Posts Tagged ‘By Sharyn L. Decker’

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, September 9th, 2011


• Chehalis police are investigating the theft of about $12,000 of truck tires from a business on the 1200 block of Northwest State Avenue. An officer called on Wednesday to Tires Inc. was told some 34 tires had gone missing over the previous month or two, according to Chehalis police.

• An officer was called yesterday to Chehalis West Assisting Living Center on Northwest Quincy Place about money missing from a resident. It appeared $65 was missing, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Police were called to Greenwood Cemetery on Johnson Road in Centralia about noon yesterday about the theft of a weed eater.


• A 19-year-old Centralia resident was arrested yesterday morning for burglary in connection with the theft of a firearm from the 300 block of West Chestnut Street in Centralia in May. Justin T. Booth was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A firearm along with tools, hunting and fishing equipment and other items were stolen when a home and barn in Silver Creek were burglarized, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called about 7 p.m. last night to the 2000 block of U.S. Highway 12 was told it happened during the previous week, as the victim had been moving out, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. The gun is a .44 caliber muzzle-loading pistol. The loss is estimated at $3,500. Somebody had kicked in a door and also gotten in through an unsecured window, Brown said.

• Police were called about 10:40 p.m. yesterday to the 1200 block of Alder Street about the theft of a bottle of pain medicine, according to Centralia police.


• An 11-year-old boy was arrested last night in Winlock after he allegedly threatened his mother with a knife and punched her several times, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning. A deputy called about 6 p.m. to the 1400 block of Ferrier Road was told the boy also threatened to hit his grandfather with a chair and a long pole, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. He was booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center for felony harassment and fourth-degree assault, domestic violence, Brown said.


• Firefighters called just before 7 p.m. yesterday to a home on the 200 block of Tennessee Road in Winlock found a wall and cabinets in a kitchen burned and a lot of water in the kitchen. A couple had been cooking and turned their back for a minute when a grease fire broke out, according to Lewis County Fire District 15.  The resident had shut off the power and used water from the kitchen sink to douse the flames, Firefighter Kevin Anderson said. Nobody was injured and the couple has a place to stay until repairs are made, Anderson said.

News brief: Fire season kicks in big time

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Three firefighters from the Rochester-area fire department have joined others from around the state in battling a wildfire that has reportedly destroyed nine homes near Goldendale.

Chief Robert Scott of West Thurston Regional Fire Authority said this morning his department sent a wildland engine and crew.

It’s the third large wild fire they’ve assisted with recently, he said.

While some wild fires in Eastern Washington have prompted large mobilizations over the past two weeks, Scott says conditions right here are ripe as well for any fire to grow fast and far.

Over the next several days folks need to be very, very careful, Scott said.

“All it takes is a little spark, and if you get wind behind it, it can be bad,” Scott said.

Members of his department joined Thurston County Fire District 12 yesterday evening when nearly five acres caught fire north of 183rd Avenue Southwest near Leitner Road.

A field of burning scotch broom threatened three homes, which were protected by the first arriving engines, according to District 12 Battalion Chief Jim Fowler.

Some 40 people from four departments and from the Department of Natural Resources sprayed water and dug a fire trail, Fowler said.

It was caused by a spark from a lawn mower, according to Fowler.

Scott said the flames moved so fast, even the field mice couldn’t outrun them.

Update Friday Sept. 9, 2011 at 8:15 a.m.: Fire Districts from Mossyrock and Napavine each sent a pair of firefighters with a brush truck to Goldendale on Thursday afternoon.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, September 8th, 2011


• Four south Thurston County fire departments were called about 5 p.m. yesterday when a five to seven acre brush fire broke out north of 183rd Avenue Southwest near Leitner Road. Burning was scotch broom, tall grass and some trees, according to Chief Robert Scott of West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. Scott said nine of his firefighters assisted the Tenino area fire department in keeping the flames away from some homes and extinguishing the blaze.


• Somebody broke through the back door of a Centralia tobacco shop and stole eight cartons of cigarettes overnight. Police and a police dog responding about 1 a.m. to the 1000 block of South Gold Street found some of the cigarettes nearby, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police were called yesterday afternoon to Riverside Nursing Home on the 1300 block of Alexander Street about money being stolen from a resident. Details were not readily available.

• Centralia police were asked yesterday to investigate the theft of money from a business on the 700 block of West Main Street. Details were not readily available.

• A deputy was called yesterday to a truck repair shop on the 100 block of Labree Road in Chehalis to view video footage of a theft from about 8:30 p.m. on Monday. Missing from Miles and Sons is an estimated 145 feet of copper wire from a service truck parked inside a fenced area, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The images show two individuals with flashlight, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• Centralia police were called to an apartment on the 600 block of South Iron Street about 8 p.m. yesterday where someone had gone inside and broken light bulbs. Two individuals were arrested for second-degree burglary after a short foot pursuit, according to police. Booked into the Lewis County Jail were Jacob D. Holmgren, 21, of Winlock, and Dominic Combs, 24, of Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called to a business on 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia about 2 a.m. after a male reportedly punched a window and broke it.


