Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

A thank you breakfast with firefighters

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia firefighters are showing their gratitude for the recent passage of their levy by cooking breakfast for the public on Saturday.

Pancakes, eggs and sausage will be on the house for members of their community, paid for by International Association of Firefighters Local 451 and the Riverside Firefighters Association.

Heading up the kitchen crew will be Lee Coumbs, board of commissioners member.

“The reason is just to say thank you,” Riverside Fire Authority Firefighter and union president Rick LeBoeuf said. “Thank you for voting for the levy, thank you for supporting us.”

The fire department that protects more than 180 square miles in and around Centralia last month asked citizens to consider a new maintenance and operations levy, to supplement a steeply declining budget. The department had already seen a nearly 30 percent loss in response forces this year, and the levy money was meant to stabilize personnel and services at the current level.

It passed with just over 65 percent of voters saying yes.

The open house and community appreciation breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. and runs until 11:30 a.m. It will be held at Riverside’s headquarter’s station at 1818 Harrison Avenue in Centralia.

Tours of the station will include opportunities for children to board the fire trucks and ambulances, according to LeBoeuf.

They’ve combined the event with an opportunity to help those who are working to reopen the Pearl Street Veterans Memorial Pool.

Fire Chief Mike Kytta says being supporters of people having a safe place to swim, they’ve invited individuals from the pool to be on hand to answer questions and accept donations toward its restoration.

What: Open house and community appreciation breakfast
When: Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014
Time: 7:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.
Where: 1818 Harrison Avenue, Centralia
Cost: Free, but donations will be accepted on behalf of Save The Outdoor Pool

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014


• Chehalis police were called about 11 a.m. yesterday to another shed burglary, this one on the 700 block of Southwest Cascade Avenue. Sometime during the night someone got inside the unlocked structure and left with drills, speaker, an amplifier and other items, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Someone shattered the glass front doors to a vacant convenience store on the 3300 block of Jackson Highway outside Chehalis, according to a report made yesterday to the Lewis County Sheriff’s office. The damage is estimated at $1,000.

• A deputy was called yesterday to the 100 block of Carter Lane outside Chehalis where someone had kicked in the entry door to a shop building. Nothing was missing, but the damage is about $200, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning that a 1997 Nissan pickup was stolen from the 200 block of Mandy Road near Toledo sometime on Saturday or Sunday. The 54-year-old owner described the vehicle as white with blue stripes and worth about $2,500, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A pickup truck belonging to the county and stolen from the the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds last month turned up yesterday abandoned on the 100 block of August Road in Cinebar. The Chevrolet S10 with a broken out back window was valued at $500, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Police were called to Cascade Elementary School in Chehalis yesterday after a teacher was notified a fourth grader had been showing around a possible marijuana pipe. That’s what it turned out to be and the item was confiscated, according to the Chehalis Police Department. There was nothing to indicate the child had used it; he said a ninth grader gave it to him, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said. It’s unlikely any criminal offense would be pursued, because of the boy’s young age, according to Wilson.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license; responses for dispute, protection order violation, suspicious circumstances, collisions on city streets misdemeanor theft such as mountain bikes stolen from a front porch  … and more.

News brief: Ritchie Brothers hit by rogue demo derby

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

The aftermath at Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

It appears as though someone snuck onto the Winlock area property of the world’s largest auctioneer of heavy equipment and held an unsanctioned demolition derby with four large trucks over the weekend.

The break-in was reported yesterday to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, who estimate more than $15,000 in damage to three of four 2010 International Cargo trucks.

Unknown suspects entered into the fenced yard and drove the trucks around the gravel lot, leaving them with side impact damage, according to the sheriff’s office.

“These are big yellow Penske rental trucks have been turned over to Ritchie Brothers,” Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

A bucket truck on the premises also sustained broken windows, possibly from a rock, according to Brown.

Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers is on the west side of Interstate 5 on the 200 block of Ritchie Lane.

The incident is believed to have occurred sometime after 10:15 a.m. on Saturday and before 9 a.m. yesterday.

One injured in Grand Mound house fire

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

The attached garage is consumed by flames, while the rest of the home is heavily damaged inside. / Courtesy photo by West Thurston Regional Fire Authority

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters called about a garage fire with an explosion in Grand Mound last night arrived to find a single-family home heavily involved in flames and a fallen power line arcing in the front yard.

