Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

Celebration of life set for 8-year-old Boistfort student who drowned

Monday, May 7th, 2012
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Nicholas Hunter Lee Matchett / Courtesy photo

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A family and a community is in mourning following the loss of 8-year-old Nicholas Hunter Lee Matchett to drowning in the Chehalis River.

Nicholas was found on a gravel bar a quarter mile downstream from his home near the intersection of state Route 6 and Ceres Hill Road about an hour after his mother reported him missing late Friday afternoon.

He was a student at Boistfort School.

School Principal Rich Apperson said he will be missed as a friend and a member of the school family.

“This was a year he was really flourishing,” Apperson said.

“He was learning to work an iPad and if he had a choice, he might play Angry Birds, or country music,” Apperson said.

Nicholas was one of only about 100 students at the small school in the Boistfort Valley.

Apperson said they tried to keep today as normal as possible for the children, but brought in a counselor and expect to do the same tomorrow, “just in case, as people comes to terms.”

A youth pastor and his wife spoke to each of the classes today, and an informational flyer was sent home with the kids, he said.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has not completed its investigation, but it was reasonable to surmise the child fell into the river, according to sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust.

“The boy had been swinging on the porch and his mom went in the house for a few minutes,” Aust said. “She asked her 11-year-old daughter to go check on him.”

Deputies didn’t find any specific spot where the river bank behind the Matchett’s house caved, but he could have gone straight in without touching the bank, Aust said.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod confirmed this morning the death was an accidental drowning.

Michelle Matchett, his mother, said her son loved everybody.

“He was happy all the time, he was never unhappy,” she said.

He especially liked the movie “Over the hedge”, she said. “He watched it about a million times.”

Nicholas was developmentally delayed, his mother said, describing that as not yet learning to talk.

His school principal said Nicholas had vision and hearing problems, but this year got glasses and a hearing aid and was making good progress.

“We all kind of got to know him,” Apperson said. “He was and yet he wasn’t so much outside the ballpark of what kids go through.”

Next door neighbors Starla and Bruce Terry spoke of a high and dangerously unstable river bank that goes behind both theirs and the Matchett’s homes.

Over the years, the bank has eroded, and the winding river moved closer and closer to their properties, Starla Terry said.

“I’m saying, he fell off a cliff that if I had my way, wouldn’t have been there,” Starla Terry said.

Various regulations have prevented anyone from clearing debris from the original channel to allow it to move back, something she has wanted done for years, she said.

The Matchett’s house is about nine miles west of Chehalis, near where the South Fork of the Chehalis RIver meets the main fork.

Starla Terry, an accountant, has been on the phone getting pledges from her clients to help pay funeral costs.

The single mother of two works at Home Depot in Chehalis, and doesn’t have a budget for such an expense, she said.

Starla Terry said she has several irons in the fire to help her neighbor with an “utter disaster.”

“He was just such a cute little thing,” she said. “Honest to God, all those long golden curls.”

Anyone who wants to make a donation can contact Starla Terry at 360-245-3334. An account named Nicky Matchett Memorial is set up to take donations at Wells Fargo Bank.

Nicholas’s graveside service is set for 11 a.m. on Thursday at the Boistfort Cemetery.

It will be followed at 1:30 p.m. with a celebration of life and potluck in the gym at Boistfort School, for anyone who would like to attend, according to Apperson.

•••

For background read “Breaking news: Child drowns in Chehalis River” from Friday May 4, 2012 at 7:38 p.m., here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, May 7th, 2012

CAR HITS LITTLE GIRL IN CENTRALIA

• A 4-year-old girl hit by a car late yesterday afternoon in Centralia escaped with minor scrapes and bruises, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officers called just before 5:30 p.m. to the 500 block of Jefferson Street learned the child ran in front of the car, and no arrests were made, according to  police Sgt. Brian Warren. She was taken to Providence Centralia and has already been released, Warren said this morning.

SHERIFF’S OFFICE: MAN POINTS GUN, MAN GOES TO JAIL

• A 28-year-old Winlock man was arrested last night after allegedly pointing a gun at a resident on the 2200 block of Highway 603 near Winlock. Deputies called about 7:10 p.m. were told Daniel B. Sethre went to the 30-year-old man’s residence to “discuss an issue” and when they argued, Sethre pointed a .22 caliber revolver at the victim, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Sethre was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree assault. Cmdr. Steve Aust said.

DRUGS FOUND

• A 22-year-old Centralia man was arrested following a short foot pursuit early this morning near Roosevelt Avenue and East Van Buren Street in Centralia, according to police. Jesse R. Baxter was wanted on a warrant and when he was found around 5:15 a.m, was in possession of a “bag” of suspected methamphetamine, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

THEFT

• Chehalis police were called just before 9:30 a.m. yesterday to a car prowl on the 900 block of South Market Boulevard. A window was pulled out and a DVD player stolen, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Chehalis police took a report on Friday afternoon of a car prowl that occurred during the previous few days at the 800 block of Southwest Cascade Avenue in Chehalis. A window had been left slightly open and someone got inside and stole the vehicle’ registration, according to police.

• A 250-foot length of steel cable was stolen from a logging site off Hope Creek Road in Doty, according to a report made to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office on Friday. The cable which was taken last Tuesday is valued at $900, according to the sheriff’s office.

