Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

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

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Edward, 81, and Wilhelmina "Minnie", 83, Maurin. / Courtesy photo Lewis County Sheriff's Office

Updated at 11:05 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oberg, 82,  called it a relief.

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

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

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

A Toyota Prius, of course, can't clear the underside of a flatbed trailer. / Courtesy photo


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

News brief: Rochester resident dies in motorcycle accident

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Updated at 10:52 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

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

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

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

The motorcyclist has been identified as Mark T. Mercurio.

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

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

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Updated at 5:08 p.m.


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, July 5th, 2012


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Kenneth W. Sands is taken directly to jail after sentencing in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four and a half years of the sentence are suspended.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital.

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

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

Trooper assaulted on Interstate 5 at Chehalis

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

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

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

Neither were seriously injured, according to responders.

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

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

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

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

The other individual had only scrapes, he said.

The passersby took the individual into custody, Tanner said.

News brief: Child brings unstable explosives home

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Some of the old, and volatile, items found behind Winlock home. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff's Office

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The sheriff’s office said a bomb squad was at a Winlock area residence this morning to detonate two bucketfuls of explosive items found by a child playing in the woods behind his house.

A deputy was called last night to the 1000 block of North Military Road after the boy picked up the items, took them to his house and told his parents, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The buckets contained commercial blasting caps and approximately 100 feet of detonation cord, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

“They were very old and in poor condition making them extremely unsafe and volatile,” Brown wrote a news release.

Apparently the previous owner of the property died without telling anyone about the explosives stored on his property, Brown said.

Brown stated the sheriff’s office secured the items and requested the Washington State Patrol Bomb Squad.

Brown said the bomb squad responded to the property about 9 a.m. today to detonate the items on the property.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012


• A 21-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for second-degree assault last night after allegedly striking an individual in the face with a miniature wooden bat. Police called about 9:20 p.m. to the 100 block of South Pleasant Avenue in Centralia booked Mele L. McCollum into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Deputies were called yesterday to a home on the 100 block of Talbott Road in Salkum after an individual walked up, opened the door and went inside inside the home saying he was looking for his friend and his quad. The friend no longer lived there, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He reportedly brushed past a 25-year-old resident outside who said it was especially frightening because her five children were inside, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Deputies subsequently found Timothy R. Foltz of Chehalis and arrested him for possession of methamphetamine as well as referred the case for a charge of first-degree trespass, Brown said.


• A 34-year-old Centralia man was arrested yesterday for seven counts of indecent exposure after an investigation into incidents that reportedly took place over the previous several weeks at the 300 block of Big Hanaford Road outside Centralia. Russell L. Bogart was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said two different women in the neighborhood said he had exposed himself to them.


• An undisclosed amount of cash was stolen from a business on the 200 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia overnight, according to a report made to police about 1:30 p.m. yesterday.


• A 35-year-old Winlock man was arrested yesterday after he was allegedly observed leaving the 1300 block of Ferrier Road in Winlock with someone else’s “metal” in the back of his vehicle. Joseph L. Hines was arrested for third-degree theft and then released, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A red 1984 Ford Ranger pickup was stolen from Johnson and Industrial roads in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 6:35 a.m. yesterday. It has a license plate reading B28908C, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Centralia police were called to a home on the 1200 block of Alder Street yesterday afternoon where an individual said medication went missing after he let a friend use his bathroom.


• Police were called about 10:45 a.m. yesterday to the 400 block of Lakeshore Drive in centralia about a boat stolen from the lakefront property. Inside the green 13-foot boat were two wooden oars, life vests and some fishing gear, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 39-year-old Winlock man tossed from his motorcycle and over a gate yesterday was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with a shoulder injury. A deputy arriving to the scene about 6:15 p.m. learned the motorcyclist was coming down Monroe Road when he had some kind of mechanical problem, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The injured man was cited for going too fast, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A Chevrolet Camaro was totaled and its passenger taken to the hospital after a 17-year-old driver swerved to miss a deer at Rogers Road outside Chehalis early this morning. A deputy arriving about 2:15 a.m. learned the car left the roadway near the railroad tracks. The 30-year-old passenger, who was not wearing  seatbelt, hit the windshield, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He was driving with an instruction permit; she was the registered owner, according to the sheriff’s office. She was ticketed for failure to wear a seatbelt, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, July 2nd, 2012


