Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

News brief: Body found off highway cliff near Packwood identified as Tacoma man

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  The Lewis County Coroner’s Office confirmed today the skeletal remains found down an embankment with a wrecked car last week off U.S. Highway 12 outside Packwood are missing Tacoma resident, Jerry L. Heilman.

Coroner Warren McLeod said Heilman, who vanished last year, died of blunt force trauma.

Responders had to rappel down about 275 feet to recover the body after hikers came across the scene last Wednesday.

HIs manner of death is undetermined, but the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has said it wasn’t suspicious, that they believe his car was traveling fast in the area without a guard rail near milepost 143.

A missing person listing with the city of Tacoma says Heilman was last seen on July 31 of 2012, had not contacted his friends, family or his employer and could be driving a blue 2003 Ford Mustang. His age given was 49 at the time of his disappearance.

The (Tacoma) News Tribune writes Heilman was an avid hunter and fisherman and left his home on Aug. 1, 2012.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Updated at 8:15 p.m.

MEN BOOKED FOR ASSAULT OF OFFICERS

• A 58-year-old Centralia man was arrested for third-degree assault last night after two calls about a disorderly and intoxicated tenant at the 100 block of South Silver Street in Centralia. Steven M. Radick allegedly turned off someone else’s electricity and was threatening toward others; when contacted by an officer he allegedly struck the officer in the chest, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• A 45-year-old Centralia man was arrested for third-degree assault on Monday afternoon after police were asked to remove two individuals from a trailer park on the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Police say when Mitchell W. Sinclair finally gathered up his belongings to go, he walked past an officer, twisted his body knocking the officer in the chest with his shoulder. He was He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BOY ACCUSED OF ASSAULT

• Chehalis police were called yesterday afternoon to Green Hill School about an assault of two staff members by a student-inmate. One went to the hospital to be checked and the other didn’t wish to press for charging, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

BAR FIGHT

• Morton police on Monday said they were investigating a felony assault reported about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday at the Bucksnort Inn on Main Avenue in which a 23-year-old Glenoma man sustained a concussion. He was treated at Morton General Hospital and has been released, according to Chief Dan Mortensen.

HOME BURGLARY CENTRALIA

• A 25-year-old Centralia area man returned home about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday at the 2900 block of Sawall Avenue to discover someone had broken into his home and stolen a 40-inch Panasonic flat screen television, an xBox console and as many as 20 games, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

SHED BURGLARY CENTRALIA

• An 83-year-old Centralia man called the sheriff’s office on Monday morning after he discovered someone had cut a fence and gone into a storage shed stealing a red 2007 Yamaha ATV valued at more than $4,000. It happened at the 2200 block of Sandra Avenue, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

STOLEN TRAILER

• A 2004 utility trailer stolen out of Cle Elum was discovered at the 100 block of Cowlitz Loop Road in Toledo, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy was contacted on Friday about the trailer which had been sitting on the property for some time, after tenants had left, according to the sheriff’s office. It was returned to its owner, Sgt. Rob Snaza said.

MAIL THEFT

• A 49-year-old Centralia area resident contacted the sheriff’s office on Friday after discovering two outgoing checks had been stolen from the mailbox at the 100 block of River Heights Road. The victim told of seeing a small blue pickup truck in the area, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

MORE THEFT

• An air compressor and tools were stolen from a garage on the 700 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 12:30 p.m. yesterday.

• Centralia police took a report on Monday of wire stolen from inside a fenced area and building at the 1700 block of Lum Road which turned up in what appeared to be a homeless camp.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Chehalis police were called about 12:45 p.m. yesterday regarding a vehicle prowl in the parking lot at Shop n Kart on the 2100 block of North National Avenue in which a handgun and a garage door opener were stolen. Officer Linda Bailey said someone apparently got the victim’s home address from the registration and the victim subsequently reported his home was burglarized on Southwest William Avenue. It appeared whoever it was tried to steal the truck as well, Bailey said.

• Chehalis police were called about 6:40 p.m. yesterday regarding a vehicle prowl at the 400 block of Northeast Jefferson Avenue.

• Police called about 3:25 a.m. yesterday about a car prowl on Southwest Kelly Avenue in Chehalis subsequently came across a slew of vehicles in the area which had also been hit. Doors and trunks were found open, dome lights on and stolen items strewn along a path which a police dog attempted a track, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Among the items taken were what you might expect to find inside a vehicle, such as purses, tools, CDs, according to police

• Police were called about 5:25 p.m. yesterday regarding someone stealing a television from a vehicle at the 900 block of South Schueber Road in Centralia.

DRUGS

• A 50-year-old Toledo man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine when a deputy was asked to check on his well-being at the 5100 block of Jackson Highway in Toledo on Friday afternoon. William F. Eberle had an outstanding warrant and when he was taken into custody, the deputy found a substance that field tested positive for the dug, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Eberle was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sherif’s office.

SEXUAL ASSAULT

• Rupp W. Freece was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail on Sunday in connection with an alleged rape of a woman he knows, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

RESCUE IN THE WOODS

• Firefighters from Doty and Pe Ell responded with crews from Raymond when an elderly couple’s vehicle went down an embankment early yesterday morning west of Lewis County. Lewis County Fire District 16 Chief Greg Feuchter said he was not on the call, but it came out around 8:30 a.m. or so and while it was up towards Menlo in Pacific County, the scene was accessed off Elk Creek Road and up logging roads. Kirotv.com reports the truck accelerated off a cliff and was witnessed by the couple’s companions. The 80-year-old woman died and her husband was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in critical condition, according to reporter Richard Thompson.

COLLISIONS

• A 20-year-old Chehalis driver escaped injury when he swerved to miss a deer in the fog at the 200 block of Berry Road outside Chehalis and ended up sheering off a utility pole early on Sunday. His pickup truck sustained major damage, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He was cited for speeds too fast for conditions, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A 72-year-old driver sustained only minor injuries but her Honda Civic was totaled when she lost control of the vehicle and it rolled at the 100 block of Chilvers Road west of Chehalis on Sunday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Bordena H. Andrew was cited for second-degree negligent driving, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A 19-year-old driver was cited for speed too fas for conditions after his 1998 Subaru Legacy collided with an embankment on Friday afternoon at the 100 block of Coal Creek Road near Chehalis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The car sustained major damage, Sgt. Rob Snaza said. The driver was not hurt, Snaza said.

• There was significant damage to both the elk and the Honda Accord when  the two collided on Friday evening at the 2500 block of Salzer Valley Road outside Centralia, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The 21-year-old driver was not injured, according to Sgt. Rob Snaza.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, underage drinking; responses for alarms, misdemeanor assaults, dispute, shoplifting, parking lot hit and run, possible fraud, purse taken from shopping cart; complaints loud party, screaming man, growling, staring dog … and more.

Maurin murder trial: Defense decides to call no witnesses

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
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Sherry Tibbetts, the woman Riffe has been with for 24 years in Alaska, waits to make sure he sees her before leaving the courtroom this afternoon; with her son Jeremy Kern. Tibbetts was kept out of the courtroom until now because she was listed as a witness.

Updated at 8:21 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – After arguments, motions and rulings this morning without the jury, murder defendant Ricky Riffe’s lawyer told the jury his client instructed him not to put on any defense witnesses.

Prosecutors rested their case just before 11 a.m., and Seattle-based attorney John Crowley stood up and announced to the courtroom:

“Mr. Riffe has directed the defense to call no witnesses and rest our case,” Crowley said. “On behalf of Rick Riffe, we rest our case.”

Then Crowley sat down.

The abrupt conclusion of the weeks-long witness testimony portion of the trial set the stage for closing arguments to begin tomorrow morning.

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Ricky Allen Riffe

Riffe, 55, is charged in Lewis County Superior Court with numerous offenses in connection with the December 1985 shotgun deaths of Ed and Minnie Maurin, an elderly couple from Ethel. He and his now-deceased younger brother have been the prime suspects since the early 1990s but he was only arrested last year.

Based on conversation by the court about scheduling, Lewis County prosecutors will take several hours tomorrow for closing, summarizing what they think the evidence has shown.

Then the following morning, Crowley will offer his closing arguments. Prosecutors get the last word with counter arguments and then the jury can be sent to begin deliberations.

The jury was given a long break until after lunch.