“We just had to work around it, spraying water from a distance,” West Thurston Regional Fire Authority Chief Robert Scott said.

The one-story house is a total loss, Scott said.

Crews responding just after 9 p.m. to the scene at the 20900 block of Billie Mills Street Southwest, just east of Old 99, learned one male occupant with a burn injury had already gone or been taken to the hospital, according to Scott.

He was treated at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Scott said this morning, but no other details were yet available.

A total of 20 firefighters from five department battled the blaze defensively, according to Scott.

Numerous explosions from the garage area were found to be from propane tanks, cans of gasoline, large fireworks and small firearms, he said.

Nobody else was injured.

Scott said he wasn’t sure about how many people lived at the home, as he didn’t speak with them, an investigator did. The cause is not yet known, he said.

News brief: County to end outdoor burning restrictions

Monday, September 29th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Beginning at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, the outdoor burning restrictions for areas in unincorporated Lewis County will be lifted.

The Lewis County Board of Commissioners put a burn ban in place on July 12 out of concern about wildfire danger with hot and dry conditions, allowing only for recreational fires in approved receptacles or campfire sites.

The board has authority over areas in Lewis County that are outside any city limits and not part of any state or federal lands.

“After careful review, of the current and extended weather forecast, the Lewis County community development director, acting as the fire marshal, has determined that current weather conditions within Lewis County no longer pose a substantial fire threat,” Director Lee Napier’s office stated in a news release this morning.

The state Department of Natural Resources last week rescinded its statewide burn ban on all on DNR-protected forestlands.

For further information concerning outdoor burning, Napier can be contacted at (360) 740-1146.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Updated at 3:41 p.m.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a burglary to a home for sale north of Winlock in which the intruder is believed to hung around and watched television as well as feeding the victim’s cat but made off with an antique tea set, a brown curtain and a table cloth. The owner, a 56-year-old Olympia man, reported on Friday that the break-in at the 100 block of Quary Lane happened sometime between Sept. 19 and last Wednesday, according to the sheriff’s office. It appeared entry was made though a bathroom window, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The loss is estimated at $260, according to Brown.


• A 21-year-old Centralia man was arrested after a wheelchair was stolen from a front porch on the 1200 block of Alder Street. Centralia police took the report yesterday. Derrek J. Larson was subsequently arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for allegedly selling the wheelchair and also for possession of methamphetamine, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning that someone stole about $2,000 worth of guitars, amplifiers, speakers and other musical equipment in a residential burglary at the 100 block of Schoonover Road outside Mossyrock on Friday night. The victims are two men in their early 20s, and deputies have in a mind a person of interest, according to the sheriff’s office.


• Police were called about noon on Saturday to the 500 block of North Market Boulevard in Chehalis where money and half gallon bottles of liquor were missing from beneath the bar belonging to the American Legion group. The case is under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning they are referring for evaluation of charges a case in which a 23-year-old homeless man allegedly stole numerous items from a garage on the 100 block of Sheridan Street in Centralia between Sept. 15 and last Wednesday. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said deputies believe he took the skill saw, engine stand, paintball gun and tools to his sister’s house and the property was turned over to Centralia police. Still missing is a miter saw, according to Brown.


• Centralia police were called to the 200 block of North Buckner Street on Friday afternoon about an electronic tablet missing after a friend stayed at the house.

• Chehalis police were called about 9:30 a.m. on Friday to the 300 block of South Market Boulevard where a gas can was stolen from a maintenance shed.

• Morton police were called about 6:20 p.m. on Saturday to the 500 block of Main Avenue where someone broke into a shed and stole a child’s car seat.


• A green 1995 Honda Accord left about 6 o’clock on Saturday morning at the park and ride lot on the 800 block of West Main Street in Chehalis was reported missing about 2 p.m. the same day. It has a license plate of ADN 4763, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• A blue and white 199 Suzuki ATV was stolen sometime on Saturday or Sunday from an open shed on property on the 100 block of Rogers Road west of Toledo, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The value of the quad is $700, according to the sheriff’s office.


• A car was found with its door and trunk open at the Lewis County Mall about 11 a.m. Sunday. Nothing was missing, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Centralia police were called just after 1 p.m. on Saturday to the 600 block of South Cedar Street regarding a vehicle prowl in which a briefcase and flashlight were stolen.

• Someone stole a backpack from a vehicle parked at the 100 block of High Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police around 1:30 p.m. on Friday.