• Police were called about 4:30 a.m. today to the 200 block of South Diamond Street in Centralia where a resident heard what sounded like someone trying the door knobs and saw somebody using a lighter and attempting to look in the windows of a home. A 44-year-old Centralia man who reportedly previously had come to the home in the middle of the night when the woman’s husband was away was arrested, according to police. Pablo Abrego was booked for stalking and trespass, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 28-year-old Centralia man was arrested for third-degree assault after he allegedly hit a deputy in the arm during a call about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday to Oakview Avenue in Centralia. Jeremiah R. Johnson called 911 saying he had been hit in the head with a cell phone although no evidence was found that had occurred, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Johnson reportedly was argumentative with the deputy leading to the alleged assault, according to the sheriff’s office. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• Centralia police were called just before 5:30 a.m. today to the 1000 block of Freeman Avenue where someone broke into a shed and stole a boat motor.

• A Honda 10 horsepower motor and two batteries were reported stolen from the 400 block of Jorgensen Road near Onalaska on Saturday morning.


• Police were called about 6:40 a.m. on Saturday to the 500 block of East Plum Street in Centralia where someone broke into a shed and took two riding lawn mowers but abandoned them in a nearby field.

• A green push lawn mower and two barbeque grills were stolen from a garage on the 200 block of Hemlock Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Friday.

• A deputy was called Sunday to a landscaping business on the 1300 block of Reynolds Avenue where someone had attempted to steal a radiator from a front end loader overnight. They weren’t successful but caused an estimated $2,000 damage, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Garden lights were stolen in the night from the 200 block of South Buckner Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday morning.


• Chehalis police were called on Saturday morning by an individual who said he left his car parked downtown and his keys were either lost or stolen and all four tires were found flattened.


• Centralia police took a report late Friday night that a two-month-old blue-nosed Pit Bull was stolen the day before from the 500 block of South King Street in Centralia.


• Chehalis police were called about 9:45 a.m. on Sunday by an individual who said they were looking for their mixed-breed white dog that got scared and took off in the area of the 900 block of Northwest Airport Road near the airport and golf course. Police were informed the canine is from Romania and doesn’t know English. No information was available on the outcome.


• A 53-year-old Centralia man was arrested around 5 o’clock this morning after a traffic stop on the 200 block of Centralia College Boulevard for possession stolen property and methamphetamine, according to Centralia police. Richard A. Napier was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 33-year-old Centralia woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and a warrant following her contact with police about 11:30 p.m. yesterday at the 1300 block of Lakeshore Drive in Centralia. Christina R. Harris was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. A 27-year-old Centralia man was arrested about the same time in the same place for possession of methamphetamine following a traffic stop. Robert M. Donyes was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Centralia police. Police did not note if the pair were detained during the same incident.

• Centralia police arrested a 29-year-old Centralia man for possession of methamphetamine on Sunday evening at Harrison Avenue and Johnson Road, Russell E. Charnell was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. A 20-year-old Centralia woman was arrested and booked at the same time in connection with multiple warrants, according to police.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning three people were taken to the hospital following a single-vehicle collision on Saturday night at the 2000 block of Little Hanaford Road outside Centralia. No details were given about the nature of the collision or their injuries except the driver had neck pain but the 1984 Datsun pickup was described as totaled.


• The Olympian reports Tenino has a new police chief beginning today. Very recently retired Lt. John Hutchings of the Olympia Police Department takes over the south Thurston County police agency consisting of four officer and a clerk, according to news reporter Jeremy Pawloski. Read more here.

Packwood teen’s suicide to be revisited, in court

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Brian Edward Stephens: February 11, 1993 - May 19, 2009

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Three years ago, a student at White Pass High School took 30 Ibuprofen pills one morning and then went to school.

When his school counselor found out about it, the boy was taken away in an ambulance to Morton General Hospital where he was treated and subsequently released.

Days later, a buddy of his who was also a student at the school attempted suicide, and succeeded.

The 16-year-old, Brian Stephens, had less than a week earlier passed a note to a girl in English class writing that if his friend killed himself, he would too. The girl told two school counselors.

His grandmother, with whom he lived, never heard about the note until months afterward. She wasn’t called when high school counselor Justin Neilson brought her grandson into his office to ask him if he was suicidal.

Stephens’ family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school district, saying a grave lack of professional judgement led the school counselor to dismiss clear signs Stephens was at risk for suicide, that the district did not provide its employees with mechanisms to respond to such situations and that it failed to have a comprehensive school suicide prevention plan.