VANDALISM

• Three tires on two vehicles at the 300 block of Southwest 14th Street in Chehalis were found slashed and punctured, according to a report made to police just after 11 a.m. on Saturday.

GREEN HILL WORKER KICKED BY STUDENT

• Chehalis police took a report on Friday of a 17-year-old resident of Green Hill School who allegedly kicked a staff member in the leg a week earlier. The case will be referred for a possible charge of custodial assault, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

SMALL FIRE AT GOODWILL BURNS SELF OUT

• Firefighters called to a report of possible flames coming form the roof of the Goodwill store in Centralia last night found what appeared to have been a bird’s nest in a light fixture on the building’s facade had caught fire. The call just after 9 p.m. to the 500 block of Harrison Avenue drew three fire departments, but the fire had burned itself out and damage was minimal, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

News brief: Student shot during gun class at Onalaska firing range

Monday, May 7th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A woman shot herself during a firearms class in Onalaska yesterday as she was practicing safely drawing a gun from a concealed holster.

Deputies and aid called about 10:45 a.m. to the Firearms Academy of Seattle learned the 59-year-old Onalaska resident was re-holstering a 9 mm gun when it discharged, striking her in the upper leg, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust said she was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with a non-life threatening injury.

The gun range at the 3300 block of Centralia-Alpha Road is run by Marty Hayes and his wife. Hayes is a former police officer and known locally as the individual who assisted the mother of former trooper Ronda Reynolds in attempts to disprove her death was a suicide.

Hayes declined to comment on the incident, citing the privacy issues of his students.

He said he teaches about 1,000 people each year how to safely and competently use handguns for self defense.

Aust said there were several witness and the woman said as she was putting the gun away, either the trigger caught on something or her finger pulled the trigger.

Her name was not released.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

THEFT

• A blue 1994 Mazda B3000 pickup truck was reported stolen yesterday morning from the 1200 block of West Main Street in Centralia, according to police. An officer called about 10:30 a.m. notes it has a license plate of A99218Z.

• Centralia police reported yesterday someone broke into a building on the 200 block of South Silver Street and made off with a “Chicago” chop saw. It was reported just before 3 p.m. on Friday.

• Centralia police were called about noon yesterday to the 1100 block of Grand Avenue about a car prowl. Someone broke in and took a stereo, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Police were called just after 10 a.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of H Street where someone had broken out the rear window of a vehicle, and left a dent, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Breaking news: Child drowns in Chehalis River

Friday, May 4th, 2012
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Ambulances line Ceres Hill Road as responders work to rescue a child in the river

Updated at 8:45 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An eight-year-old boy missing from his home along the Chehalis River this afternoon drowned.

The child’s mother reported him missing just after 4:30 p.m. from the 100 block of Ceres Hill Road, just west of Adna, according to Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

Deputies trained in swift water rescue found the boy about a quarter mile down stream about an hour later, Brown said.

A deputy saw him on a gravel bar in the middle of the river and swam across to begin CPR, Brown said.

Responders continued CPR as the child was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, but he was pronounced dead about 7:05 p.m., according to Brown.

Members of Lewis County Fire Districts 13 and 6, as well as AMR assisted in the rescue.

They believe he fell in the river, according to Brown. His name has not been released.

Neighbors Bruce and Starla Terry said the boy lived with his mother and sister.

He didn’t talk much, Bruce Terry said.

“That little boy, he would devil you with his smiles though, tease you,” Bruce Terry said.

The homes sit within feet of the high bank of the river, a dangerously unstable bank, according to the Terrys.

His mother had a fence around the back door, but Bruce Terry speculated somehow the child went close to river, just to look and ended up in the water.

“You might think that grass out there has dirt under it,” Starla Terry said as she pointed to edge of her back lawn. “But it might not.”

The spot, at the north end of the Boistfort Valley, is just a a few miles east of where a 24-year-old Olympia man drowned last month. Daniel Kuhn took part in the Pe Ell River run and his body was found four days later.

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The banks of the Chehalis River are eroded behind Bruce and Starla Terry's house, next door to the child's family home.

News brief: Name of Centralia officer killed in 1910 finally to be added to memorial wall

Friday, May 4th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A week from Sunday, Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg will attend a candlelight vigil in Washington D.C. as the name of a Centralia officer is added to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial wall.

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Officer William Smith

Centralia Police Officer William Smith was killed in the line of duty on Dec. 23, 1910, but the nomination for inclusion on the wall was only recently accepted following the department’ discovery of details of Smith’s death in an old newspaper article, according to Berg.

Smith’s name will join that of Centralia Deputy Marshal James C.A. Parsons killed in the line of duty June 30, 1903 and inscribed on the marble wall eight years ago.

They are among the names of more than 19,000 officers killed in the line of duty and engraved on the two curving 300-plus feet blue-gray marble walls in a place called Judiciary Square, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund.

The ceremony comes two days before National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, established by the United States Congress as a day for recognition of those officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their communities, according to a news release from the Centralia Police Department.

In advance of the week, Centralia officers and department employees will be recognized on Tuesday night for their courage, service and sacrifice, according to Berg.

At the city council meeting, departmental awards will be presented, to include two lifesaving ribbons, two certificates of commendation and employees of the year.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, May 4th, 2012

HOME BURGLARIZED

• A firearm was among the valuables stolen when someone broke into a home on the 600 block of Logan Hill Road in Chehalis sometime between 7 a.m. and 5:20 p.m. yesterday. A deputy called to the residence learned that taken along with the Taurus .357 revolver was an LCD television, a coin collection and a battery “jump pack”, according to the sheriff’s office. The loss is estimated at $1,800.

