said. He thought he would sublet out the apartment and take the money to Los Vegas to have some fun, she said.

“I told him, you can’t do that,” Matson said. “And he’s like, ‘darling, it’ll work out’.”

One of his neighbors at the small single-story complex of concrete block apartments described Meeks as a “good guy” and Christian, but with a habit of bringing home things that didn’t belong to him.

Centralia police had a least three contacts with Meeks in the two weeks before he died. He was arrested for stealing a planter, for shoplifting and then for an outstanding warrant.

He always said he was a miracle because he survived so many potentially deadly accidents, Matson said.

When he was a teenager, he was in a vehicle that was hit by a train and about two years ago, he was walking in Lacey when he was hit by a car, according to his sister.

“He had a rough go of it, but he was a sweetheart,” Ames said.

Meeks had recently reconnected with a daughter. His parents are deceased and he had four siblings, but Ames is the only one still living.

News brief: Sheriff-elect Snaza announces top personnel

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Thurston County Sheriff-elect John Snaza has announced his leadership team.

Undersheriff Tim Braniff will serve as Snaza’s second in command, according to a news release today.

Bureau Chief Brad Watkins will be assigned to lead a new support services bureau, combining the current services bureau with the detectives division.

Bureau Chief Dave Pearsall will be assigned to the new field operations bureau and Bureau Chief Todd Thoma will be assigned to the corrections bureau.

“These outstanding leaders round out a strong management team and will help provide the leadership, vision, management, depth and discipline we need to provide quality service to the people of Thurston County,” Snaza said in the news release.

The changes will take effect Jan. 3.

Greenhill escapee picked up near Yelm

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A a Greenhill School escapee is back at the Chehalis facility after being found near Yelm yesterday.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office began scouring an area after an anonymous 911 caller said the 16-year-old boy was seen near Horizon-Pioneer Road about 2:30 p.m.

The teenager was incarcerated in the state juvenile institution for crimes such as motor vehicle theft, theft and burglary. Three weeks ago, staff discovered he was missing about 6:30 in the morning.

A pair of sheers were located inside the fence near where a  hole found cut.

Thurston County detective Sgt. Cheryl Stines said deputies yesterday didn’t find the youth at first but as they were driving around, spotted a vehicle with one occupant which is registered to the boy’s sister.

As the deputy followed, the vehicle sped up then the deputy saw there were two people in the car, Stines said.

The driver slammed on the brakes and the passenger jumped out, she said.

“The vehicle never stopped, it just kept going,” Stines said.

The deputy happened to be accompanied by his K-9 partner and when the 16-year-old didn’t stop running, the dog captured him, she said. He sustained only scratches, she said.

Stines said she didn’t know if the driver would be in any trouble for transporting the youth.

Greenhill School is a medium/maximum secure facility for older juvenile boys incarcerated for felonies and operated by the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, under the state Department of Social and Health Services

The inmate, whose name was not released, has previous addresses from places such as Tenino, Rainier, Olympia and Roy.

The Chehalis Police Department is conducting the investigation into the escape.

News brief: Hear police and fire leaders discuss how to get through winter weather emergencies

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia College is hosting a panel discussion for the public on emergency preparedness tomorrow at 7 p.m.

The free presentation comes as some forecasters say this winter is going to get a lot worse, according to the college’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society which is coordinating the event.

The presentation will outline winter weather predictions, the possible consequences and what individuals need to do to protect themselves, according to a news release.

Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg will lead the panel that includes Fire Chief Jim Walkowsi speaking on local government response to disasters, Centralia police Cmdr. Jim Rich talking about personal preparedness and weatherman Dean Dahlin.

It will be held in Corbet Theater in Washington Hall, with a short question and answer period to follow.

Breaking news: Cause of Mayfield cabin fire not accidental, investigator says

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

This news story was updated at 10:26 a.m.

A blaze that gutted a small vacation cabin at Mayfield Lake earlier this month is “very suspicious”, according to the fire investigator.

Fire broke out the evening of Nov. 12, destroying the 600-square-foot unoccupied  structure on the 100 block of Tanglewood Drive.

The owner, who resides nearby, was out of town when it happened; no injuries were reported.

Fire investigator Ted McCarty said he is working with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the homeowner’s insurance company and they are still interviewing people so he couldn’t say too much.

However, among the reasons for suspicion, he said, were no other other sources of ignition in the room of origin, nothing electrical was plugged in, nothing was left turned on and nobody had been there.

“There’s just no reason why a fire would start in the bedroom on the floor,” McCarty said this morning.

He estimated the loss at about $75,000. The owner had remodeled after a a big freeze broke water pipes and flooded the cabin about two years earlier, he said.

It was originally a hunting cabin and used mainly for friends and family, according to McCarty.

The cabin had been for sale for some time, according to McCarty.