Outside the presence of the jury this morning, the judge heard arguments on the previously filed defense motion for prosecutorial conduct, regarding the jailhouse snitch who denied on the witness stand he got anything in exchange for his testimony against Riffe.

The judge had harsh words for both Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead and Crowley

Crowley argued it should lead to a mistrial or dismissal and to disqualify Halstead.

He told the judge the incident deprived his client of a fair trial and that also prosecutors had concealed from him there was a plea deal in place with Erwin Bartlett by not sharing the documentation during the discovery process.

“He was perjuring himself and the prosecutor knew he was perjuring himself at that point, and what the prosecutor didn’t know is we knew,” Crowley said.

Judge Richard Brosey said he could only dismiss if there was no other recourse, but that in the case of Bartlett, by the time the jury heard Crowley’s cross examination and Bartlett’s attorney was put on the stand to verify what occurred, it should have been very clear to the jury there was a deal.

The judge suggested the proper channel for the complaint was not through himself, but through the bar association.

On the matter of Crowley emailing prosecutors that he would not file the motion if they would stipulate to certain other matters, Brosey was equally blunt.

“It sure looks to me like that’s extortion Mr. Crowley,” Brosey said. “How do you explain that any other way?”

“All we were trying to do is get them to stipulate to the truth of the matter,” Crowley said.

Before the jury was brought back in, Crowley made a separate oral motion for dismissal of all charges, stating there hadn’t been enough evidence presented.

The judge denied the motion.

Riffe is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery, as well as one count of burglary; all either as the principal player or as an accomplice.

Numerous aggravating circumstances are alleged including particularly vulnerable victims and deliberate cruelty.

Prosecutors are leaving room for a variety of possible scenarios.

Halstead told the judge that since there were no eyewitnesses, and nobody knows exactly what occurred, it was possible the jury could conclude whoever drove the Maurins up Stearns Hill Road and shot them, whether it was Greg Riffe or Ricky Riffe, that the killing was not premeditated.

He asked for a jury instruction which would allow jurors to find Riffe guilty of second-degree murder instead of first-degree.

The judge said he would allow the so-called lesser included offense to be contemplated by the jury, noting it was unusual for the state to be proposing it, as such an instruction usually it would be sought by the defense and the state would oppose it.

Judge Brosey read to the jury the lengthy list of jury instructions.

The jury was also read a list of stipulations, facts agreed to by both sides to be placed in the record for jury consideration in lieu of live testimony.

The following are among them:

• Rick Riffe and Robin Giddings married in Reno, Nevada on Jan. 5, 1985

• They two divorced in 1991.

• Robin Riffe died of natural causes in 1994 in Washington state.

• Rick Riffe was convicted of a felony in 1981, and could not legally possess firearms until at least 1986.

Closing statements are expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.

The trial is open to the public. The courtroom is on the fourth floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center at Main Street and Chehalis Avenue in Chehalis.

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Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer defends his senior deputy prosecutor to the judge in court this morning.

Maurin murder trial: Reporter’s notebook

Monday, November 11th, 2013
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Ricky Riffe’s lawyer, far right, and his assistant talk with Riffe’s supporters, the family of his longtime live-in girlfriend Sherry Tibbetts, after court recessed for the three-day weekend.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – When the sixth week of testimony begins tomorrow in the 1985 Maurin murder case, it should finally be witnesses for the defense who take the stand.

Prosecutors seem to have called all the witnesses they are going to, but have not yet rested.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer has said he hasn’t revealed to the defense or to he judge throughout the trial who his next witnesses would be.

Defense attorney John Crowley over the past weeks has cross examined state’s witnesses extensively, and only has a handful of his own to call.

His client, former Mossyrock resident Ricky A. Riffe, is charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery and burglary in connection with the December 1985 shotgun deaths of Ed, 81, and Minnie, 83, Maurin of Ethel.

Following are a few pieces of information which have come out during the past weeks in Lewis County Superior Court but not previously included in news stories.

• Of the more than 800 people Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective Bruce Kimsey has spoken to in the Maurin murder case, no one has ever asked about claiming any of the reward money, including the $10,000 offered in newspaper ads after Denny Hadaller hired private investigators in 2003.

• A Winston cigarette butt that turned up among items in the evidence locker last year, and came from a trash can inside the Maurin’s home, was tested for DNA and came back to a partial profile of an unknown male. The Maurins didn’t smoke.

• Of the 19 cigarette butts recovered from the Maurin’s 1969 Chrysler found abandoned in the parking lot at Yard Birds Shopping Center and tested for DNA, one was found to have come from a daughter-in-law of Minnie Maurin, and another came back to an unknown female.

• Ricky and John Gregory Riffe lived in a small trailer park in Adna for about a year in 1981, according to an early witness. William Reisinger who resides on the 400 block on Bunker Creek Road said they were his neighbors he knew from talking to them to say they could have access to the river and from seeing them out and about. “I just seen ’em go up and down the road, running around. They were young guys, I seen ’em alot.” he testified.

• Kimsey calculated the distance between Rick and Robin Riffe’s home in Silver Creek in 1985 to the Maurin’s house in Ethel was 4.7 miles, or a five minute drive along U.S. Highway 12.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, November 11th, 2013

ONE DIES IN TOLEDO AREA CRASH

• A 28-year-old passenger died and a driver was airlifted to a Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver after a single-vehicle wreck last night in Toledo. Aid and troopers responded about 7 p.m. after a Honda Accord struck a power pole at Jackson Highway near Ray Road, according to the Washington State Patrol. The car was totaled. According to the state patrol, the vehicle was southbound at a high rate of speed when it struck a guard rail coming around a lefthand corner, crossed the center line and hit the utility pole with its front passenger door. Both men are from Vancouver, according to the investigating trooper. Adam W. Newstrom, 28, died and Jonathon K. Reno, 42, was hospitalized, according to the state patrol. Neither were wearing seat belts. The cause of the wreck is under investigation, but the state patrol says alcohol or drugs were involved.

WANTED SUBJECT SURRENDERS

• Police from Centralia surrounded a travel trailer yesterday evening where a wanted person was hiding out on the 1300 block of Rose Street. The incident about 6 p.m. involved Jordan C. Yocom, 30, of Centralia who was being sought by Tumwater police police in connection with a robbery,  according to the Centralia Police Department. Officers used a loudspeaker to call Yocom out and he surrendered peacefully, according to police.

FALSE BREAK-IN REPORT LEADS TO REAL ARREST

• A 34-year-old Centralia man was arrested yesterday after allegedly reporting someone had kicked in the door to his apartment at the 1400 block of Harrison Avenue. Police called about 3:30 p.m. to the purported burglary say the victim had actually kicked in his own door after being locked out and lied about a break-in because he was worried he would be held responsible for the damage. Joshua J. Williams, 34, and Cristi L. Wright, 38, of Centralia, were both arrested for filing  false police report, according to the Centralia Police Department. Williams was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

WOOD MILL FIRE EXTINGUISHED

• Crews from three fire departments responded about 3 o’clock this morning to a fire at a wood mill in north Centralia. Sawdust inside a baghouse had ignited at the 1300 block of Central Boulevard, according to Riverside Fire Authority. They flooded the inside of the hopper where the burning was mostly contained, Capt. Scott Snyder said. Firefighters were on the scene until roughly 5:30 a.m., he said.

MESSING WITH ORANGE CONES LANDS MAN IN JAIL

• Centralia police called about 5:30 p.m. yesterday to the intersection of North Pearl Street and Reynolds Avenue arrested a 42-year-old man who had allegedly rearranged traffic cones from the construction area in such a way so that if vehicles followed the indicated path, they would have crashed head on. “He was intoxicated,” Officer John Panco said. Paul I. Ramirez, a homeless person, was arrested for reckless endangerment and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

MISSING TRUCK

• Police this morning are investigating a possible stolen vehicle from Mellen Street in Centralia. The victim contacted police about 6:30 a.m. about the blue pickup truck but it’s not clear yet if it might have just been misplaced, according to the Centralia Police Department.

TRACTOR FOUND

• A 35-year-old Pe Ell resident was arrested on Thursday after deputies traced a stolen tractor to his property. The red Massey Ferguson tractor found under cover at the 300 block of Pleasant Avenue had been taken from an open barn area on Roundtree Road in Curtis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Daniel G. Thompson Jr. was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary, according to the sheriff’s office. The investigation is ongoing, Sgt. Rob Snaza said.