• Centralia police report a 22-year-old man with an outstanding warrant was tracked down by a police dog and found hiding in a home on Saturday afternoon. The approximately 4:10 p.m. incident in connection with a location at Mellen and Marsh streets ended with Raymond C. Rhodes booked into the Lewis County Jail for burglary and his warrant, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Tires were slashed, the vehicle was scratched with something sharp and someone painted graffiti on an outside wall at the 200 block of Jastad Drive in Morton, according to a report made to police on Saturday.


• Chehalis police were called on Saturday by an individual on North National Avenue who said they received a phone call asking them for money to prevent their power from getting shut off because their electric bill was overdue. It appeared to be a scam, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Deputies are looking for a 31-year-old Randle man who reportedly texted his ex-girlfriend on Friday night and told her to look out her front window where he was going to kill himself. He also told her not to let his children watch, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies dispatched to the area on the 9500 block of U.S. Highway 12 just before 10 p.m. did not find him and are still looking, according to the sheriff’s office. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office is referring the case to prosecutors for a violation of a protection order, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• An Adna couple was awakened by their fire alarm about 1:45 a.m. today, when a Cadet-type wall heater caught fire and filled an upstairs room with smoke. “Dad put it out with a fire extinguisher and she got everyone out,” Lewis County Fire District 6 Firefighter-Paramedic Matt McCoy said. Crews called to the home on the 100 block of Frogner Road found the parents and the two children were fine; firefighters used a thermal imaging camera to confirm all the fire was out, McCoy said. The damage was contained to the wall unit, he said.


• Chehalis police were called to the 1900 block of Snively Avenue about 5:15 p.m. on Saturday to take a report a vehicle had struck a house. There was damage to an exterior brick facade and into the drywall, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Evidence suggested someone had been driving recklessly, police said. Nobody was injured.

• A motorcyclist ended up with a broken leg after he lost control at the 1200 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia and struck a large rock and then the side of a house yesterday evening. Police called about 6:15 p.m. report the man was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, obstructing, trespassing, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, making a false statement, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, dispute, suspicious circumstances, collisions on city streets, wrecks on county roads; complaint of someone shooting arrows into some else’s yard, loud neighbor music, barking neighbor dog  … and more.

Chehalis defense lawyer will work to keep state marijuana regulators out of hot water

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Criminal defendants will find a new advocate by their side next week when they first appear before a judge.

Chehalis attorney Bob Schroeter has for the past six and half years worked for Lewis County as public defender for the day, representing individuals charged in Lewis County Superior Court and Lewis County District Court at their first hearing.

Last week, he informed county commissioners he’s taken a new job in Olympia, and recommended a replacement.

“You’ve got Bob and Jonathan Meyer both giving you glowing endorsements,” Lewis County Commissioner Bill Schulte told Joely O’Rourke when she was introduced to the board of commissioners.

O’Rourke, a deputy prosecutor for the county for a little over five years handling sex cases, worked in law enforcement for five years before that as a special agent for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, NCIS.

As a civilian, she worked counter-terrorism and also sex crimes she said.

She resigned her position on Sept. 19, planning to continue as a lawyer, but as a sole practitioner.

“I had probably got worn out with the sex cases,” O’Rourke said of much of the reason behind her move.

Schroeter’s contract with the county called for 60 days notice. O’Rourke will fill in for him until mid-November. She said she plans to apply for the position.

The job, which included public defender oversight, paid $8,000 per month. Schroeter’s last day is Tuesday.

He has taken a position with the Washington State Liquor Control Board as manger of public disclosure and risk management. He’ll be responsible to look at ways of doing business to avoid liability, he said.

It will be particularly interesting, in light of the agency’s new role of oversight of marijuana businesses, Schroeter said.

Fired sheriff’s deputy claims wrongful termination, again

Friday, September 26th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A former Lewis County sheriff’s deputy has filed a claim against the county alleging wrongful termination, discrimination, fraud, perjury, abuse of power and corruption among other issues including negligence and malpractice by his lawyer.

Douglas D. Lackey was fired in July 2007.

It’s not clear how much he is asking for monetarily, because that and almost all the other spaces in the standard tort claim form he submitted were left blank. Instead, he attached a five-page memo that mentions whistle-blower violations, mental and economic duress and states that he has lost track of the amount of damages the sheriff’s office has caused him.