Onalaska dairy fire: No cows lost, tons of hay replaced

Monday, November 29th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The largest dairy farm in Lewis County lost 80 tons of hay and a $100,000 tractor in a Thanksgiving night fire but owner Leo Zylstra was calmly practical when he spoke of the damage today.

“It’s very inconvenient but we’ll pull through it,” Zylstra said. “It’s part of life I guess.”

The Misty Morning Dairy in Onalaska was able to get organized quickly and by 10 o’clock the next morning had replaced the hay, Zylstra said.

They milk 1,300 animals, so it was about four days of feed that were destroyed, he said.

He has insurance, he said.

Fifteen to 20 firefighters from Salkum, Onalaska and Mossyrock responded to the approximately 6:30 p.m. call on Thursday.

The original information was a tractor was on fire but when the first unit arrived, flames were rolling across the top of the commodities shed, a large three-sided building where the feed is stored, according to Lewis County Fire District 8 Assistant Chief Don Taylor.

They had to fight to keep it contained to the portion of the barn that was farthest away from the adjacent cows’ quarters, according to Taylor.

Zylstra said he didn’t lose any animals.

Crews were on the scene until 5:30 a.m. the next day pulling out and extinguishing the smoldering feed, most of it expensive alfalfa, according to Taylor.

Zylstra, who was in Arizona for the holiday but has returned home, was so appreciative for the all-night effort by the fire departments.

“That would have been really bad if it got into the loafing shed, that would have been a disaster,” he said.

Zylstra said the hay costs $200 per ton.

He said the large field tractor that burned was a 290 HP machine, probably valued at about $100,000. Somehow the grain grinder attached to it was undamaged, Zylstra said. Workers were grinding grain when the fire broke out, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Misty Morning Dairy sits on 700 acres on the 800 block of Jorgensen Road.

It’s an operation that milks 24 hours a day with 20 employees. The Zylstras bought the dairy in 1980.

Note from news reporter Sharyn Decker: Zylstra purchased the dairy in 1980 from Floyd and Vi Decker. Floyd Decker was a cousin of my father’s.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, November 29th, 2010


• Centralia police responded to an incident about 10 p.m. last night on the 1700 block of Harrison Avenue in which a male was reportedly struck in the head with a pipe by a family member. Further details were not noted in a summary from the Centralia Police Department.


• Responders were called to a hit and run collision just after 9 p.m. last night in which a bumper from the offending vehicle was left behind, according to authorities. A woman was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries after the incident at North Tower and East Main Street, according to Riverside Fire Authority. Officers subsequently arrested and booked for felony hit and run Yaney Rodriguez Serrano, 37, of Mexico, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Police responding about 12:30 a.m. on Sunday to a location on the 1700 block of Cooks Hill Road arrested a homeless man from Longview for first-degree criminal trespass, third-degree malicious mischief and possession of methamphetamine. Micheal S. Cabe, 28, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Centralia police.

• A 30-year-old Chehalis man, Mark A. Silva, was arrested for possession of methamphetamine following a traffic stop about 12:10 a.m. on Saturday on the 100 block of East Sixth Street in Centralia. The 58-year-old female driver from Centralia and a 37-yea-old Rochester man were booked for felony warrants, according to the Centralia Police Department.


•The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning a loaded 9 mm Smith and Wesson pistol was reportedly stolen from under the seat of an unlocked vehicle when it was parked on Forest Service Road 23 outside Randle. The victim, a 40-year-old man from Tacoma, reported the theft on Wednesday but said it occurred sometime on Nov. 10 and 11 when he was hunting. Its serial number is 206304, according to the sheriff’s office.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning a digital camera was stolen in a residential burglary on the 4900 block of state Route 6 outside Chehalis. A deputy called on Friday was told it happened sometime between 9 a.m. and noon, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

• Four Black Hills gold rings were discovered missing from a home on the 200 block of Falls Road in Randle, according to a report made on Thursday morning to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The victim told a deputy she realized they were gone that day but suspected they might have been taken around the same time a neighbor’s residence was burglarized a few weeks earlier, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss was estimated at $2,600.


• A stereo was stolen from a vehicle on the 1400 block of Johnson Road, according to a report made to Centralia police about noon yesterday.

• Chehalis police early Saturday took a report of a car prowl on the 100 block of Northeast Washington Avenue. A distributor was missing from the glove box of an unlocked vehicle, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Somebody stole a stereo and tools from a vehicle on the 1000 block of Southeast Washington Avenue, according to a report made to Chehalis police early Saturday.


• Police were called about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday after the rear window was found smashed in a vehicle outside the movie theater at the Lewis County Mall on Northeast Hampe Way.

• Centralia police took a report early Saturday of a vehicle’s tire being slashed sometime overnight on the 1000 block of L Street.

• On Friday morning, an officer took a report of a tire being slashed on the 1000 block of Scammon Creek Road in Centralia.


