Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

New sheriff to focus on professionalism for his office

Friday, January 23rd, 2015
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Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza is backed up by his appointed leadership team as he addresses his employees.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

NAPAVINE – Newly elected Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza took the stage yesterday in front of his employees offering some insights into his priorities over the next four years.

With a new sheriff comes a new motto, vision and mission, he told them.

The motto: “Public safety through professional service.”

“What it really means, it’s what we’ve been doing,” Snaza said.

The 49-year-old Napavine area resident and longtime member of the sheriff’s office introduced his chosen undersheriff, Wes Rethwill, who retired as a captain from the Washington State Patrol to join Snaza’s team. Snaza described Undersheriff Rethwill as someone with a ton of experience he’s known many years.

“About three and a half years ago, we met and talked about this,” Snaza said. “He’s an incredible individual, and he took a chance on me.”

Rethwill told the assembled group he was very excited and proud to get back to his roots, noting that in the early days of his career, he worked as a reserve sheriff’s deputy.

“My job is to get you folks the tools you need, so you can better serve the citizens of the county,” Rethwill said.

The afternoon gathering took place in the expansive sanctuary of Bethel Church of the Assemblies of God in Napavine, as previous sheriff’s office annual meetings have been. While the parking lot was filled with patrol vehicles, a half dozen state troopers were covering the roads for the deputies.

“I could not be here today without all of you,” Snaza said.

He spoke of less segregation between the operations side and the corrections side of the office. He spoke of upcoming leadership training for the newest employee all the way up to the top.

Joining him on the stage for most of the program was his chosen command staff.

Along with Rethwill, were newly appointed Field Operations Chief Bruce Kimsey, continuing Corrections Chief Kevin Hanson, continuing Special Services Chief Stacy Brown, continuing Director of Property Management Isabelle Williams, newly appointed Field Operations Commander Dusty Breen and Corrections Captain Jim Pea. Longtime Administrative Assistant Sherri Guenther is part of Snaza’s leadership team as well.

In the audience were two of former Sheriff Steve Mansfield’s command staff, Cmdr. Steve Aust who is now the detective sergeant and former Chief Criminal Deputy Gene Seiber who will work as a detective.

Sheriff Snaza plans for deputies to work more closely with school children, implementing an Adopt-a-School program.

“I made a commitment during my campaign to our youth,” he said.

He spoke of how they can help the young people of the county see how the sheriff’s office is important to them.

Much of the afternoon was spent on the sheriff and the undersheriff handing out the numerous annual awards to employees and also two citizens. Among them, he gave Guardian Awards to two individuals.

“These are my awards,” Snaza said.

To Corrections Officer Kevin Dickey, for “(G)oing out there everyday and fighting the good fight for all of us, through drug court.”

To Detective Duke Adkisson, and his commitment to the community: “He will find you, hunt you down and take you to jail,” he said.

The others follow:

Employee of the Year
• Corrections Bureau: Corrections Officer Bill Wood
• Corrections Bureau Support Staff: Support Technician Noel Sharp
• Field Operations Bureau: Deputy Curt Spahn
• Special Services Bureau: Support Technician II Robin Merchant

Top Performer
• Corrections Bureau: Corrections Officer Stan Langland
• Field Operations Bureau: Deputy Gabe Frase

A Sheriff’s Unit Commendation was awarded to the Corrections Field Training Officer Team:
• Sergeant Joyce McCoy
• Sergeant Ricky Claxton
• Corrections Officer Sean Heppe
• Corrections Officer Tawnya Scharber
• Corrections Officer Gary Allen
• Corrections Officer Andrea Lowe
• Corrections Officer Tifanie Reynolds
• Corrections Officer Seth Sharp
• Administrative Assistant Carrie Breen

Citizen Service Medal
• Community members Clifford and Christine Clark were both recognized for generosity in donating over $10,000 to the Shop with a Cop Program.
• Darris McDaniel of Shop n Kart received this for the generosity of his ongoing donations to the Lewis County Memorial Fund, Shop with a Cop, and Lewis County Youth Scholarship Fund.

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Employees of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office line up for professional group photo.

News brief: Weed woes

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – He said it wasn’t his and even though it was discovered inside his vehicle after impound, troopers were unable to make a clear enough connection to arrest the 24-year-old Tacoma man for possession of marijuana.

So they didn’t.

Zequane J. King was stopped early last week in Lewis County and was found to be driving with a suspended license, so he was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Washington State Patrol. Trooper Will Finn said a subsequent search of the vehicle turned up roughly one and a half ounces of marijuana.

2015.0123.mj_.photo_.jpgKing was adamant it didn’t belong to him, according to Finn.

Under the new law, it’s lawful for a person 21 or older to have up to one ounce.

Since troopers couldn’t establish ownership, the marijuana was put into safekeeping, the same way the state patrol would for a purse or other valuables from any impounded car, according to Finn.

Yesterday however, King arranged to meet up with the state patrol evidence custodian at the office in Chehalis, to retrieve his property, Finn said.

“He explained to the custodian he was calling to make arrangements to get possession of his marijuana that had been placed into safe keeping,” Finn said in a news release.

Once King signed paperwork stating the marijuana was his and took possession of it, he was arrested once again, this time for possessing a felony amount of marijuana, Finn said.

He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

This time, the marijuana was placed in to the state patrol’s evidence system as evidence, according to Finn.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

VEHICLE THEFT CHEHALIS

• Chehalis police took a report yesterday afternoon from an individual who left his vehicle parked at the 300 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue and subsequently discovered it was stolen. Missing is a silver 1998 Nissan pickup truck, according to the Chehalis Police Department. It has a license plate of B29186Z, according to police.