“What amazes me is how successful they’ve been with lying and manipulating the courts,” Lackey writes. “The sheriff’s office, in my opinion, stole $360,000 from the taxpayers to defend this matter, predicated from the start on deceit.”

Lackey, 46 years old with a Vancouver, Wash. address, states in his memo he possesses documents to prove his case, records he says his attorney never produced to refute claims by the sheriff’s office administration.

He contends the administration lied repeatedly during his unemployment appeal hearing, during mediation and during arbitration.

Lewis County RIsk Manager Paulette Young said she has 60 days to either accept, deny or ignore the claim.

It was filed Sept. 15 and has been forwarded to Washington Counties Risk Pool for review, Young said earlier this week.

In his memo, Lackey describes his diagnosis of post traumatic stress syndrome after he was involved in an officer-involved shooting in March 2003 and states the diagnosis was ignored his superiors.

Following a high speed chase from Salkum to Onalaska, when the driver backed out of a ditch toward Lackey in an attempt to hit him, Lackey fired at him, striking him once in the upper left arm. The man survived.

Lackey’s memo describes a former best friend and supervisor from another law enforcement agency as harassing him endlessly after the incident and repeatedly characterizing the two as both “Natural Born Killers” since they were among the few in law enforcement to ever shoot someone.

He said he told the man it was causing him further stress and difficulty in dealing with the effects of his shooting.

Lackey states he reported the unwanted harassment to his supervisor because he didn’t know what else to do and didn’t want to be branded a rat, but was only advised to talk with a fellow deputy who’d also shot someone on the job.

The other deputy said the suggestion was ludicrous and told him he should seek counseling, Lackey wrote.

Lackey’s memo tells of repetitive nightmares, migraines, inability to sleep, starting to drink heavily, and how his continued complaints about the harassment were ignored and undocumented by his superiors.

“My agency repeatedly ignored my cry for help in dealing with him,” Lackey wrote.

The former deputy wrote about falling behind in his caseload, and of feeling haunted by a case involving torture and murder of two little boys, which he was pulled off of.

A document included with Lackey’s memo indicates the grounds for his termination were untruthfulness, though it doesn’t offer any detail.

Lackey appealed his firing to the Lewis County Civil Service Commission, a case that ended with an undisclosed agreement between the two sides in 2008.

In the spring of 2008, detectives with the Shelton Police Department reviewed Lackey’s files at the sheriff’s office before he was hired at a new job with them. But then after then-Prosecutor Michael Golden forwarded a Brady letter to the Mason County Prosecutor’s Office, Lackey was terminated from the new job.

The following year he filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court alleging the sheriff’s office breached its 2008 agreement with him.

Lackey indicates he believed the sheriff’s office agreed to delete any references of his untruthfulness from his personnel records, but in 2011, an arbitrator sided with the sheriff’s office, stating they only agreed to leave it out of his termination letter.

Lackey’s complaints about his private attorney aren’t anything the county is responsible for, according to Young. And the rest, Young suspects won’t see any action from her office.

The 60-day deadline will likely pass without the county neither accepting or denying Lackey’s claim, she said.

“We believe he’s already argued the claim in binding arbitration,” Young said.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Updated at 5:26 p.m.


• Centralia police were called to Rite Aid yesterday morning where an 84-year-old man had said he was sending money to someone so he could collect his winnings in the Oregon lottery. Officer Patty Finch said the Centralia resident was out $3,000. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 54-year-old Rochester man was arrested during the lunch hour yesterday after he was detained for reportedly throwing fruit and vegetables at the windows of Centralia City Hall on West Maple Street. Officer Patty Finch said she understood he had a box of tomatoes, eggs and flowers. Roy A. Dever was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree malicious mischief, according to police. Finch said he didn’t ‘t give an explanation, but said he hated police because they are killers and rapists.


• Centralia police took a report of a burglary at the 1300 block of Crescent Street yesterday in which a laptop computer and a tablet were taken. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A tablet was reported stolen yesterday from the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia.


• A 24-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for a warrant and possession of heroin after contact with an officer just after 2 o’clock this morning at Tower Avenue and Main Street in Centralia. Ryan L. Knutz was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• If the person who lost a decent amount of cash in Chehalis can tell police the specific amount and where they lost it, they can get it back. A woman found the money on the ground in the street and brought it to the Chehalis Police Department yesterday.