• Centralia police reported gang-style graffiti was found at a business on the 1400 block of Lum Road.


• A green house was destroyed in a fire that appeared to have been started from a space heater on Centralia-Alpha Road on Wednesday morning, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Read about little change in police responses since officers died in line of duty last year …

Monday, November 29th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Tacoma) News Tribune conducted an analysis of police use of force in the year that has passed since four Lakewood officers were gunned down and concluded local agency procedures and behavior have changed little in response.

Read news reporter Stacey Mulick’s story here

Former chief deputy coroner dozed off during DUI arrest, court documents allege

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lewis County’s now-former chief deputy coroner fell asleep repeatedly during her contact with a state trooper this summer when she was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of depressants, according to charging documents.

Carmen Brunton’s arraignment is set for Tuesday in Lewis County District Court. She was charged Nov. 12 after the results of blood tests came back.

Brunton was let go from her job after the July traffic stop on Interstate 5 south of Chehalis; it was just before 8 a.m. on her way to work.

The Winlock resident told a sheriff’s deputy she was on numerous prescription medications and had taken Oxycodone about an hour earlier, according to charging documents. Oxycodone is a synthetic narcotic prescribed for pain.

Brunton, 56, was the coroner’s office only full time employee and was responsible for its day to day operations. She had been a county employee since 1993.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Charging documents give a similar account to a Lewis County Sheriff’s Office incident report, which was available soon after Brunton’s arrest.

Deputy Jason Mauermann wrote that he responded to a citizen report in Napavine that a Black Expedition was “all over the road” and had pulled into the Chevron station on Rush Road. He followed it onto Interstate 5 where he described the vehicle as repeatedly drifting between lanes.

When he contacted Brunton near the Labree Road interchange, the deputy wrote, she had very slow speech and heavy, sleepy eyes but he didn’t detect any odor of liquor. When asked, she said she was on numerous prescription medications, including muscle relaxers, heart pills and pain medication, according to Mauermann.

Upon further questioning, she told him she had taken Oxycodone for pain that morning, but not a muscle relaxer, according to Mauermann’s report.

Deputies requested a trooper take over the investigation to avoid a conflict because they worked closely with her.

Charging documents say Trooper Weaver responded and conducted an evaluation, noting Brunton also had slurred speech and was unsteady when she walked.

“Weaver observed that Brunton was lethargic and drowsy and fell asleep multiple times during his contact with her,” charging documents state.

Weaver, a drug recognition expert, concluded she was under the influence of a central nervous system depressant.

Brunton was put on administrative leave that day, July 15. Her boss, elected Coroner Terry Wilson, said her leave ended and she wouldn’t be returning on Aug. 3, the same day a front page news story was published about the arrest.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh said the drugs found with the blood test are Oxycodone, a pain pill; lorazepam which is often used for anxiety; as well as citalopram, amitriptyline and nortiptyline

Beigh said the last three can be used as antidepressants and one of them was a component of one of the others.

There’s no allegation Brunton was taking any medication not legally prescribed to her.

Beigh said she didn’t know if they were all prescribed, but it doesn’t matter.

“What matters is if a drug of some sort has impaired your driving,” Beigh said.

Brunton’s duties for about the previous 12 years included managing the office, assisting in death investigations, arranging autopsies and notifying the next of kin when deaths occur that are under the jurisdiction of the coroner’s office.

Coroner Wilson said in early August he had not seen anything breaking the protocol for safe storage and eventual destruction of the wide variety of medications his office confiscates, something it is required to do by state law.

Last month, however, in a meeting with Lewis County commissioners, the newly appointed chief deputy coroner Dawn Harris described a new policy she said was established last May.

The coroner’s office still collects any medications they find belonging to the deceased individuals they are responsible for, but all narcotics are counted and put into an evidence bag at the scene, which is witnessed by a law enforcement officer, according to Harris.

The coroners office also has put into writing a policy that deputy coroners don’t take possession of weapons at death scenes, Harris said at the same meeting.

Come January, Wilson will end 28 years of his job as elected coroner.

Community college forensics instructor Warren McLeod of Chehalis won the office in this month’s election with 54.5 percent of the vote running against retired DEA agent Micheal Hurley of Mossyrock.

Read “Coroner’s top employee out after arrest for driving under the influence of pain pills” from Wednesday Aug. 4, 2010 here

News brief: New options for safe disposal of old medications announced

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – There are now four drop off sites locally where the public can safely get rid of old, unused or unwanted prescription medications, something authorities hope will reduce the potential for them to fall into the hands of children, teenagers or adults who might misuse them.


Prescription drug disposal bin

The majority of teenagers abusing prescription drugs get them from family and friends, with the home medicine cabinet a primary source, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Their misuse now ranks second only to marijuana as the most common form of drug abuse in the country, according to the D.E.A. In 2008, more than 500 individuals in the state lost their lives to accidental overdoses.