ATTEMPTED BREAK-IN CHEHALIS

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports it is investigating an attempted burglary at a golf shop at the 100 block of Newaukum Golf Drive in Chehalis in which someone broke a window, to an upstairs office. Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said someone had pushed a golf cart from under the porch cover and climbed on it to gain access to the roof, where they broke the window and removed it from its frame. It happened  at 4:11 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Brown. Nothing appears missing, she said.

TRESPASSING INTO TRAILER

• Police were called about 1 p.m. yesterday to the 300 block of Southwest James Street in Chehalis where someone who didn’t belong there was seen exiting a travel trailer. It’s not clear if anything is missing and appear as though someone was maybe trying to stay out of the weather, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

THEFT CENTRALIA

• An officer was called to the 900 block of Harrison Avenue about 8 p.m. yesterday where someone had stolen a security camera from the outside of a building.

• Centralia police took a report about 8:30 p.m. yesterday regarding a GPS unit stolen from a vehicle on the 1000 block of South Gold Street.

VANDALISM

• Graffiti was discovered on a fence on the 600 block of East Locust Street in Centralia yesterday and also on a garage on the 400 block of North Iron Street, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CHIMNEY FIRE

• Chehalis firefighters were called to a chimney fire about 5:10 p.m. yesterday on the 300 block of Ninth Street. The homeowner had shut the door on the fireplace insert and it was out when the crew arrived, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. “A reminder to make sure your chimneys are clean, that was the issue here, a buildup of creosote,” Fire Capt. Kevin Curfman said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, violation of no contact order, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for misdemeanor assault, suspicious circumstances, shoplifting and other misdemeanor theft, suspicious injury to a child … and more.

Police: Jealous woman stabs self, blames Centralia man

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 30-year-old woman who allegedly stabbed herself and blamed it on a Centralia man remains free on $10,000 unsecured bond following an appearance yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court.

Amy D. Moore is charged with malicious prosecution and also felony harassment for events that took place in mid-November. The case was filed Jan. 2 and she was summonsed to court.

Charging documents state Centralia police interviewed Moore at an Olympia hospital where she told them Michel Dobbs stabbed her three times in the chest, with one of the wounds puncturing a lung.

“She told police she would be handling the situation herself and had been in contact with several people, including Robbie Russell,” the documents state. Officers made it clear they would continue to investigate however, the documents state.

Police arrested Dobbs, and he told them Moore became enraged after showing up at his home and finding him in bed with another female, and that she grabbed two or three steak knives and began cutting her own hair and stabbed herself, according to the allegations.

Charging documents state Dobbs provided police with the hair she cut off as well as Facebook messages between the two in which she admitted the wounds were self-inflicted.

Moore told police the argument was over a letter she sent her father.

Court documents say the following day, Dobbs found a note written on a piece of wood on his doorstep that he was going to die, and that a female named Tammy Twidwell began receiving threatening text messages.

Defense attorney Joely O’Rourke noted to the judge yesterday afternoon her client was student at South Puget Sound College and not working, so she qualified for a court appointed attorney.

Moore has a Tumwater address.

During the hearing, Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt indicated Moore could not have any contact with the complaining witnesses.

O’Rourke requested they be allowed to have contact because they planned to be married next week.

Judge Hunt said no. A man who had been sitting next to Moore in court got up and left.

Moore was ordered to undergo administrative booking at the jail. Her arraignment is scheduled for next Thursday.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Updated at 8:29 p.m.

MEN POSING AS CITY WORKERS TRY TO TRICK BANK

• Chehalis police responded the the Washington State Employees Credit Union on Northeast Kresky Avenue about 3 p.m. yesterday after two males showed up and said they were with the city and wanted to look at the building’s plumbing and electrical. Police were told the men didn’t have city identification, but did have driver’s licenses from out of state, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Officers viewed photos of the suspects and tried to locate a vehicle, but to no avail, according to police. Turns out it was like a “secret shopper” situation organized by the bank, and through a glitch, the branch wasn’t notified as they should have been, according to department spokesperson Linda Bailey. Police learned this morning it was a training exercise they do with their branches, Bailey said.

MISSING DOLLY

• The Texaco on the 100 block of U.S. Highway 12 east of Napavine is missing a 2002 U-Haul International car dolly valued at $1,500, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning. The last time it was known to be in the business’s inventory was on Dec. 22 and is believed to have been returned by a customer sometime between then and Tuesday and parked in front of the store next to the highway, according to the sheriff’s office.

DON’T SHOOT THAT GUN

• Chehalis police were called to the 300 block of Southwest Pacific Avenue yesterday about a missing black powder rifle. It disappeared the night before sometime between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and may have just been borrowed, but its owner is concerned if anyone tries to use it they could be hurt because it has a crack in the barrel, according to the Chehalis Police Department. It was described as silver colored with a wooden stock, according to police.

POSTAL THEFT

• Someone broke into a mailbox overnight at the 1100 block of Kresky Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday morning.

GRAFFITI

• Centralia police were called about 8:15 a.m. yesterday about the tagging of an apartment building on the 400 block of North Ash Street.

CAR PROWL

• Chehalis police yesterday took reports of three more vehicles with their windows smashed out and/or prowled along the 400 blocks of Northeast Adams and Southwest William avenues.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• An arraignment is set for next Thursday for a 21-year-old Centralia man charged with second-degree robbery who allegedly took cash from his girlfriend and threatened to punch her when she tried to get it back on Monday. Nevarone N. Rubin was arrested on Monday following the incident in Centralia and charged Tuesday in Lewis County Superior Court. Charging documents state the girl’s father left her $260 cash and when Rubin showed up, he grabbed it from a table, and the two struggled for a brief moment. A judge set his bail at $10,000. He qualified for a court-appointed attorney.