“Our position is the school district did not address the risks they should have done with Brian,” the family attorney Kevin Coluccio said.

Teen suicide is a huge issue across the country, and it’s an issue that schools need to deal with, Coluccio said.

It’s is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24, according to the attorney.

The family, through its attorney, claims the school had a duty to notify his parents the teen was talking about suicide at school.

A key part of student safety is proper parent notification practices, the lawyers write in their filing. If a student says they’re not feeling well, parents are called; if they are behind on their vaccinations or not showing up for classes, parents are contacted, the lawyers write.

The school district’s attorney says it does not have such a duty.

Its responsibility is only to protect students in its custody from reasonably anticipated dangers, according to the lawyer, Jerry J. Moberg.

The school district is represented by Moberg as well as James E. Baker at Jerry J. Moberg and Associates in Euphrata. Also representing them is Tukwila attorney Philip Talmadge.

All that remain of the school officials who were involved in 2009 are three of the five school board members. The school district superintendent Rich Linehan, the high school principal and the two school counselors have since left the district.

White Pass Junior-Senior High School, with about 180 students, is in Randle.

Today, Stephens’ grandmother Debbie Reisert still gets sick talking about it, a loss she says has left a gaping hole in their small family.

“I’m really angry about it,” Reisert said. “But I really haven’t talked about it openly in the town.”

Reisert runs a lodging business on Cannon Road in Packwood. She worries about the impact news of the lawsuit and its details could have on the kids involved, she said; the then-16-year-old friend of her grandson who attempted suicide, the girl who told the school counselor about the note.

Both the current White Pass School District superintendent and the school board president declined to comment, referring questions to their attorneys. The lawyers representing the school district have not returned calls for comment.

A claim filed in January asking $3.5 million was denied. The lawsuit was filed at the end of March in Lewis County Superior Court.

“The thing that’s so frustrating for us is he made an assessment that’s so obviously wrong and didn’t give us a chance to intervene,” Reisert said.

She feels like her only grandson would still be alive, if the school had simply picked up the phone and called, she said.

“Brian was an amazing human being,” Reisert said. “He was really, really intelligent. He was very articulate.”

The oldest of three children, he tended toward the Buddhist philosophy, was funny and was the kind of kid that always helped out the underdog, she said.

His mother took him out of Gig Harbor High School his sophomore year and sent him to live with her in Packwood after he got in trouble with some teens who threw something off a freeway overpass at a vehicle, according to Reisert.

Reisert said she spent about 30 minutes with the school counselor when she enrolled her grandson, explaining about his pending court case, and her concerns about the differences in schools.

She asked him to let her know if he was “hanging out with trouble,” she said, to call if he noticed anything amiss.

It was only about six weeks later he was dead.

Court documents and reports from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office offer details of the week in May 2009 that ended in the death of the White Pass High School sophomore.

It was Thursday May 21, 2009 when Stephens was found with a gunshot wound to his head, inside a Tacoma man’s vacation mobile home on Richer Drive in Packwood, three days after he went missing from his grandmother’s home nearby.

The sheriff’s office investigation gives the following account of what transpired during the previous seven days:

One of Stephens’ female classmates was among the many students interviewed by detective Bruce Kimsey.

She told Kimsey of the note Stephens had written her, saying he never explained why he wrote it.

A 16-year-old Packwood boy Stephens had known since preschool said he and Stephens recently had conversation about how they would kill themselves if they were ever to do so. They were walking around Hinkle Tinkle Falls behind the boy’s house.

On Friday May 15, 2009, that boy took 30 Ibuprofen pills and then went to school.

After he was sent to the hospital, the girl went to the school counselor with the information about Stephens’ note. Several of the students were talked to at school that day about the suicide attempt.

The counselor Neilson told a deputy he then questioned Stephens about committing suicide.

“(Stephens) had replied he was not going to harm himself and did not feel like harming himself in any way,” the deputy wrote.

Over the weekend, her grandson was upset about his friend’s suicide attempt, and some of the other kids seemed to blame him for some reason, according to his Reisert.

Stephens had talked about running away back to Gig Harbor, according to some of the students.

On Monday May 18, 2009: Stephens grades came in the mail, they weren’t good.

“The thing that’s really difficult for me is I got angry at him that day,” Reisert said. “He got bad grades, he wasn’t turning in his homework. I yelled at him and he took off.”