DRUGS

• A 31-year-old Chehalis resident was arrested for possession of heroin last night after getting pulled over by an officer who recognized him as having a suspended driver’s license. It happened about 9 p.m. at Ellsbury and Mellen streets in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department. A plastic bindle of suspected heroin was found in Eathon A. Wesen’s clothing when he was searched, according police. Wesen was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

WRECK

• A 37-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs following a single-vehicle collision yesterday afternoon on the 3000 block of Jackson Highway south of Chehalis. His Chevrolet Suburban sustained extensive front end damage, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Matthew T. Lovo was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

THEFT OF MAIL

• Chehalis police were called yesterday afternoon to the 900 block of Northwest Folsom Street where a resident reported a delivered package had been stolen from the porch. A DVD and CD had been ordered from an online retailer and the victim learned it had been delivered, but they did not receive it, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

News brief: Grand Mound to be center of large scale emergency response exercise

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Some 200 plus individuals will descend on the Grand Mound-Rochester area next Thursday morning as public agencies from five counties test their capacity to respond to a natural disaster.

Members of fire districts, sheriff’s offices and medics will be practicing what they would do in the aftermath if a tsunami should hit Washington’s coast.

It’s not the most likely event, but its consequences would be widespread, according to Homeland Security Region Three Coordinator Jesi Chapin.

For example, traffic from coastal evacuees will become very congested and when those residents arrive, they will need sheltering and feeding, she said.

“When the day comes, when it actually hits, (those) people are not going to be able to go back,” she said. “We’ll be in a position here of housing people in the interior corridor.”

It begins at 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. with a simulated mass casualty response – a bus filled with evacuees crashes – on county property at 183rd Avenue and Sargent Road.

The exercise conducted by Homeland Security Region Three is titled Pacific Panda.

Joining the public agencies will be the American Red Cross, American Medical Response, Olympic Ambulance and 120 volunteers who will be role playing, according to Chapin.

Agencies will be testing communications, citizen sheltering, incident management and mass care, according to organizers.

Maple Lane School will be the site for practicing sheltering, as well as a debriefing afterward, Chapin said.

Area residents might also notice shuttle busses for participants from parking areas at Great Wolf Lodge and Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers.

The counties involved in the practice response include Lewis, Thurston, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Mason.

News brief: Mandatory boating safety course offered by sheriff’s office

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Sheriff’s deputies will host a class on Saturday for those who want a boating safety card.

A card is required for anyone 40 years old or younger to operate a vessel with a 15 horsepower or larger engine, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The session is free, although the state charges a $10 fee to obtain the card after passing the test given at the end of the day.

The class runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be held in the training room on the first floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center at 345 West Main St. in Chehalis.

Boating safety education cards can also be obtained by taking a course online, according to the sheriff’s office. For more information, check with Washington State Parks.

Next January, the age requirement for a card will encompass all boaters 50 and younger, and the law is set up to change each year until 2016 when all operators over the age of 12 will be required to possess the card, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

To register for Saturday’s class, contact Lisa Arthur at 360-740-2713.

News brief: Former Pe Ell coach to find out next month length of prison term

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Attorneys this morning set a date of June 8 for the sentencing of former softball coach Todd D. Phelps,  convicted last week of rape of a teenage team member.

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Todd D. Phelps

Phelps, 52, did not come up from the jail for the brief hearing in Lewis County Superior Court.

The former log truck driver from Pe Ell faces as much as six years in prison after a jury found him guilty of third-degree rape and second-degree sexual misconduct.

The sentencing did not take place right away because  the offense is a sex crime necessitating a “pre-trial sentencing investigation” to be conducted by the state Department of Corrections, according to Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead.

Halstead and Deputy Prosecutor Debra Eurich handled the case together. Phelps is represented by Centralia defense attorney Don Blair.

Phelps also has a case pending in Lewis County District Court related to allegedly violating a no contact order regarding the now-17-year-old-year-old girl.
•••

For background, read “Pe Ell rape trial: Guilty as charged” from  Friday April 27, 2012, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

THEFT

• A deputy was called yesterday to the 100 block of Nix Lane outside Centralia where a woman said her iPad had vanished from where it was on a table inside her unlocked home sometime between 4:35 p.m. on Tuesday and 5 o’clock yesterday morning. The iPad is valued at $800, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Chehalis police were called yesterday morning by a Toledo man who said he learned a check stolen from him was used at K-Mart on Northwest Louisiana Avenue, written in an amount just over $400.

SUSPICIOUS DOOR TO DOOR MAGAZINE SELLING

• Chehalis police were called yesterday by a woman on the 700 block of Northwest Maryland Avenue who wanted to tell them about a young man who came to her home the day before selling magazines, who seemed ‘rather persistent” and “seedy”. She said the teenager ran into her yard, was talking very fast and would only let her glance at her paperwork, according to the Chehalis Police Department. She also said she’d talked to others in town who’d had similar experiences in the the previous couple of days with door to door sales people, Officer Linda Bailey said. Police are looking into it, according to Bailey.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

FUGITIVES PULLED OVER FOR SMOKING DOPE

• A pair of Longview men wanted in Idaho for robbery and conspiracy to commit grand theft by extortion were picked up on Interstate 5 yesterday evening after an off-duty police officer spotted them smoking marijuana as they traveled down the freeway in Centralia. It happened about 6:40 p.m. near the Mellen Street interchange, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police stopped the vehicle and  found a loaded gun on the seat next to the driver, according to police. Both men were arrested for their warrants and unlawful possession of a firearm, according to police. Harry K. Storch, 32, and Anthony K. Storch, 34, were booked into the Lewis County Jail.