• A 33-year-old Winlock man remains held on $50,000 bail following his arrest on Monday for an incident in early November in which and another man allegedly barged into an acquaintance’s residence in Toledo demanding valuables. Kyle E. Rogers was brought before a judge yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court where he is charged with second-degree robbery. Charging documents allege a visitor answered the door and two men wearing bandanas burst in; one named “Nick” threatened them with a beer bottle and Rogers punched the resident in the face. The men reportedly took three computers and fled. Charges were filed on Dec. 30 and an arrest warrant issued when Rogers’ whereabouts were unknown, according to court documents. A Lewis County deputy prosecutor recommended to the judge yesterday afternoon the bail be left at $50,000, given that Roger’s history included two assaults, eluding, witness tampering plus juvenile offense. The judge agreed. His arraignment was set for today.

DUI WRECK

• A 35-year-old Packwood woman was arrested overnight for driving under the influence after she reportedly ran a stop sign and struck a utility pole on the 100 block of Timberline Drive in Packwood. Deputies responding about 12:20 a.m. booked Dawnette M. Wicks into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants; responses for dispute, disorderly person, misdemeanor assault, suspicious circumstances, lost or stolen license plate, collision on county road, landlord finding more than 100 syringes laying around a residence after evicting a tenant … and more.

Telephone bandit strikes twice in Chehalis

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – They didn’t sneak in to burglarize her home while she was away, or hack into her bank accounts through the internet, but someone managed to bilk an 81-year-old Chehalis woman out of thousands of dollars.

Twice, in less than two months.

In December, she lost about $23,000, after receiving a phone call telling her she was the winner of a $2.5 million lottery and a new car. She was told she needed to pay for taxes and the vehicle registration and sent money to individuals in other states.

When Chehalis police learned of the theft, they weren’t optimistic about recovering any of it.

The scam, using old fashioned technology like a telephone and the U.S. mail worked out well for the unknown thieves, but very bad for the elderly victim.

On Friday, an officer was called to the same woman’s home again, and learned she was tricked out of another nearly $15,000.

It was clearly the same people, according to Officer Steve Nikander. At first she said no, but they convinced her they could get her money back, Nikander said.

“All she had to do is send more money, that she did win the car and the lottery,” he said. “The exact same thing, two months in a row, and she believed them.”

“It’s horrible, it’s sad,” he said.

Nikander said the victim lives with her grown daughter, who works and goes to school.

“She’s elderly, she’s alone a lot,” he said. “I think she’s just a very trusting lady.”

Some of the details are unclear, as she was embarrassed, and not very forthcoming because of that, he said.

She apparently increased the limit on her credit cards and got cash advances.

The first time, she sent money orders, but her daughter had seen one and asked about it, Nikander said.

So this time, they told her to buy a greeting card and tuck the cash inside, he said. She did.

She mailed money to addresses in California, Ohio and Massachusetts, he said.

He speculated how someone might use fake identification to rent a private mailbox for a month, and once their scam is finished, just walk away.

Solvability with such schemes is difficult at best, Chehalis Police Department detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.

Detectives would need to confirm the identify of the thief before sending a police agency in another state to try to track them down, he said. These are the kind people who don’t use their real names, according to Wilson.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has had at least two similar thefts just this month. One was someone pretending to be a grandson who needed emergency money, and the other was someone telling an 83-year-old Winlock woman she had won a new vehicle.

Nikander sat down with the Chehalis victim and her grown daughter and talked about options, the tough kind of conversation about powers of attorney, maybe counseling, maybe a visit to her doctor, he said.

He took a report for informational purposes, and what can be done beyond that, he didn’t know.

There are literally millions of dollars a day lost in phone scams, he said.

“The best offense is education, to not let it happen in the first place,” he said.

His advice for anyone and everyone with elderly family members is to make sure to school them about a basic fact of life.

“If you have to send money to win, it’s a scam,” he said.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Updated at 7:26 p.m.

DEER CROSSING

• A 36-year-old man from Napavine wrecked his car when he swerved to miss a deer, struck a concrete bridge rail, and spun off the roadway into a barbed wire fence yesterday morning west of Chehalis. A deputy responding to the approximately 11:30 a.m. incident on the 200 block of Twin Oaks Road found the driver was uninjured but his 2003 Buick Century sustained major damage, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

THEFT

• Centralia police were called about 10:45 .m. yesterday regarding the theft of a license plate from the 700 block of East Main Street.

CAR PROWL

• An officer was called about 7:10 a.m. today about a vehicle prowl on Northeast Adams Avenue in Chehalis in which a window was broken out.

• Someone broke a window out of a vehicle on Southwest Third Street in Chehalis, according to a report made to police about 7:20 a.m. today.

• Chehalis police were called about 12:30 p.m. yesterday regarding a vehicle prowl on West Main Street.

VANDALISM

• Police were called about 8:10 p.m. yesterday to the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia where someone had damaged the back door on a business.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarms, protection order violation, suspicious circumstances, misdemeanor theft, collision on city street, collision on county road … and more.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

SHERIFF’S OFFICE: ANGRY HUSBAND CHOKES NEW BRIDE

• A 22-year-old Centralia husband was arrested on Sunday for allegedly assaulting his bride of just six weeks, allegedly punching her in the arms several times when she tried to stop him from damaging her vehicle and then choking her until she could not breath while threatening to kill her. Deputies contacted the 19-year-old Centralia woman and found dents in her vehicle, several bruises on her biceps and a red mark on her neck, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He was upset for an unspecified reason, according to the sheriff’s office. Aaron C. Ferner was located walking down down the Harrison Avenue near Main Street and booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree assault and felony harassment, Chief Stacy Brown said.