The program, announced last week, is a partnership with the three law enforcement agencies and the Lewis County Public Health and Social Services Department. Funding came from the the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Bins for safe and anonymous disposal are located at:
• Lewis County Law and Justice Center, (inside) 345 W. Main St., Chehalis
• Centralia Police Department, (outside) 316 N. Pearl Street, Centralia
• Morton Police Department, (outside) 260 Main St., Morton
• Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Packwood substation, (inside) 12990 U.S. Highway 12, Packwood

In a joint news release, the four local agencies stated they hope citizens will take full advantage of the opportunity to safely dispose of these drugs.

Additionally, the bins will help protect the environment and drinking water supply, something that is harmed when unused medications are flushed down toilets or put in the trash, according to the news release.

Lewis County is one of only seven counties in Washington with an unused medicine return program, according to the news release.

For further information, contact Lewis County Public Health and Social Services at 360-740-1223.

News brief: Spaghetti dinner benefit set for Chehalis Police Department family

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A spaghetti dinner and auction fundraiser is set for next Saturday night to assist a pair of Chehalis Police Department employees with medical expenses for their daughter.


Keeton Elder

Nine-year-old Keeton Elder has an undiagnosed condition. Her parents are Jeff and Angie Elder.

Their search for answers has become expensive, according to friends, and not all of it is covered by her parent’s health insurance.

The benefit will take place at the Chehalis Eagles at 1993 South Market Boulevard, with dinner served between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and $25 for a family of four.

Tickets can be purchased from Jenny Warstadt at 360-942-8405 or or Julie Hampson at 360-748-9722 or

“Developmental delays” may put alleged attack in Morton park restroom case on hold

Friday, November 26th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 21-year-old male was arrested after he allegedly crawled under the closed door of an occupied public bathroom stall in Morton where an 8-year-old boy started screaming drawing the child’s grandfather and then police.

The incident happened in June.

The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges earlier this month and summoned the 21-year-old suspect from Morton to Lewis County Superior Court.

Steven R. Moulton appeared before a judge on Wednesday, but has not yet been arraigned.

Charging documents in the case describe that on June 25, the child was with his family who were camping in Gust Backstrom Park.

The boy went to the public restroom, according to his grandfather, who said he then saw a dark-haired male enter.

About 20 seconds later, the child started screaming, the grandfather told police.

The grandfather ran to the bathroom, forced open the stall door and threw Moulton out, according to charging documents.

The boy told police he was sitting down behind the locked door when it happened, and said Moulton covered his mouth with his hand and punched him twice in the face, according to charging documents.

Moulton denied hitting the boy, and told police “he could see someone was in the locked stall, but he had to go to the bathroom,” according to charging documents.

Defense attorney Robert Schroeter who represented Moulton at his first appearance in court on Nov. 16 said, “Without question, there are developmental delays.”

The 21-year-old was scheduled to make his plea on Wednesday, but court-appointed defense attorney David Arcuri told Judge James Lawler he first needed to get an order to have Moulton evaluated.

“I represented him a couple of years ago and he was found not competent related to a developmental disability,” Arcuri said.

Lawler agreed and scheduled the two to return to the Chehalis court next week.

He is free on a $25,000 signature bond co-signed by his father, Michael R. Moulton.

The senior Moulton is the Morton School District teacher whose teaching certificate was suspended at the beginning of this school year after having been under review for nearly a year in connection with his arrest for allegedly assaulting students by touching them.

The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office charged the younger Moulton with first-degree burglary for the June incident in the park restroom.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said “… the good news is, nothing really bad happened. I don’t know what his motive was.”

Meagher explained the unusual charging decision saying it technically fits the elements of burglary, a class A felony.

That is, he unlawfully entered or remained in a building with the intent to commit a crime, and he did assault the boy; he put his hand over his mouth, Meagher said.

“You have a public restroom, but he crawled under  locked stall,” Meagher said. “So that is impliedly not open.”

“It fits legally, it’s just not something you typically see,” he said.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, November 26th, 2010


• Centralia police responding to a burglar alarm at a business on the 100 block of East First Street about 2 p.m. yesterday found a broken window but nobody inside, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officers think the intruder was spooked by the alarm.


• Downtown Centralia saw one arrest for driving with a suspended license and three individuals arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana on Wednesday night, all on Tower Avenue between 9 p.m. and midnight, according to summaries from the Centralia Police Department.


NOTE: The Chehalis Police Department and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office are closed today and have not passed along information about crimes or arrests since Wednesday. However, Lewis County Central Dispatch indicated today their 911 calls have been surprisingly routine.

News brief: Barn fire at dairy farm stopped before spreading to cows’ quarters

Friday, November 26th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters spent all night long at a fire on a large dairy farm in between Onalaska and Salkum that destroyed several tons of alfalfa and grain, but was prevented from spreading to an adjacent loafing shed for cattle.