• Firefighters were called about 2:30 p.m. yesterday to a natural gas leak at South Pearl and West Cherry streets in Centralia. An excavator had pulled up a one-inch line and residents in a one-block radius were asked to leave the area until it was repaired, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Breaking news: Plea agreement for “accomplice” in Salkum triple slaying means about 14 years

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

This news story was updated at 8:59 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – After several false starts, lawyers finalized a plea agreement today with one of the two men accused in last summer’s triple homicide near Salkum.


Ryan J. McCarthy

Ryan J. McCarthy expects to be sentenced to about 14 years in prison and told a judge in a written statement today he did not commit any of the crimes he was originally charged with, including three murders.

He did however plead guilty to three other offenses to take advantage of a plea agreement.

The 30-year-old from Redmond also stated he will not testify: “He’s not going back to prison having testified against (John) Booth or anybody,” his lawyer clarified after the court hearing.

McCarthy was in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon as  Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher recited a summary of the testimony and evidence that jurors would have heard if he went to trial.

Meagher’s statements made clear he views McCarthy as an accomplice and not the shooter.

McCarthy and former Onalaska resident Booth Jr. were both charged after last year’s Aug. 21 shootings of David West Sr. 52, his son David West Jr., 16, and a friend Tony E. Williams, 50, of Randle. Denise Salts, then 51, who was also at the house off Gore Road, survived a gunshot wound to her face.

Both men are accused of attempted extortion.

The shootings have been described by law enforcement as related to a drug debt collection, but Meagher today suggested a slightly different description.

“We have evidence these guys were ‘taxing’ folks,” Meagher said.

Meager told the judge the evidence would show Booth and McCarthy went to West Sr.’s house to collect money for drug debts or a “perceived” debt owed to Robert “Robbie” S. Russell.

“For example, if somebody caused Robbie to have to post bail, that might be considered a debt in the drug world,” Meagher said outside the courtroom.

Russell, 47, was named early on as a person of interest in the case, but never charged.

Russell was arrested numerous times in the year before the Salkum slayings, each time posting higher and higher bail.

The earliest case was from June 2009 when Russell and West Sr. were accused of ambushing several teenagers camping outside Winlock. West Sr. was a witness in the pending case against Russell.

Russell was sent to prison last December for six years.

Meagher today told Judge Richard Brosey that if McCarthy went to trial, a witness would testify that Russell, Booth and McCarthy showed up at West Sr.’s home a week or two before he was shot.

Jessica Porter, West Sr.’s step-daughter, would have testified West Sr. said he was being blackmailed and had to give them $1,000 to go away, Meagher said.

Another witness would have testified McCarthy and Booth told her they were “taxing” people, Meagher said.

John Lindberg would have testified West Sr. asked him for money when McCarthy and Booth showed up on Aug. 21 because “people wanted money”, Meagher said.

Lindberg would say West Sr. grabbed a shotgun to get them to leave, at which point West Sr. was shot, Meagher said.

“And then Mr. Booth went around and shot David West Jr., Denise Salts and Tony E. Williams,” Meagher told the judge.

A gun of the same type of firearm used was recovered in Spokane after a jail-house phone call made by Booth; whose DNA was found on it, Meagher said.

“In summary, three people were shot and killed, one person was shot in the face and survived and Mr. McCarthy was there,” Meagher said.

McCarthy’s attorney, Rick Cordes of Olympia, said his client passed a polygraph test.

McCarthy today pleaded guilty pursuant to a doctrine referred to as “In re Barr”, in which he pleaded guilty to crimes he did not commit to escape the consequences of more serious charges.

McCarthy pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and attempted extortion.

His pleas came also under the Alford or Newton doctrines, meaning he didn’t admit guilt but agreed if a jury heard and believed the state’s evidence, he would likely be found guilty.

The state plans to recommend he be sentenced to 168 months on the most serious charge, robbery, and less time on the the other counts with time to be served concurrently. The top of the standard sentencing range for robbery is 171 months.

McCarthy’s attorney Cordes afterward said he wouldn’t describe his client as happy about the outcome.

“It’s pretty hard to agree to give up 14 years,” Cordes said. “But the risk (of trial) is high.”

McCarthy’s sentencing is set for Sept. 28. Booth’s trial is scheduled for November.


See the most recent story on the case, “Salkum triple homicide: Deal, no deal” from Sunday Aug. 14, 2011

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011


• A 50-year-old Onalaska area man was arrested last night after he allegedly shot and killed a neighbor’s dog. According to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, a neighbor saw Michael A. Goad go onto another neighbor’s property on the 100 block of Tillie Road, shortly after 5 p.m. heard yelling about dogs barking and then heard three shots. The 6-year-old canine named Samson was found dead although Goad denied any involvement, Cmdr. Steve Aust said this morning. Deputies searched Goad’s home and found an air rifle, as well as cleaning rods and a bore brush for a rifle, Aust said. It was not immediately obvious what caused the animal’s wounds, he said. Goad was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree animal cruelty, Aust said.