POLICE: BOYFRIEND TAKES MONEY

• A 21-year-old Centralia man who allegedly took an unspecified amount of money from his girlfriend and threatened her with violence to keep it was arrested yesterday for second-degree robbery. Centralia police say Nevarone N. Rubin was booked into the Lewis County Jail following the incident at Tower Avenue and Locusts Street about 7 p.m.

AUTO THEFT

• A 2007 Chevrolet Silverado crew cab was stolen from the 100 block of First Avenue in Randle sometime between 9 p.m. on Thursday and 6:30 a.m. the following day. The victim said it was unlocked and the keys left in the middle console but when it turned up early Saturday morning abandoned in Glenoma, it appeared the ignition had been “punched,” according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Two front tires on the $30,000 vehicle were flat as well, according to the sheriff’s office.

CAR PROWL

• Chehalis police were called at 10 a.m. on Saturday regarding a vehicle prowl on the 500 block of Northeast Jefferson Avenue. The door and glove box were found open and missing were the registration and proof of insurance, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 24-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and third-degree theft in connection with an approximately 8:30 p.m. incident last night at the 500 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia. Nicolas J. George was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DUI WITH KIDS IN CAR

• A 42-year-old father was arrested yesterday evening in Centralia for reckless endangerment when he was contacted for allegedly driving under the influence about 7:25 p.m. at the 600 block of Harrison Avenue. John T. Lafon, from Puyallup, had his two young children in the vehicle with him, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

DUI WRECK

• A 30-year-old Packwood man was arrested for driving under the influence after a deputy was called to a collision about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at the 500 block of Cannon Road in Packwood. Christopher L. Bassell was eastbound when he failed to negotiate a curve, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Bassell was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, trespass, shoplifting, hit and run, reckless endangerment, domestic misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dog bite, disorderly person, suspicious circumstances, possible child abuse, possible assault of juvenile, shoplifting and other misdemeanor theft, collision on city street, collision on county road, collision in high school parking lot  … and more.

Summertime heroin case proceeds for two defendants

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Phillip A. Pinotti and Zachary J. Maurer have both pleaded not guilty to their drug charge filed earlier this month in connection with an alleged incident last summer.

Pinotti, 22, of Adna, has been in and out of jail and courtrooms since his high profile escape from an attempted misdemeanor arrest at Centralia Municipal Court in December that drew gunfire from an officer.

One of the allegations in that case is when he left his car with two friends, before going into hiding, he grabbed a backpack and another bag, saying he didn’t want to leave his drugs in the car.

While free on bail, he allegedly sold heroin to a person working with police and was charged on Jan. 9 with delivery of a controlled substance, and possession of the same.

Prosecutors the same day also filed charges against he and Maurer of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver based on an incident in August with Centralia police.

According to charging documents, Centralia police had him and Maurer under surveillance as they went to Longview to purchase heroin, and subsequently impounded the vehicle and found heroin, a digital scale and smoking devices. The documents make no mention of either man getting arrested.

Pinotti went before a Lewis County Superior Court judge the afternoon of Jan. 9 when his bail was set at $75,000 bail on each of the two separate drug cases. Maurer was arrested that day, and on the following Monday a judge set his bail at $50,000.

Maurer, 25, has a Centralia address.

Their August contact with police began with a tip from someone described as a reliable source that Maurer would be traveling to Cowlitz County to purchase heroin to sell in Lewis County and Pinotti would be traveling with him, according to charging documents.

Charging documents go on to say that police surveillance was underway when Maurer exchanged someone’s Volkswagen Jetta for a black BMW belonging to Pinotti’s girlfriend. They go on to state that when the BMW returned to Lewis County and pulled into a gas station, the two were contacted by police.

After Centralia police dog Kayo “alerted” to the presence of a suspected controlled substance in the car, and while police waited for a tow truck to impound the car, Pinotti and Maurer were seen conversing, and Pinotti reportedly approached and officer and said he would “take the fall,” charging documents state.

Neither were under arrest and they left, the documents state, without elaborating as to why they were let go.

But a search of the car’s glove box, according to the allegations, turned up numerous items including a canvas bag bearing the name Clarity HD, and inside of it was a working scale, two smoking devices and a rubber container with brown tar.

Also found in the glove box were two “balls” of heroin strewn freely and two more small balls in foil inside an empty pack of Marlboro cigarettes.

The documents state that Maurer is the only one of the two who had cigarettes during the stop and they were the same type, and that he possessed a Clarity speaker that went with the canvas bag.

The amount of heroin seized isn’t mentioned in the documents, only that Pinotti had estimated to an officer that a quarter ounce was purchased, with a $400 wholesale or a $700 street value.

Police also seized cell phones and a moderate amount of cash from each man, according to the documents.

In appealing for a lesser bail for Maurer, defense attorney Joely O’Rourke noted to the judge that while he had a bit of criminal history, his warrant history was very minimal.

Maurer’s trial is scheduled for the week of March 9. Pinotti is scheduled to be back in court on Thursday to set his trial date.

Both remain in the Lewis County Jail.
•••

For background, read :

• “Prosecutor: Pinotti caught with heroin this summer, and again recently” from Friday January 9, 2015, here

• “Sentence: Six days in jail for escape that led to gunfire in Centralia” from Wednesday January 14, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Updated at 2:53 p.m.

TWO INJURED WHEN MOTORCYCLE WRECKS ON I-5

• Two men were hospitalized after they were ejected from a motorcycle southbound on Interstate 5 near Vader yesterday.The Washington State Patrol reports they were traveling at a high rate of speed when the driver attempted to pass another vehicle and lost control. The 1994 Harley Davidson slid across the lanes and came to rest on the right shoulder, according to the state patrol. They both were wearing helmets, the investigating trooper reports. It happened about 1:30 p.m. near milepost 57. The passenger, Woody D. Pittman, 33, from Olympia, was airlifted to Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, according to the trooper. The driver, Thomas C. Gibbs, 58, from Rainier, was reportedly transported to Providence Centralia Hospital. Gibbs was to be cited for negligent driving and other offenses, according to the trooper.