According to Sandra Zacher, a grade school teacher in the district, Stephens had come looking for her son who wasn’t home that afternoon. She said he hung his head down and walked away.

A runaway report was filed that night, a deputy went to the childhood friend’s house on Richer Drive, where he learned the two boys had recently discussed suicide, and listened to a voice message Stephens had left on his friend’s phone, saying he was going to “do it.”

About 4 o’clock the following morning, Zacher’s doorbell rang, and she went to the front door and saw no one was there.

Reisert and Stephens’ mother, Allison Tinney, continued to look for the teenager.

On Thursday May 21, 2009: They went to the friend’s home, and learned from his mother, Zacher, she had noticed the lights on the previous few days at a nearby vacation mobile home.

The three walked over there, Tinney saw her son’s backpack through a window, went inside and found her son dead on a bed with a .22 Winchester long rifle.

The school district superintendent and high school counselor Neilson were among those who arrived at the mobile home as deputies investigated.

A suicide note was found on the back of a piece of homework in Stephens’ backpack. It contents were blacked out in the copy of the report released by the sheriff’s office.

Court documents show his date of death as Tuesday May 19, 2009.

The suicide seemingly came out of nowhere, according to his grandmother.

“He wasn’t even moody ever,” Reisert said. “Brian was just really even all the time, always smiling.

Reisert said she thinks it was a like a fleeting idea he acted on more or less spontaneously.

The lawsuit names as the plaintiffs Stephens’ mother, as well as William Boehm, personal representative of the estate of Brian Stephens.

It is being handled by Coluccio at the Seattle firm of Strittmatter, Kessler, Whelan and Coluccio as well as the Law Office of Skip Simpson in Texas.

Paige Tangney, a past president of the Washington State Association of School Psychologists who has worked in public schools for more 30 years, was asked by the family’s lawyers to evaluate the circumstances of Stephen’s death.

At a minimum, the counselor should have kept Stephens in his office after they spoke about the note he wrote and then picked up the phone to call his grandmother, according to Tangney.

Tangney writes in her filed declaration that a reasonable standard of care is to take any threat of self harm by a student seriously. She describes the protocols many schools have adopted for dealing with potentially suicidal students.

If a student is determined to be a low risk, the parent can advise about the next steps, and is asked to be home when the student gets home from school, Tangney writes. If medium or high risk, the parent is asked to come to school and pick them up.

Tangney writes it appeared Neilson conducted an informal assessment and concluded the teen was either at low risk or not at risk.

Any one of several items the counselor learned, coupled with the note that threatened suicide, made him a significant risk however, she wrote.

“To make a judgement that a student is not a significant suicide risk when they have stated to another student they are going to commit suicide if another student does, the other student has made an attempt, and he has additional risk factors, constitutes, in my opinion, a grave lack of professional judgement as a school counselor,” Tangney writes.

The school district’s attorney, in an answer filed in early May, denies the warning signs were clear or that the counselor failed to properly assess Stephens.

Also, state employees are immune from liability pursuant to a professional judgement doctrine, the district’s lawyer wrote.

“If there was an error in judgement on the part of a professional employee of the school district, it was an honest error in judgment arrived at within the standard of care the school district employee was obliged to follow,” the attorney wrote.

There is currently no date scheduled for when the parties might meet in court.

Fireman’s tips for a happy Fourth of July

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Dr. W. William Benton, left and Ron Grant, staff the fireworks stand on South Market Boulevard in the parking lot of Ace Hardware. The Kiwanas Club of Chehalis stand will be open until 9 p.m. on Wednesday, or until their stock runs out.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

While the big day isn’t until Wednesday, fireworks are already on sale and being put to good use.

Riverside Fire Authority’s Assistant Chief Richard Mack wants the public to celebrate safely.

Just last week, a 34-year-old former Toledo man lost part of his hand when a mortar-type firework exploded as he was setting it off in Centralia.

Mack offers the following advice to prevent injuries and fires:

• First, set family boundaries – only adults should light fireworks. Supervision is paramount in keeping children safe.

• Second, fireworks should not be readily available to tempt the curiosity of young children and should be stored in a secured location to prohibit their access.

• Most importantly, talk about safety. Summer weather conditions make grasses and other vegetation dry and vulnerable to fire. The snow and ice storms that occurred in January left a tremendous amount of tree debris on forest floors, which is tinder dry today. Use care in selecting the area where you will be discharging fireworks.