BURGLARY

• Several firearms were among the more than $3,500 worth of valuables stolen in a burglary discovered about 1 p.m. yesterday on the 100 block of Berry Road outside Chehalis. A woman returned home to find the back door wide open and an air conditioner unit removed from a window, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A deputy was called yesterday afternoon to a burglary at a home on the 500 block of Avery Road West near Winlock where someone had broken a garage window to get inside. It happened sometime between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The home was ransacked and among the missing items were cameras and DVDs, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Police were called about 11:45 a.m. yesterday to a home on the 1000 block of Elm Street in Centralia about a burglary in which a 12-gauge shotgun, a DVD player and a watch were missing. An officer was told someone broke a window to get inside, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• A deputy arrested a 52-year-old Winlock woman for possession of methamphetamine following a traffic stop abut 9:40 p.m. yesterday. A K-9 alerted to the presence of drugs and a search turned up suspected meth as well as a pipe with marijuana residue, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Rane C. Morrison was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

State Supreme Court to hear cases at Centralia College

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Members of the public will get an opportunity next week to observe as the Washington State Supreme Court holds sessions on three cases at Centralia College.

Taking the state’s highest court on the road is part of an outreach effort so citizens can see the court in action, something they do periodically, according to college spokesperson Don Frey.

“They’ve never been to Centralia College before, but they have done it at other colleges in the state,” Frey said.

The sessions take place in Corbet Theater on Thursday May 10 at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m.

The final sessions will have a 20-minute question and answer period with the audience.

The State Supreme Court is located in Olympia on the grounds of the state capitol. All oral arguments are open to the public.

The nine justices will deliberate in private following the third session at the college.

Frey said he didn’t have details of the particular cases. They are however listed on the court’s spring schedule.

The two-day visit begins on Wednesday May 9, with a luncheon with student leaders, campus tour and includes some of the justices leading a political science class, a criminal justice class and an anthropology class.

The justices will be presenters at a 90-minute forum beginning at 1 p.m. that day, also in Corbet Theater and also open to the public, according to the college.

It will include a discussion on variety of judicial topics such as funding of basic education in K-12; school violence including bullying, sexual and racial harassment, shootings and guns on campus, gay rights including marriage, growth management, law enforcement and civil rights, and first amendment rights, according to organizers.

A reception co-hosted by the Lewis County Bar Association will follow at 3:30 p.m. on the third floor of the science building.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

CENTRALIA MAN SHOOTS SELF IN HAND

• A 24-year-old Centralia man was hospitalized after he accidentally shot himself in the hand yesterday at a home on the 100 block of Tri Mountain Lane outside Centralia. Aid and deputies called just before 1 p.m. were told he was taking apart his .40 caliber handgun and didn’t realize the magazine was in place and a round was in the chamber when he attempted to push the slide back with his left hand, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The gun discharged into a bathroom floor, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. The man was transported to Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma for treatment, Brown said.

POLICE: CENTRALIA MAN GRABS OFFICER, SWINGS AT SECOND OFFICER

• A 57-year-old Centralia man was jailed yesterday for assaulting a police officer who responded to a report of a dispute at the 1000 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia. Police reported William L. Thomas was irate and grabbed the officer’s arm and slammed it into a gate. He then swung at another officer but missed, according to the Centralia Police Department. Thomas was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree assault following the approximately 6:15 p.m. call, according to police.

BURGLARY AND THEFT

• A deputy was called yesterday evening to a burglary at a residence on the 1800 block of Little Hanaford Road in Centralia in which thousands of dollars worth of items were stolen. Among the household items missing are a flat screen television, a computer and gift cards, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Centralia police arrested a 40-year-old man yesterday for second-degree theft and forgery following a report he used someone’s bank card without permission. Ernest A. Calderon, of Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called yesterday afternoon about an individual’s social security number being used at Grocery Outlet on Northwest Louisiana Avenue. The case is under investigation, according to police.

• A deputy was called early this morning after a truck was stolen from the 1000 block of West Reynolds Avenue in Centralia. The owner said it must have occurred sometime after 11 p.m. and before 3 a.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. When he woke up he discovered a latch on a gate was broken and the blue 1993 Chevrolet Cheyenne with a black rack on it and numerous stickers in the window was gone from where it had been parked, according to the sheriff’s office. It has a license plate of B91272E, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

• Chehalis police were called about 11:30 p.m. yesterday to Southwest Seventh Avenue where a resident spotted two men with flashlights prowling around his vehicle. No arrests were made.

