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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: crime

Investigation turns up bomb-making materials at Boise home

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The investigation of a domestic dispute led Boise police to discover more than 100 pounds of bomb-making material in the crawl space of the suspect's house. Police say 32-year-old Joshua J. Finch was arrested Wednesday morning on suspicion of two counts of felony kidnapping. During the kidnapping investigation, police learned Finch might have explosive materials. A search of a residence found bomb-making materials that officials say were in various bomb-making stages. Several roads in the area of Finch's house were closed and police asked the residents of 21 homes to voluntarily evacuate. Residents were able to return to their homes at around midnight. Officials say charges related to the explosives are expected to be filed Thursday.

Lawmaker’s family goes from grief to forgiveness

State Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis and his wife, Marion, know grief, having buried their 23-year-old son a decade ago, reports AP reporter John Miller; they've come to know forgiveness, too. Davis and his family have decided not to oppose parole for their son's killer, a fellow BSU student who shot Davis' son to death at a party in 2003 after an argument. Now, 32-year-old Vincent Craig Olsen could leave the South Idaho Correctional Institution by next week. Click below for Miller's full report.

Alleged burglar picks wrong target - squad car with officers just feet away…

Of all the targets for a burglary, a Nyssa, Ore. man picked one of the worst early Sunday morning. He was in downtown Boise at 6th and Main streets at 2:15 a.m. – a busy time, just after the bars close – and police officers in marked cars were on the scene, responding to a report of a hit-and-run collision with a bicyclist, who turned out not to be badly hurt. The officers were just feet away from their car, interviewing people including numerous witnesses, when Juan Jose Vasquez, 25, allegedly opened the front passenger door of the squad car, leaned in and started rummaging through the officers’ stuff. The officers saw him, shouted at him and grabbed him, and he was holding a metal box containing paperwork and supplies for writing police reports that he’d picked up from the passenger seat.

Now Vasquez is in the Ada County Jail facing a felony burglary charge; he was appointed a public defender and has a preliminary hearing set for June 24. “Usually officers are not very far away from their vehicles,” said Boise Police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower, making burglarizing a squad car on-scene “not a good idea.”

How he did it: Idaho inmate pulls off major financial fraud from behind bars

It’s clear that Mark Brown is a smart guy, maybe even borderline brilliant. But what’s astounding is the way he apparently pulled off a major, years-long financial fraud, taking in big corporations, courts and attorneys across the nation, all from behind bars in an Idaho prison cell.

Brown had no access to the Internet and appears to have had no accomplices or outside help. Instead, investigators believe he used a cherished electric typewriter that he was allowed to keep in his small, spare cell, and legal ads found in national newspapers including the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, to make fraudulent claims in big class-action lawsuits and bankruptcies. The story is detailed in my two-part series in The Spokesman-Review’s Sunday and Monday editions; you can read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here

Brown is alleged to have typed up professional-looking legal documents, false letters from law firms and more, and made skillful use of the “legal mail” exception for inmates that allows for correspondence with attorneys and judges without review from prison staff. Big checks poured in – Brown’s take in multiparty lawsuits including a $70 million GlaxoSmithKline drug-pricing settlement and a $20 million IBM shareholders’ settlement. Authorities say Brown collected close to $64,000 through those settlements and deposited the money in his prison trust account, which inmates can use for things like commissary purchases. He then transferred much of it out to an investment account that authorities have targeted for potential forfeiture.

The behind-bars operation caught authorities by surprise. “We screen our mail pretty well, but he also was running a pretty good scam here,” said Cpl. Wesley Heckathorn, a guard at the Idaho Correctional Institution in Orofino and former longtime U.S. Navy investigator who helped uncover Brown’s alleged fraud. Brown is now facing a 12-count federal indictment for mail fraud and awaiting a September trial, while authorities at both Idaho’s state prison system and the nation’s largest private prison operator, Corrections Corp. of America, scratch their heads over how he allegedly pulled it off.