Read “Mortar-type firework explodes in man’s hand” from Friday June 22, 2012, here

County moves to remove tenants from Nix Road, Clark Road homes housing ex-cons

Friday, June 29th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Round one: code violations.

Round two: zoning violations.

Lewis County officials continue in their attempts to shut down what they now call boarding houses, two residences in rural communities in which a handful of individuals recently released from prison live together.


110 Nix Road

At issue is a three-bedroom home on Nix Road west of Chehalis where neighbors have said they’re afraid to let their grandchildren outside alone to play as well as a similar operation on the 200 block of Clark Road near Onalaska.

The county has filed a civil suit in Lewis County Superior Court asking a judge to declare the property owners are in violation of zoning rules by using the houses for anything other than single family residences.

Named in the complaint are Judy Chafin-Williams who leases the houses and acts as property manager for the tenants, Janice I. Thompson who owns the properties and Larry G. Gladsjo who is co-owner of the Clark Road property.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield has told a block watch group on Nix Road his goal is to remove the felons from their neighborhood, implementing a zero-tolerance policy for any incidents there and working with other arms of county government to discover if any code or zoning rules have been violated or even craft new ordinances.

Lewis County Commissioner Ron Averill said today the county has  already looked to see if got they’ve got more members of the households than allowed for the particular septic systems.

“At one point they had about nine people and they were informed they were exceeding the septic limit and they had to get that down,” Averill said. “And I understand they did.”

In March, elected officials and other county employees spoke at a block watch meeting for Nix Road, sharing what they believed they could and could not do.

At the time, Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Glenn Carter said among the questions they were pondering is what exactly is meant by “single-family” dwellings. It’s not black and white, he said.

However, the complaint filed Wednesday focuses on where in unincorporated Lewis County single family residences are allowed and where they are not.

Both the Nix and Clark road homes are situated in zones called rural development districts. Multi-family residences are not allowed in those zones.

By contrast, there are areas of the county which were more densely populated before the state Growth Management Act was put into place – such as Onalaska, Packwood, Glenoma and similar communities – where multi-family uses are permitted.

The complaint is for an injunction, declaratory judgement and abatement of nuisance.

Part of the request is for a judge to set monetary penalties if the respondents fail to comply within 30 days of an order.

Chafin-Williams, who oversees the homes as well as similar houses in the cities of Centralia and Chehalis, describes her work as Christian-based, and the owners as people who got tired of renting to drug addicts.

The number one house rule is no drugs or alcohol, according to Chafin-Williams. These are simply people who need assistance getting back on their feet after they’ve done their time in prison, according to Chafin-Williams.

She said she was served notice today of the lawsuit.

“I do have an attorney, and we are going to fight it,” she said.

The property owners Thompson and Gladsjo couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

They have 20 days to file a response to the complaint.

For background, read:

• “Discord on Nix Road: Newest arrivals unwelcome” from Saturday March 3, 2012, here

• “The backstory: Intelligence gathering, possible fines and code enforcement tools ‘not normally used’ ” from Sunday March 4, 2012, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, June 29th, 2012


• A Pe Ell home was pretty much destroyed by an attic fire this morning, but after it was extinguished crews found a pet cat hiding on top of a kitchen cabinet. The cat was fine, Lewis County Fire District 11 Michael Krafczyk said. Crews called about 6:40 a.m. to South First Street across from the school found flames coming from the roof, Krafczyk said. They conducted an interior attack but a portion of the roof caved in and there was significant smoke and water damage to the contents, according to the chief. The man who lives there had already left for work, he said. Some 15 to 20 personnel responded from District 11, 13 and 16. “We got great help from the other districts,” Krafczyk said. “Everything went as best as it could. Nobody got hurt.” An investigator is on the scene looking for the cause.


• Centralia police yesterday afternoon arrested a 34-year-old man for burglary and possession of methamphetamine in connection with an address on the 1400 block of Oxford Avenue. Jake A. Ruble, of Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail and officers are looking for his female companion, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police did not note what might have been stolen.

• A deputy was called yesterday about a burglary to a detached garage on the 200 block of Gore Road near Onalaska, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Among the items missing were old baseboard heaters, metal shelves, cabinets, a small refrigerator and two air compressors, the sheriff’s office reported. It apparently occurred sometime in the previous two weeks, detective Sgt. Dusty Breen said.

