Posts Tagged ‘By Sharyn L. Decker’

News brief: Judge to decide if B Street murder defendant competent for trial

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – One expert says he is competent to stand trial and another expert says he is not.

Centralia resident Weston G. Miller, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in the March shooting death of his house guest, 43-year-old David Wayne Carson.

Miller told police he acted in self-defense, but Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer has said it was unprovoked attack in his house on B Street.

The former welder was also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, after police searched the home and found five guns, a silencer, a laser site for a gun and a bullet-proof vest.

Miller appeared briefly in Lewis County Superior Court this morning when lawyers scheduled a half-day hearing for next month.

Meyer said an evaluation conducted by Western State Hospital concluded Miller is competent and a defense expert concluded he is not.

A judge will hear from both sides on August 15 and make a decision, according to Meyer.

Carson, a Centralia resident who had just signed up for college and was going to learn to fly so he could go work in Alaska, died of two gunshot wounds to his chest area on March 13.
•••

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

Read about Maurin murder suspect Rick Riffe stays in Alaska, for now …

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The man charged with the 1985 kidnapping and murder of Edward and Wilhelmina “Minnie” Maurin declined today to waive extradition proceedings that would bring him back to Lewis County from Alaska, according to a news story published in the Anchorage Daily News.

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Rick Riffe

Associated Press reporter Rachel D’Oro writes that Rick Riffe appeared before a judge today in Anchorage and said he didn’t need an attorney appointed to him, he planned to hire one.

Riffe, 53, was arrested Sunday at his home near King Salmon, Alaska by two Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detectives with help from Alaska state troopers.

The bodies of the elderly Ethel couple were found on Christmas Eve 1985 off a logging road near Adna. They had gone missing several days earlier.

Prosecutors believe Riffe and his now-deceased brother John Gregory Riffe got into the couple’s home, uncovered bank records and forced the couple to go with them to the bank and withdraw $8,500 before shooting them in the backs with a shotgun inside their car, according to charging documents.

The brothers moved from Lewis County to Alaska where they have lived since 1987, according to the sheriff’s office.

A detective and Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead stayed in Alaska in hopes of bringing Riffe back right away, the sheriff’s office told county commissioners yesterday.

D’Oro did note note in her news story how long those proceedings could take.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer planned to seek a governor’s warrant as soon as possible if Riffe chose to go through extradition proceedings, the commissioners were told.

A hearing is scheduled for July 19, according to Meyer.

•••

For back ground, read:

• “Breaking news: Sheriff: Cold case solved in 1985 shooting death of elderly Ethel couple” from Monday July 9, 2012 at 9:13 a.m., here

• “Sheriff: It’s safe for further witnesses to come forward following arrest in deaths of Ethel couple” from Monday July 9, 2012 at 5:14 p.m., here

Onalaskan’s insanity plea in alleged murder of father bolstered by mental exam

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Murder defendant Joshua Leroy Vance was acutely psychotic and responding to “command hallucinations” to kill his father early in the morning on March 7 in their Onalaska home, according to a mental evaluation conducted by a psychologist.

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Joshua Vance

Defense attorney David Arcuri submitted Dr. Brett Trowbridge’s professional opinion when he filed a motion asking for an acquittal of his client based on insanity. Vance pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in early May.

Yesterday, in Lewis County Superior Court, the prosecutor’s office said now they would like their experts to examine Vance as well.

Vance, 25, is charged with first-degree murder after allegedly using a knife to attack his sleeping father, 58-year-old Terry Vance on March 7.

The younger Vance is also charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, as he allegedly told a deputy he was going to kill his grandmother, nephew and uncle but couldn’t because he cut his hand.

He remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $1 million bail.

The Centralia College student has already been evaluated by specialists from Western State Hospital who determined he was mentally competent to stand trial, but now they will evaluate him for insanity, according to an order signed by a judge yesterday.

Vance appeared in court for the brief hearing.

According to Arcuri, the guidelines for criminal insanity look at if a person suffers from a mental disease or defect such that they could not comprehend the nature or quality of their act, and, even if they could understand, could not conform their behavior.

Trowbridge wrote in his report, which Arcuri received on June 1, an insanity defense would be appropriate because at the time of the alleged incident, with Vance’s acute mental illness he was unable to appreciate the nature and quality of his conduct.

According to the report from Western State’s previous contact with Vance, he has been hospitalized in the past for command hallucinations to kill himself and harm others. He also has been treated for substance induced hallucinations, according to the report.

His diagnosis’s in the state doctors’ report included psychotic disorder, major depression, amphetamine dependence and alcohol abuse.

Vance told the evaluator he started using methamphetamine at age 11, but had not used it for the previous two years.

Vance’s family say he was being treated for mental health issues at Cascade Mental Health in Chehalis and had gone off his medication because he couldn’t afford it.

If state doctors decide to bring him to their facility to conduct the exam, they can commit him for not more than 15 days and then as soon as is practicable furnish the court with a report on their findings, according to the court order.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said the two sides set a date of Aug. 2 to check in with the judge about the status of the upcoming evaluation.

A trial is scheduled for the week of Oct. 22.
•••

For background, read:

• “Onalaska man pleads insanity in father’s fatal stabbing” from Tuesday May 8, 2012, here

•  “Murder suspect: “When he was good, he was such a good young man”" from Friday March 9, 2012, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Updated

FOOT PURSUIT PLUS DOG CATCH WANTED GUY

• Centralia police and K-9 Kayo were looking for a wanted subject around 11 p.m. last night in the area of the 300 block of North Gold Street, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police say Galen R. Whitmore, 20, of Centralia, fled from officers and jumped several fences before Kayo caught him with his teeth. Whitmore was booked into the Lewis County Jail,  according to police. The jail roster indicates he was wanted by the state Department of Corrections and also for failing to appear in court related to third-degree driving with a suspended license.