MISSING BIKE RECOVERED

• A 41-year-old Centralia man was arrested yesterday evening for allegedly selling a stolen bicycle. The bike turned up on the 300 block of West Magnolia Street in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department. Alex S. Escamilla was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree trafficking stolen property, according to police.

VEHICLE PROWL

• A bicycle was taken from the back of a truck at the 13300 block of Belmont Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police around noon yesterday.

COLLISIONS

• A 24-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for driving under the influence after he allegedly ran into a parked vehicle and continued on from the 900 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia early yesterday morning. Officers arriving about 3 a.m. found a license plate was dropped at the scene which led them to Jacob W. Kreidler, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• Police arrested a 74-year-old Centralia man for driving under the influence after he was involved in a single vehicle collision with a tree about 9 p.m. on Thursday at the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia. Richard C. Wilsie was cited and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• One of two teenaged girls in a single-vehicle accident was taken to the hospital on Thursday evening at the 200 block of Southwest 13th Street in Chehalis. Their car traveled through the grass into the parking lot near the playground missing a tree but striking another vehicle, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. Both cars sustained serious damage, Capt. Casey Beck said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving with suspended license, violation of no contact order, misdemeanor assault; responses for disputes, drugs found in dressing room at Wal-Mart, a Dachshund wandering inside Wal-Mart … and more.

CORRECTION: The item about the arrest involving a stolen tractor found in Pe Ell on the property of Daniel G. Thompson Jr. has been updated to reflect his correct age. The sheriff’s office initially provided erroneous information.

Maurin murder trial: Testimony of Riffe admission to inmate leads to dual complaints

Saturday, November 9th, 2013
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Jonathan Meyer, Will Halstead and Bruce Kimsey of the prosecution team face the judge’s bench in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lawyers on both sides in the Ricky Riffe murder trial accused each other of misconduct as the fifth week of proceedings began to wind down.

The conversation in Lewis County Superior Court before the jury was called into the courtroom on the surface was about whether a local attorney should be called to the witness stand but at its root revolved around whether a jailhouse snitch got a deal in exchange for saying Riffe confessed to him.

Defense attorney John Crowley told the judge he would file a motion for prosecutorial misconduct and would be asking  that Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead be disqualified from the case.

Halstead, who is handling the prosecution along with elected Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer, shot back.

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Erwin Bartlett

“I hope Mr. Crowley attaches the threatening email he sent that he would not file it if the state would stipulate to certain facts,” Halstead said. “That in itself is misconduct.”

Judge Richard Brosey ruled the informant’s lawyer should be called, saying the jury is entitled to know if the inmate did or did not get “consideration” in exchange for his testimony.

Under questioning by Halstead late last week, Erwin Bartlett denied he was getting anything in return for taking the stand, but when presented with the plea agreement document, said he didn’t remember much about the hearing as his liver ailment was causing him pain.

Brosey indicated he’s listened to many informants over the years and said his impression was Bartlett may have expressed confusion by design and it might be that he’s “smart like a fox”.

Crowley told the judge his client’s case was irreparably damaged by the matter.

Jurors sent home for the weekend were told to return Tuesday morning because Monday is a holiday. However, court is scheduled to begin for the attorneys early that day as they argue the defense motion.

Crowley represents Riffe, the 55-year-old former Mossyrock resident who was arrested last year at his home in Alaska and charged in the December 1985 shotgun deaths of an elderly couple who lived in Ethel.

Prosecutors contend Riffe and his now-deceased younger brother were responsible, that someone forced Ed and Minnie Maurin to drive to their bank to withdraw thousands of dollars and then to the woods near Adna where they were shot in their backs inside their car and dumped along a logging road.

Jurors since early October have heard dozens of state’s witnesses describe the day the couple vanished from their home, seeing them with someone else in their green sedan and observing  an unshaven man in an Army jacket with a gun at or near Yardbirds Shopping Center in Chehalis where the car was abandoned. Both Riffe and his brother John Gregory Riffe have been pegged as the person in a composite drawing and in photo montages.

A former drug dealer has testified Riffe told him he thought they got away with it, a woman who conducted an online relationship with him has said he made references to it and a Mossyrock man said he remembers overhearing the brothers planning it. But prosecutors have no fingerprints or DNA evidence that ties either brother to what has been described as one of the most horrendous murder cases in Lewis County.

When Bartlett took the witness stand on Oct. 31, he was forthright about his own crimes and how he came to be locked up in the Lewis County Jail, in an adjacent cell to Riffe early this year.

The now-50-year-old told of escaping New Mexico State Penitentiary where he was serving time for two counts of attempted first-degree murder – he said he took an axe handle to two men he caught on his living room floor with his wife.

When asked, he said in prison he built couches for a dental office and one day took the guts out of one of them, climbed inside and got loaded onto a flatbed truck. Bartlett said he was free for six months and 11 days before he was apprehended and ended up serving about 13 and half years.

He returned to Washington in 2007 and this past winter was serving six months in the Lewis County Jail for assault, he testified.

Bartlett lives in Hoquiam, but considers Chehalis his hometown. He told of getting to know Riffe earlier this year.

“I met Rick probably several days after I was in the medical unit,” he said. “I told him what I was in for, he told me what he was there for.”

Later, after Bartlett returned from a medical furlough and was caught trying to smuggle a prescription medication back into the jail, he tried to negotiate for leniency in exchange for information on fellow inmates, he testified.

His charge was a felony, possession of a controlled substance by a prisoner.

“What consideration did you receive?” Halstead asked him.

“None, I was told by you I wouldn’t get any,” Bartlett said.

Under questioning by Halstead, he began to describe the conversations he and Riffe had.

“First, I want to say, when you get locked up like we are, you really tend to say things,” Bartlett said. “I laid my heart out.”

He shared what he knew about his fellow inmate, that he said he lived in Alaska, loved the outdoors and fishing and hunting, and did odd jobs.

“I know he had sleep apnea and COPD, a respiratory problem,” he said.

Bartlett said Riffe showed him pictures of his wife and children and that they both liked to read Westerns.

“I believe this conversation happened through the vent,” he said. “We call it the “cell” phone.”

“He told me that he committed a crime, that he had killed two old people and that’s what happened,” Bartlett testified.

The witness went on to say Riffe told him that he had help, he thought an accomplice who was “no longer here.”

He said they took one of the individuals to the bank, and maybe said the cops might have a picture of the ATM driving through, according to Bartlett.

Riffe also complained about his well-paid attorney from Seattle not coming to see him, not talking to witnesses, he said.

“He told me it was a bad, bad mistake,” he said. “I think the first time he told me he did it, the second time he said allegedly.”

Under questioning by Crowley, Bartlett said he has already pleaded guilty to the smuggling charge and wasn’t sure why he hasn’t yet been sentenced.

Asked if he was receiving anything in exchange for his testimony against Riffe, he said it’s never a sure thing, but he sure hopes so.

The defense attorney put a document in front of the witness and asked if prosecutors were going to recommend he get a 30-day sentence.

“As I said, I don’t remember anyone discussing this with me,” Bartlett said.

The witness recalled he was looking at 12 months maximum, given his background.

The document was signed by Halstead, the one who prosecuted his case.

The jury was sent out of the room, when Halstead objected.

Crowley told the judge he’d gone to the clerk’s office the day before and gotten a copy of Bartlett’s case documents.

Halstead told the judge it was Bartlett’s attorney’s bad habit to attach a copy of the plea offer sheet to the filing.

“This document was not in discovery,” Crowley told the judge.  “Obviously there is consideration, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

“I’m not going to let this go.”

Centralia lawyer David Arcuri was called as a witness subsequently and testified he had no idea what his client Bartlett told law enforcement about Riffe.

The plea agreement however, was if Bartlett testified truthfully in the Riffe case, Halstead would tell the judge he should get 30 days for bringing drugs into the jail but if he didn’t, Halstead would seek the maximum sentence, according to Arcuri.

The state said they expect to rest on Tuesday. The defense will then begin to call its witnesses and closing arguments could take place, or at least begin, by the end of the week.

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John Crowley looks through case exhibits at the end of the day.