Lewis County Fire District 8 Assistant Chief Don Taylor said he didn’t know how many animals were inside the shed because the electricity was out.

Members of three fire departments responded to the 6:26 p.m. call yesterday evening on Jorgensen Road near Gore Road.

The commodities shed – an approximately 120 foot by 40 foot three-sided building where the feed was stored – was burning, apparently having ignited after a large field tractor caught fire, Taylor said.

Leo Zylstra’s Misty Morning Dairy is an operation that milks 24 hours a day, according to Taylor.

It only took about 45 minutes to knock the fire down, but the last of the crews didn’t depart until about 5:30 a.m. today after pulling out and extinguishing the smoldering feed, he said.

The tractor, Taylor estimated was valued at as much as $175,000, was hooked up to a grain grinder. The tractor was destroyed, he said.

Taylor was meeting with a fire investigator this morning to try to determine what caused the fire.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010


• Rural Chehalis residents trying to keep their dog warm with a space heater in an attached garage luckily woke up and smelled smoke before a big fire broke out overnight, according to Lewis County Fire District 6. Firefighters were called about 12:30 a.m. to the home on the 800 block of Lucas Creek Road where the garage had filled with smoke from a vinyl tarp draped over the dog’s kennel and a car, Fire Chief Bud Goodwillie said. The tarp burned, the chief said. “What they didn’t realize was as the vinyl got hot, it melted and dropped onto the space heater,” Goodwillie said. One of the residents had opened the garage door, thrown snow on the burning tarp and shut off the breaker, he said. The garage sustained smoke damage and the dog apparently was alright except for a little burn, he said. It was eight degrees outside, and the residents waited inside cars while the fire department finished its work, according to Goodwillie.


• Centralia police called to the emergency room yesterday morning spoke to a patient with a stab wound to his abdomen who refused to tell police how it happened, where it happened or who did it, according to the Centralia Police Department. The injury was a one and half inch wound but was not life-threatening, police Sgt. Carl Buster said today. The man, a Centralia resident in his 20s, got to Providence Centralia Hospital somehow without calling an ambulance, Buster said. An officer took a report for informational purposes.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s office reported this morning they are investigating the fraudulent use of a Chehalis woman’s credit card. A deputy spoke with the 69-year-old resident of the 1000 block of Centralia-Alpha Road on Monday and learned $468 was charged in connection with an online purchase with Verizon Wireless, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.


• A window was broken out of the Fox Theater on the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia sometime before 8:50 p.m. last night, according to the Centralia Police Department.

News brief: Thanksgiving travel may be slick

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Slippery roads won’t be taking a holiday.

A winter storm watch issued this afternoon for areas including Morton, Randle, Packwood and Ashford says up to a foot of new snow is possible beginning tomorrow and will increase in the afternoon and continue into the night as a cold front approaches.

Lewis County Emergency Management is urging those who travel this holiday weekend to be sure to carry a vehicle disaster kit.

Also, a winter weather advisory for the lowands including the lower Chehalis Valley and Southwest interior is in effect from 6 p.m. this evening until 1 p.m. tomorrow, according to a news release.

Expect light snow on Thanksgiving morning, then possible sleet or light freezing rain in the afternoon and then more cold as night falls.

The National Weather Service cautions snow, sleet and freezing rain will make roads slippery

Check the National Weather Service’s Forecast Office here for the forecast in your area.

Note: a link for the weather forecast website can also always be found on the right-hand sidebar of Lewis County Sirens’ homepage. It’s labeled “Weather forecasts”

Breaking news: Unmarked car stolen from sheriff’s office employee’s home

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An unmarked Thurston County Sheriff’s Office vehicle, complete with police radio and emergency lights, was stolen sometime before 5 o’clock this morning from the home of an employee of the sheriff’s office.

The theft of the black 2002 Chevrolet Impala occurred sometime after 5 p.m. last night, the sheriff’s office reported this afternoon.

It had been parked in the area Eskridge Way and Maringo Street Southeast in Olympia, according to a news release.

It has a license plate reading 503 NUV.

The theft is being investigated by the Olympia Police Department.

The sheriff’s office asks anyone with information to contact law enforcement immediately or call Crime Stoppers at 360-493-2222.

Golden on election loss: The people’s votes were clear

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Final results show defense attorney Jonathan Meyer beat incumbent Lewis County Prosecutor Michael Golden in the Nov. 2 election with 67 percent of the vote.

Golden, who won the office four years ago, had very little to say about the outcome.


Michael Golden

“I think that people’s votes were clear, come Jan. 1, they’ll have a new prosecutor in the county, and hopefully things will work out well for the county,” Golden said yesterday after the election was certified.