• An individual arriving at an unoccupied home on the 900 block of South Market Boulevard in Chehalis called police about 6:30 p.m. yesterday when she heard someone inside and then saw two males run out the front door. A backpack was found inside and a 33-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for burglary, according to police. The other individual wasn’t found, Sgt. Gwen Carrell said. Richard S. Warren was booked into the Lewis County Jail, Carrell said.

• Centralia police were called about 5:25 p.m. yesterday to a report a male stole a bottle of alcohol from an unnamed business on an unspecified portion of South Tower Avenue in Centralia.


• Chehalis police were called at least three times last night about a man who appeared he might jump from a freeway overpass and finally was reportedly doing cartwheels down the middle of Southwest Interstate Avenue. The first call came about 7:20 p.m. at the Main Street overpass, but the individual told police he was just waiting for someone, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Later a caller noted him in the area of 13th Street and officers learned an employee at the AM / PM had asked him to leave. “He was acting really out of sorts,” Sgt. Gwen Carrell said. The 22-year-old was contacted about 11:25 p.m. after returning to the convenience store and arrested for trespass. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.


• A 30-year-old Centralia man was arrested for a warrant and possession of methamphetamine about 9 p.m. yesterday at East Reynolds Avenue and North Pearl Street, according to the Centralia Police Department. Rodolfo Romo was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• A 27-year-old Winlock man was arrested last night after he was contacted trespassing on railroad tracks near the 1400 block of Ferrier Road in Winlock. During a search, a deputy found a baggie containing suspected methamphetamine and needles, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Gabriel S. Huffman was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to detective Sgt. Dusty Breen.


• A 33-year-old Centralia woman found again in an uninhabitable residence on the 700 block of North Tower Avenue yesterday morning was arrested for trespassing, according to the Centralia Police Department. Amber Metcalf was given her citation and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A mother and two young children were hospitalized yesterday morning after their car pulled in front of a fully loaded log truck near Castle Rock. Aid and deputies called about 7:35 a.m.  Westside Highway at Magpie Drive found the family was taking their cat to the vet when it escaped its box causing a distraction, according to the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office. Shannon Strozyk was seat belted and her 6-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl were strapped in the car seats in the back, according to the sheriff’s office. The driver of the North Fork Timber log truck, Michael McNew, 49, of Toledo, was reportedly uninjured, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. The log truck had been southbound on Westside Highway when Strozyk attempted to turn northbound from the side road, according to the sheriff’s office. The Strozyks were taken to St. John Medical Center in Longview, the sheriff’s office reported.


• The (Aberdeen) Daily World reports a man laying on the tracks was killed yesterday morning by a train about two miles west of Elma towards Oakville. The newspaper writes he may have been transient as personal possessions and a bicycle were found nearby.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, June 28th, 2012


• Police were called about 2:45 a.m. today to the intersection of South Washington Avenue and Centralia College Boulevard where a taxi driver said a pair of passengers tried to pay with a fake $100 bill. When the driver noted the counterfeit money, the two men ran off, according to the Centralia Police Department. The currency was actually an altered $5 bill, according to police.

• Officers were called about 4:45 p.m. yesterday to the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia where two teenage boys allegedly stole alcohol from a store. Centralia police noted in a summary nobody was arrested but also reported one 15-year-old was booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center, while the case involving the other 15-year-old was referred for a charge of theft as well as possession of alcohol by a minor.

• Centralia police took a report of misdemeanor theft of money from the 900 block of Johnson Road yesterday afternoon.

• A laptop computer was reported stolen from a business on the 1500 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue in Chehalis yesterday morning.

• Makeup and medication were reported missing a vehicle on the 100 block of McFadden Avenue in Chehalis yesterday.


• Riverside Fire Authority said it was juveniles and fireworks that caused a fire that destroyed a vehicle Tuesday evening off the 400 block of West Reynolds Avenue in Centralia.


• One driver was hospitalized with a laceration to his forehead after a near head-on collision this morning on the 1300 block of Mellen Street in Centralia. Police called just before 7 a.m. reported that one vehicle turned in front of another and the ensuing collision pushed it into a third vehicle.

• A 32-year-old Chehalis man was among four people injured on a car versus truck collision yesterday on U.S. Highway 12 just west of Montesano, according to the Washington State Patrol. Brian A. Schweitzer was a passenger in a Ford 150 pickup that was running out of gas and slowly moving to the shoulder when it was rear ended by a passenger car shortly before 1 p.m., according to he state patrol. All were hospitalized but none of the injuries were life threatening, the state patrol reported.