Maurin murder trial: Internet chat with the suspect

Friday, November 8th, 2013
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Deb George responds to attorney’s questions about herself and her online relationship with murder suspect Ricky Riffe.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Debra George testified yesterday about online conversations she had with murder defendant Ricky Riffe that over a period of time sometimes included exchanges related to the 1985 Maurin murders.

George, 57, said she had a Facebook account in her and her husband’s name and at some point, Riffe made a friend request meant for his old high school buddy, but he ignored it. A month or so later, she responded and they developed a private long distance email relationship that took place over about a year and a half, according to George.

“What did Rick tell you about sex and dead people? That he used to do that over dead people?” George was asked.

“We talked about different things like that, yeah, but we knew we would never do that,” she replied.

George told the prosecutor Riffe spoke of doing it in graveyards and and such places because nobody could catch him.

Did you tell detective Kimsey that Riffe talked about having sex where the Maurins were killed, she was asked? And what did she say to Kimsey about that?

“I couldn’t tell him much because I didn’t want to be killed,” she said.

George is among the final witnesses for the prosecution in Riffe’s kidnapping, robbery and murder trial that began early last month in Lewis County Superior Court.

Riffe, 55, was arrested and charged last year in the deaths of Ed and Minnie Maurin, the elderly Ethel couple whose bodies were found dumped on a logging road near Adna on Dec. 24, 1985.

The former Mossyrock man who moved to Alaska in the late 1980s chatted with George sometimes daily, according to the woman.

They communicated over Facebook, Gmail and video chat, she said. She testified she deleted all of it.

According to George, she once broached the subject of the homicides with the man she suspected was involved.

“I was telling him a story about some guy talking about a murder back in the 80s,” she said.

Through her testimony and the lawyer’s questions, it appeared she mentioned a name of a local man she’d talked with about it, and Riffe chuckled and said the man was a “snake in the grass.”

She was just very curious, George testified.

“He asked me who they thought did it,” George said.

George spoke of one time simply asking Riffe what happened to the bloody clothes.

He turned off the web cam, but she could still hear him and she thought Riffe was talking to himself, according to George.

Riffe said he said he gave them to someone else to bury by the lake, according to George.

“Do you remember detective Kimsey asking if the clothes were burned?” Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer asked her.

“Yeah, they weren’t. And I was shocked,” George replied.

Do you remember talking to detective Kimsey about Mr. Maurin being struck in the back of the head? she was asked.

“He got hit in the head when he wouldn’t get out of the car,” George said.

George came to the attention of law enforcement because her husband Les George said she’d been communicating with Riffe.

After she attended Riffe’s first court appearance in July of last year, detective Bruce Kimsey asked to interview her.

At times her testimony was confusing, as she repeatedly responded she didn’t recall “at this time.”

She admitted she was afraid of testifying.

Under questioning by defense attorney John Crowley, she acknowledged a head injury that made her forgetful and that she was taking medication for a variety of anxieties.

Crowley queried her about why she only just this week made mention of the injury to Ed Maurin’s head, insinuating it didn’t come from his client.

“Well, how else would I have known that?” George asked.

She denied she followed news of the case or spoke with her sister who had been attending the trial.

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Two of Minnie Maurin’s children, Denny Hadaller and his sister Hazel Oberg, observe proceedings during the Riffe murder trial.

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Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer, left, and detective Bruce Kimsey confer during a court recess.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

HATCHET ASSAULT SUSPECT ARRESTED IN WYOMING

• The 31-year-old Randle man sought in connection with a hatchet attack last Friday was picked up early yesterday morning at a gas station in Rock Springs, Wyoming, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Robert J. Spradlin allegedly beat an acquaintance with the blunt end of the small axe at a home on the 200 block of Savio Road. The 54-year-old victim suffered several broken ribs, a punctured lung and had defensive wounds on his hands, according to the sheriff’s office. Sgt. Rob Snaza said the prosecutor’s office is working on the extradition process to bring Spradlin back to Lewis County.

TRACTOR MISSING

• A deputy was called yesterday morning to the 200 block of Roundtree Road in Curtis about a red 1984 Massey Ferguson tractor stolen from an open barn area. It happened sometime after 8 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is estimated at $5,000.

OTHER THEFT

• An officer took a report yesterday from the 500 block of South Ash Street in Centralia regarding a gold bracelet stolen approximately two months ago, according to the Centralia Police Department. They have a suspect and are investigating, according to police.

• Centralia police yesterday took a report from the 1300 block of Oxford Avenue about the theft of medications from the mail.

DRUGS

• A 53-year-old Onalaska man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine when he was picked up on a warrant about 2 o’clock this morning at a residence on the 3400 block of state Route 508, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Bill J. Lane was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A 37-year-old Centralia woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and for reportedly providing a false name to law enforcement just after 1 p.m. yesterday, at the 200 block of North Railroad Avenue in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department. Elizabeth I. Stockham was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

POLICE TALK MAN INTO GETTING HELP

• Centralia police responded about 2 p.m. yesterday to the Mellen Street bridge for a distraught male. Officers spoke to the individual who appeared to be confused and upset and persuaded him to accept medical attention, according to the Centralia Police Department.

COLLISION

• A horse and its teenaged rider were uninjured but a vehicle sustained major damage when the horse got spooked and ran from a driveway into the driver’s door of the SUV yesterday afternoon on the 100 block of Carroll Way in Chehalis, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, shoplifting; responses for alarm, suspicious circumstances, disputes, collisions … and more.

Lewis County woman dead after trying to swim away from deputy

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 30-year-old Packwood area woman is dead after she was pulled from the Black River near Rochester last night, apparently in an attempt to flee the law.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said she and a 34-year-old man were contacted in a vehicle parked with its lights off near the boat launch near School Land Road about 8 p.m.

As the deputy was checking information on her, the driver’s door swung open and she ran toward the river, Sgt. Ray Brady said.

“She jumps into the water and starts swimming away from him,” Brady said.

Firefighters responded about 8:22 p.m. and with the use of thermal imaging equipment spotted the woman floating about a quarter mile downstream, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. It was approximately 9:05 p.m., according to Chief Robert Scott.

Her head was above water, but she was hypothermic and incoherent, Scott said. Responders said she was treated for exposure but then medics had to perform CPR enroute to the hospital.

Brady said she passed away about 2:30 a.m.

The woman had arrest warrants from the state Department of Corrections and related to possession of methamphetamine, according to Brady.

As far as they can tell, that may be the reason she ran, he said.

“It’s really kind of tragic, trying to flee some warrants, and have it end in the death of someone,” Brady said.

The Thurston County Coroner’s Office identifies her as Kristina L. Jorden.

Missing Tacoma man’s vehicle, and a body found off highway cliff outside Packwood

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Updated at 8:24 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Skeletal remains discovered east of Packwood have not been identified but they were found near the wreckage of car registered to a Tacoma man who was reported missing last year.

Detectives rappelled 275 feet down an embankment today to examine the find off of U.S. Highway 12 about seven miles west of White Pass, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Two men hiking in the area yesterday afternoon came across the vehicle and the remains over a cliff near the highway, according to the sheriff’s office. Authorities waited until daylight conduct the recovery operation, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said in a news release.

They were assisted by Packwood Search and Rescue members at the scene near milepost 143, according to Brown.

Nothing indicated a crime and investigators believe the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed and left the roadway; the highway has no guard rail in that area, according to Brown.

The remains have not been positively identified, but authorities are  operating under the assumption at this point they belong to the missing man, according to Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod.

McLeod said he’s hopeful he’ll be able to make a confirmation fairly quickly with dental records.

Maurin murder trial: Suspect is ‘witty’

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The wife of Ricky Riffe’s high school friend Les George took the witness stand yesterday where she was asked about a long distance email relationship that took place over about a year and a half between herself and the murder defendant.

Debra George tearfully and seemingly reluctantly spoke of sometimes daily conversations over Facebook, Skype and through Gmail.

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Ricky Allen Riffe

“Did Rick ask you if people were talking about the homicides?” Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer asked.

Yes, she said, but they never mentioned the Maurins by name.

Prosecutors have indicated they believe Riffe was keeping tabs on  the Lewis County investigation even as he was thousands of miles away in Alaska.

“Did you save those emails?” she was asked.

“No, he told me not to,” Deb George testified.