Following the August primary, the Chehalis-area Republican attributed his poor showing against the challenger as the public not knowing much about the race until just before the ballots came out.

It’s a reversal from 2006 when initial tallies in the race for prosecutor gave then-Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office civil attorney Golden an overwhelming lead with almost 64 percent over Centralia attorney Don Blair.

Meyer won this year’s August primary election with almost 65 percent of the vote and then preliminary counts on Nov. 2′s election night gave Meyer just over 66 percent.

Golden declined to speculate on what may have caused his overwhelming loss.

“I think the people you need to ask are the voters, come Jan. 1, my personal life will be my personal life again.”

He didn’t say what he expected he would be doing after he leaves office.

Golden did suggest he’ll be in his office throughout the end of the year to make sure “things will be in shape” for Jan. 1.

The final tally gave Meyer 67.06 percent with 18,333 votes and Golden 32.94 percent with 9,005 votes.


See all the final election results here

Read election night news story “Election: New prosecutor Meyer is “humbled” he says” from Tuesday Nov. 2, 2010 here

Read pre-general election story about the race for prosecutor from Saturday Oct. 30, 2010 here

Read pre-primary story about the race for prosecutor from Sunday Aug. 15, 2010 here

Sheriff Mansfield: Ready to “move on” after election finalized

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Final results show Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield won the Nov. 2 election with five percentage points above his challenger, a sergeant in his office.

“The people have decided they want me as their sheriff, so I’m here to serve them another four years,” Mansfield said yesterday after the election was certified.


Steve Mansfield

The people’s choice wasn’t quite so clear on election night, with the initial count giving the incumbent sheriff 51.5 percent of the votes.

Sgt. Ken Cheeseman’s showing took many by surprise as less than three months earlier in the primary, Cheeseman had secured only about about 41 percent of the votes.

Cheeseman yesterday said it was a very interesting, educational and fun experience.

“I just thank all the people that voted for me, that helped and were willing to help,” the Randle Republican said.


Ken Cheeseman

It was a real close race, Cheeseman said. That surprised the first-time candidate for public office a little, since any incumbent sheriff ought to have been able to win by a landslide, he said.

“You’d expect the outcome, if he had the support of his peers, his staff and his organization, it would have been huge, but it wasn’t,” Cheeseman said.

He ran because he knew there were people who wanted change, and hopefully the sheriff heard the message behind the closeness of the race, Cheeseman said.

The final tally gave Mansfield 52.44 percent with 14,887 votes and Cheeseman 47.56 percent with 13,500 votes.

Voter turnout was almost 75 percent, much higher than longtime Lewis County Auditor Gary Zandell had expected. Zandell said he had predicted it would be closer to 68 percent or maybe 69 percent.

There were roughly 31,400 ballots cast in a county with a population of some 74,000 people.

An election year is a time to sort out and talk about differences, said Mansfield, who was first elected to the office five years ago after being appointed almost a year earlier to fill out the term of former Sheriff John McCrosksy.

Mansfield, who calls himself a steward of the office, said the ballot numbers suggested to him some of the public was disenchanted with what they were led to believe were problems between his office and the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office, and were thinking they weren’t being served.

“I can assure you that was not the case with the sheriff’s office,” he said.

His people have been confronted with one challenge after another this year, including seven homicides, a days-long search for the victims of a fatal plane crash, and handled it well all despite being down 20 positions, Mansfield said.

“Yet we’re still out there making a positive difference in this county,” he said.

Mansfield said he’s especially pleased that while those who work for him lined up on both sides of the race, it didn’t become so divisive as to affect the sheriff’s office achieving its mission.

“I just go back to, I’m really proud of the people who work here, and how they conducted themselves during the process,” he said.

The Winlock Republican also noted he couldn’t be happier the election resulted in a new prosecutor.

“We’re ready to move on and start this new chapter,” he said.

See all the final election results here

Read election night news story, “Mansfield leads, but sheriff’s race undecided” here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010


• A woman was charged yesterday with assaulting a law enforcement officer following an incident that happened as she was being escorted from a Morton bar over the weekend. Melissa L. McLean was arrested and booked early Sunday morning after she she did some kind of “maneuver”  where she tangled her legs up with a deputy’s legs and they both went to the ground, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office. McLean was charged with third-degree assault yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court. She was released by early evening on a $5,000 unsecured appearance bond pending further proceedings.


• A man arrested by a trooper over the weekend was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with possession of heroin. Steven F. McKay was released from the Lewis County Jail yesterday afternoon pending further proceedings.

• A Thurston County man arrested by a trooper over the weekend was charged with possession of heroin, driving under the influence of drugs and third-degree driving while license suspended yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court. Martin J. Ferrell was released from the Lewis County Jail yesterday afternoon pending further proceedings.