• Centralia police arrested three people yesterday for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver at a home on the 300 block of West Pine Street. Also, a 22-year-old woman was arrested for possession of meth, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officer John Panco said officers got some information that led them to the home where they conducted a search which turned up several baggies containing suspected methamphetamine. Booked into the Lewis County Jail were Sabra R.E. Burgess, 28, of Centralia, and Ricardo L. Zuniga, 30, also from Centralia, according to police. The resident, Dale G. Schmidt, 68, was referred for a charge of  possession with intent, but not booked, Panco said. Another resident, Ashley D. Robertson, 22, was booked for possession.


• A 22-year-old man was arrested last night for second-degree rape in connection with an incident reported to have occurred yesterday with a teenage female acquaintance in a wooded are outside Centralia, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Christopher A. Jacaway was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.


• A 21-year-old Toledo man was arrested yesterday for second-degree assault after he allegedly struck his 25-year-old sister in the head and face when he was trying to get her out of his bedroom, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called about 12:45 p.m. to a dispute on the 100 block of Wrangler Drive in Toledo booked Arnulfo J. Alaniz into the Lewis County Jail. Alaniz’s case was referred today to Lewis County District Court for possible non-felony charging instead of second-degree assault.


• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning by an individual who discovered a burglary to a residence being remodeled on Southwest Elzina Street in Chehalis. Among the items missing were cabinets, flooring, a sink and a dishwasher adding up to a loss of about $6,500, as well as a Plymouth Voyager van, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Also broken into was a nearby home on the 400 block of Southwest Riverside Drive where about $4,000 of cabinets, light fixtures and other items were stolen, according to police. The same person said his Dodge Ram pickup was missing from Lewis Street in Centralia, according to police. Officers are investigating.

• Centralia police were called yesterday afternoon about a laptop computer taken from a home on the 100 block of North Diamond Street.

• A $25,000 mini excavator was reported missing yesterday from near milepost 136 on U.S. Highway 12 in Packwood. A deputy called yesterday morning was told the model 50 John Deere was stolen sometime since last Thursday morning, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Centralia police took a report yesterday morning about the window of a vehicle being broken out on the 1600 block of Harrison Avenue.

• Chehalis police were called to a business about 10 a.m. yesterday on the 300 block of Northwest Pacific Avenue about a window getting broken.

News brief: Fire danger: High

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The National Weather Service says strong winds, low humidity and high temperatures in the mountains including the Central Cascades create the potential today for any fire to spread quickly.

The forecast for today and tomorrow is in the low to mid-90s from Chehalis through Packwood.

A so-called red flag warning issued on Sunday for much of the Washington and Oregon Cascades was renewed yesterday and could be extended another day, according to the weather service.

“Expect wild fires to ignite easily, spread rapidly and burn with great intensity,” fire analysts with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center in Portland stated in a news release.

Burn bans are in effect.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011


• Somebody fired a gun at the windshields of two parked dump trucks belonging to Lewis County Public Works, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It was reported on Thursday morning and happened sometime after 4:30 p.m. the Friday before at the county shop on Kiona Road in Randle, according to the sheriff’s office. The damage estimate is $1,200.


• Somebody stole an estimated $5,000 of tools and equipment from a construction shed on Garrard Creek Road west of Centralia, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning.  It happened near milepost two sometime after 6 p.m. on Friday and 8:15 a.m. the following day, according to a report made to a deputy on Saturday.

• A 2006 Craftsman riding lawn mower was stolen from the 100 block of Jordan Road in Salkum, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning. It was taken sometime between Aug. 24 and 29, according to the sheriff’s office. The loss is estimated at $1,000.

• A deputy took a report yesterday of the theft of “New Zealand” fencing tools from  the 600 block of U.S. Highway 12 near Napavine, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A break-in to a storage building on the 100 block of Kjesbu Road near Mayfield Lake netted someone several collectibles such as an autographed Wayne Gretzky trading card, three hockey pucks, an antique Viewmaster with Disney slides, Hot Wheel cars and other items. It happened sometime between Aug. 1 and Saturday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Liquor and several bottles of beer were missing after a residential burglary on the 400 block of Larson Road near Mayfield Lake, according to a report made Saturday morning to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A stolen vehicle was recovered yesterday morning on Southwest Olympic Drive in Chehalis, according to police.


• Centralia police arrested a 34-year-old man yesterday for alleged stalking of his estranged girlfriend. According to police, Chad M. Landsiedel repeatedly followed her, sent harassing text messages and made threats to harm her. Landsiedel, a Centralia resident, was booked into the Lewis County Jail after his arrest last night, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 26-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of heroin yesterday evening at the 800 block of Ham Hill Road in Centralia. Andrew T. Fields was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 19-year-old Centralia man was arrested last night for possession of methamphetamine after his contact with an officer on the 900 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Tanner Z. Russell  was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 40-year-old man from Salem, Ore. was arrested and jailed by Centralia police yesterday for failing to transfer the title of his car within 45 days. Federico Nieves Rojas was stopped about 3:25 p.m. yesterday at East Locust and South Gold streets after an officer “ran” his license plate and noted the misdemeanor, according to Officer John Panco. Rojas was booked and then released about five hours later, according to the Lewis County Jail log.