She said she thought Riffe didn’t want her husband or anyone else to see them.

Jurors in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday heard that her computer, as well as two computers from the Riffe household in King Salmon were seized and forensically examined a few weeks after a detective last year learned of the exchanges.

As the trial comes to the end of its fifth week, prosecutors continue in their attempts to prove Riffe is responsible for the December 1985 shotgun deaths of Ed and Minnie Maurin, the elderly Ethel couple whose bodies were found dumped off a logging road near Adna.

The now-55-year-old former Mossyrock man was arrested at his home in King Salmon, Alaska last year not long after the other prime suspect – his younger brother – passed away.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective Bruce Kimsey spent his second day on the witness stand yesterday, sharing more of what he learned about the defendant when he flew to Alaska to confront him and subsequently to bring him back to Lewis County.

Riffe told him’d quit drugs cold turkey when he took a job in Alaska and put that part of his life behind him, according to Kimsey.

Kimsey has suggested the suspect’s attitude changed once he knew “the gig was up”, in contrast to the aloof manner he presented during the interrogation.

“It’s totally different,” Kimsey testified. “He’s more open, willing to talk to me. Willing to joke around and show he had a personality.”

After the July 8, 2012 arrest, he found the suspect not only more relaxed but quite witty, he said.

Kimsey spoke of observing Riffe during his court hearing in Anchorage laughing with other inmates, of conversing over lunch at Chili’s and then a fast food stop on their way to the Lewis County Jail.

When they hit Federal Way, they drove through and ordered burgers, according to Kimsey.

Kimsey walked over to a mini mart and brought back Pall Mall filtered cigarettes, apologizing he couldn’t get exactly what Riffe smoked, he said.

“So, he takes the cigarette out, bites off the filter, spits it on the ground and makes a joke to me,” Kimsey said. “Yes, he laughed.”

Kimsey said during the four-plus hour plane ride, he had continued to go through what all the witnesses have said.

“I’m sitting on his left side, detective Riordan on his right,” Kimsey says.

Riffe still had little to say about the case itself.

“He said, I don’t know. I hope justice prevails.”

“I told him, you can save that for your family and friends,” Kimsey recounted.

“He said, ‘well, it doesn’t look good’,” Kimsey said. “I said, ‘it’s bad.’ And he said, ‘yeah, it’s bad’.”

“Did you ask him if he’d worried?” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead asked.

“I’m talking in his left ear,” Kimsey said. “Did you ever think the day would come when police would come knock on your door and arrest you?”

His answer, “Well yeah.”

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

A TWO-FOR

• A 36-year-old Portland man was arrested about 4 p.m. yesterday in Vader driving a stolen vehicle with a stolen pistol under the driver’s seat after a deputy spotted him driving away a place belonging to someone who had asked the sheriff’s office to watch their property near the intersection of state Route 506 and E Street. The deputy thought it was suspicious and made a traffic stop, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The driver, Dominick J. Perry, told the deputy they were lost, according to the sheriff’s office. Cmdr. Steve Aust said a registration check of the 1986 Mazda RX7 showed it was taken from Portland on Sunday, and the Glock 9 mm handgun stolen from someone else two weeks ago. The gun had a 30-round, high capacity loaded magazine and Perry, being a convicted felon, wasn’t supposed to have a gun anyhow, according to the sheriff’s office. A 34-year-old woman who was in the passenger seat was detained, but was released as she was unaware of the stolen items, according to Aust. Perry was booked into the Lewis County Jail for numerous offenses.

WAL-MART PARKING LOT NAP

• Police called just before 9 a.m. yesterday to a report of a person seemingly passed out behind the wheel of a pickup truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot, with a beer in his hand, ended up arresting the 58-year-old Chehalis man. David W. Wesley was cited for being in physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The case is also being referred to prosecutors for other possible charges as the officer located three handguns – two of them loaded – inside the truck, Sgt. Gary Wilson said. Wesley had an expired concealed pistol license, Wilson said, but the guns were not on his person.

SHED THEFTS

• Centralia police took reports yesterday of storage sheds getting broken into at the 400 block of George Anthony Lane, the 2300 block of North Pearl Street and also the 900 block of Harrison Avenue.

LOST AND FOUND

• An unspecified piece of jewelry was turned into the Chehalis Police Department yesterday after being found on the ground off Louisiana Avenue, according to police.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, violation of restraining order, shoplifting; responses for suspicious circumstances, received counterfeit money, collisions; complaint of a man sleeping inside a clothing drop off box in a parking lot … and more.

Maurin murder trial: The arrest

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
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Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective Bruce Kimsey speaks to the jury about murder suspect Ricky A. Riffe.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It was the fifth or sixth trip detective Bruce Kimsey had made to Alaska as he reinvestigated the December 1985 slaying of the elderly Ethel couple.

Over the previous seven years, Kimsey had scoured thousands and thousands of pages contained in the roughly 20 binders on the murder case at the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

He’d reinterviewed witnesses, managed to make sure every piece of evidence was tested for DNA and he was ready to learn what the only living prime suspect would talk about.

Kimsey had learned former Mossyrock area brothers Ricky and John Gregory Riffe moved to Alaska sometime in the late 1980s.

Just days before, Kimsey learned John Gregory had died. The detective was ready to arrest Ricky.

It was July 8, 2012 and Kimsey, along with a team that included a deputy to cover his back, a prosecutor and a private investigator, had arrived in Alaska two days earlier. They flew to Bristol Bay and checked into Antler’s Inn, the only motel in the town of King Salmon.

As they ordered a late lunch, they realized their waitress was the longtime live-in girlfriend of their suspect so they decided to make their visit then, wanting to catch him home alone.

“I don’t remember a  road sign or a mailbox that said 15 Wolverine Drive,” Kimsey testified.

He described driving a Dodge Caravan on a gravel road toward the neighboring town, where Alaska State Trooper William Gifford knocked on the door of Riffe’s two-story-type home.

“I hear a male say, ‘Who the f*** is it?” Kimsey said.

Gifford identified himself through the door.

“Rick comes down, opens the door and says ‘come inside, I don’t want to let the mosquitoes in’.”

Detective Kimsey took the witness stand yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court as the fourth week of the murder trial opened.

Riffe, 55, is charged with burglary, kidnapping, robbery and murder of Ed and Minnie Maurin, whose bodies were found on Dec. 24, 1985 dumped on a logging road near Adna, with shotgun wounds in their backs five days after they went missing from their home.

Kimsey said he told the suspect they were there to follow up on the murder of Ed and Minnie Maurin.

“He said, who?” Kimsey testified.

Kimsey reminded him it was the same case he’d been interviewed by police about in 1992.

“He said, ‘oh, okay’,” Kimsey said.

Kimsey was inside the home with Gifford and private investigator Chris Peterson. They made small talk, Riffe mentioning he had COPD as he was breathing though an oxygen hose, according to Kimsey. And smoking at the same time, he said.

Riffe’s responses were short, as he was confronted with what various witnesses had offered connecting him to the crimes, according to Kimsey.

The detective said he told him that Jason Shriver had seen him and his brother inside the Maurin’s car with the elderly couple.

And he just responded with “I don’t know what you want me to say’,” according to Kimsey.

Nearly all of Rife’s answers to various questions included I don’t recall, I don’t know, a shoulder shrug or I don’t have anything to add to that, Kimsey testified.

Right in the middle of the relatively serious interview, the phone rang, and to Kimsey’s surprise, Riffe got up and went to answer it, Kimsey recounted.

The detective mimicked a gruff voice on his end of the call offering one and two word responses; it became apparent the suspect must be talking to his girlfriend, he said.

“He got off the phone and said, ‘I just ordered chicken wings’,” Kimsey testified.

Kimsey said Riffe remained well-controlled and matter-of-fact. He described his demeanor as kind of “flat line.”

“Every time I would ask him a question, he would drag on his cigarette and answer me while exhaling,” he said.

But, Kimsey testified, at the same time, he could detect a vein on his neck throbbing.

“My impression, he’s screaming on the inside,” Kimsey said.

Kimsey was asked what he observed as Gifford told him he was under arrest and what for.

“All he said is I’m gonna need my medication and my cigarettes,” Kimsey said. “His shoulders went down; it looked like it relaxed him, to me.”