• Jacob E. Hanson of Chehalis, was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with felony possession of marijuana after his arrest by Centralia police over the weekend. Hanson was booked Sunday into the Lewis County Jail where he remains on other lesser issues.


• Riverside Fire Authority responded to a chimney fire yesterday evening on Hayward Avenue in Centralia. Fire Capt. Tim Adolphsen said there was no damage.


• Centralia police took a report yesterday morning that somebody stole six puppies from the 100 block of Virginia Drive. The dogs were described as mixed Chihuahua and “mini Pin”. A summary of the incident did not note the age of the animals or if it was an entire litter that went missing.


• The Washington State Patrol reported the early morning accident near the Labree Road interchange on I-5 totaled the 1994 Dodge van which rolled after it was hit in the rear by a semi-truck. The van’s driver, David W. Wheeler, 34, of Olympia, was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with arm and shoulder pain, according to the state patrol. The truck driver, from Harrisburg, Ore., was not injured but his 2008 Peterbilt sustained an estimated $6,000 damage and was towed, the investigating trooper reported.


• A judge ordered $100,000 bail for an inmate who allegedly assaulted his cousin with a golf club while he was on a furlough from the Lewis County Jail. Gary Allen Lohr, 64, was charged with second-degree assault yesterday for the incident that was reported in Centralia last Friday. Senior Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said the victim lost a tooth. Meagher described Lohr as a former worker at Maple Lane School in Grand Mound who has three pending felony drug cases in Lewis County Superior Court. Lohr was charged with second-degree assault.

Onalaska shooting: Charges upped from manslaughter to first-degree murder

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Charges have been increased to first-degree murder for the man who opened fire on two suspected burglars at his Onalaska house last April killing one of them.


Ronald A. Brady

Ronald A. Brady, 60, was initially charged with first-degree manslaughter for the death of Thomas McKenzie, 56, of Morton and first-degree assault of McKenzie’s estranged wife Joanna McKenzie, but an amended information has been filed in Lewis County Superior Court.

“Just based on the facts of the case,” Deputy Prosecutor Colin Hayes said today of the thinking behind the change.

According to charging documents, Brady admitted shooting at the pair outside his house he was renovating on the 2100 block of state Route 508, describing to deputies opening his garage door and finding two flashlights shined in his face.

He told sheriff’s detectives he was staying overnight at the unoccupied house in case burglars from earlier in the day returned. Brady resides in a nearby rental home.

Elected Lewis County Prosecutor Michael Golden wasn’t in today, but Senior Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher described the reason for the the upgraded charge this way:

“This guy laid in wait, based on what the deputies said, he throws the garage door open and, bam,” Meagher said.

The change brings to six the number of homicides this year in Lewis County which have brought first-degree murder charges. No one has been charged in a seventh homicide that occurred earlier this year.

While McKenzie’s death occurred April 19, Brady was not charged until almost the end of September.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield, after his office’s investigation was finished in mid-July, announced he concluded Brady’s use of deadly force was justified and that he would not arrest the homeowner. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, however, passed the case on to the prosecutor for his review.

Brady remains free on a $50,000 unsecured appearance bond.

First-degree murder is a class A felony with a possible penalty of life in prison and a $50,000 fine. Its elements include intent and premeditation.

The amended charge was filed last Thursday.

Brady, a retired bachelor who used to work as an electrical engineer at The Boeing Co. according to his landlord, is represented by Centralia defense attorney Don Blair.

He’s been renting from neighbors Jack and Sharon Tipping for about 15 years, following a fire at his nearby state Route 508 house.

A trial date was set for the week of Jan. 10. It is expected to last five days.

Brady’s defense is general denial and self defense, according to documents filed in his case.

Thomas McKenzie died from a gunshot wound to his chest and leaves behind nine children and other family members.

Joanna McKenzie, 32, escaped the gunfire on April 19 without injury, but she was charged with and made a so-called Alford plea to attempted burglary, not admitting guilt.

As a first-time offender, she was sentenced last month to 15 days in Lewis County Jail.

However, she was jailed last night after police say they found methamphetamine and stolen property from a shoplifting spree during a traffic stop in Centralia.

She hasn’t yet served her 15 days, according to Deputy Prosecutor Kjell Warner. She was charged today with possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Joanna McKenzie’s bail was set at $20,000 today.

Other homicides in Lewis County in 2010

Morton teenager: Austin King, 16, of Morton, was found on a logging dead with a cracked skull on July 20 a month after he disappeared from his home. An acquaintance, Jack Arnold Silverthorne, 20, of Renton, was charged Nov. 10 with first-degree murder.

Frost Road Trailer Park: Jackie Marie Lawyer, 64, of Winlock, was fatally shot the morning of Nov. 4 in the Frost Road Trailer Park where she lived. A neighbor Richard Joseph Frank Roth, 65, was arrested the same day and charged Nov. 5 with first-degree murder.