DRUGS

• A 19-year-old Rochester woman was arrested for possession of suspected methamphetamine yesterday evening after she was taken into custody for a warrant after a traffic stop and subsequently admitted she had hidden something down her pants, according to Chehalis police. Kyrstin R. Daarud was a passenger in a vehicle stopped about 6:15 p.m. at Southwest McFadden Avenue and Eighth Street, according to police. She was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

FIRE BREAKS OUT INSIDE SEMI AT TRUCK STOP

• Firefighters called to Love’s Truck Stop on Rush Road in Napavine just after 4 p.m. yesterday found two pallets of used batteries burning inside a semi truck’s trailer. Nobody was injured and the damage was limited to the two pallets. according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

WRECK

• A 32-year-old Curtis man was arrested after a single-vehicle wreck on the 300 block of Middle Fork Road on Friday night in which he allegedly left his injured 28-year-old girlfriend at the scene. Deputies called about 9 p.m. found the woman with lacerations to her head and arm and were told the driver asked for a ride away, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said this morning. The driver, Benjamin J. Breitenbach, was later found at the hospital and booked into the Lewis County Jail for vehicular assault, however he was released Sunday on $20,000 bail and a charging decision has not yet been made pending further investigation, according to authorities.

OTHER

• And local law enforcement officers yesterday responded as usual to a variety of misdemeanor assaults, misdemeanor thefts, misdemeanor marijuana possession and misdemeanor traffic crimes such as driving under the influence.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, April 30th, 2012

ASSAULT

• A 37-year-old Randle man was arrested after he allegedly attacked his wife last night because she was late getting home. Deputies called about 8:30 p.m learned the woman fled her home after her husband choked her until she saw stars, slammed her face into a floor and put his hand down her pants, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. David C. Haviland was arrested for second-degree assault, second-degree rape and related offenses and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

• A 23-year-old Chehalis man was arrested on Friday night for allegedly dislocating a man’s shoulder during a dispute the day before at Stan Hedwall Park in Chehalis. The 30-year-old victim told police he was sitting in a car with his girlfriend when her ex-boyfriend approached and assaulted him, according to Chehalis police. Ryan J. Vanetta was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree assault and also malicious mischief as he reportedly threw rocks at the vehicle, according to police.

BURGLARY AND THEFT

• Centralia police were called about 1:15 a.m. today to an attempted burglary at a business on the 600 block of West Main Street. Someone broke into the smoke shop but was apparently scared away by an alarm, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police reported it was not immediately evident if anything was stolen.

• A 32-year-old Centralia man was arrested early Sunday morning for allegedly burglarizing  house under construction on the 1700 block of Hillview Road, according to the Centralia Police Department. The unspecified stolen property was found and returned to its owner, according to police. Steve Ingle Jr. was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police. Ingle was released without charges pending further investigation.

• A stolen garden pond was recovered at an Onalaska home after a couple were contacted Saturday in connection with a red pickup truck suspected to be involved with multiple burglaries and thefts. The part of the case involving a 20-year-old Onalaska woman is being referred for a possible charge of obstruction as she allegedly lied to protect her boyfriend, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The boyfriend, James C. Cunning, 35, of Onalaska, was arrested and booked for possession of stolen property in the second-degree, but he is being released without charges pending further investigation. A deputy was told of two other individuals who reportedly borrowed the truck at some point, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

• A television and a laptop computer were among the items taken in a burglary at the 900 block of South Silver Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Friday morning.

• More than $1,000 of items were stolen from a Mossyrock-area home, shop and camper including tools, skis and two bottle of liquor, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The burglary reported Friday at the 100 block of Winston Creek Road happened sometime since early January, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A deputy took a report on Friday of a $6,000 farm implement stolen from the 200 block of North Military Road in Winlock sometime since April 13. The equipment, used to remove round bales of hay, had to have been towed away, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A leaf blower and a chainsaw were reported stolen from a garage Saturday evening on the 300 block of South Street in Centralia.

• Centralia police were called about 1:45 a.m. on Sunday to a tavern on the 300 block of North Tower Avenue where a woman said someone had stolen her purse.

DRUGS FOUND HIDDEN IN VEHICLE

• Morton police reported they were called to the 200 block of Jastad Road last week after a citizen discovered two large bricks of marijuana when removing the rear seat in his car. He had locked his keys in the vehicle and when trying to get in, found the “bricks” each weighing a little more than two pounds, according to the Morton Police Department. They were believed to have been there for several years, according to Chief Dan Mortensen. Mortensen said he “back tracked” the car and found it was purchased at auction in Auburn and then sold at a car lot. The chief suspected the vehicle might have come from the midwest a few years back, he said. The marijuana was taken for destruction.

WRECKS

• A 25-year-old Centralia woman was hospitalized after wrecking a bike as she was towed behind a motorcycle in the Winlock area on Saturday night. A deputy called about 7:45 p.m. to the 300 block of Raubuck Road learned she and her brother were traveling downhill when the bicycle passed the motorcycle flipped and tossed her face first onto the black top, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The woman sustained a large cut on her forehead and multiple scrapes, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

• A 54-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for driving under the influence following a two-vehicle wreck about 9:30 p.m. on Friday on the 2500 block of Jackson Highway south of Chehalis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. His PT Cruiser and the pickup truck driven by a 23-year-old Chehalis resident both sustained major damage, according to the sheriff’s office. Matthew D. Clark was  booked into the Lewis County Jail, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

Fire set overnight at Centralia non-profit

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Updated at 12:24 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Authorities are investigating an arson that occurred overnight at the offices of a Centralia community services organization.

Fires were intentionally set in two different rooms in the building on the 200 block of West Reynolds Avenue, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Damage at Reliable Enterprises is estimated at as much as $10,000, according to a news release.