• Lewis County Crime Stoppers is looking for information about a theft in April of a 2006 16-foot trailer taken from the 300 block of state Route 506 near Vader. The trailer is described as tandem axle dump trailer with side racks. It’s value is $10,000. Crime Stoppers pays for information leading to the clearance of crimes and takes tips anonymously at 1-800-748-6422 or online at

News brief: Highway collision west of Chehalis injures several

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Several people were hospitalized after a two-vehicle wreck on Highway 6 near Adna yesterday afternoon.

A trooper called just before 12:30 p.m. to the scene at Bunker Creek Road reported a 16-year-old driver trying to turn left off the highway was cited for failing to yield.

Both the car he was driving and a van were described as totaled.

Trevor D. Moon, 16, of Chehalis, was eastbound and attempted to turn when his 1999 Nissan Altima collided with a westbound Dodge Caravan, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Three people from the van were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the state patrol. They are the driver Eileen M. Bauman, 66, of Chehalis, with a head injury; and two passengers from Norwalk, Ohio with cuts on their faces, according to the patrol. They are listed as Renee M. Keller, 59, and Barbara Wightman, 65.

The teenage boy suffered bruises and was taken to the hospital by his mother who arrived on the scene, according to responders.

Lewis County Fire District 6 Firefighter Mike Goodwillie said a teenage girl and a father in the car were also taken to Providence by the mother.

Goodwillie said the family’s injuries at first seemed minor but he later learned the father was transferred to Harborview with possible internal injuries.

Providence Centralia Hospital said Bauman and Keller were treated and have been released, although Wightman was transferred to an another hospital.

Everyone was wearing seat belts and airbags deployed in both vehicles, according to Goodwillie.

“If not for the seat belts it could have been worse,” Goodwillie said. “So I think we avoided a tragedy.”

The collision remains under investigation, according to the state patrol.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, September 5th, 2011


• Hay falling on the exhaust pipe of a one-ton pickup truck ignited yesterday in Salkum, spreading fire to a freshly cut pasture. About a dozen firefighters from Lewis County Fire District 8 were joined by firefighters with the state Department of Natural Resources at the 800 block of Gore Road around 5 p.m., according to Assistant Fire Chief Don Taylor. The truck and an estimated 50 bales of hay – both loaded and sitting in the field – were lost, Taylor said.

• A campfire got out of control near Randle yesterday drawing about seven members of Lewis County Fire District 14 and firefighters with the state Department of Natural Resources. Fire Chief Jeff Jaques said it happened around noontime at recreational property at the River Run Ranch Estates off U.S. Highway 12 east of town. Nobody was hurt and about an acre or more of grass burned, according to Jaques. A travel trailer someone had been dismantling also burned, he said. It happened because the grass around the campfire area had not been adequately cleared beforehand, he said.


• A 51-year-old Centralia woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine when suspected meth was found in her purse during a traffic stop on Friday night. Deanna M. Frye was stopped about 11:35 p.m. on the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue and found to be driving with a suspended license, according to the Centralia Police Department. She was booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• A motorcyclist from Kent was hospitalized with a laceration on his nose after his 2005 Yamaha ran into the back of a car at a stop sign at Chilcoat Road near U.S. Highway 12 in Randle yesterday. A trooper called about 12:50 p.m. reported that Christopher T. Darcy, 31, was going too fast when he struck the rear of a Toyota Camry, driven by Louise A. Darcy, 25, also of Kent. Neither vehicle was damaged, according to the Washington State Patrol.


Item below updated 11:55 a.m. on Tuesday Sept. 6, 2011

• A 39-year-old man who eluded deputies last week in the area of Profitt and Salzer roads was apprehended Sunday afternoon after a pursuit that ended on the same dead-end road outside Centralia. Centralia police assisted the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office around 3 p.m. with a chase that began near Salzer Valley Road, went into the city and back out to Salzer Road, according to law enforcement. The vehicle was boxed in and both the driver and passenger fled into the brush, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Sara A. Jones, 34, of Centralia was taken into custody, with some minor injuries from bare feet and barbed wire, Cmdr. Steve Aust said. Police dog Kayo was called in and subsequently caught up to Jerry L. Warfield, 39, of Rochester, Aust said. Aust said Warfield refused to give up and was bitten in his lower left leg by the dog. Both were treated at Providence Centralia Hospital and then booked into jail, Aust said. Warfield was wanted on a warrant from the state Department of Corrections, according to the sheriff’s office.

News brief: Troopers, aid, kept busy with Lewis County collisions on Saturday

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Eight people were hospitalized following three different wrecks yesterday afternoon and evening on Lewis County highways including an intoxicated motorcyclist who was airlifted after he ran into the back of a car on Interstate 5 south of Napavine, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Troopers called about 3:40 p.m. to milepost 67 reported that James Brady, 40, of Oak Harbor, was southbound and following too closely when traffic on the freeway slowed and his 2004 Yamaha struck the rear of a Honda Accord

Brady was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with cuts to his face and arms and chipped teeth, according to the state patrol.

Less than an hour later near Packwood, two people were tossed from a motorcycle when a pickup truck turned in front of them on U.S. Highway 12, according to the patrol.