ATTEMPTED AUTO THEFT CENTRALIA

• Centralia police responded just after 9 p.m. on Saturday to the 700 block of Harrison Avenue after an individual came out to her vehicle to find its door open and a “shaved” key stuck in the door lock, according to the Centralia Police Department.

MORTON BREAK-IN

• Morton police are still investigating a burglary discovered on Wednesday at a home on the 100 block of Third Street. The homeowner returned after being away for a few weeks to find someone had gotten inside and some items were missing, according to the Morton Police Department. It’s not yet known exactly what was stolen, according to police.

SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES

• Officers were called to the area of Division Avenue and Seventh Street in Morton at 10 p.m. on Friday after a suspicious vehicle was seen driving slowly around the neighborhood. Officers made contact with the driver who stated she was looking for her friend’s house, according to the Morton Police Department.

SHERIFF: USE THE OFFICIAL DETOUR PLEASE

• Newly sworn in Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza wants drivers to use the official detour route around the temporarily closed bridge on state Route 508 at the east end of Onalaska. The South Fork Newaukum Bridge near Magnus Road was shut down a week ago Sunday and residents in the areas of Jorgenson Road, Burnt Ridge Road and Johnson Road have seen an increase in traffic in their neighborhoods due to drivers not using marked and recommended Washington State Department of Transportation detour routes, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies are increasing their traffic enforcement in those areas, and citizens are advised to follow speed limits and all traffic laws, because safety is important to Snaza, according to a news release. Snaza says drivers should plan ahead and give themselves time to use the official detour, however. The 1930-built bridge carried about 1,400 vehicles each day, according to DOT. Because overweight vehicles continued to cross the aging span, DOT decided to install a temporary bridge until they can begin building a new bridge late next year, a bridge expected to be completed in 2018. The temporary bridge is expected to be ready for traffic on Thursday, according to DOT. Until then, the official detour route for  eastbound drivers is to take Leonard Road to U.S. Highway 12. Westbound drivers should take Cinebar Road to Silver Creek Road (state Route 122) to U.S. Highway 12. Once opened, weight restrictions will be lifted and traffic will alternate directions across the single-lane temporary Bailey Bridge. According to DOT: Stop signs at both ends of the bridge will be in place along with directions for drivers to allow on-coming traffic to clear before proceeding across, and it will be reopen to all legal loads, with a reduced speed limit of 25 mph across the nine-foot wide lane. For the most current information, see DOT’s blog.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, hit and run, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license … and more.

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The temporary bridge getting installed about five miles east of Onalaska. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Department of Transportation

This day in Lewis County history

Monday, January 19th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – On Jan. 19, 1995, a local group helped kick off a crime fighting program to collect anonymous tips regarding crimes in the Lewis County area.

The information would be forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency, and if police made an arrest and/or cleared the case, the tipster would be eligible for a cash reward.

Crime Stoppers of Lewis County, a non-profit organization, has continued to work over the past 20 years, leading to the arrests of more than 333 individuals, according to the group.

2015.0118.logo.crimestoppers“The program works, the organization states in a news release. “It works because of strong community support, media advertising and hard work by the police agencies.”

In two decades, the tips have cleared more than 411 cases and recovered stolen property and drugs exceeding $3 million, according to the group.

A board of directors made up of Lewis County volunteer citizens administer the Crime Stoppers program. The board establishes policy, is responsible for fund raising and authorizes rewards.

It’s funded entirely from individuals, corporations, service clubs and business donations.

The way it works is, the group publishes a “Crime of the Week” each week. The information can be found on its web site and is also highlighted by local media partners.

People with information may call 1-800-748-6422 with their tip, and are given a tip number unique to them. Once the board authorizes any reward, the tipsters are notified (via that number) to phone Crime Stoppers of Lewis County.

Tipster are eligible for a reward up to $1,000.

In early 2013, Student Crime Stoppers was created for middle and high school students. School districts in Chehalis have been participating since then and Adna School District joined last year.  The group is hoping to add more school districts to the program this year.

Crime Stoppers signs have been erected throughout the county and more locations are being sought where the owner would allow a sign to be placed.

The organization is also involved in what’s called My ID Club, which creates a laminated card that contains identification with a child’s photo, fingerprint and identifying information and is given to the parent or guardian to put in a safe place in the event it is ever needed.

The group says while its board has worked hard, new members and volunteers are always needed to make the program a success.

Crime Stoppers of Lewis County will mark its 20th anniversary on Tuesday and is showing its gratitude by holding an open house.

“Please stop by, look at the history of our program, enjoy the refreshments, and help us celebrate the success of this program,” the group states in its news release.

Where: Lewis County Law and Justice Building, in the training room on the first floor, at 345 W. Main Street, Chehalis
When: Tuesday, January 20th from noon until 6 p.m.

Cluster of winter fires have common denominator

Sunday, January 18th, 2015
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Items too close to a wood stove ignited a shop and guest house in Winlock overnight, while the cause of a Grand Mound residential fire is not yet known. / Courtesy photo by Derrick Paul

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 2-year-old child was taken to the hospital last night after fire broke out in a home in Grand Mound.

Firefighters called about 10:15 p.m. to a mobile home park in the 7100 block of 191st Avenue Southwest found flames coming out two of the windows, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.

“They did a quick knock down but there was still substantial fire, heat and smoke damage to the rest of the (mobile) home,” Fire Chief Robert Scott said.

Crews revived a small dog but the family lost several other pets inside, according to Scott.