• Firefighters were called about 7:30 p.m. yesterday to an apartment complex on the 300 block of Southwest Third Street in Chehalis where folks could smell something burning in a unit where nobody answered the door. They forced the door open and found what had been a pot of corn on the cob boiling on the stove, according to Chehalis Fire Department. Nobody was home and it was very nearly turned to popcorn, Capt. Ted McCarty said. Firefighters removed the scorched pot from the stove and opened the windows, McCarty said.


Northwest Chehalis Avenue was shut down for about an hour yesterday afternoon when a truck snagged a wire, snapping off the top of a utility pole. Wires were pulled down and hanging dangerously low to the street, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. Nobody was hurt.


• A pedestrian in his 40s suffered minor injuries when he was struck by a van at Harrison and First Avenue in Centralia yesterday afternoon. It was a fairly low-speed incident, but the patient was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to Riverside Fire Authority.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, trespassing, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, misdemeanor  theft, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, little dog with green coat on running through the streets … and more.

Deputy and suspect fought through tangle of Taser wires

Friday, September 26th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The homeless man whose campfire is believed to have ignited a small brush fire in Onalaska earlier this month remains held in the Lewis County Jail as his lawyer seeks out a psychologist to evaluate him.

Luke U. Hall, 32, was the subject of a manhunt for several hours after the morning-time incident on Sept. 5 near Middle Fork Road and Centralia-Alpha Road.

He allegedly stepped out from behind his camping area and pointed a pretend handgun at the land owner who arrived after learning his property was on fire.

And when a sheriff’s detective caught up with shaggy-haired suspect walking along Leonard Road and deployed his Taser, Hall reportedly pulled the detective to the ground and began punching him in the face.

As Hall and detective Dan Riordan fought and wrestled on the ground, both were getting shocked by the stun gun because the wires had wrapped around their heads, according to prosecutors.

“Once they both were standing, the defendant ripped detective Riordan’s exterior bullet resistant vest off and continued to strike him,” Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer wrote in charging documents.

Riordan was able to pull Hall’s jacket up over Hall’s head and gain some distance from him until help arrived, according to Meyer.

This isn’t a typical third-degree assault, with someone spitting on an officer, Meyer said.

“But for other deputies showing up, Mr. Hall may not be with us any longer,” Meyer said.

Hall has an extensive assaultive history, including three prior convictions for third-degree assault, according to the prosecutor’s office. He was only released from custody in June.

Two years ago, he was arrested after neighbors called for help, saying the he was trying to crash his Jeep into their house after yelling at them for hours. His mother at the time told authorities he shouldn’t be released without treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues, according to court documents.

Defense attorney Bob Schroeter told a judge Hall has significant physical and mental health issues.

Hall’s court-appointed attorney Jacob Clark yesterday said he needs to have an expert evaluate his client, to determine if he was delusional at the time of the events earlier this month.

Clark and Hall appeared before a judge yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court for a review hearing, and will return next Thursday for another.

Hall was arrested the afternoon of Sept. 5 for reckless burning, felony harassment, third-degree assault, resisting arrest and trespassing. Prosecutors then filed charges instead for second-degree arson, felony harassment and third-degree assault.

The fire burned an area of about 40 feet by 40 feet on property previously logged and then replanted with young trees.

Prosecutor Meyer said the information in the affidavit of probable cause that supported the arson charge was that Hall was seen in the area of where the fire started. The remains of a tent were found at the scene.

Hall has pleaded not guilty. His bail is set at $50,000. His trial is currently scheduled for the week of Oct. 27.

Human remains found on TransAlta property belong to Spanaway teen

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Updated at 2:15 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The skeletal remains found earlier this year off Little Hanaford Road outside Centralia have been identified as an 18-year-old Spanaway man reported missing more than two years ago.

A DNA match was confirmed yesterday, using family reference samples of Christopher D. Virdell, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Virdell was reported missing by family members in February 2012 to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, according to the sheriff’s office.


Christopher D. Virdell

Pierce County has had an ongoing investigation into the young man’s disappearance and is now working closely with Lewis County detectives to determine what led to his death, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said in a news release.

Brown declined to speak about Virdell’s cause of death, saying Pierce County is the lead in the investigation.

The partial remains were found the evening of Feb. 28 by a resident in the area out walking his dog. The sheriff’s office said at the time they believed they had been dumped there.

The (Tacoma) News Tribune reports Pierce County detectives believe Virdell was killed and have interviewed more than 100 people in the case but have not released a motive.