Both were taken to Morton General Hospital, as was a 13-year-old male passenger from the Dodge Ram, Trooper Jason Hicks reported.

The 2005 Honda motorcycle was totaled and the 2004 Dodge Ram sustained an estimated $5,000 damage, according to Hicks.

The 27-year-old driver of the motorcycle, Christopher A. Shipp, of Ridgefield, suffered injuries to his chest and abdomen; his passenger, 21-year-old Samantha J. Cullinan of Vancouver had leg injuries, according to the trooper.

Timothy Cook, 13, of Benson City, reportedly sustained injuries to his head, neck and spine.

Finally, a four-car chain reaction rear-end collision on state Route 505 a mile north of Toledo drew troopers and aid about 6:20 p.m. yesterday.

Four people were transported to Providence Centralia Hospital with neck and back injuries or scrapes and bruises, according to the investigating trooper.

They are listed as Dylan Hoiseck, 12, and Mark Hoiseck, 46, both of Toledo; Amanda Cox, 21, of Toutle; and Sandra Bartley, 66, of Ethel.

Bartley was ticketed for second-degree negligent driving, according to Trooper Doug Pardue.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, September 2nd, 2011


• Centralia firefighters called at 7:35 p.m. yesterday to a house on West Maple Street for a woman in labor delivered a baby girl there at 7:40 p.m. “We had absolutely no time to prepare or anything, we literally walked in and ‘caught it’,” Firefighter-paramedic Jennifer Ternan said this morning. It was pretty straightforward and uncomplicated for her and Firefighter-paramedic Steve Lamb, according to Ternan. The mom’s due date was yesterday, although she wasn’t planning an at-home birth. An AMR ambulance took the mother, baby and paramedics to the labor and delivery unit of Providence Centralia Hospital where “mom and baby are doing extremely well,” Ternan said.


• A 19-year-old upset when his dog was struck by a car in Centralia yesterday was arrested for misdemeanor assault after he reportedly kicked a dent into the side of the vehicle and broke out the driver’s side window. It happened around 2:50 p.m. on the 1000 block of Mellen Street, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police reported that the two occupants of the car were “showered” with glass. Aaron J. Alexander was cited and then released, according to police.


• Centralia police detectives arrested a suspect in Port Orchard yesterday they say broke into a business on the 1000 block of Johnson Road and stole computers. Finger prints at the scene led them to Marc J. Strickland, 42, of Port Orchard, where they recovered the property, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Chehalis police were called about 8:25 a.m. yesterday to Southeast Adams Avenue where a window had been broken out of a vehicle sometime in the night.

Conflict: Who will bury the dead in Greenwood Cemetery?

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

John Baker speaks outside his home on Johnson Road about the future of his cemetery.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – The temporary management of a 10-acre cemetery in Centralia by a longtime friend of its owner ends now, after a court commissioner this week declined to grant an order to permanently ban owner John Baker from the premises.

Jennifer Duncan, an Adna-area resident, agreed to operate Greenwood Cemetery while Baker went to prison last year and while he was incarcerated, the state Funeral and Cemetery Board assisted Duncan with putting the operator’s license in her name.

Baker had granted Duncan a power of attorney to handle his affairs.

Baker, 68, was released in October and returned to his home adjacent to the cemetery.

Since then, relations between the two have deteriorated into allegations that he threatened to kill her and that she illegally sold off part of his land.

Duncan told Lewis County Superior Court Commissioner Tracy Mitchell during a hearing on Tuesday if the temporary order keeping Baker away from her and the cemetery wasn’t extended, she would walk away from care-taking of the cemetery.

The dead won’t get buried, Duncan said. “The community will suffer a disservice if that happens,” she said.

While Baker owns the more than a century-old graveyard, he’s no longer licensed to sell plots and make burials; Duncan is.

New burials are few and far between, with about 10 made last year, according to Duncan.

The cemetery, which sits off Johnson Road, has an estimated 10,000 inhabitants.

What the future holds for Greenwood Cemetery is anybody’s guess.

Even a spokesperson for the licensing arm of the cemetery board won’t speculate.

“(W)e can’t answer the question about what happens to the cemetery,” spokesperson Christine Anthony wrote in response to inquires after the court decision. “Baker owns the land and a licensed corporation must run the cemetery. That’s all we know at this point.”

The arrangement between Baker and Duncan began amicably, according to both.

Baker was jailed after an incident in which police were told he held a propane torch to an employee’s sweatshirt, blasted the garment with a shotgun and then pointed the firearm at the woman and two others individuals. Centralia police found methamphetamine in a tackle box in Baker’s closet.

Baker said he made a so-called Alford plea, and was sentenced to a year in prison.

Duncan, a career Army officer who said she’s known Baker for years, stepped up to help.

“We’ve been friends for 20 years,” Duncan said. “Just because he’s a crazy dude, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a place in my heart.”

However, the 57-year-old said when she took on the responsibility of Greenwood Cemetery, she had no idea of what she was getting into.

Duncan said she found that Baker’s non-profit cemetery corporation wasn’t kept up to date and that his cemetery license had expired.