The fire’s cause is not yet known, but a cluster of fires in recent days have all been related to heating sources.

Scott said the toddler had slight burns and suffered from smoke inhalation. The child was evaluated by medical personnel and transported by private vehicle to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to WTRFA.

Twenty firefighters from three fire departments battled the blaze and some were on the scene into the early morning hours, according to Scott. He said the family was offered the Red Cross for assistance but for now are staying with a friend in the area.

An investigator was going to be out there today to figure out what caused it, according to Scott.

In Lewis County, an investigator today concluded an overnight fire in Winlock was caused by items too close to a wood stove.

It’s the third time in three days with a similar finding in Lewis County; combustibles too close to a heat source, according to Investigator Derrick Paul.

It’s an important issue for the public to consider, according to Paul.

“Three in three days is too much, as far as I’m concerned,” Paul said. “In these cases it just happened to be wood stoves, but it can happen with baseboard heaters, or space heaters or similar.”

The early morning blaze on Quary Lane north of Winlock did an estimated $110,000 damage.

Firefighters responding about 2 a.m. from Lewis County Fire District 15 and two neighboring districts found a fully furnished guest house and adjoining shop burning, according to Paul.

He said they did a good job extinguishing it in a timely manner but the building and its contents were a complete loss. Also damaged were a travel trailer and a utility trailer parked outside next the approximately 70 foot by 40 foot building, according to Paul.

The owner was working in the shop the evening before, which contained the wood stove, Paul said.

“The cause of the fire was a direct result of combustible items too close to a working wood stove,” Paul indicated this morning.

These fire victims were insured, but the owners of the decimated building he investigated on Friday east of Napavine were not, according to Paul.

The loss to Fire Mountain Farms loss at the 300 block of state Route 508 is estimated at $1.8 million.

The third fire was in Randle, where a little cabin used for storage was destroyed yesterday morning.

It was just a little more than a week ago when the state fire marshal issued a warning to the public, related to home heating sources during the winter and fires around the state.

Four people were killed in two recent residential fires fires caused by portable electric space heaters, according to Deputy State Fire Marshal Lysandra Davis.

Given that the cold winer months are the peak time for such incidents, the fire marshall offered safety tips directed at space heater use.

• Ensure the heater is placed on a stable, level surface, and located where it will not be knocked over.
• Never power the heater with an extension cord or power strip.
• Keep combustible material such as beds, sofas, curtains, papers and clothes at least three feet from the front, sides and rear of the heater.
• Be sure the heater plug fits tightly into the wall outlet. If not, do not use the outlet to power the heater.
• Never operate a heater you suspect is damaged. Before use, inspect the heater, cord, and plug for damage. Follow all operation and maintenance instructions.
• Never leave the heater operating while unattended or while you are sleeping.
• During use, check frequently to determine if the heater plug or cord, wall outlet, or faceplate is hot. If the plug, outlet or faceplate is hot, discontinue use of the heater, and have a qualified electrician check and/or replace the plug or faulty wall outlet(s). If the cord is hot, disconnect the heater, and have it inspected/repaired by an authorized repair person.
• Lastly, make sure you always have working smoke alarms installed in your home.

To learn more about winter fire safety visit the U.S. Fire Administration website at: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/winter.html

Napavine area business fire began somewhere around wood stove

Saturday, January 17th, 2015
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The charred commercial structure on the 300 block of state Route 508, just east of Interstate 5 is an uninsured loss. / Courtesy photo by Derrick Paul

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The cause of the fire that destroyed Fire Mountain Farms’ main building and its contents east of Napavine on Thursday night will go down as undetermined.

Fire Investigator Derrick Paul said the area of origin was near the wood stove inside the fabrication shop, but exactly what ignited first is unknown.

The large metal structure contained equipment and other items belonging to the diversified family business.

Fire Mountain raises cattle on other property, but tons of barley to feed them were ruined, along with hundreds of bales of hays which would have been sold, according to Ryan Thode, vice president of operations. Fire Mountain also recycles treatment plant biosolids and lost three dredgers used for clearing lagoons.

Paul said this morning the loss of the building and its contents is close to $1.8 million.

It wasn’t insured, according to Paul.

The fire on the 300 block of state Route 508 was reported just before 8 p.m. on Thursday, and arriving firefighters found the building filled with flames.

The building was large – 150 feet by 40 feet – with a lean-to attached shed on the back and a loft area. The wood stove heated the part of it where they handled their own fabrication needs, according to Paul.

Also inside the structure was his father’s motorcycle room, according to Thode. Two of eight or nine of those were insured, according to Paul. A recreational vehicle that was parked outside and burned also was insured, he said.
•••

For background, read “Napavine area business loses building, equipment in fire” from Friday January 16, 2015, here

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Equipment, stored livestock feed and all the contents of the large building lay in ruins. / Courtesy photo by Derrick Paul

News brief: Year-end report for Centralia area fire department

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Riverside Fire Authority announced today that its year end report shows it answered more than 4,200 calls for service in 2014, with about 87 percent of them involving emergency medical incidents.

“This continues a trend where the RFA has set new incident total record in each of the last four years consecutively,” the department’s spokesperson Capt. Scott Weinert writes.

There were 130 fires reported in their coverage area last year, according to Weinert.

The balance of the remaining responses consisted of fire alarms, hazardous conditions and other types of service calls (10 percent), Weinert notes.

Riverside provides services to the area from Centralia and the Hanaford Valley out to Garrard Creek.

To learn more about their stats, visit their web site.

News brief: Benefit dinner, bagpipes will help firefighters help Noah, and others

Saturday, January 17th, 2015
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Team Noah, working to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A group of firefighters from rural Chehalis are going to tackle the 69 flights of stairs at the Columbia Tower in Seattle in March, outfitted in their full gear to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

It’s an event that happens all over, but the Seattle stair climb is the largest of its kind, according to Mike Goodwillie, of Lewis County Fire District 6.