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead asked about the trip to the Bristol Bay Jail Jail

“He appeared to be calm,” Kimsey testified. “He, it appeared, like, the fight was over.”

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Ricky A. Riffe, far right, and his defense attorney listen to Kimsey’s testimony in Lewis County Superior Court.

It’s election day; have you voted?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Who will be in charge of the fire department where you live?

Half of the fire districts in Lewis County have contested races on the ballot for the position of fire commissioner.

Lewis County has 18 fire districts, the majority of which are run by a three-member board of commissioners.

Ballots for the general election must be postmarked by today or returned to the Lewis County Auditor’s Office before 8 p.m.

See election results here beginning shortly after 8 o’clock tonight.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Updated at 6:55 p.m.

BURGLARY CHEHALIS

• Someone broke into a home on the 500 block of Coal Creek Road and left with more than $4,000 worth of valuables including a men’s Bolivia gold and diamond watch, a black Washburn acoustic guitar with pearl inlay, a gold melting torch and a MacBook Pro laptop computer, according to a report made yesterday to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It happened sometime between Friday and Sunday, Sgt. Rob Snaza said.

BREAK-IN CENTRALIA

• A 39-year-old Centralia woman called police last night to report someone broke into her home and stole her mason jar full of marijuana. Officers responding about 6 p.m. to the 1400 block of Windsor Avenue learned that three containers of prescription medications were also missing. The woman said when she left, her door was locked and when she returned home it was also locked, according to the Centralia Police Department. Under the new law, if a person is 21 or older, they may possess marijuana in their home and may report it stolen if that happens, Officer John Panco said. The case is under investigation, according to police. There was no dollar amount listed in the report for her loss, according to Panco.

DRUGS

• A 26-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested in connection with an ongoing drug investigation yesterday afternoon when deputies made a traffic stop on the 200 block of Maurin Road in Chehalis. It happened just before 4 p.m. and Kari N. Driver was booked into the Lewis County Jail in connection with alleged delivery of methamphetamine, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Three others were arrested as well, Sgt. Rob Snaza said. “Basically we had been looking for her and she was in the vehicle with all the others,” Snaza said. Snaza said Calvin C. Buhl, 24, of Centralia, was arrested for driving with a suspended license; Hailey E. Athay, 22, Chehalis, was arrested for a warrant and Joshua S. Jacobs, 34, Oakville, was also arrested for a warrant.

HIT AND RUN

• Three males were seen running from a mini van after it crashed into a parked car about 11 p.m. last night at the 200 block of West Cherry Street in Centralia, but court papers left behind are believed to belong to one of them, according to the Centralia Police Department. The incident is under investigation, according to police.

WRECK

• A 46-year-old Kelso man was cited for negligent driving when he reportedly drove into a lane closed for construction on Interstate 5 in Centralia last night and then merged back in striking a Chevrolet Trailblazer. The Washington State Patrol reports both vehicles were damaged, nobody was injured but the 24-year-old driver of the SUV was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital for an unspecified reason. She was treated and has been released, according to the hospital. It happened northbound near the Mellen Street interchange, according to the state patrol. The Hyundai Accent driven by Paul P. Ticknor was able to be driven away from the scene, according to the investigating trooper.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assaults; responses for alarms, graffiti, shoplifting, collisions, disputes; concerns about intoxicated man stumbling into traffic, camo-wearing man with a long gun standing on a sidewalk which turned out to be a local guy who may have been carrying a walking stick; complaints about barking dog … and more.

News brief: Name released of elk hunter killed by falling tree top

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The hunter who was killed over the weekend when part of a tree fell onto his tent outside Packwood is identified as Joseph R. Gardner, 69, of Kirkland.

An autopsy found Gardner died from multiple internal injuries, stemming from blunt force trauma to his chest and head, according to Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office responded about 3 p.m. on Saturday to the hunting camp at the Cortright Creek Trailhead where a 20-foot length of tree had dropped approximately 100 feet onto the man.

KING5.com talked to Gardner’s brother who said the two went hunting in that same spot nearly every year since they were boys growing up in Randle but he’d never seen the wind like it was that day.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Updated at 6:36 p.m.

MISSING HUNTER LOCATED

• A 38-year-old Morton man who was hunting and hadn’t been seen since early Saturday morning was found yesterday with mild hypothermia and an injured hip, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said local search and rescue personnel learned shortly after 8:15 a.m. yesterday that searchers from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office were looking for the missing man south of Walupt Lake off the 405 Road in Yakima County. He had last been seen about 6 a.m. on Saturday, according to Brown. He eventually made it to a road where he was found by two individuals; the sheriff’s office was notified about 5 p.m., according to Brown. The hunter apparently was following an elk near a place called the Weed Patch and ended up on the Yakama Reservation in the Two Lakes area, Brown said.

VIOLENCE  IN CENTRALIA

• Deputies called about 5:20 p.m. yesterday to a report of a man pointing a 12-inch chef’s knife into his step-father’s back ended up arresting 26-year-old Christopher J. Draskovich of Centralia.  The unprovoked assault occurred in the kitchen of a home on the 600 block of State Street in Centralia, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The suspect’s family told the sheriff’s office Draskovich had been making threats to kill them over the previous two days, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. When deputies arrived, Draskovich was standing in the street saying his family was trying to kill him, Brown said. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree assault, according to the sheriff’s office.

VIOLENCE IN PACKWOOD

• A 24-year-old Packwood man was arrested for assault in connection with an incident a week ago in which he allegedly left a 42-year-old Packwood man limping and sporting two black eyes, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning. A deputy called to the 100 block of Alta Lane on Oct. 27 noted the incident at the victim’s residence was related to jealousy issues regarding the suspect’s wife, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The victim had a red marks on his back and his forehead, according to Brown. Zakary T. Porter was found at his home and arrested on Friday for third-degree assault and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

VEHICLE THEFT

• Chehalis police took a report yesterday of a red Suzuki Sidekick stolen from in front of its owner’s residence at the 100 block of  Southwest Fourth Street in Chehalis. The Jeepish-type vehicle was there at about 10 p.m. the night before, but by 11 a.m. it had vanished, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The owner said it had been locked and the owner had the keys, according to police. It has a license plate reading ANS 2904, according to police.

BREAK-IN

• Centralia police were called about 8:20 p.m. on Saturday regarding a residential burglary at the 900 block of South Tower Avenue. Missing is costume jewelry, according to the Centralia Police Department.

STOLEN SPRAY PAINT

• Two teenagers were arrested yesterday after allegedly stealing spray paint from a backyard on the 1400 block of Oxford Avenue in Centralia and using it on a vehicle. Brandon L. Jones, 18, of Centralia, and a 16-year-old boy were arrested for second-degree burglary following the approximately 3 p.m. incident, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• A 44-year-old Centralia man who was allegedly caught going through a vehicle by its owner was arrested on Friday evening  according to police. An officer called just before 7 p.m. to the 1300 block of Logan Street cited Richard B. Paddock for vehicle prowl and then released him, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 21-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, giving false information to an officer and warrants on Friday night. Devon E. Hall was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact about 8:20 p.m. with an officer at the 100 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

GUN CRIME

• An 18-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for felon in possession of a firearm on Friday morning at the 1100 block of Long Road in Centralia. Kyle A. Long was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

INDECENT EXPOSURE

• A 46-year-old Chehalis man was taken home by an officer to get him out of public after he allegedly urinated in an alley behind someone’s home and was seen through their window. It was about 4:30 p.m. on Friday in the area of Cascade Avenue, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Sgt. Gary Wilson said Brian Ota was somewhat intoxicated and was cited and then released.

SLEEPING BEHIND THE WHEEL

• Deputies called about 7 p.m. on Friday to a report of two unresponsive subjects inside a car with its motor running in the parking lot of the Salkum Library ended up arrested the driver who was reportedly intoxicated. The pair at the 2400 block of U.S. Highway 12 were woken up and Jeffrey D. Swett was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

WRECKS

• An 18-year-old motorist was hospitalized with minor injuries after her vehicle landed on its top partially submerged in a creek on the 800 block of North Gold Street in Centralia on Saturday evening. Centralia police say the young woman crawled out and walked to a friend’s house. She was subsequently cited for driving without a license and other infractions, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 27-year-old Rochester man was arrested for driving under the influence after he lost control of his vehicle and struck two fences in the area of B Street in Centralia on Friday. Jeremiah R. Reed was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, protection order violation, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarms, collisions, shoplifting, stolen bicycles, disorderly person, suspicious circumstances, possible scam phone call, investigating a report of sexual assault; concerns about kitten stuck in blackberry bushes, sick possum in a yard … and more.