She needed $10,000 for Baker’s bail bondsman, and another $6,000 to $7,000 to pay his property taxes and other bills, and to make repairs to his cemetery lawn mower, she said.

She sold four acres of Baker’s vacant land to a local cemetery operator, Don Burbee, who agreed to help her, she said.

Duncan was guided through the process of reestablishing business’s affairs by the licensing office at the state. Even though she had the power of attorney for Baker, she said they told her she had to put it all in her name.

It’s not what she wanted, she said, but she has been a cemetery operator for almost two years now.

Baker, on the other hand, says he fully expected to take back his responsibilities as a cemetery owner and operator after returning home, but that Duncan ignored his revocation of the power of attorney.

Court documents and testimony in the courtroom on Tuesday, describe antagonism between the two that in June, resulted in a temporary protection order, keeping Baker at least 500 feet from Duncan, and from the cemetery.

Duncan wrote that Baker tried to poison her with orange juice, nearly took her head off with a scythe and sent her almost 450 text messages.

She asked the court to allow her new cemetery corporation sole use of a second house on the property (on Van Wormer Street) and make him hand over cemetery records.

“He chases cemetery patrons out with a shovel, screaming the most vile things at them, mostly four-letter words,” she wrote.

“Every time I loan him a piece of equipment, it breaks,” she wrote.

Four times times since July 1, Baker was arrested for violating the temporary protection order, for coming onto the cemetery grounds sometimes when Duncan was present and sometimes when she was not.

Baker disputes much of what his friend alleges, in particular that he tried to harm her with a scythe.

“I’d never hurt Jennifer,” Baker said. “You know if I were diabolical, I wouldn’t do it on a Sunday afternoon right in public.”

The alleged physical threats however weren’t even a topic of discussion when Commissioner Mitchell ruled on whether to extend the protection order.

Mitchell told the two on Tuesday she couldn’t find a legal basis to prevent Baker from going onto the cemetery property, which he owns.

Mitchell asked Duncan if she needed an anti-harassment order keeping Baker away from her personally, and Duncan said she didn’t if she isn’t operating the cemetery.

The commissioner extended the current order for 30 days, the time Duncan said she needs to wrap up obligations she’s made to cemetery clients.

“Really, it’s a relief for me, because I have my own work,” Duncan said when it was over.

She has a husband, children, a farm, and does contract work for the Department of Defense, she said.

Baker meanwhile says he’s had some “nibbles” regarding selling the cemetery. Also, he says there are other people who could be licensed to be the operator for him.

And he’s ready for a battle to get back the four acres he said are worth millions if used for cemetery plots.

Duncan says the writing is on the wall about how much longer Baker can run the cemetery.

During her time in charge, she had some patrons give her back the deeds to their grave sites and ask for their money back, she said.

A handful of caskets have been removed and buried elsewhere by families unhappy with Baker, she said.

Baker calls those personality conflicts, with patrons who don’t like his “flamboyant” style or his political views.

Whether the Funeral and Cemetery Board will issue him a license again is unknown.

Baker has owned and operated Greenwood since 1977, according to the board spokesperson.

His license expired in January of last year while he was locked up and a license was granted to Duncan the following June, according to spokesperson Anthony.

The license can’t simply be transferred back, according to Anthony, a new one would have to be applied for, with eligibility determined at that time.

Duncan contends in her court documents that the Funeral and Cemetery Board has investigated discrepancies of as much as $75,000 in Baker’s cemetery trust funds.

Anthony confirmed “an investigation” was conducted and is being reviewed by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Baker says he’s talked with the regulators about those issues and acknowledges a “lack of current bookkeeping”.

Would they give Baker back his license if he applied, the spokesperson was asked.

“I really can’t speculate on that,” Anthony wrote.


Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, September 1st, 2011


• A 53-year-old Chehalis man was hospitalized after his bicycle was struck from behind by a vehicle on Airport Road in Chehalis last night, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Aid and a deputy were called just after 9:30 p.m. and the bicyclist was found laying on the road next to the vehicle. He was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with scrapes as well as pain in his shoulder, knee and foot, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. Neither the 25-year-old driver nor the bicyclist had working headlights, and both will be cited, according to detective Sgt. Dusty Breen.


• Firefighters called about 10:40 a.m. yesterday to a single-vehicle collision on Salzer Valley Road found a car in a ditch on its side and a dead deer but no driver. The driver was later located but aid wasn’t needed, according to Riverside Fire Authority.


• Law enforcement officers searched without success for a driver who bailed out of his vehicle after a pursuit yesterday morning in the area of Profitt and Salzer Roads, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Jerry L. Warfield, 39, has a warrant from the state Department of Corrections, detective Sgt. Dusty Breen said this morning.


• A 53-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine early yesterday. Russell E. Charnell was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer on West Main Street in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.


Correction: One news items has been updated to reflect correctly which man was driving and which man was riding a bicycle when they collided Wednesday night on Airport Road. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office incorrectly reported to the news media the roles of the participants.