According to Crime Stoppers of Tacoma and Pierce County, Virdell was last seen at 10 a.m. on February 9th, 2012, as he left a friend’s residence on 223rd Street East in Spanaway to catch a bus to work. He was reported missing later that night after he failed to show up to work or home.

The property near the 2800 block of Little Hanaford Road is wooded, close to the roadway, and owned by Trans Alta, according to the sheriff’s office.

The remains were sent to King County to be examined by a forensic pathologist who has expertise with skeletal human remains. The identification through DNA was made by the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification and reported to detectives yesterday.

Further dental testing will be conducted, but it is strongly believed the remains are those of Virdell, Brown indicated.

The news prompted a conversation at the sheriff’s office about another unsolved case, the still unidentified remains of a female found near Morton in the spring of 2011.

A motorist who pulled off U.S. Highway 12 to take a break spotted the remains off the side of a logging road on April 7. The sheriff’s office has said they suspect foul play, but they still don’t know who the victim is.

Dental records and DNA have been entered into databases with no matches found. An examination by the specialist at the King County Medical Examiner’s Office could not determine the cause of death.

The woman is believed to have been between 20 and 35 years old when she died, small in stature and possibly of mixed ethnicity.

“We’ve done everything we can,” Brown said. “We’re still hoping someone will step forward to report their loved one missing.”


For background, read “Breaking news: Human remains found on TransAlta property” from Saturday March 1, 2014, here

Police: Morton woman punches neighbor, steals toys

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 48-year-old Morton woman was arrested for robbery after a confrontation when she was caught allegedly stealing toys from a neighbor’s front yard, but not before a low-speed pursuit involving three law enforcement agencies that ended with her car in a ditch.

Deputies called about 9:50 a.m. to the 700 block of Davis Lake Road were told Julie A. Erickson pulled into her neighbor’s driveway and began loading the items into her vehicle, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

When the woman who lives there and her friend asked Erickson what she was doing and pulled a tricycle from the trunk, Erickson allegedly shoved one of them and punched the other in the face, according to the sheriff’s office.

Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said Erickson tried slapping her several times before the woman could get away

Brown said Erickson then got into her car and drove off with a wagon and unspecified other children’s toys.

Law enforcement spotted her vehicle fairly quickly but Erickson wouldn’t pull over, continuing for several miles along state Route 508, Brown states in a news release.

A spike strip set up at Cinebar Road punctured one of her tires, but Erickson continued to drive on its rim until finally stopping in a ditch near Centralia-Alpha Road, according to Brown.

Brown states Erickson spoke nonsensically and had no explanation for her behavior or the theft.  They don’t believe alcohol was a factor, according to Brown.

Erickson was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree robbery and attempting to elude.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Updated at 12:40 p.m.


• A 22-year-old Winlock man was arrested about 9:30 a.m. yesterday at the 400 block of Sears Road in Winlock in connection with an ongoing investigation in which he allegedly had sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports the two considered themselves in a dating relationship and Michael A. Ryan Jr. was arrested for three counts of third-degree rape of a child for instances occurring between August and December of last year. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A 30-year-old Centralia man was arrested yesterday evening following allegations he touched the private parts of a 6-year-old female friend of the family. Allen A. Clark was contacted about 6 p.m. in connection with an incident that allegedly took place previously at Newaukum Golf Drive in Chehalis and arrested for first-degree child molestation, according to the  Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. However, he is to be released with no criminal  charges filed pending further investigation.


• Police took a report last night about the theft of medication from the 900 block of F Street in Centralia.


• Police were called to the 900 block of South Schueber Road about 12:10 p.m. yesterday about the theft of money while the victim was in the hospital. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 34-year-old Centralia resident on a bicycle who last night reportedly tried to evade an officer attempting to stop him and warn him about not having lights was arrested for obstructing a public servant. Levi P. Hart was cited and then released, after contact with police about 10:50 p.m. at the 1000 block of Harrison Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A call yesterday morning about a woman chanting and throwing rocks at passing motorists along the 9000 block of U.S. Highway 12 ended with a warrant arrest for the agitated suspect at the Gas Plus in Morton, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. As a deputy arrived about 10:30 a.m., the woman had just boarded a bus and when it stopped in Morton and she was contacted, the deputy learned she was wanted by Chehalis police in connection with a previous disorderly person case, according to the sheriff’s office. Thirty-six-year-old Heather Villalba of Mossyrock was booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• Chehalis police were called about 3:20 p.m. yesterday to the parking lot at Yard Birds Mall to a report one dog attacked another dog inside a vehicle. Detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said he didn’t have all the details yet, but believed it involved a Healer and a Dachshund and understood it was fairly horrific. The smaller dog was taken to a veterinarian severely injured, he said. The pets both belong to the same man who was inside Yard Birds, he said. The animal control officer is investigating.