News brief: Randle man assaulted with hatchet, suspect at large

Monday, November 4th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Deputies are looking for a man who allegedly attacked an acquaintance with a hatchet during an argument in Randle on Friday evening.

The 31-year-old Randle man reportedly then used the small axe to smash out the rear window of the victim’s vehicle, which he subsequently stole.

The sheriff’s office believes Robert J. Spradlin, 31, may be in the company of his girlfriend, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning.

Deputies called about 7 p.m. to the 200 block of Savio Road were told that Spradlin and the 54-year-old man were arguing when the suspect picked up the hatchet and started swinging it, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He then allegedly used its blunt end to strike the man repeatedly in the back and ribs, Brown said.

The victim escaped by hiding; Spradlin fled into the woods, Brown said.

The victim was transported to Morton General Hospital, but then transferred to a hospital in Vancouver as his injuries were worse than initially thought, according to Brown.

Brown said Spradlin returned later to Savio Road, threatened his parents, stole the keys and then took off in the victim’s vehicle. Brown said she didn’t yet know the model or make of the vehicle.

The sheriff’s office asks anyone who knows his whereabouts to immediately call 748-9286.

News brief: Falling tree top kills hunter near Packwood

Monday, November 4th, 2013
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Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A hunter is dead after the top of an old growth tree snapped off and dropped about 100 feet onto a tent east of Packwood over the weekend.

The 20-foot length missed one of his companions by inches, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies called about 3 p.m. on Saturday to the elk hunting camp say the victim is a 69-year-old man from Kirkland.

It happened at the Cortright Creek Trailhead off Forest Service Road 45 several miles northeast of Packwood, according to the sheriff’s office.

The two had just returned to the tent after the morning hunt when the incident occurred about 2:30 p.m., Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

The man’s hunting partner was able to crawl through the debris to locate the victim who had been struck in the head; CPR was attempted but unsuccessful, Brown said.

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Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Maurin murder trial: What suspects told detectives, and more

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013
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Ricky A. Riffe, right, listens to defense team member Richard Davis during a trial recess.

Updated at 8:05 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Ricky Riffe may or may not testify in his murder trial but this week, jurors heard second-hand some of the things he’s said when questioned by investigators.

Jurors have already heard the case went cold until 1991 the year detectives reached out to Robin Riffe, his wife.

Former Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Glade Austin came back to the witness stand to talk about a trip he and three others made to Alaska in 1992 to talk with the former Mossyrock area brothers.

Riffe, 55, is charged in the December 1985 deaths of Ethel residents Ed and Minnie Maurin. Prosecutors contend he and his now-deceased younger brother are responsible for abducting the elderly couple and forcing them to withdraw money from their bank before they were shot in their backs with a shotgun.

The trial in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis began early last month; closing arguments aren’t expected for another two weeks.

Austin testified it was February 1992 when he and Deputy Joe Doench visited Riffe at his home in King Salmon, Alaska.

They picked him up at his residence, where he lived with Sherry Tibbetts, and took him to the police department. He went voluntarily, Austin said.

Riffe told them he’d come to Alaska a couple of years before to work, and that he had wanted to get away from a life in Lewis County that sucked, and didn’t want to do drugs anymore, according to Austin.

He confirmed he’d cut off a shotgun for his friend Les George, Austin testified. He confirmed he had a green Army jacket, he said.

When asked about Dec. 19, 1985, Riffe said he no way of recalling what he was doing back then, he said.

He replied: “No, I can’t tell you. Jesus Christ, that was years ago,” Austin recounted.

The former sheriff’s sergeant described the suspect’s demeanor as emotionless. An Alaska state trooper who accompanied them testified previously that the suspect seemed “forcibly relaxed”, although at one point when left alone in the interview room, was observed through the one-way glass and was pacing.

The interview ended with Riffe finally saying he should talk with an attorney, according to Austin.

During the same trip, two others from the sheriff’s office went to see the brother John Gregory Riffe in Ketchikan.

Ted Bachman, then an Alaska state trooper who was present, testified he thought the younger Riffe initially showed a lack of curiosity about why they were there.

“Was he asked if he killed the Maurins?” Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer asked.

“I think he said I don’t know, no, I just can’t remember, I need to think,” Bachman said.

“At some point did Greg start crying?” Meyer asked

“Oh yes,” Bachman said.

The brothers were not arrested.

A private detective hired by the victims’ family took the witness stand yesterday and spoke about last year’s arrest in Alaska, as well as some of what led up to it.

Chris Peterson who retired from the sheriff’s office in Portland, was connected up with Minnie Maurin’s son Denny Hadaller about 10 years ago. Lewis County Undersheriff Gordon Spanski introduced them, he said.

“Denny was interested in finding out who murdered his mother and step-father,” Peterson said. “I think he was hopeful a fresh look might be helpful.”

Peterson said he and another private investigator – Jim McNelly, his former partner in law enforcement – reviewed the sheriff’s office case files and found areas they felt should be revisited. They did that, conducting numerous interviews, according to Peterson.

They put advertisements offering a $10,000 reward for information in newspapers in Lewis County and in Alaska, he said. The Riffes were the primary suspects, according to Peterson.

The two men were pretty active on the case for about five years, he said. They continued to assist sheriff’s detective Bruce Kimsey, with Peterson joining him when Rick Riffe was arrested last year.

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Rick Riffe

They traveled to Alaska in July and went to Riffe’s house in King Salmon. John Gregory Riffe had recently died.

Riffe wouldn’t go to the police station with them, so the interview of approximately two hours took place at his home, according to Peterson.

“It was all very friendly,” he said. “I could see no outward animosity. No unpleasantness took place.”

Most of the interview was done by Kimsey, but Peterson had some of his own questions, he said.

According to Peterson, Riffe confirmed he’d gone to White Pass with his wife in December 1985 to buy two ounces of cocaine from a person named Vickers, but said it was mostly her deal.

He didn’t recall his wife buying a pound of marijuana from Dora Flynn, and said he didn’t recall a phone call to his wife from his friend Les George during that time period, according to Peterson.

The private investigator’s testimony was interrupted briefly when defense attorney John Crowley said he never received during the discovery process the report the witness was looking at.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead asked Peterson about Riffe’s demeanor.

“Very nonchalant,” he said. “He didn’t seem particularly bothered by our presence.”

And what about when he was told he was under arrest, Peterson was asked.

“Virtually no reaction, he didn’t seem surprised,” he replied.

The trial will be in recess until 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, as Riffe’s lawyer has to be in federal court in Yakima on Monday.

Numerous other witnesses testified this week and prosecutors have more lined up they say could last until next Friday. After that, Crowley has about three days of defense witnesses.

Below is some of the other testimony jurors heard this week:

From Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013

Jeff McKenzie lived in Toledo back in 1985, and drove truck for M and M Transport.

When what happened to the Maurins hit the news, the widely publicized composite drawing of a person police were looking for reminded him of an odd encounter on Dec. 19, 1985, according to McKenzie.

“I seen that sketch and I told my wife, this is the person that tried to get me to give him a ride to Ethel the other night,” McKenzie testified.

According to McKenzie, he picked up a load at Cascade Hardwood in Chehalis and was destined for Camas but stopped at the AM/PM on Interstate Avenue at 13th Street to get something to drink. It was right after dark, at 6, 7, or 8 o’clock at night, he said.

He parked on the shoulder and began to cross the street when a guy approached him from behind, yelling that he wanted a ride. He was very persistent and wouldn’t take no for an answer, according to McKenzie.

The man was scruffy, his eyes were dilated and he seemed to be on something, McKenzie testified. In his arms, he was cradling something in a crumpled up brown paper grocery bag, he said.

The man looked behind McKenzie, who turned to see a police car and when he turned back, the guy had bolted, right across the trailer hitch on his truck.

He described the man as wearing a green fatigue jacket and a knitted cap that had a white stripe and may have been medium blue.