INTRUDER STEALS FROM ADNA AREA HOME

• Deputies are looking for a newer red mini van seen at a home burglary on the 200 block of Brockway Road west of Chehalis yesterday between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. The 68-year-old resident arrived home just before 4 p.m. and found a side door kicked in and found indications someone had rifled through a bedroom, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The dollar loss is as yet unknown, but someone went through documents and jewelry boxes, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

REFRIGERATOR MISSING

• Centralia police say an unknown person stole a refrigerator from a rummage sale on the 500 block of North Tower Avenue. The responding officer noted it is a brown Frigidaire brand.

TOOLS TAKEN

• Police were called just after 8 a.m. yesterday when a Chehalis man woke up to find his garage door open on the 100 block of Northeast Terrace Road. Sometime after 10 o’clock the night before someone went inside and stole a tool box with various tools including four trays of bright orange Craftsman sockets, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

SUSPICIOUS CHECK LEADS TO STOLEN WALLET

• Chehalis police said today a search of a car impounded last week turned up a wallet belonging to a 47-year-old Tumwater woman who recalled getting bumped by a man while she shopped at Staples in Chehalis. The incident led police to refer the case involving Korey E. Cleveland, 43, of Tenino, for a charge of second-degree possession of stolen property, Sgt. Gwen Carrell said. Cleveland was detained last Thursday after leaving a saw shop on State Avenue in Chehalis, when employees became suspicious a check he was attempting to use to buy about $1,000 of goods might be stolen, according to Chehalis police. Because a shotgun was found when he was pulled over and he is not allowed to possess firearms, he was arrested and jailed and his vehicle was impounded, Carrell said. The Thurston County resident to whom the check belonged declined to pursue any charges, Carrell said.

FRAUD

• A 38-year-old Toledo area woman called the sheriff’s office yesterday to report someone in the Washington DC area used her bank card information on Friday to make an online purchase of $133 from the U.S. Postal Service, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Centralia police took a report late yesterday afternoon about stolen checks and subsequent forgeries from the 1600 block of Pike Street. They are investigating, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Police were called just after 5:15 p.m. yesterday about a vehicle prowl on the 2600 block of Cooks Hill Road in Centralia. Just a half hour earlier, the same officer took another report of a prowl in the same area, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 2:25 p.m. yesterday about a vehicle prowl on the 300 block of Northeast Adams Avenue. Taken were sunglasses, keys and some money, according to police. The victim said a neighbor’s vehicle had been prowled as well, Sgt. Gwen Carrell said.

VANDALISM

• Centralia police were called to a repeat tire slashing yesterday afternoon at the 600 block of E Street in Centralia.

• Police were called about 10:30 a.m. yesterday to the 100 block of Southwest Eighth Street in Chehalis when a resident found the rear passenger window to his truck broken. It seemed a beer bottle had been thrown at it, possibly from the alley nearby where arguing had been heard, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

Mental evaluation: Suspect in death, rape of Centralia toddler found competent for trial

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A staff psychologist at Western State Hospital has concluded James M. Reeder is competent to participate in the court proceedings in his Lewis County homicide case, involving the alleged torture and rape of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter.

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James M. Reeder

Reeder, 25, was sent to the state mental hospital June 21 after his lawyer requested the evaluation a week earlier.

The report, filed yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court, notes the Centralia man has mild depression and anxiety, attributed to the legal situation he is facing.

“Any of his previous symptoms that may have interfered with his ability to understand court proceedings or assist in his defense appear to have abated,” Dr. Ray Hendrickson wrote in the report.

Reeder has not yet been arraigned, presumably that is the next step in his case. A notation in his court file says he will appear before a judge on Thursday morning.

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

If convicted, he faces a possible maximum penalty of life in prison.

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Koralynn Fister

The coroner has said the child died from drowning and blunt trauma to her head. Reeder said he found the toddler face down in the bathtub when he stepped out to grab a towel.

Prosecutors allege at least two incidents of sexual abuse of the little girl during the roughly two month period Reeder lived with his girlfriend Becky Heupel and her two daughters, ages 2 and 4.

Defense attorney David Arcuri did not state in court the reason for requesting the competency review, but according to the report, Reeder said he attempted suicide in the jail, trying to drown himself in the sink.

The report, dated June 29, said Reeder was kept in a ward that allowed 24-hour observation and treatment while he was at Western State.

While there, he was put on medication for depression and anxiety, as well as temporarily for insomnia. He said he hardly slept while at the jail, the psychologist wrote.

During the formal interview, he was cooperative and open, the psychologist wrote. He said he was “sad, depressed, anxious … grieving, mourning … I miss that little girl … don’t know how to explain what happened.”

Reeder also – when asked – said he’s always been paranoid, not liking to go to bars or Wal-Mart, for example, because people talk about him and look at him.

The psychologist indicated he felt that was more like a personality trait or a symptom of anxiety.

The report included a diagnosis of adjustment disorder, but did not elaborate on what that meant.

Reeder was taken away by police from the couple’s West Oakview Street area home the day Koralynn died, and arrested that night. He is being held on $5 million bail.

Reeder had been unemployed for about a year, but previously worked as a flooring installer, according to the report.

One portion of it offers basic self-reported biographical information: such as he is currently separated from his wife who has a 5-year-old son, and that he has a 2-year-old daughter he fathered with a girlfriend.