• Firefighters were called about 7 p.m. yesterday to a barn fire near the 200 block of Cousins Road west of Chehalis. There was a little bit of fire inside the structure that had begun working its way up a wall but the owner had put it out with a garden hose before the crew arrived, according to Lewis County Fire District 6.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for dispute, shoplifting, collision on city street, suspicious person … and more.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014


• A 75-year-old man called Chehalis police yesterday to report someone had stolen his license plates after he got a call from the Seattle Police Department telling him his van was used in a robbery. The man took a look at his vehicle and realized neither the front or back plates he saw were his, according to the Chehalis Police Department. He suspects it could have happened while the van was at property he owns on the 1100 block of North National Avenue, according to police. His van wasn’t involved in the robbery, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.


• Centralia police were called about 3:15 a.m. today to the 500 block of East Magnolia Street about the theft of a computer from a residence.  The case is under investigation.


• Chehalis police were called about 11 a.m. yesterday about a wallet taken from a vehicle while parked at the McDonald’s at Airport Depot on the 1400 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue.


• A Centralia police officer took a report about 6:40 p.m. yesterday of a window at a local business shattered by an unknown suspect on the 600 block of North Tower Avenue.


• Chehalis police were called at 3:05 p.m. yesterday about a missing 5-year-old boy from Cascade Elementary School who didn’t get off his school bus. Officers searched the area and by about 4:20 p.m. the child was located at Southeast Sixth Street and Washington Avenue, according to the Chehalis Police Department. An officer took him back to the school where he was reunited with his mother, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.


• Two people were transported to Morton General Hospital after a wreck yesterday evening on U.S. Highway 12 near at the east end of Savio Road near Randle. Lewis County Fire District 18 Chief Ed Lowe said they assisted District 14 with the approximately 7 p.m. call. Firefighters had to extricate the occupants by cutting the truck, which was hauling a car trailer, Lowe said. “I don’t know what caused it, it was in the ditch with the truck on its side,” Lowe said.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor  theft, violation of protection order, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, disputes, suspicious person … and more.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Updated at 6:13 p.m.


• A 59-year-old Chehalis-area man will be issued a citation after five dogs reportedly ran from his yard and surrounded a passerby, barking and growling at her. The 28-year-old woman was bit in the calf by one of the dogs, in the Friday afternoon incident along the 100 block of Hillcrest Road south of Chehalis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The dog’s owner was just cited in July for the same offense, prohibited activities by dogs, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Chehalis police were called about 3:45 p.m. on Friday to the 300 block of James Street where a dog attacked and killed another dog. The family had brought home a pit bull that was otherwise friendly, but  took a dislike to the smaller canine that already lived there, according to the Chehalis Police Department. An animal control officer removed both animals at the request of the owners, according to police.

• On Saturday morning, a deputy was called to the 200 block of Klein Road south of Chehalis after four to five black pit bulls came to a woman’s yard, growled at her and then attacked her dog who ran out to defend her. She was able to chase them off and rescue her dog, but it sustained multiple cuts and a broken leg, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The 62-year-old owner will be issued a citation, according to the sheriff’s office.


• A Randle residence on the 9000 block of U.S. Highway 12 was burglarized sometime between 6 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday. Someone came through an open window in the home that being renovated and stole a horse collar, a can of paint, a small antique clock and a figurine of a man playing a fiddle, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Conrad J. Perry, 31, was arrested this morning after police were called about a man asleep behind the wheel parked at a fuel pump at the 600 block of West Main Street in Chehalis. An arriving officer noted a pipe on the center console, which tested positive for methamphetamine, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Perry was awakened and then booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession, police said.