Firefighters responding about 2:35 a.m. to an automatic fire alarm found smoke coming from the west side of the building and called for help from fire departments in Chehalis and Rochester, according to the news release.

Crews were able to get inside and hold the flames to two office rooms, according to Riverside Fire Authority Chief Jim Walkowski.

Several items of evidence were collected for analysis, the chief said, although he declined to share specifics.

It was not an accident, it definitely looks like a set fire, Walkowski said.

“Someone intended to cause significant damage to the building,” he said.

The fire investigation team has interviewed several people, but have no suspects.

Reliable Enterprises was founded in the 1970s to assist individuals with developmental disabilities.

The wood and metal building houses administrative offices on one side and the actual business where its clients work on the other.

They sell donated building and construction products, according to the chief. That side was unaffected and a representative told him it shouldn’t affect daily operations, Walkowski said.

The damaged offices were two of several like them inside the building.

Whether they have particular relevance is not yet known, the chief said.

“We have lots of interviews and lots of leads to work,” Walkowski said. “We don’t have any idea what a motivation might have been.”

Reliable is also involved in housing services, Head Start and “payee services” assisting clients with managing their money, among other programs, according to information from the organization.

No injuries were reported.

Pe Ell rape trial: Guilty as charged

Friday, April 27th, 2012
2012.0427.phelps.handcuffed_2

Deputies take Todd Phelps into custody after the jury verdict this morning in Lewis County Superior Court.

Updated at 3:18 p.m. on Saturday April 28, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The jury came back with guilty verdicts in the rape trial of former Pe Ell High School softball coach Todd Phelps.

It took six men and six women a little more than four hours between yesterday afternoon and this morning to make their decision.

Phelps, 52, was handcuffed and taken down to the jail.

The benches in the the courtroom in Lewis County Superior Court were packed, except for about half of them on the defendant’s side of the room.

Phelps faces as much as six years in prison when he is sentenced in the case involving a 16-year-old student player.

A sentencing date has not been set.

The expected four day trial that began last week extended into eight days as prosecutors attempted to prove Phelps gradually seduced a girl already troubled with low self esteem and depression and ultimately had sex with her they said was clearly against her wishes.

Jurors heard witnesses testify about thousands of texts exchanged between the two, before and after Phelps was forced to quit his coaching job because of boundary violations with the player.

Defense attorney Don Blair painted a picture of a caring father-figure who was attempting to prevent a suicide. Blair said his client never thought he did anything inappropriate.

The now-17-year-old girl spent a day and a half on the witness stand

Phelps did not testify.

He was found guilty of third-degree rape as well as second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor in connection with encounters last spring and summer with the high school student.

The jurors also found he used his position of trust with a particularly vulnerable victim, meaning the judge can sentence him above the standard sentencing range.

The potential sentence is anywhere between six months to six years, according to Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead.

Phelps’ family and lawyer quickly vanished from the courthouse following the verdict.

The victim’s family slowly made their way out of the courtroom in Chehalis as they exchanged hugs with each other and others. It was very quiet.

Judge Nelson Hunt had warned spectators there should be no outbursts when the verdict was read.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said he had little to say since the sentencing is pending.

“As always, we have trust in the jury system,” Meyer said. “But the case isn’t over, so that’s all I can say.”

Before the jury began deliberating on Thursday afternoon, they heard an almost three hour summary from both sides about what they should consider.

Deputy Prosecutor Halstead spoke for more than two hours reminding jurors of the many details – lots of talk with sexual overtones – they’d heard that suggested Phelps had a different motive than helping a troubled teen.

In mid-April of last year, after the assistant coach was told by the school and her parents to stop having contact with her except at fast pitch, it continued with constant texting including one from him the following morning, according to Halstead.

“This should have been the end of all of this,” he said. “The state would submit to you he has a different agenda.”

Defense attorney Blair subtly told jurors it was her word against his.

None of the lawyers were involved in the situation when it was going on, he said.

“We can’t tell you, we have to rely on what everybody else said happened,” he said.

Blair agreed there were a lot of “contacts” but reminded jurors the content of the messages were unavailable, and said the prosecutor’s case relied upon a lot of smoke.

The defense attorney spoke of how Phelps had coached for as long as 18 years before “all of the sudden” something like this comes up.

His client was concerned because he learned the girl had been cutting on herself, something her father yelled at her about when it came to his attention, Blair said.

He made no secret he was trying to help her, Blair said.

Blair argued some of the prosecution’s witnesses were mistaken and that the April 2 incident at Phelps house about kissing and Phelps pressing his body against the girl’s did not happen.

“I’m not saying any of these folks did or did not lie,” Blair said. “But we know all of the stories can’t be true, because of the lack of consistency.”

The detectives found no blood on the carpet in Phelps’ brother’s house, which the girl said soaked through a towel, Phelps’ computer wasn’t analyzed and much of the prosecutor’s case relied upon what the girl and her friend said, the defense attorney said.

“Other than the contact, we don’t have that hard proof,” he said. “It’s just not there.”

On the topic of the alleged rape on July 27, Blair offered indications of both his client not even being present and if he was, that it did not amount to rape.

The defense attorney noted phone records that showed Phelps and his wife were texting late that afternoon.

“In order to get a text and reply 30 second later, one would think you’re at your phone, not committing a sex crime,” he said.