His attorney has described him as a lifetime Lewis County resident, who attended W.F. West High School through the 11th grade.

He has no felony criminal history, but in February 2011 was convicted of a gross misdemeanor, fourth-degree assault and in January 2007 was convicted of misdemeanor possession of marijuana, according to the Western State Hospital report.

He suffered a concussion in a motor vehicle accident as an eighth grader, according to the report.

He told the psychologist he has used, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Although Reeder denied current thoughts of suicide or wanting to harm himself, the psychologist recommended he see a mental health provider.

CORRECTION: This news story has been updated and corrected to reflect a trial date has not yet been scheduled for Reeder.
•••

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

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Updated at 5:10 p.m.

BUSINESS BURGLARS

• Two mornings in a row, Centralia police have responded to burglaries at businesses in which cash was stolen. An officer checking out an alarm about 3:10 a.m. today at the 2300 block of North Pearl Street found the building had been broken into. Yesterday morning about 8:30, an officer was called to a business on the 200 block of South Pearl Street for a burglary as well, according to the Centralia Police Department.

MAN BITES GIRLFRIEND

• Police were called just before 7 o’clock yesterday morning to the 100 block of Virginia Drive in Centralia where a female said her 21-year-old boyfriend bit her in the shoulder. An officer was told it happened during an argument about him not wanting to get up with the baby, according to Centralia police. He left before police arrived, police said.

OUT OF CONTROL AT GREEN HILL

• A 16-year-old student at Green Hill School for boys is in trouble after he allegedly kicked, punched and spit at six staff members who were trying to place him in solitary on Sunday afternoon, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The case will be referred for possible charges of third-degree assault, Sgt. Gwen Carrell said.

FRAUD

• A 43-year-old Lincoln Creek area resident called the sheriff’s office yesterday to report she discovered her bank debit card was compromised online. An unknown individual somehow used her card to make a purchase from a business in Maine, totaling $378.06, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

HOME BURGLARY

• Two rifles, an X-Box and hunting gear were missing after a burglary on the 200 block of Schoonover Road near Mossyrock, according to the lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy was told it happened sometime between Wednesday and Sunday, according to the sheriff’s office.

GIRLS RACING

• Two women allegedly caught racing on South Pearl Street near Centralia College were cited after being contacted by an officer about 10:20 p.m. yesterday.

OOPS

• A 21-year-old Olympia man, Blake G. Moreland, was arrested for driving under the influence when he was spotted traveling the wrong direction on North National Avenue in Chehalis just after 1 o’clock on Sunday morning, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday.

VANDALISM

• Police were called just after 5 p.m. yesterday about tires slashed on the 1400 block of Logan Street in Centralia. An officer took a similar report a few hours earlier at the 400 block of North Oak Street, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning to R.E. Bennett Elementary School where someone had spray painted a large swath of the backside of the building with graffiti. Similar graffiti was found on a business nearby on the 100 block of South Market Boulevard, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Sgt. Gwen Carrell said she could not decipher the gray-blue lettering.

EXPLODING MAIL BOX

• Somebody blew up a mail box on the 100 block of Cousins Road outside Chehalis causing grass and a tree to catch on fire, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday. A deputy called early Sunday morning was told it occurred about 11 p.m. the night before, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

PLASTIC GUN PICKED UP BY POLICE

• Chehalis police were called when someone found a small black handgun on a garbage container outside the St. Helens Apartments on North Market Boulevard on Saturday morning. It turned out to be a toy and was taken into lost and found, according to Chehalis police.

WATER PLAY

• Chehalis police were called just before midnight on Saturday about individuals dancing in the fountain in front of the library downtown. It appeared they had put soap in it. No arrests were made.

GRASS FIRE

• The Chehalis Fire Department was called about 9 p.m. yesterday to a grass fire at Southwest Newaukum Avenue and Sylvenus Street. It was knocked down in about 10 minutes, according to Fire Capt. Casey Beck.

CELL PHONE TRACKING EASY TO DO

• KOMOnews.com went to an award ceremony in Chehalis yesterday to tell the story of a 5-year-old boy who two weeks ago called 911 to get help for his ailing father. The Centralia boy, Quincy Hall, didn’t know his address but did know how to call for help. Read how dispatchers quickly found his location using tracking information from the cell phone the child used. See their video here

• The Seattle Times published a story yesterday about how cell phone companies are responding to thousands of requests each day from police for customer’s locations, text messages and call details, frequently without warrants and not just in emergencies. Read more here

Sheriff: It’s safe for further witnesses to come forward following arrest in deaths of Ethel couple

Monday, July 9th, 2012
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Dennis Hadaller takes questions from the news media about his mother and her husband's 1985 deaths.

Updated at 8:19 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Although deputies have arrested a former Lewis County man for kidnap, robbery and murder in the 1985 deaths of Ed and Wilhelmina Maurin, the sheriff is calling upon more people who might know something to come forward.

News of yesterday’s arrest at the suspect’s home outside King Salmon, Alaska took most of the elderly couple’s surviving family members by surprise this morning; when Sheriff Steve Mansfield announced to the news media his office has solved the case that’s more than 26 years old.

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Rick Riffe

Rick Riffe, 53, and his brother John Gregory Riffe, 50,  have long been primary suspects in the cold case, according to the sheriff.

John Riffe died last month of ill health, just after the sheriff’s office prepared their probable cause statement, Mansfield said.

Authorities say potential witnesses were threatened by the brothers, even with death, if they spoke up.