Goodwillie said he did it last year, but the newly formed team, mostly from his department, is contributing to the cause in other ways as well.

A cousin of one of the members has leukemia, he said.

“We’re like basically climbing for him” Goodwillie said. “He’s our honoree.”

Four-year-old Noah McDaniel was going to be in the hospital over the holiday, so the firefighters organized a Christmas for him and his family, according to Goodwillie.

Their fundraising effort includes a dinner, raffle and auction in downtown Chehalis on Jan. 31.

The evening will feature the Vancouver Pipes and Drums. Contact Goodwillie for tickets.

Where: Mackinaw’s Restaurant, 545 N. Market Blvd.
When: Jan. 31, 2015, at 7 p.m.
What: Firefighters Auction for a Cure
Why: For the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Who: All are welcome

News brief: Randle cabin burns

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A fire broke out this morning in Randle, in a little cabin used for storage.

Firefighters responding about 5:45 a.m. to the 1100 block of Silverbrook Road extinguished the blaze, but it was a total loss, according to Lewis County Fire District 14.

Nobody was hurt, and its owner’s nearby home was unharmed, according to Fire Chief Jeff Jaques.

Jaques said the structure contained shop-type items.

A fire investigator was going to be checking it out this morning, according to the chief.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Updated at 7:29 p.m.

CRASH CENTRALIA-ALPHA ROAD

• A 38-year-old Winlock resident was injured last night when he wrecked his truck on the 2200 block of Centralia-Alpha Road southwest of Chehalis, in the same area where a Centralia man was killed early last month after he lost control of his car and struck a tree. Deputies and aid called about 8:20 p.m. to the scene near Senn Road found the Ford F350 pickup had been westbound and rolled into a tree, creasing the passenger compartment on its top. The driver got himself out, but he had a head injury and possibly broken hand, according to Lewis County Fire District 6. “He does not remember how the collision occurred,” Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Stacy Brown said. The patient was transported with advanced life support medics to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to District 6 Fire Chief Tim Kinder. Kinder said the accident was within about 100 yards of the Dec. 6 incident that took the life of 25-year-old Dustin N. Meyer. It’s a stretch of road that’s seen many collisions, according to firefighters. “I think it’s uneven, or it dips, or it does something odd,” Kinder said. “If you come around the corner not paying attention, or going too fast, it’ll kick you into the trees.” Last night’s driver was expected to be cited for wheels off the roadway, the sheriff’s office reports.

WRECK STATE ROUTE 7

• Two people were injured and one airlifted to a Seattle hospital after an overnight single-vehicle wreck about two miles north of Morton. Troopers responding about 1:30 a.m. report a 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse was southbound on state Route 7 when it veered to the right, striking a guard rail and then veered off the left side of the roadway striking the dirt embankment. The driver, Kara D. Bovee, 23, from Tacoma, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to the Washington State Patrol. She faces a charge of driving under the influence, according to the state patrol. Her passenger, Shaun L. Sanchez, 26, from University Place, was transported to Morton General Hospital, the investigating trooper reports.

BIG SPENDERS CHEAT RETAILER

• Chehalis police were called to Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon following the discovery that someone had passed 11 fake $20 bills. It happened sometime between 4:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., and a look at security video indicated it was a male and a female, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The counterfeit money was taken into evidence and the investigation continues, according to police.

EASY PICKINGS

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports someone prowled a truck on the 100 block of Mienars Road in Morton sometime between 7 p.m. on Tuesday and 10 a.m. the following morning. Stolen from the unlocked Toyota Tacoma was a generation five iPod and a digital camera, according to the sheriff’s office. “This is an excellent time to remind people that they really need to keep their vehicles locked and not give thieves easy access to valuables inside,” Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. Better yet, don’t leave valuables in vehicles to entice them, Brown says.

CHIMNEY FIRE

• Winlock firefighters were called out about 6 p.m. yesterday for a chimney fire on the 300 block of Southeast Front Street. “Crews arrived pretty fast, we extinguished it in the chimney,” Firefighter Patrick Jacobson said. “We checked for extension, and there was none.” Firefighters like it when they stay in the chimney, he said.

FENDER BENDER

•  A driver pulled out of a parking lot in front of a Centralia police car yesterday causing a minor collision. Nobody was hurt and the damage was minor, according to the Centralia Police Department. Further details were not readily available.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, domestic misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, protection order violation, driving with suspended license; responses for disputes, harassment, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street … and more.

Sheriff’s Office: Thurston County woman threatens to shoot school full of children

Friday, January 16th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 36-year-old Thurston County woman was arrested this morning after law enforcement was notified of a tip from the FBI of a message which stated in part, “I’m about to shoot up a school full of children just to be heard.”

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office was notified at 6:19 a.m. today, and deputies went to her home and based on her demeanor and answers to their questions, believed she posed a threat, according to Lt. Cliff Ziesemer.

They took her into custody and booked her in to the Thurston County Jail for felony harassment, he said.

School had not yet started, so schools weren’t notified at that time, Ziesemer said. All law enforcement in Thurston County was notified of it, however, he said.

The lieutenant said details are not yet known, such as if the woman had a particular school in mind or if she had taken any substantial steps toward such action. She lives in the Steam Boat Island area outside Olympia, he said.

Ziesemer said Karen M. Kibler had access to weapons, but there were none in her home.

“It appears that she’s ‘mental’,” he said. “She’s been diagnosed with mental problems.”

The information came from the FBI’s Guardian Operations Unit, a group he hadn’t heard of until this morning, he said. The alert read as though Kibler had given the information about herself to them, he said.