• A 5-year-old child will be honored by the Lewis County Board of Commissioners after making a 911 call summoning aid to Centralia on Sunday morning. The child used a cell phone and stated “Daddy is sick” but couldn’t provide an address, according to a news release from the Lewis County dispatch center. A call taker used satellite coordinates while the little one consoled the ill parent and responders found the location, according to the news release.

Morton founder of missing children organization loses appeal on felony conviction

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An appeals court has upheld the insurance fraud conviction of Jennifer M. Mau, a Morton woman best known for her private endeavors to search for missing children in high profile cases.

Mau, then 30, and her boyfriend David Eden, then 47, were found guilty in September 2010 of making a false insurance claim involving a U-Haul trailer they said leaked and damaged their belongings during a move from Centralia to Morton three years earlier.

According to the findings issued by the Washington State Court of Appeals, Mau was told the loss from rain and water damage was not covered under the protections she had purchased but told to make a report to U-Haul’s insurance company anyhow.

Mau provided a seven-page list of items totaling approximately $16,000, but said they had taken the damaged items to the dump, according to the decision.

The claims administrator found it suspicious and the claim was denied, according to the decision.

Mau testified it was her understanding it was a preliminary list of items that potentially could have been damaged.

Her appeals attorney argued the list was not made under a contract of insurance. Eden’s appeal involved a denial he was an accomplice. The panel of three judges disagreed in their opinion issued on Tuesday.

The crime is a class C felony, which prosecutors said at the time of conviction could mean up to 12 months in jail.

Mau, a criminal justice student, was founder of the Mount St. Helens Chapter of a Texas-based group called Guardians of the Children, an organization she said helped with abused and missing kids.

In the summer of 2010, she organized volunteer searchers who eventually found the body of a missing 16-year-old Morton boy with the help of a Portland psychic.

A 21-year-old friend of Austin King was subsequently convicted of manslaughter in his death.

Mau, who has since started a different group called Search and Seek, indicates she will appeal the decision.

Napavine man lightens burden of traveler’s tragedy

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Firefighters finish putting out travel trailer fire south of Chehalis. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 5

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – After the flames that virtually consumed Ken Schumann’s travel trailer on Interstate 5 were extinguished, a local man stuck around to help the Alaska resident salvage what he could of his possessions while they waited for a tow truck.

Schumann was relocating to Arizona, pulling the 31-foot trailer that has been his home for the past two years. Most everything he owned was inside, except his dog which was riding in the far back of his GMC Yukon sport utility vehicle.

“We found a coin collection, some old album photos and, I think that’s about it,” Antonio Martinez said.

Schumann, who turns 80 next month, was southbound near milepost 68 outside Chehalis just before 11 a.m. on Sunday when he thought he might have a tire fire. He pulled over and grabbed his little fire extinguisher, but quickly realized it was a losing battle, he said.

About that time, Martinez and his family were crossing the Avery Road overpass, on their way to breakfast at Spiffy’s and the father of three could see the motorist attempting to unhook his truck from the burning trailer.

“I saw the old man was struggling,” Martinez said. “I can’t believe how many people were on the bridge, taking pictures and video. I told my wife, I’m going to go help him.”

Martinez said the fire was growing so big, he told the elderly gentleman they needed to get the dog out of the truck. They struggled until they realized the end of his leash was stuck.

Schumann said he had to unhook the leash from “Spook’s” collar, and sure was glad he wasn’t alone on the side of the freeway with his unleashed pet.

Two passing motorists also stopped to help, one from Oregon and another on his way to California, Martinez said.

“In less than 10 minutes, it was gone, the trailer,” he said. “It was amazing how fast.”

Lewis County Fire District 5 found the trailer fully engulfed in flames, and put it out.

Schumann said he’d tucked away cash, not much but it was his savings, inside the trailer. He literally jumped up and hugged two firefighters at the same time, when they managed to find the money – soaking wet – among the ashes, he said.

And while the backside of his truck was “baked” as if badly sunburned, it was still drivable, according to Schumann.

“I don’t feel 80,” Schumann said Monday night after he rested. “At least I didn’t until the trailer situation.”

Schumann’s Alaska-based business, before he retired, involved traveling to do service calls to repair electronics. He liked to tinker, he said. Which is why he had three flat screened televisions and various other projects in his trailer, he said.

For about 10 years, he lived in Central America, still taking on some repair jobs after he turned his business over to his son.