“We’re very confident now one is dead and the other in custody, (other) witnesses will come forward,” Mansfield said this afternoon. “We would like to hear from them.”

At a press conference this afternoon in Chehalis, Mansfield and Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer indicated it’s not like there was suddenly a “smoking gun” that led to the arrest.

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John Gregory Riffe

Mansfield called it a long, tedious, frustrating case that the sheriff’s office felt was strong back in the early 1990s, but wasn’t able to persuade the prosector to move forward on.

Meyer said he filed the charges on Friday and got a $5 million arrest warrant.

Meyer likened it to a puzzle.

“You look at all the witness statements, go through the timeline and realize we have all the pieces we need,” Meyer said.

Sheriff’s detective Bruce Kimsey has worked the better part of seven years on the case and it’s been his sole assignment the past four months, according to Meyer.

The affidavit of probable cause offers information pointing to the brothers from several individuals; none of the witnesses are named in the document.

Rick Riffe is still in Alaska, and is being  processed for extradition back to Lewis County to stand trial.

The Maurins, Ed, 81 and “Minnie” 83, vanished from their Ethel home Dec. 19, 1985. Their car was found abandoned the next day in the parking lot at Yard Birds and their bodies discovered Dec. 24, 1985 off a logging road near Adna.

The sheriff’s office says it believes the brothers forced the couple to drive to their bank, Sterling Savings and Loan in Chehalis, and withdraw $8,500 before cutting them down with a shotgun inside their car.

Family members of the Maurins sat in on the press conference.

Minnie Maurin’s son, former Lewis County Commissioner Dennis Hadaller, briefly spoke to those assembled. The 84-year-old’s voice broke as he did.

Hadaller thanked prosecutors, the sheriff’s office, and especially detective Kimsey whom he said has become a close friend.

“Also, I want to thank all the private citizens that came forward under threat of death and gave us information,” Hadaller said.

He made a plea for anyone with additional information to bring it the sheriff or prosecutor.

Prosecutor Meyer suggested the brothers selected their target more or less at random, because a friend of theirs mentioned the Maurins probably had a lot of money.

The friend, interviewed in 1991, said he used drugs with the Riffes and remembered seeing the couple outside when he and the brothers drove past the house about two weeks before the deaths, according to the affidavit of probable cause. He recalled mentioning they must have money, because they owned all the Christmas trees surrounding their property and their son had a successful logging business, the document states.

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Rick Riffe

The same man, a truck driver, told investigators he gave a shotgun to Rick Riffe which he asked him to cut down so he could carry it on the job, according to the document. He said he had trouble getting it back, until two or three months after the murders, the document alleges. The gun was later tossed in Mayfield Lake, according to one witness.

The unnamed truck driver spoke of Rick Riffe having no money and then suddenly buying a commercial-type fishing boat, as well as getting an odd call from Rick Riffe’s wife Robin Riffe, who said, “You wouldn’t believe what Rick’s done,” the document states.

Another individual, in 2004, told investigators he was driving from home in Mossyrock with his mother into town that December when he saw John Riffe in a car with the Maurin couple, but that John Riffe confronted him near the Mossyrock Theater and threatened to kill both him and his mother if he spoke about what he saw, according to the documents.

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John Gregory Riffe

The man reportedly came forward after his mother passed away.

This past February, he told detective Kimsey both brothers were in the 1960s green four-door car about a quarter mile from the Maurin’s house, the documents state.

One source, a drug dealer interviewed inside a federal prison in Oregon, recalled selling two ounces of cocaine for $2,200 to Robin Riffe back in December 1985, and getting paid in $100 bills by a man he was able to identify as John Riffe, the documents alleges.

Numerous other people are cited as having told detectives of seeing a man or men who matched the brothers’ descriptions at various places that day, often noting one wearing a dark stocking cap and carrying a gun.

One Mossyrock woman who said she’d never seen the brothers before but heard rumors they were involved, offered sightings in three key locations.

She said when she was driving by the Maurin’s house one morning she saw a white van parked there and a man wearing an Army jacket near the mailbox; the following day she saw Ed Maurin sitting in an old car as she left Security State Bank; and then saw the same van parked on the shoulder of Kresky Avenue near Yard Birds and two men getting into it, according to the document.

Two sheriff’s detectives, a private investigator and Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead flew to Alaska to make the arrest; they were joined by Alaska state troopers, according to Mansfield.

Meyer said Rick Riffe is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery, as well as one count of burglary.

Because of the suspect’s poor health, he is not planning to pursue the death penalty, Meyer said.

The prosecutor said he expects whenever Rick Riffe arrives in Lewis County, he will be taken in front of a judge the next day.

After his arraignment, he will go to trial within 60 days Meyer said.

•••

For background read “Breaking news: Sheriff: Cold case solved in 1985 shooting death of elderly Ethel couple” from earlier today, here

Breaking news: Sheriff: Cold case solved in 1985 shooting death of elderly Ethel couple

Monday, July 9th, 2012
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Edward, 81, and Wilhelmina "Minnie", 83, Maurin. / Courtesy photo Lewis County Sheriff's Office

Updated at 11:05 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An arrest has been made in what has been described as one of the most horrific homicides in Lewis County, an elderly couple believed abducted from their Ethel home, shot to death and dumped in a wooded area near Adna more than a quarter century ago.

The bodies of Edward and Wilhelmina “Minnie” Maurin were found on Christmas Eve 1985.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office yesterday arrested 53-year-old Rick Riffe in Alaska, according to the sheriff’s office.

The former Lewis County resident and his brother have long been primary suspects in the cold case.