Deputy Prosecutor Halstead pointed out the records showed texts and phone calls, not all of which were answered immediately and argued they supported what the teenager told detectives.

“The defendant’s whereabouts, despite the testimony from his daughter, cannot be accounted for,” Halstead said.

Halstead reminded jurors of testimony from others that would help them understand why Phelps asked the teenager to meet him at his brother’s house the day of the rape.

He knows his brother is working out of town and his sister-in-law is going shopping with his wife, Halstead said.

“I guess he was either there, or he wasn’t,” he said. “If he was there, I guess you are to believe (the girl) consented.”

He detailed the girl’s actions and words that he said showed clearly she was not consenting to sex.

Consent is not an issue for the other charge, only that the girl was a student and the defendant was her coach, according to Halstead.

Halstead gave numerous examples of Phelps’ “grooming” the girl for sexual activity.

He also noted that after the April 2 kiss – when she was asked to show her coach the self-inflicted cuts on her thighs – a girl who had never been kissed told the youth pastor’s wife the very next day.

“She needs to express something to someone, but doesn’t want to get the defendant in trouble,” he said.

He pointed out another kiss, which Phelps said was on the forehead, was witnessed by Phelps’ daughter who told two individuals about it but denied it when she took the witness stand.

Halstead admitted the girl played a role in the continued contact between the two, although he blamed Phelps for isolating her from others, leaving him as a lone trusted confidante.

“I think it’s pretty clear she had a crush on him,” he said. “She trusts him, she probably likes the attention, she’s 16.”

Her reliance on her coach was part of why there was little physical evidence showing their conversations via text, according to Halstead.

For example, when she got caught texting him in class, she erased everything, according to Halstead.

“She’s upset, she didn’t want this to get out,” he said. “She deletes all heir texts from her iPod, her mom actually has to go under the stall (in the school bathroom) to grab the iPod.”

Halstead reminded jurors of corroborative testimony and evidence the two continued communicating after he was no longer her coach; through girls who said they acted as go-betweens, and when the teenager gave Phelps her password to him so he could message her using her hotmail account.

Two emails from September submitted as evidence were found inside a special folder called “For my little star” were important, according to the deputy prosecutor.

One was a love song by Mariah Carey called “Without you“, the other a frowning face with the words I’m sorry.

“Who is sorry? What are they sorry for?” Halstead asked.

He pointed out jurors had heard testimony the only individuals with the password were the girl, Phelps and Phelps’ daughter.

“Remember what he said to his co-worker, ‘My life would be over if they found my text messages’, ” Halstead said.

The same co-worker Mark Miller testified Phelps was “obsessed” with the teenager, Halstead reminded the jury.

“Mark warned him, stay away from her Dude, you’re a truck driver, not a shrink,” he said.

Halstead suggested Phelps misled his family, suggesting the girl was in imminent danger of harming herself and nobody was doing anything about it, when actually her family already knew about the cutting and had gotten her counseling.

He related that to a motive Phelps family members may have had to remember facts in a skewed manner when they testified, in particular Annette Phelps when she told what time she last saw he husband on July 27.

“She’s in denial, the reason she’s in denial is she doesn’t have all the information,” he said.

Halstead told the jury the girl told very detailed, consistent stories; that it took courage for her to testify.

“She was cross examined for four and a half hours,” he said. “Consistent. Nothing inconsistent with her story.”

Judge Hunt told the attorneys to return next Thursday when a sentencing date for Phelps would be set.

The second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor conviction is related to an incident that occurred on or about April 2, 2011. It is is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail.

The third-degree rape conviction is related to July 27, 2011. It is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

2012.0426.phelps.closingcrowd

Attorneys gave closing arguments in front of a large audience in Lewis County Superior Court.

Pe Ell rape trial: Family provides alibis for former coach

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Todd Phelps won’t be testifying in his rape trial, but the jury has heard from his family members they were well aware he was texting the 16-year-old girl and trying to save her life because she was suicidal.

2011.1129.todd.phelps.small_2

Todd D. Phelps

The former Pe Ell High School softball coach is charged with an incident or incidents of kissing and touching the team member before he was forced to resign a year ago. The 52-year-old is also charged with third-degree rape in connection with an encounter the girl described as taking place three months later at his brother’s house in Pe Ell.

The allegation regarding the rape charge is her lack of consent was clearly expressed by her words or conduct.

Phelps’ wife took took the witness stand yesterday, describing the girl as a talented ballplayer with little self worth who sometimes refused to talk.

“She needed encouragement,” Annette Phelps said.

She was virtually a part of their family during the summer of 2010 when they traveled often to softball tournaments, according to the Phelps’ daughter Angelina.

Angelina Phelps, now 20, said she tutored the girl in math.

“She would constantly talk about being ugly, say I cost that game for us, I can’t do this,” Angelina Phelps said.

Last spring their relationship became strained, she testified.

“She’ll wear you out,” Angelina Phelps said. “I mean, she has to have attention constantly.”

They are all residents of the small West Lewis County town of Pe Ell.

A jury of six women and six men are hearing the case in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis.

Because the expected four-day trial has already gone three days over, two jurors with previous commitments have been allowed to step down. The two alternates have stepped in.

Under questioning, Annette Phelps said she knew her husband began texting the teen in late March of last year, and he shared with his wife his dealings with the girl.

Her husband told her about the girl showing him self-inflicted cuts on her thighs she said.