“I sold my little house in Belize, took the money and bought a trailer,” he said. “All my life I’ve admired people who traveled in travel trailers. That was my chance.”

At one job on a military base in Honduras four years ago, he picked up a retired Air Force guard dog that looks like a miniature German Shepherd, but is actually a Belgian Malinois, with eyes so light blue he named her Spook, he said.

Spook has traveled with him ever since, and is a good companion except she barks too much, he said. The ordeal on Sunday apparently cured her of that.

“She has not opened her mouth a squeak since she sat and watched that trailer burn,” he said.

While Schumann and Martinez waited for the right kind of tow truck to come on Sunday, they scavenged through the debris looking for a coin collection and other items the retired businessman hoped to save.

The 32-year-old Napavine man sent his family on to the restaurant without him.

“My wife said, hey, you gonna come to breakfast? I said, I don’t think so, because everybody had left,” Martinez said. “He was shaking so bad, I felt bad to leave him alone.”

Martinez’s wife brought them back burgers, plain for the dog.

As they picked through the remains, Schumann lost his balance and fell from the wreckage onto a pile of debris on the pavement.

Schumann said he swung his arm back, gouging his wrist on a sharp beam. He didn’t see the wound, but Martinez grabbed his forearm like a baseball bat and held pressure on it until medics arrived, he said.

Schumann was taken by ambulance to Providence Centralia Hospital.

Lewis County Fire District 5′s Lt. Laura Hanson said they often find that folks stop briefly to assist in bad situations, but she called Martinez a good samaritan who stayed and helped above and beyond.

Martinez took the dog to his Napavine home, and then went to the hospital to wait until Schumann was released at about 8 p.m. The family invited him to stay over, but he wanted to overnight in Longview, so he could get to the tow yard first thing in the morning, he said.

He wanted to check for some keepsakes, he said, like a belt buckle personally given to him by Elvis Presley in Biloxi, Mississippi, and perhaps his medications from the V.A., he said. But the floor was six to 12 inches deep with charred wood and soot.

The medicine cabinet was nonexistent, and, Schumann said, come to think of it, he never even saw what had been the bathroom.

Schumann stopped Monday evening back at the Martinez’s Napavine home; he’d forgotten to write down his address. He was on his way to Wal-Mart to buy a charger for his cell phone, and then on to Seattle to talk with his insurance company.

He couldn’t have asked for a better man to help him than Martinez, he said. “All the way through this, he was so much help,” he said.

“If you use the word hero anywhere, the right place might be Antonio,” Schumann said.

The idea of moving to Arizona was his son’s he said. He was actually partial to wintering in southern Texas, in a place that is half giant flea market, half mobile home park.

“You know how crazy this is turning out, I don’t have any reason to go to Phoenix anymore,” he said.

“The insurance will cover the trailer, but at my age I wonder if I want to buy another one.”


Southbound Interstate 5 near milepost 68 on Sunday. / Courtesy photo by Kristal Tardiff

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012


• Police were contacted by a Centralia business yesterday morning after the discovery their debit card had been used over the weekend racking up spending of around $800. The card had been stolen, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police called yesterday afternoon to a shoplifting incident involving clothing at an Outlet Mall store in Centralia are investigating are the possibility multiple stores in the mall were hit yesterday by the same subjects, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were contacted yesterday about an incident on Saturday at Wal-Mart in which a customer apparently stole a Shark steam cleaner and tennis shoes, and returned them in exchange for a gift card.

• Chehalis police were called about 7 o’clock this morning about mail found in a yard on the 1800 block of Southwest Fair Avenue.

• Centralia police were called about 3:25 p.m. yesterday to the 400 block of South Iron Street about a license plate getting stolen.


• Chehalis police contacted an individual in the parking lot at Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon after employees called because they found drug paraphernalia including needles inside the restroom. Chehalis police Sgt. Gwen Carrell said for whatever reason he was uncooperative and was taken to the ground by officers. The subject was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital for observation because of apparent drug usage, Carrell said.


• A 37-year-old motorist was hospitalized overnight after he totaled his car on Interstate 5 just north of Centralia. Troopers were called just before 3 a.m. after Stephen K. German’s 1996 Geo Metro struck a bridge railing on the right hand side of the northbound lanes, crossed over and hit the center barrier and overturned, according to the Washington State Patrol. The Salem, Ore. resident was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with a head laceration, according to the state patrol.