Additional evidence and witnesses finally talking is what helped solve the case, according to Sheriff Steve Mansfield.

“Detectives feel many witnesses did not come forward during the time of the initial investigation due to being fearful of the Riffe brothers and possible retaliation for speaking out,” Mansfield said in a news release.

The two men moved to Alaska in 1987 and John Riffe died a week before detectives purchased tickets to travel there and arrest them, according to the sheriff.

Rick Riffe, who resides in King Salmon, Alaska, was arrested yesterday and will be processed for extradition back to Lewis County to stand trial, Mansfield stated.

Mansfield said his office has developed information the brothers kidnapped the couple from their home, drove them to their bank in Chehalis and forced them to withdraw $8,500 before killing them.

They were reported missing Dec. 19, 1985 after guests arrived for a Christmas party at their house along U.S. Highway 12, and nobody was home. The following day, their car was found abandoned in the Yard Birds parking lot in Chehalis.

The keys were in the ignition and blood stains were found in the car, according to the sheriff’s office. On Christmas Eve day, their bodies were found at the end of Stearns Hill Road.

Former Lewis County Commissioner Dennis Hadaller said he has waited 26 years and seven months for this day.

Hadaller offered rewards and hired private detectives to find who killed his mother and her husband.

“I really appreciate all the help, the sheriff’s department and the people that came forward with new evidence,” Hadaller said this morning.

The Mayfield Lake area resident who is now 84, said he’s “tickled” but the news is sad too, bringing back memories. It didn’t take him by surprise however, he said.

“I’ve been involved all along, we had to keep everything pretty quiet, what was happening,” he said. “I couldn’t even tell my own children or close friends.”

He couldn’t tell even his younger sister Hazel Oberg, he said.

The Toledo woman and her husband were having breakfast when they got the news this morning.

“Well it was a shock for me to hear it on the radio, an awful shock,” Oberg said. “But I’m calming now. It makes me relive it.”

Oberg, 82,  called it a relief.

“In a way, we’re just thrilled,” she said. “I guess you could call it thrilled. I’m in tears.”

A press conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. today with the sheriff, Hadaller and Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer who will share details of the investigation.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, July 8th, 2012
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A Toyota Prius, of course, can't clear the underside of a flatbed trailer. / Courtesy photo

CAR SLAMS INTO SIDE OF FLATBED TRAILER ON SR 508

• A collision on the east side of the state Route 508 South Fork Newaukum Bridge early yesterday morning destroyed a Toyota Prius that slammed into the side of a trailer being pulled by a dump truck that was turning around on the highway. Aid called about 2:15 a.m. found the impact into the flatbed trailer sheered off much of the driver’s side of the car, according to Lewis County Fire District 1. The driver and his female passenger amazingly suffered only minor injuries, Fire Chief Mark Conner said. Conner said the truck driver realized he was over the weight limit for the bridge and was turning around. The speed limit is 55 mph there. The driver had an injury to his left leg, he said. They were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital. The bridge, about five miles east of Onalaska, was shut down about two weeks ago because of significant corrosion and was reopened with weight limits until it can be repaired.

JUST A LITTLE ROAD RASH ON US HIGHWAY 12

• Lewis County Fire District 3 was called about 11:30 a.m. yesterday to a motorcycle wreck on U.S. Highway 12 about two miles west of Mossyrock. The motorcyclist hit a piece of wood in the roadway, laid his motorcycle down and narrowly missed striking a guardrail, according to Fire Chief Doug Fosburg. His motorcycle was destroyed but he was very lucky, the chief said. “He was able to walk away,” Fosburg said. “He was wearing all the proper safety gear, including a helmet.” The man, who was with a group of riders the chief thought was from Tacoma, declined aid, he said.

POLICE SEEK KNIFE WIELDING BOYFRIEND

• Police are looking for a 52-year-old man who fled his north Centralia home Friday night bleeding after his girlfriend struck him in the head with a  wine bottle. Police were told Gerardo R. Espinosa threatened his live-in girlfriend with a knife at the 1500 block of Windsor Avenue. The bottle to the head gave her time to call 911 but Espinosa left, according to the Centralia Police Department. A track was conducted with a police dog, but Espinosa’s scent was lost about a quarter of a mile away near a friend’s house, Sgt. Stacy Denham said. Police think someone gave him a ride away, Denham said. The 45-year-old girlfriend was not injured, but he is wanted for first-degree assault, according to Denham.

VEHICLE STOLEN AND STRIPPED

• Centralia police were called about 5 p.m. yesterday about a vehicle that was stolen from a home and then subsequently found stripped in connection with an address on the 800 block of Long Road in Centralia.

THEFT

• Police were called yesterday morning about two Stihl chainsaws stolen about 10:30 a.m. from the 700 block of North Pearl Street.

• Police took a report about 12:15 a.m. today that a video camera was stolen from a business on the 800 block of B Street in Centralia.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police took a report from the 300 block of East Pine Street that someone got inside a vehicle and stole the title and an insurance card sometime between last Tuesday and Wednesday.

CHILD FALLS INTO CAMP FIRE

• A 2-year-old boy was hospitalized after he fell into a campfire at Rainbow Falls State Park off state Route 6 west of Chehalis. Lewis County Fire District 11 Chief Michael Krafczyk said aid was called about 7:10 p.m. on Friday to the park. “He burned the palm of his hand and his knee but I don’t know the extent of his burns,” Krafczyk said, noting he did not personally respond to the call. The child was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, the chief said.