“She said you can’t cry and lifted her shorts,” Annette Phelps said. Her daughter was home when it occurred, she said.

Annette Phelps recalled the girl spending the night once during spring break of last year, and being very upset and crying in the morning. The girl wouldn’t talk with her, she said, only her husband.

The teenager had stopped speaking to her father long before, she said, when he yelled at her about her cutting.

“She wanted to move out, she wanted to be emancipated,” she said. “She would tell us she didn’t even want to be home.”

Annette Phelps said her husband told her the teenager was troubled about a friend who experienced suicide in her life and another who was molested.

She said she told her husband he needed to get a hold of her parents, which he did in on April 9, she testified.

Annette Phelps testified she knew her husband had access to the teen’s hotmail account, but she never heard anything about a separate folder in there called “For my little star”. She also thought their texting ended in mid-April, she said.

In May of last year, she switched phones for her husband to keep the girl from calling, she said. She knew the girls’ parents had blocked the Phelps’ phone numbers from the girl’s phone.

Todd Phelps’ mother took the witness stand as well.

Jean Schmitt testified her son was with her at her Pe Ell home the day of the alleged incident sexual misconduct.

The 72-year-old mother of five boys said it stuck in her mind, because her daughter-in-law’s nephew had been in a very serious accident the day before and been hospitalized.

On April 2 of last year, Schmitt said, her daughter-in-law went Harborview in Seattle and Todd Phelps was with her from about 1 p.m. until 11 p.m., except when he left for five or 10 minutes to go get one of his daughters.

Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead asked Schmitt if she knew why her son was put on leave or why he resigned. She answered that he violated school policy to save the girl’s’ life and quit because it would be better for the girl.

Under questioning, Angelina Phelps confirmed she joined them at her grandmother’s that night.

Angelina Phelps also gave an accounting of her father’s whereabouts on July 27 of last year, the day of the alleged rape.

Her father worked that day she said. He got home about 3:30 p.m. and was still home after she drove to Chehalis in the late afternoon to drop her mother off at Starbucks, she said. He was mowing the grass when she returned and they spent the evening together, Angelina Pheps testified

Her father never goes anywhere alone now, because of this case, she said.

The prosecution originally alleged in charging documents the incident of second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor occurred on April 2, 2011. Last month, after getting new information, they ammended the charging documents to allege the incident occurred sometime between March 25 and April 3.

The teen has testified she may have gotten confused on her” timeline.”

Attorneys on both sides have said jurors won’t see much of the supposed thousands of texts exchanged between Phelps and the teenager, because they were deleted.

Defense attorney Don Blair finished calling witnesses yesterday.

Blair has told the jury he doesn’t know why the girl is saying these things about his client and Phelps at no time thought the relationship was inappropriate.

One or two rebuttal witnesses are expected to take the stand this morning.

Third-degree rape carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. There is no allegation of physical force.

Second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail.

If convicted, Phelps would be required to register as a sex offender.

Phelps remains free on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
•••

For background, read previous stories by scrolling down when on the homepage.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

VEHICLE PROWLERS HIT CHEHALIS OVERNIGHT

• Chehalis police responded yesterday to seven reports of car prowls, most occurring overnight and involving thefts or attempted thefts of stereo equipment and missing items such as CDs. Some windows were broken to gain access and some were not, according to Deputy Chief Randy Kaut. The calls began about 8:20 a.m. on South Market Boulevard and included locations such as Southeast Adams Avenue, Northeast Washington Avenue and Southeast Dobson Court. One individual heard a dog barking and saw two men walking up Adams Avenue but didn’t report it until later, Kaut said. He said it’s a lot for one time period and they are likely related to the same person. One attempt involved a delivery truck in the Twin City Town Center, according to the Chehalis Police Department. An officer was called just before 5 o’clock this morning to the area of South Market Boulevard near R.E. Bennett School where two subjects were observed looking inside cars, but no arrests were made, according to police.

DUMP TRAILER HAULED AWAY

• A dump-style construction trailer was reported stolen from the 1800 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia yesterday morning. The black 2007 trailer has a license plate of 4580TK, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BURGLARY

• An unspecified variety of home electronics were stolen from a home on the 1900 block of Ahlers Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 11:20 a.m. yesterday.

• Morton police investigated a burglary last Tuesday at a residence on the 300 block of First Street. Missing was a laptop computer and a Playstation, according to the Morton Police Department.

SUNFLOWER SEEDS PUT IN GAS TANK

• Police were called just before 6 p.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of Roosevelt Avenue in Centralia where a vehicle’s tires had been slashed and sunflower seeds place in the fuel tank.

DRUGS

• A traffic stop just after 4 p.m. yesterday at the 1500 block of Belmont Avenue in Centralia ended with two people getting arrested for possession of drugs. Charles Stilson, 37, no hometown noted, was driving with a suspended license and in his pocket an officer found a syringe and a baggie of suspected methamphetamine, according to officer John Panco. His passenger Diane Gange, 36,  no hometown noted, was found to have suspected heroin, Panco said. Both were booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRIVER OF ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE ACCUSED OF ATTEMPTING TO RUN OVER DEPUTY

• A 23-year-old Tenino man was arrested for allegedly trying to run down a sheriff’s deputy with an ATV Sunday on the 7000 block of Skookumchuck Road, according to The Olympian. Read more here