News brief: Centralia woman discovered unclothed, hypothermic along Interstate 5

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Updated at 4:25 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A young woman wearing only her underclothes was taken into the care of a truck driver who found her this morning when she crawled over a guard rail onto Interstate 5 where he was preparing to repair a flat tire, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The 23-year-old Centralia woman was hypothermic and taken to a hospital, according to Trooper Guy Gill. It’s not clear how she ended up alongside the freeway.

Gill said it happened near the Nisqually River Bridge at the Thurston-Pierce county line about 8:30 a.m.

According to Gill, she was soaking wet and covered from head to toe with cuts and scratches from sticker bushes. She emerged from a swampy area next to the freeway, according to Gill.

Gill said the truck driver’s actions may have saved her life.

Troopers later located an abandoned Jeep Cherokee at the end of a dirt road about 200 yards from the freeway, and believe she and a Centralia man had been in it, Gill said.

He thinks she could have been out in the elements at least eight hours.

The state patrol had gotten a report about 12:30 a.m. of a shirtless male walking on the freeway near that area, but never located him, even after using aircraft with a device that looks for heat signatures.

Troopers continue to look for the man, not because they think any crime was committed, Gill said. They suspect he was picked up by a passing motorist.

“More than anything, we’re checking on his well-being,” he said.

They don’t know if the vehicle broke down or maybe ran out of gas, and the female was not coherent enough to give much information, Gill said.

“She said the male left her at the vehicle, and the reason she was only in her underclothes is in the water, her clothes got heavy so she took them off,” he said.

The truck driver, John C. Davis of Portland, helped the girl into his truck, and drove to the state patrol “scale house” in Dupont, where he called the state patrol, according to Gill.

She was in very poor condition this morning, he said.

“She’s very lucky he came by ’cause she was not doing good,” Gill said. “This could have been much worse.”

In her condition, she could have easily walked right out onto the freeway, he said.

The woman was taken to St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood and the last Gill heard today, she was in good condition, he said.

Breaking news: Witnesses subpoenaed for Reynolds’ coroner’s inquest

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Updated at 6:47 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The preliminary witness list for the coroner’s inquest into the 1998 death of former Trooper Ronda Reynolds in Toledo was released today by Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod.


Ronda Reynolds

Not on the list is former Lewis County Coroner Terry Wilson, but McLeod said in a news release any potential witnesses who have not yet been subpoenaed are not listed.

He expects the list to be complete by Sept. 9.

The inquest is currently scheduled for the second week in October, to be held in Lewis County District Court in Chehalis. McLeod will be the presiding officer.

Reynolds, 33, was found with a bullet in her head and covered by a turned-on electric blanket on the floor of a closet in the home she shared with her husband of less than a year, Ron Reynolds, in December 1998.

Among those McLeod has subpoenaed to testify are Ron Reynolds and his three sons who were present when the first sheriff’s deputy arrived, the deputies and detectives who examined the scene, and two of their superiors from the sheriff’s office.

Others include an outside former homicide detective who reviewed the case for the sheriff’s office and concluded it was a homicide, and two outside investigators who reviewed it after that and concurred with then-Sheriff John McCroskey that the determination of suicide was appropriate.

The case was the subject of a judicial review in Lewis County in November 2009 after which a panel of citizens concluded then-Coroner Wilson’s determination that Reynolds died of suicide was arbitrary, capricious and incorrect. A judge ordered Wilson to change the manner of death, but Wilson appealed.

One of McLeod’s first acts after he took office in January was to change Reynolds’ death certificate from suicide to undetermined and announce he wanted to hold a coroner’s inquest.

McLeod has said an inquest is an investigation, not a trial.

The coroner’s jury will consist of five individuals plus two alternates. They will be encouraged to reach a unanimous decision about the cause and manner of death, but will be permitted to make a determination by majority vote, according to the rules McLeod has adopted.

If they determine it to be homicide, they will be asked to determine whether by a preponderance of evidence they can identity the person or person’s responsible for the death.

If someone is named as causing the death, Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer has said he would have to decide what to do next. One of the RCWs states the coroner shall issue a warrant if the person committing the homicide is ascertained by the inquisition.

The inquest jury’s determinations are not binding, but McLeod has said he will abide by them.

The courtroom is expected to have seating for 60 persons, with as many as 20 allocated for the news media.

The witness names are as follows:

• Gary Holt – retired Lewis County sheriff’s deputy
• Robert Bishop – former Lewis County sheriff’s deputy
• Dave Neiser – retired Lewis County sheriff’s detective
• Jerry Berry – retired Lewis County sheriff’s detective
• Joe Doench – retired Lewis County sheriff’s chief criminal deputy
• Glade Austin – retired Lewis County sheriff’s detective’s sergeant
• Steve Aust – Lewis County Sheriff’s Office commander
• Carmen Brunton – former Lewis County coroner’s chief deputy
• Laurie Hull – friend
• David Bell – friend
• Ron Reynolds – husband of decedent
• Joshua Reynolds – son of Ron Reynolds
• David Reynolds – son of Ron Reynolds
• Jonathan Reynolds – son of Ron Reynolds
• Tom Lahmman – former Toledo School District superintendent
• Kathryn Hatulla (sp) – Ron Reynolds’ ex-wife
• Dr. Daniel Selove – forensic pathologist
• Barbara Thompson – decedent’s mother
• Marty Hayes – firearms examination
• Mark Liburdi – decedent’s ex-husband
• Richard Underwood – polygraph expert
• Terry Ball – polygraph expert
• Steve Birley – polygraph review
• Joe Upton – handwriting examiner
• Vernon Geberth – consulted
• Rod Englert – consulted
• Raymond Pierce – consulted
• George Fox – former Attorney General’s Office investigator
• Richard Steiner – former Attorney General’s Office investigator
• Gary Aschenbach – forensic statement analyst
• David Stritzke – Washington State Patrol crime lab
• Matthew Noedel – Washington State Patrol crime lab
• Kenneth McDermott – Washington State Patrol crime lab
• Ronald Wojciechowski – Washington State Patrol crime lab
• Raymond Kusumi – Washington State Patrol crime lab
• Jill Bartlett – Washington State Patrol fingerprint division