News brief: Rochester resident dies in motorcycle accident

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Updated at 10:52 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 50-year-old Rochester man was killed in a motorcycle wreck this afternoon in south Thurston County, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Troopers were called just after 1:15 p.m. to the collision on Southwest Tilley Road near Goddard Road, east of Interstate 5.

The brand new Harley Davidson was northbound on Tilley Road when it struck a deer in the roadway, according to the state patrol.

The motorcyclist has been identified as Mark T. Mercurio.

Mercurio was wearing a helmet, according to the state patrol. His bike sustained an estimated $5,000 damage.

It’s unknown if alcohol or drugs may have been involved, according to the investigating trooper.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Updated at 5:08 p.m.

PE ELL GARAGE BURNS

• Firefighters in Pe Ell had to tear the entire tin roof from a large two-story garage yesterday to extinguish a fire that snuck up a wall into the roofline. Crews from Lewis County Fire Districts 11, 13 and 16 were called about 3:25 p.m. to the building on Pe Ell Avenue near the school, District 11 Chief Michael Krafczyk said. They saved all the contents, which were a little bit wet, Krafczyk said. It appeared to have begun on the exterior, but the cause is undetermined, according to the chief.

ANNOYING HITCHHIKER

• Chehalis police arrested a 25-year-old man last night who witnesses said was rolling around in the street on Chamber of Commerce Way. Officers called just before 11 p.m. were told he was also stopping cars and trying to get inside. Chief Deputy Randy Kaut said it appeared the individual just wanted a ride and his way of doing that was just really aggressive. Donald B. Lindberg, of Chehalis, was arrested and booked for disorderly conduct, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

THEFT

• Chehalis police were called yesterday afternoon to an unoccupied building on Northeast Meridian Street where the owner said someone had been inside and stripped it of an estimated $30,000 worth of copper piping.

• A Mossyrock man called the sheriff’s office yesterday after someone used his PayPal online service to make a purchase that morning of more than $900. The 66-year-old victim was alerted by PayPal and subsequently was able to prevent the iPad from being shipped, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies have suspect information, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

• Police were called about 10:45 a.m. yesterday to a business on the 400 block of Union Street in Centralia about an overnight burglary. An unspecified amount of cash was stolen, according to the Centralia Police Department. Further details were unavailable.

• A pressure washer and battery-powered weed eater were among the items stolen from a covered area at the 2300 block of Eureka Avenue in Centralia sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A Lacey man who allegedly wheeled a shopping cart with two vacuum cleaners out of Wal-Mart without paying fled on foot when an employee tried to stop him yesterday afternoon. Police called about 5:45 p.m. to the retailer on Louisiana Avenue subsequently found Daniel P. Jacobson, 30, and arrested him for third-degree theft, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The cart was ditched before he ran, according to Deputy Chief Randy Kaut. Jacobson was booked into the Lewis County Jail. Kaut said vacuum cleaners continue to be a hot item for shoplifters, perhaps because they are a high-priced product that can be resold or returned at another location.

• A deputy took a report last night that sometime during the past week someone stole a sign from the end of the driveway at the 600 block of Cannon Road in Packwood. The wood sign painted with white lettering reads “Moon Mountain Lodging,” according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A 25-year-old Centralia man was arrested overnight for vehicle prowl after he allegedly removed a fire extinguisher from a large military vehicle that was on a rail car in north Centralia. A officer contacted Matthew T. Owen about 1:50 a.m. on North Delaware Avenue and Fulton Street, according to police. He and a companion, Joshua D. Clark, 22, Centralia, were both also arrested for trespass, according to the Centralia Police Department. They were then released.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning about what looks like gang graffiti spray painted on the side of downtown building that houses the office of criminal defense attorney Bob Schroeter. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said it appeared someone climbed on a roof to leave their mark up high and visible on the 400 block of North Market Boulevard, but didn’t seem to be targeting anyone specifically.

• Two tires were slashed on a vehicle parked on the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made about 1:40 a.m. today.

WRECKS

• A 2001 International fire truck sustained major damage when a driver-in-training failed to negotiate a curve, lost control and rolled it yesterday afternoon south of Ethel. The crew of three from the state Department of Natural Resources were unhurt, but taken to Morton General Hospital for evaluation, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It happened about 4 p.m. on the 1300 block of Spencer Road, near the fish hatchery, according to responders. Lewis County Fire District 8 Chief Duran McDaniel said the truck was on its top in the ditch but its occupants were out when he arrived. Sheriff’s Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said it appeared the 18-year-old driver missed a gear, causing excessive speed. He was cited for “wheels off the roadway,” she said. The three are from Morton.

• Two drivers escaped serious injuries when their semi-trucks collided overnight on Interstate 5 just south of Vader in Cowlitz County. One of them, a 2007 International truck and trailer, was totaled when the driver dozed off and he ran into the back of a 2006 Mack truck hauling two trailers, according to the Washington State Patrol. They were both southbound about 2:30 a.m. when it happened, the state patrol reported. Harry Minges, 63, of Des Moines suffered leg injuries but declined aid, according to the investigating trooper. He was to be cited for second-degree negligent driving. The other truck was able to be driven from the scene.

• Centralia police say they were called about 12:25 p.m. yesterday when a vehicle ran into a building on the 1200 block of Lum Road and then left. Further details were unavailable.

• Police and aid were called about 9:50 a.m. yesterday when a van drove through a yard and came to rest at the front door of a house on South Gold and East Chestnut streets. The driver reportedly nearly struck an off duty police officer’s vehicle as well, according to Centralia police. Mitchell W. Sinclair, 43, of Chehalis, declined aid and was booked for driving on a suspended license and several outstanding warrants, according to authorities.