Salkum-Onalaska triple slaying: David J. West Sr. 52, his son David J. West Jr., 16, and Tony E. Williams, 50, of Randle, were fatally shot at the West’s home on Aug. 21. Two men are charged in the case, that included a fourth gunshot victim who survived. John Allen Booth Jr., 31, Onalaska, was charged Aug 23 with three counts of first-degree murder but the charges were upgraded on Oct. 1 to aggravated first-degree murder for the deaths of the younger West and Williams. Ryan McCarthy, 29 of Redmond, was charged Sept 3 with three counts of first-degree felony murder.

Randle homicide: Guy LaFontaine, 58, of Federal Way, died from injuries following an assault the evening of March 13 at the 11,000 block of U.S. Highway 12 in Randle. A relative was initially arrested and booked for second-degree murder, but was released and no charges have been filed.

Read previous story on Ronald Brady for more details of what prosecutor’s believe occurred:

• “Onalaska man charged in April’s fatal shooting of suspected burglar” from Sept. 24, 2010 here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, November 22nd, 2010


• A 32-year-old Toledo man was arrested after he reportedly jumped onto his ex-girlfriend’s vehicle, pounded on it with his fists and made threats of violence and bodily harm yesterday. A deputy called about 11:20 a.m. to the 400 block of Collins Road was told Martin J. Cossin Jr. had pulled in front of the vehicle and slammed on his brakes before attacking her vehicle, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Cossin was booked into the Lewis County Jail for felony harassment, domestic violence, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.


• Centralia police took a report of a second-degree assault from the 2300 block of Sirkka Avenue at about noon on Friday. Police reported an individual lost two teeth and a cousin was being sought.


• Police were called to Chehalis Middle School about noon on Friday and arrested three students for possession of marijuana. Further details were not available this morning.


• Chehalis police were called to the community development building on the 1300 block of South Market Boulevard on Friday morning where money was missing from an unlocked safe. The amount was not disclosed.

• Centralia police took a report yesterday evening from the 300 block of North Oak Street where somebody entered through an unlocked door and took a jewelry case.

• Deputies called about 7 a.m. Sunday morning to a vacant home on the 800 block of Coal Creek Road in Chehalis about a suspicious vehicle located two individuals and arrested one of them, Nicole M. Thor, 23, of Fife, for a warrant. After a toolbox was discovered missing from the nearby barn deputies decided to refer for arrest for second-degree burglary Thor and her companion, Byron K. Sedrick, 31, of Centralia, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Deputies are looking for a an approximately 6-foot tall male who was seen running from the side door of a home in Packwood on Friday afternoon. A door jamb and window were broken. The victim, on the 100 block of Tatoosh Trail Road, said his son saw the man after getting off the school bus around 3:15 p.m. and subsequently, three checkbooks, a $20 bill and $6 in quarters were discovered missing, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The subject was wearing a green hoodie sweatshirt along with blue and white shorts.

• Chehalis police were called Saturday night and told somebody removed the lug nuts from the tire of a Jeep and they believed it occurred at the movie theater at the Lewis County Mall.

• Chehalis police were called to Safeway on South Market Boulevard on Friday afternoon to a report somebody stole a woman’s purse from her cart while she was loading groceries into her car.

• Approximately $80 of fuel was siphoned from a vehicle on the 200 block of West Oakview Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Thursday.


• Somebody broke two vehicle’s windows out during the night at the 300 block of North Gold Street, according to a report made to Centralia police just before midnight on Saturday.

• Somebody broke the window out of a parked vehicle on East Main and Diamond streets, according to a report made to Centralia police about 4:35 p.m. on Friday.

News brief: Roads are icy, more snow is expected today

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Northbound Interstate 5 near Maytown was the scene of three different two-vehicle accidents due to ice beginning about 3:30 this morning.

There were no injuries, according to Battalion Chief Jacob Yake of West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.

A winter storm warning issued this morning predicts heavy snow today affecting areas around Chehalis and Olympia and continuing into the evening.

Accumulations of 2 inches to 5 inches are expected, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service expects:

Northerly winds of 15 to 25 mph will develop tonight in the Southwest Interior bringing overnight temperatures down into the mid-teens.

Today’s high in Chehalis is expected to reach only 32 degrees.

In Morton, the high is forecast at 26 degrees.

Seven to 12 inches of new snow are expected in the Morton area, with the higher amounts over the the Central Cascade Mountains.

Washington State Patrol Sgt. Jason Ashley said this morning while there is snow and ice on the roads in East Lewis County, motorist have been driving carefully and slowly and as of 9:30 a.m. troopers had encountered no problems.

Read the winter storm warning here

Check the National Weather Service’s Forecast Office here for the forecast in your area

Note: a link for the weather forecast website can also always be found on the right-hand sidebar of Lewis County Sirens’ homepage. It’s labeled “Weather forecasts”