• A 48-year-old man from California was arrested for trespassing after a 911 call from a train heading into Chehalis, saying a man with a duffel bag was traveling on one of its engines around 12:15 a.m. yesterday. The train stopped at West Street and a man walking away was contacted, according to police. Cristopher S. Hazen was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• A 68-year-old woman was arrested on Saturday after a deputy was dispatched to the 100 block of Paradise Drive in Ashford about a trespasser. Virginia V. Creim said she used to own the property and was waiting for its new owner to arrive to see if she could buy it back, but a deputy contacted the 53-year-old Tacoma man who owns it and he said he wanted her off his property and wanted to pursue charges,  according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Creim, who is described by the sheriff’s office as transient, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree trespassing as well as a warrant for failing to appear in court for a previous trespass case, according to Chief Ciivl Deputy Stacy Brown.


• Chehalis police took a report about 11:30 a.m. on Saturday of stereo equipment stolen from a vehicle parked at the Twin City Town  Center on the 1400 block of Louisiana Avenue.

• Centralia police were called to a vehicle prowl about 1 p.m. on Saturday at the 2500 block of Mount Vista Road where someone had smashed the window and stole a purse.

• An officer took a report that someone got into a car parked at a business at the 200 block of Williams Street in Mossyrock  and stole a Kindle, a CD holder and prescription medication, last Monday morning, according to the Morton Police Department.


• Someone slashed a tire on a vehicle at the 200 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 11 a.m. yesterday.


• Local firefighters spent a few hours on Saturday shuttling water for personnel from the Department of Natural Resources as they extinguished a brush fire in Winlock that may have been smoldering for a couple of days before it was found. Firefighters were called just before 4 p.m. on Saturday to the 100 block of Brady Lane after a neighbor that smelled smoke went out to investigate, according to Lewis County Fire District 15. Firefighter Patrick Jacobson said it it was an area of about 100 feet by 100 feet beyond the yard behind a house, a place that looked like it had been cleared of brush. It was not a very active fire, but a lot of smoldering Jacobson said. The property owners were away, he said.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, trespass, obstruction, shoplifting, probation violation,  misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for disputes, collisions on city street, collisions on county roads … and more.

News brief: Firefighting efforts in forest outside Pe Ell winding down

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Authorities reported yesterday morning the timberland fire southwest of Pe Ell is entirely contained.

More than 200 firefighters battled the blaze about five miles outside of town that began Sept. 11 in an active logging area, on property owned by Rayonier.

A dozen individuals expect to be out there a few more days continuing to mop up, according to Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Jay Guthrie.

Guthrie said there is no fire activity within 200 feet of the edge. One hundred twenty-six acres of so-called slash, recently harvested timber and standing timber burned.

Some logging is expected to clear areas so crews can access remaining hot spots, according to Guthrie. It is unlikely after this point that any smoke will be visible from Pe Ell and surrounding communities, he said.

The property is in Pacific County, at the Lewis County line. The command center was set up at the Falls Creek Retreat Center about 10 miles west of Pe Ell.

The cause is under investigation.

News brief: Chehalis lawyer given lifetime service award from state peers

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Washington State Bar Association has posthumously honored Chehalis attorney James A. Vander Stoep with its 2014 Lifetime Service Award, in recognition of his 53-year career of service to the legal community.

Vander Stoep’s highest priorities were reflected by his ongoing dedicated service to family, his profession and his community, WSBA Governor Brian J. Kelly said in a prepared statement shared with the news media yesterday.

“Jim’s accomplishments to our profession were made as a small-town lawyer.” Kelly stated. “His time was a valued commodity, but he unselfishly shared it with us. Jim exemplified service above self through his life.”

The award was presented to his wife Suzi Vander Stoep at the group’s annual awards dinner on Thursday night at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel.

Vander Stoep began practicing law in Chehalis in 1950, when only one judge worked in the county courthouse on Main Street in Chehalis, and fewer than 20 lawyers practiced in the Twin Cities. He retired in 2003 from the firm Vander Stoep, Remund, Kelly & Blinks.

During a career that spanned five decades, he also chaired the committee to bring a public swimming pool to Chehalis and co- founded the Chehalis Little League.

According to the WSBA, Vander Stoep was a former WSBA president and Board of Governors member, a former Lewis County Bar Association president, a life member of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, and a member and former state chair of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

His longtime law partner Rene Remund offered formal praise as well.

“Jim was a person who was fierce in the courtroom and courteous outside it,” Remund stated. “His practice of law was based on competence civility, and honesty. He was a credit to his profession and a contributor to his community.”

The WSBA is authorized by the Washington Supreme Court to license the state’s lawyers and other legal professionals, regulating them under the court and acting as a professional association for its members.