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Van travels through fence and up to front door in Centralia. / Courtesy photo

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

POLICE: CENTRALIA MAN TRIES TO FIGHT POLICE

• A 24-year-old man was arrested in Centralia overnight when he recovered from getting Tased and took a swing at a police officer. Police were called about 12:08 a.m. to the 1900 block of Ahlers Avenue about a possible dispute and contacted the man who was quite agitated, Officer Wayne Compton said. Twice the man took up a boxing-type stance and finally an officer used a Taser gun on him, Compton said. The officer ducked the punch and was not injured, according to Compton. Brandon M.J. Blarton was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree assault, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS STOLEN FROM SILVER CREEK HOME

• Almost $400 worth of prescription drugs were reported stolen from a Silver Creek residence on Tuesday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies called to the home on the 600 block of state Route 122 were told the missing medications included oxycodone, Oxycontin, morphine, Vicodin, lorazepam and diazepam, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. A 29-year-old Onalaska resident was subsequently arrested for burglary, Brown said. Autumn L. Creech was  booked into the Lewis County Jail.

THREAT WITH GUN

• Centralia police were called about 7 p.m. on Tuesday by an 18-year-old Centralia man who said was he was driving on the 400 block of West Summa Street, a male in a red Ford Expedition pulled up near him and pointed a pistol at him. The victim fled to Chehalis before calling police, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officer Wayne Compton said the victim thought he recognized the individual, but then decided wasn’t sure of that.

ASSAULT AT GREEN HILL SCHOOL FOR BOYS

• A 16-year-old Green Hill resident is in trouble with a possible charge of second-degree assault after he allegedly struck another inmate in the head – knocking him out briefly – and then stomped on his head while he was on the ground. Police were called to the state juvenile detention center in Chehalis just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday to investigate. Chehalis Police Department Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said the 15-year-old victim was taken to the hospital with a possible concussion and a dislocated shoulder.

DRUGS

• Centralia police arrested a 36-year-old Centralia man for driving with a suspended license and possession of marijuana following a traffic stop about 12:35 p.m. yesterday at Seward Avenue and East Carson Street. Officer Wayne Compton said a passenger, Karrie D. Delafield, 22, of Centralia, was arrested at the same for possession of methamphetamine when a pipe with residue was found. Both were booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. Delafield will be released without charges pending further investigation.

• Genevieve J.M. Purser, 29, of Centralia, was arrested about 2:30 p.m. yesterday at South Washington Avenue and West Cherry Street in Centralia because she was wanted by the Chehalis police for a previous drug violation, according to police When she was searched, a pipe with suspected methamphetamine reside was found, Officer Wayne Compton said. She was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VEHICLE VANDALISM

• Centralia police were called yesterday just before 3 p.m. to slashed tires on a vehicle at the 1100 block of North Tower Avenue and then again on the 900 block of Marion Street. At about 5:40 a.m., an officer took a report at the 300 block of South Diamond Street that someone smashed out the rear window of a vehicle with a brick.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is looking for information about who it was that slashed a Glenoma man’s truck tire and left an ominous note stating, “Your truck won’t be this pretty next time.” The 66-year-old man called the sheriff’s office late Tuesday night and said he’d parked his truck off the 200 block of Anderson Road in Glenoma when he went for a walk up a logging road, and returned to find the note, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Police were called just before 1 p.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of Johnson Road in Centralia to a complaint kids were throwing eggs at a residence. Just before 9 p.m., a 15-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly throwing eggs at a parked car in the same area, causing damage, according to the Centralia Police Department.

FIREWORKS IN PORTABLE TOILET

• An apparent fireworks explosion damaged a portable bathroom at the Seminary Hill Nature Park on the 600 block of East Locust Avenue in Centralia. Officers called just before midnight on Tuesday have suspect “leads,” according to the Centralia Police Department.

FIREWORKS OUT CAR WINDOW

• Firefighters in Winlock were called to two small grass fires about 3:30 p.m. yesterday, the first at the 700 block of North Military Road and the second about a mile away on the 300 block of Sargent Road. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says a deputy learned three teenage boys had thrown lit fireworks from a vehicle and then stopped on Sargent Road to light off some more. The case, involving an 18-year-old and two 17-year-old Winlock residents was referred to the prosecutors office for possible charges, in part because the youths said they were fireworks purchased from the Chehalis Reservation and not legal to discharge in the area, according to the sheriff’s office.

FIREWORKS IN TREE

• Centralia firefighters were called just before 10 p.m. yesterday when a lit lantern-type firework floated into a tree on the 900 block of L Street. It more or less burned itself out but they put water on it, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

NUMEROUS ASSAULT CHARGES POSSIBLE FOR CENTRALIA MAN WHO ALLEGED INJURED TROOPER

• A 23-year-old Centralia man is set to go before a judge this afternoon on a possible charge of third-degree assault for allegedly giving a trooper a black eye and breaking his nose in Chehalis on Tuesday evening. The trooper contacted Don K. Gonzales who was walking up the southbound Interstate 5 off ramp at Main Street carrying two sticks just before 6:30 p.m., according to Chehalis police. At some point Gonzales apparently tried to open up a pocket knife, and Trooper Rob Moore may have attempted to use his Taser gun, according to authorities. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said Gonzales threw the lug nut at Moore’s face and a fight ensued. Passing motorists, including a Centralia police detective, jumped in and restrained Gonzales, according to Kaut. Gonzales was booked into the Lewis County Jail for two counts of third-degree assault, according to police. The department will also suggest two misdemeanor assault charges for Gonzales related to the pair of men who helped – a 24-year-old from Chehalis and a 25-year-old from Napavine, Kaut said. A suspected marijuana pipe was found in the suspect’s pocket, according to Kaut. The deputy chief said he did not know why Gonzales was walking on the freeway. Washington State Patrol spokesperson Trooper Ryan Tanner said this morning Trooper Moore is currently off work and resting at home.