McKenzie didn’t hear from police again until September of last year when he met with detective Kimsey and picked out photos of two individuals. His first choice was Rick Riffe; his second choice was John Gregory Riffe.

From Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013

Linda and Richard Zandecki took the witness stand this week as well.

She was asked about a time she found a shotgun in the bedroom closet of their home, in the room her son Les George stayed in when he was in town.

It was a shotgun that was altered and she knew it was illegal, she said. Linda Zandecki testified it worried her to have it in the house with her younger son.

“I called Les, he was on the road, and I told him I didn’t want it there,” she said. “Les said, tell Dick to do something with it.”

She knew her husband got rid of the gun, but didn’t know where it went until much later, Linda Zandecki testified.

She was friends with the Maurins, from being members of the Grange. Her husband worked for Denny Hadaller, driving a truck.

Richard Zandecki described it as a sawed off shotgun, about 24 inches long.

He said he took it with him one morning and on the way to work as he headed west across Lake Mayfield, he pulled over to the left lane and tossed it out the window of his pickup truck, he testified.

He couldn’t recall how long after it turned up he disposed of it, he said. It was a few days, or a week, he said.

“We didn’t want it around,” he said. “It was an illegal gun and I just wasn’t interested in it.”

Richard Zandecki didn’t tell anyone, including his son, what he did with the gun, he testified.

Divers have searched the lake twice, once as recently as September of last year but have not found the gun.

From Wednesday Oct. 30, 2013

Cathy Thola said she never heard about the Maurin homicides until 2004 when an investigator came to her house in Enumclaw and asked her about her relationship with Ricky Riffe.

She said she was raised in Morton, but went to high school in Enumclaw and moved to Mossyrock in 1986 with her two young children to stay with her aunt and uncle. She moved there from Randle, she thought.

Riffe was their friend, he was no longer with his wife and the two began dating, soon moving into a red house on Damron Road, according to Thola.

The only drug she knew her boyfriend to use was pot, she said. He typically dressed in jeans, T-shirts, a heavy Army jacket and a baseball cap, according to Thola.

Riffe and his younger brother were really close, she said.

“They did everything together, they ran around together,” she said. “They were inseparable.”

She and Riffe argued quite a bit, she testified. On the witness stand, she was asked to recount an incident at their house when the two were yelling at each other, she wanted to split up and Greg Riffe got involved.

“He looked at me, he looked at Rick and said, ‘we’ve killed one person, we can do it again’,” Thola testified.

Thola’s then-5-year-old daughter took the witness stand as well and the two described Rick Riffe as responding as though in agreement, with a slight nod and small smile or snicker.

Riffe threw a pot of beans from the stove against the wall as she began to leave, according to Thola.

They didn’t break up, the family moved to Shelton and then in 1987 or 1988 Thola took her children to Ketchikan to live with Riffe, jurors heard.

“To try to get a new life, because we weren’t doing well,” she said. “Because he had an uncle there who offered him a job.”

She collected welfare and worked at a Jimbos cafe; they lived in a small studio behind the restaurant, according to Thola.

Thola said she didn’t see Greg Riffe while she was in Alaska and didn’t think she was there even a year, but couldn’t recall for sure.

Under questioning by defense attorney Crowley, Thola said there was no urgency about the relocation; she also said she didn’t know her boyfriend was from Alaska.

When she and her children got on a ferry boat to come back to Washington, Riffe got on the ferry and followed her, she testified.

State Supreme Court: Former Chehalis doctor’s conviction stands

Friday, November 1st, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Former Chehalis family practice physician David Wooten  lost his state Supreme Court case regarding a felony malicious mischief conviction in connection with a Mayfield Lake home he was buying.

Dr. Wooten and his wife Janna Wooten were found guilty in separate trials in Lewis County Superior Court after they were accused of trashing the house they lived in at Mayfield Lake in 2008. They contended it was simply a remodeling project they left unfinished when they moved out of the home they were purchasing.

Last year, the Washington Court of Appeals Division II tossed out his wife’s conviction and then a different three-judge panel of the same court upheld Wooten’s conviction.

Yesterday the state’s high court issued its decision against Wooten, with five judges agreeing. Four judges signed the dissent.

Wooten, who was buying the property on a real estate contract, claimed he did not damage “the property of another” – an element of the crime.

However, the state Supreme Court disagreed. For the purposes of malicious mischief, Wooten was not the exclusive owner of the property, they wrote.
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For background, read “Conviction vacated for trashing of Mossyrock house” from Wednesday May 23, 2012, here

Maurin murder trial: Money for drugs

Friday, November 1st, 2013
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Ralph Vickers testifies about getting all $100 bills from Robin Riffe when he sold her two ounces of cocaine in 1985.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Former drug dealers have been called to the witness stand as prosecutors attempt to show the Riffes came in to money in December of 1985, when Ed and Minnie Maurin were found shot to death after withdrawing $8,500 from their Chehalis bank.

Yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court, Ralph Vickers spoke of what he told a detective when he was visited in 1991 in federal prison in Oregon.

Vickers said he recalled selling cocaine to Robin Riffe twice.

Robin Riffe, now deceased, was married to Ricky A. Riffe, who is on trial for the abduction, robbery and murder of the elderly Ethel couple. He and his younger brother John Gregory Riffe became suspects in the early 1990s but he was arrested just last year, shortly after his brother died.

Vickers said he lived in the Yakima area and knew Robin because his brother dated her for a time.

He’s now a car salesman, but ended up serving eight years in prison, he said.

He called himself a wholesaler who had perhaps 10 to 20 people to whom he sold large quantities of cocaine, such as a half kilo or a kilo at a time, he testified.

He recalled meeting his brother and Robin at Longacres racetrack and selling her a half ounce one time. The next time he saw her was at White Pass when he sold her two ounces, he said.

“I think she’d been away from my brother for quite some time,” he said. “I know she’d lost a lot of weight.”

She was with a man he’d never seen before and didn’t think he would recognize if he saw him again, according to Vickers.

Vickers was about 35 at the time, and he recalled being paid with 22 $100 bills, he said. He remembered it crossing his mind that could be something undercover cops might use, he said.

When he met with detectives in prison in 1991, according to his statement, he recalled a white car, but didn’t know what model or make, he said.

Earlier this week, prosecutors questioned another person who admitted to dealing drugs back in the mid-1980s.

Dora Flynn took the witness stand on Monday and told of mainly selling marijuana back then, but also cocaine and meth, which she admitted she also used.

She knew Robin, but knew Ricky Riffe better, according to Flynn.

Flynn recalled a time when she bought a chain necklace from Robin, because, she thought, they needed money for their light bill.

It was early in 1986 when Robin tried to buy a pound of marijuana from her, she said. It would have cost around $2,500, according to Flynn.

“No, I didn’t go through with it, because I didn’t really know Robin that well,” Flynn said.

With prodding from Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer, Flynn indicated she was also reluctant because she also wondered if the money came from the Maurins.

Asked if she ever saw a white car at the Riffe’s house, she said one time, she thought a Chevrolet.

News brief: Nurse connected to Centralia drug team’s investigations finds practice suspended

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The state has suspended a registered nurse whose clinics were raided as a Centralia police drug investigation led them to a former Napavine man allegedly running a drug ring from prison this summer and into at least three other counties.

In mid-June, search warrants were served in Tumwater and Aberdeen focusing on medical records and other documents. New Beginnings Wellness Centers was operated by a nurse practitioner named Sharol Chavez.

The state Department of Health yesterday announced charges against Chavez alleging sub-standard care in medical marijuana authorizations and prescriptions for narcotics without proper patient examinations. The state charges in some cases she was aware some of her prescriptions were supplying Oxycodone pills to the illegal marketplace.

The Centralia Police Department’s Anti-Crime Team efforts to quash illegal pain pill sales in Centralia took them to Forrest E. Amos who they believed was began heading up a drug trafficking organization from prison after his local conviction in January for  possessing prescription drugs without authorization. Searches of Chavez’s medical clinics were conducted on June 17, involving law enforcement from Centralia and numerous other agencies.

Chavez has 20 days to request a hearing to contest the licensing charges. After the raids, Centralia Police Department St. Jim Shannon said federal authorities would be reviewing the documents seized to examine them for possible criminal charges.
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For background, read “Centralia police track illegal Oxycodone trade to prison inmate” from Tuesday June 18, 2013, here