See the rules governing the procedures for McLeod’s coroner’s inquest, here


For some background and to see the roles some of the above individuals may have played, read “Jury finds coroner erred in ruling former trooper’s death a suicide”, here

Centralia man realizes piece of “junk” in garage is pipe bomb

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – A small object at a Centralia residence that its owner thought looked like a pipe bomb, was a pipe bomb.

Police were called about 9:40 a.m. today to a house on the 1300 block of Crescent Avenue in the north end of town, and summoned a bomb squad from the Washington State Patrol.

Law enforcement was there for two to three hours, eventually taking the item into his backyard and detonating it, home owner Robert Knutz said.

Nobody was hurt and nobody was in too much danger, according to Centralia police.

It was a working pipe bomb, Officer John Panco said.

It’s a mystery who built it or who it belonged to; and, according to Panco, not one that’s likely to be solved.

It was amongst a box of junk given to Knutz by a friend who cleaned out a house at the Greenwood Cemetery along Van Wormer Street in Centralia, Knutz said.

The rental house is owned by cemetery owner John Baker, but has been in the possession of the woman he assigned to take care of the properties while he was in prison.

Knutz said he put it in his garage weeks ago, and didn’t look closely at it until last night.

That’s when he noticed a fuse, he said.

Panco described it as about three-quarters of an inch in diameter and about two and a half inches long.

Panco this afternoon said he was told by the investigating officer there have been so many people in an out of the Van Wormer house, they didn’t expect to be able to pin down the pipe bomb’s owner.

Police would like to know why someone had a bomb, he said, but at this point they don’t know.

News brief: Locals travel to Eastern Wash. to battle wild land fires

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Local firefighters have gone to assist in fighting wildfires in Eastern Washington.

Two members of Lewis County Fire District 5 were asked early Monday morning to take their brush truck and join a strike team in the southeast corner of the state where lightening started a large fire on Sunday evening.

They are Raymond Smerek and Kevin Van Egdom, according to District 5.

As of last night, the fire near Pomeroy in Garfield County had spread over almost 6,000 acres but is expected to be contained by the end of today, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

On Monday evening, District 5′s Brad Bozarth was assigned to a water tender as part of a team headed to Wishram in Klickitat County, according to Megan Van Egdom of District 5.

That fire as of yesterday evening had consumed more than 1,000 acres of grass and sage and firefighters there are expected to be in “mop up” mode today, according to the Coordination Center.

Firefighters from the Rochester area’s West Thurston Regional Fire Authority left on Monday as well to assist. Four members of the Toledo area fire department have also gone.

The center reports about 300 firefighters are working the two wild land fires.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011


• A computer, a radio and pain medication were reported taken in a burglary at a residence on the 2400 block of North Pearl Street, according to Centralia police. The break-in was reported about 1:50 p.m. yesterday.

• A 28-year-old Centralia man was arrested yesterday for theft and trafficking in stolen property for allegedly stealing an unassembled metal shed from his father’s shed and selling it a recycler, according to Centralia police. The discovery of the missing item from the 400 block of Hemlock Street was reported to police yesterday morning. The loss is estimated at $300, Officer John Panco said. Wesley W. Mitchem was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A car sitting in a driveway on the 700 block of West Reynolds Avenue in Centralia yesterday and checked by a police officer there on another matter turned out to be stolen, according to the Centralia Police Department. It was an El Camino previously reported to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office as stolen, according to police. The resident told the officer someone had left it there, Officer John Panco said.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning deputies have learned the names of local youngsters suspected in a break-in to a Mossyrock area concession stand, that was hit twice in the same week. Sometime on Aug. 14 or 15, someone went inside the stand on the 200 block of Ajlune Road and stole candy and Monster energy drinks, according to the sheriff’s office. A window was replaced and then on Aug 19, it happened again, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. This time money and firewood were missing, as well as snacks, according to Brown. The investigation continues, Brown said.


• Firefighters from three departments extinguished several brush fires that broke out on the northbound shoulder of Interstate 5 south of Winlock yesterday afternoon. One of the fires had grown to about 60 feet long, according to Lewis County Fire District 2. Chief Grant Wiltbank said he believed they were probably caused accidentally, likely by something such as a vehicle dragging a chain and throwing sparks.