RAFTERS STUCK ON COWLITZ RIVER IN PACKWOOD

• Deputies assisted a Colorado man and four children yesterday evening who were stranded on an island in the Cowlitz River off Alderwood Drive in Packwood with a raft. The 43-year-old man and the kids – ages 6 to 12 – had been rafting and were unable to cross back because of the swift current, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Rescuers arriving shortly after 5:15 p.m. were able to raft the group down river and out of the water, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. Brown did not say how long the rafters had been stranded, but thought someone who lives nearby may have made the call for help sometime before 4 o’clock.

School bus driver gets five months jail for groping team members at Onalaska game

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012
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Kenneth W. Sands is taken directly to jail after sentencing in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The attorney for a school bus driver who was arrested last autumn for groping teenage girls after their volleyball game in Onalaska told a judge the behavior was completely out of the ordinary, and related to a manic state caused by his bi-polar disorder.

Kenneth W. Sands, 52, was in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday following a plea agreement in which he would be sentenced for five counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation.

Sands drove a bus for the Rainier School District and was off-duty but had gone to the game in Onalaska last October to support the Rainier team.

He was arrested after he reportedly grabbed a 15-year-old volleyball player’s buttocks as she waited to board the bus, slapped a 16-year-old on the buttocks and then got on the bus and touched the breasts of a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. An adult female said he fondled her during the game.

Olympia lawyer Paul A. Strophy said Sands had just switched medications at the time and was adjusting to the change, plus had used caffeine to counteract the effects of a long bus trip the day before to Forks. Sands pleaded guilty in May.

The two lawyers agreed on the recommended sentence, but Strophy appealed to Judge James Lawler to allow his client to serve his time under house arrest, saying as as former corrections officer, he was extremely anxious about being incarcerated. He also requested time to get his medications set up before the sentence began.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Colin Hayes, one of the teenage victims and her mother opposed the so-called electronic home monitoring.

In a letter from the girl read aloud in court, the girl said now has trust issues with older males and has nightmares about Sands coming to attack her family.

“I feel uncomfortable if Ken’s on house arrest,” she wrote. “I’d feel better if he was in jail.”

Sands spoke to the judge, saying he regretted the events and the circumstances that led up to them.

Judge Lawler imposed 30 days in jail for each of the misdemeanors, suspending most of the rest of the sentence so Sands would for the next 10 years have the remainder of the time hanging over his head if he failed to abide by several conditions.

Four and a half years of the sentence are suspended.

He ordered Sands to be taken to jail immediately following the hearing.

“The fact that he has bi-polar disorder is not a defense,” Lawler said. “It’s something he knows about and deals with or does not deal with at his peril.”

Sands has been terminated from his bus driving position, according to Strophy.

Because of the conviction, he will have to submit his DNA to authorities but will not be required to register as a sex offender following his release.

No serious injuries in multiple wrecks on I-5 near Centralia

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A pair of Rochester teenagers were hospitalized after multiple collisions on southbound Interstate 5 near Centralia this afternoon that backed up traffic for at least five miles.

Troopers and aid were called just before 2 p.m. when possibly more than a dozen vehicles were involved in several separate wrecks, according to authorities.

Washington State Patrol spokesperson Ryan Tanner said nobody was seriously injured and preliminary information suggested five different collisions around the area just south of the Lewis-Thurston county line.

Riverside Fire Authority Mike Kytta said besides the two who were transported, a handful of motorists which were looked at by medics had very minor or no injuries and declined further assistance.

Kytta thought he counted 16 vehicles which had all pulled over to the inside shoulder along about a half mile stretch.

He called it a very fortunate and very surprising outcome with so many vehicles on a high speed road.

A memo from the state patrol described one portion of the incident as four vehicles that were damaged when a 1999 Chevrolet Prizm tried to go around others which were slowing for traffic. It was totaled.

It’s driver, Lacy M. Wood, 17, suffered an injury to her right knee, according to the state patrol. Her passenger, William Short, 19, hurt his left knee and right arm, the investigating trooper reported.

Both were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital.

The other three vehicles involved in that collision sustained damage varying from about $500 to $5,000 but were able to be driven from the scene.

The Washington state Department of Transportation indicated the roadway was all cleared by about 3:45 p.m.

Trooper assaulted on Interstate 5 at Chehalis

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An off-duty police officer and another passerby intervened when a state trooper and a pedestrian scuffled on the side of Interstate 5 at Chehalis this evening.

Aid, and perhaps as many as a half dozen police officers, responded about 6:25 p.m. to the southbound off ramp at Main Street.

Neither were seriously injured, according to responders.

Washington State Patrol spokesperson Trooper Ryan Tanner said he didn’t yet know many details.

“Don’t know why the contact, or why the scuffle,” Tanner said.

The trooper’s glasses were broken when he was hit just below his eye with some kind of metallic object, like a lug nut, Tanner said.

The trooper, whose identity was not released, declined to go to the hospital, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. It wasn’t the kind of injury that required stitches, Fire Capt. Rob Gebhart said.

The other individual had only scrapes, he said.

The passersby took the individual into custody, Tanner said.