The unit said it got the tip at 5:26 a.m. EST., according to Ziesemer.

The investigation will continue, he said.

Kibler’s first court appearance will be at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, in Thurston County Superior Court, according to the sheriff’s office.

Napavine area business loses building, equipment in fire

Friday, January 16th, 2015
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Flames rise from commercial structure on the 300 block of state Route 508, just east of Interstate 5.

Updated at 1:56 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A fire last night just east of Napavine is estimated to have caused a loss of property in excess of $1 million for a Lewis County business that specializes in recycling wastewater treatment plant biosolids for fertilizer.

Fire Mountain Farms, a family business, also raises cattle.

“Luckily our cow operation is up on Burnt Ridge,” Ryan Thode, vice president of operations said this morning.

Thode this morning was at the facility on the 300 block of state Route 508, having spent the past several hours watching for hot spots and salvaging what he could, he said. The fire department left around 4 a.m., he said.

Firefighters called just before 8 p.m. last night arrived to find the large metal building filled with flames, according to the newly named Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue; formerly Lewis County Fire District 5.

A department spokesperson in a news release said the structure and contents are considered a complete loss.

Spokesperson Lt. Laura Hanson indicated no one was injured.

Twenty personnel from their department and five neighboring agencies battled the blaze, according to Hanson. Initial reports to the sheriff’s office indicated a gas pipeline nearby was involved or threatened, but a deputy determined that wasn’t the case, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

While numerous ordinary shop items inside caused explosions – propane and welding tanks, an air compressor – what took the longest was dealing with the hay, Fire Chief Gregg Peterson said.

An excavator was used to retrieve each bail one by one, and break it up while firefighters sprayed it down, he said.

The business owners were not present at the time of the fire, according to Hanson. A fire investigator and the sheriff’s office are looking into the cause.

The building is described as 150 feet by 40 feet, with a lean-to attached shed on the back and a loft area.

It contained farm equipment and fabrication tools, among them were dredgers the company uses to dredge treatment plant lagoons.

“Unfortunately, we had all three stored in there,” Thode said.

Thode estimated they had around 500 bales of hay inside, for sale, and tons of barley which would have fed their own animals.

He, his father and mother also lost eight motorcycles, he said. He said he was able to salvage one replica Indian sidecar.

 

Father admits he shook his infant child, didn’t know CPR

Thursday, January 15th, 2015
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Tyler C. Abair is accompanied by his lawyer Shane O’Rourke in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Napavine area father accused of shaking his 4-month-old daughter, causing a bruised brain pleaded guilty yesterday to a much lesser offense than originally charged with.

Prosecutors concluded the evidence didn’t show that Tyler C. Abair committed first-degree assault, and he pleaded guilty to third-degree assault instead.

“In this particular case, the child has recovered,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said.

Abair was arrested last spring, a month after an incident in which he said the infant choked on formula and stopped breathing. He acknowledged that he shook her, but also that he was terrified and didn’t know CPR, according to court documents.

Court documents referenced a doctor who indicated the child exhibited classic but not severe signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The 23-year-old was living with his ex-wife with whom he was reconciling, and their twins, staying at home caring for them while she worked.

Halstead said Abair’s actions were negligent, but lacked intent to harm the baby; the difference between the two offenses.

Halstead noted to the judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court that a workup on the other twin left them believing the hemorrhaging came from birth.

Abair was represented by defense attorney Shane O’Rourke

Abair also pleaded guilty to second-degree theft, for separate conduct that was not previously charged.

Halstead told the judge they wanted to do the sentencing on another day, so the child’s mother could attend the hearing.

When he is sentenced Jan. 28, he faces a standard sentencing range of 12 to 16 months, according to O’Rourke.

Abair was arrested on May 6, 2014, and remains in the Lewis County Jail.
•••

For background, read “High bail ordered for Chehalis dad in shaken baby case ” from Wednesday May 7, 2014, here

Defendant’s indigent status questioned at arraignment

Thursday, January 15th, 2015
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Jence S. Sawyer, left, and his attorney Don Blair listen to the prosecutor during proceedings today in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A former Chehalis area man was grilled in court by a judge today, through his attorney, about how he got a court appointed lawyer if he was earning as much as $20 an hour in North Dakota before his recent arrest.

Court-appointed attorney Don Blair had just told the judge his client spent the last year and a half working 12-hour days, seven days a week as a carpenter. The Centralia attorney was explaining his request to lower the bail for Jence S. Sawyer, from $150,000 to $20,000.

“So why are you appointed then,” Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt asked.

Blair said he didn’t inquire as to why.

“Where did the money go,” Hunt asked.

Blair, as he queried his 23-year-old client, relayed to the judge a “bunch” was paid to a collection agency, and some spent on a new work truck that is sitting in the sheriff’s impound lot in North Dakota.

“Well, I’m going to be looking into this,” Hunt said.

Sawyer was in court this morning for his arraignment on two separate cases, one involving an underage girl and the other involving his estranged girlfriend, alleged to have occurred a year or so ago. He was charged last summer, but deputies only recently located him in Williston, North Dakota.

Lewis County sheriff’s deputies picked him this weekend and brought him back to Lewis County.

Sawyer is charged with second-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment, with sexual motivation, for a May 2014 incident in which he allegedly wouldn’t let his former girlfriend leave his home, although she finally was able to flee with her baby through a window.

He is also charged with third-degree rape of a child for an alleged encounter in November 2013 with a 15-year-old girl he befriended in Packwood.

Sawyer pleaded not guilty this morning and his trial was scheduled for the week of March 2. He has no prior felony history.

Judge Hunt did not reduce his bail.
•••

For background, read “Wanted Chehalis man found in North Dakota” from Monday January 12, 2015, here