Some who know Brown, however, aren’t surprised. “Mark is just so bright,” said Terry Rich, who hired Brown in 1994, when Brown was briefly out on parole, to work at his Boise high-tech firm. “He is so slippery, and he’s so believable, one of the most charming people you’ll meet. … If you let Mark sit around and think too much, this is what happens.” Brown was a promising 23-year-old computer science student at the University of Idaho when he first went to prison with a 20-year sentence for theft; now, he’s 53, still in prison, and never likely to get out.

Boise Police arrest suspect in 15-year-old cold case, Kay Lynn Jackson’s murder

Fifteen years after she was killed while walking along the Boise Greenbelt on her way to church, carrying a Bible, the Boise Police today arrested a suspect in the murder of 22-year-old Kay Lynn Jackson.  Patrick Jon Zacharias, 40, has been charged with 1st degree murder and rape in Jackson’s death. Police said the break in the case came when a DNA test conducted on Zacharias, who has been serving time at the Idaho State Correctional Institution since an unrelated conviction in 2007, was entered into a national crime information database and came up as a match.

Jackson was killed on the morning of Palm Sunday in 1998. “The lead detective, Mark Ayotte, has worked this case since Kay Lynn’s death,” Boise Deputy Police Chief Pete Ritter said at a news conference today. “His case files have stayed on his desk, never more than an arm’s length away. Detective Ayotte led a team that includes officers, investigators and support staff from Boise, all over Idaho and indeed all over the country. Their hard work has led to this critical point in a case that has touched so many lives for 15 years.” You can read the BPD’s full news release and statements here.

Jackson's murder was the first of three on the Greenbelt in which women were raped and murdered over a three-year period; it was the last of the three to remain unsolved. Darrell Payne received a death sentence for the July 2000 murder of BSU student Samantha Kay Maher, 22; and Erick Virgil Hall was sentenced to death for the September 2000 rape and murder of Lynn Henneman, a flight attendant who was walking from a restaurant to her hotel when she was killed.

Two new female Patas monkeys bound for Boise Zoo, to join survivor

Boise's city zoo will welcome two new female Patas monkeys within the next few seeks, the city announced today; they'll join the zoo's sole surviving Patas monkey, a male, who was left on his own after his cagemate was killed in a bizarre break-in at the zoo Nov. 17. The zoo is planning a new 1,500-square-foot exhibit for the monkeys, with indoor and outdoor living space and three large viewing windows for the public.

“As Boise has done so many times in the past, we are going to turn a tragedy into a positive new beginning,” said Mayor Dave Bieter, “and prove that no single event can dampen our spirit or discourage us from believing in Boise as a truly wonderful place to live.” The Friends of Zoo Boise, a volunteer group, has pledged to raise $209,000 for the new exhibit.

Prosecutors say 22-year-old Michael Jacob Watkins broke into the zoo to steal the monkey, and that he beat it to death with a tree branch after the monkey bit him. The Weiser resident is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 5. Click below for the full announcement from the city.
  

High court won’t review Delling case, Idaho’s lack of insanity defense stands

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from convicted Idaho multiple murderer John Delling, challenging the lack of an insanity defense in Idaho. Idaho is one of four states that doesn't permit defendants to claim they're not guilty by reason of insanity. Three justices dissented; Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor wanted to hear the case. Click below for a full report from the Associated Press.

Zoo break-in suspect’s dad defends son, says not ‘malicious monkey murderer’

The father of a 22-year-old man accused of killing a monkey after breaking into an Idaho zoo said he believes the tragedy was a drunken prank that got out of hand and “turned into a horrible situation,” the Idaho Statesman newspaper reports. Michael J. Watkins was arrested Monday and faces at least two felonies: burglary, for allegedly breaking into Zoo Boise; and grand theft, for allegedly taking the monkey and beating it so severely that it later died. His first court appearance is set for Wednesday. Watkins' father, Jerry Watkins, defended his son to the newspaper, saying he is “not a malicious monkey murderer;” click below for a full report from the AP and the Statesman.

Suspect in monkey killing charged with two felonies

Michael Watkins, 22, of Weiser, has been charged with two felonies, burglary and grand theft, in connection with the death of a Patas monkey at the Boise Zoo early Saturday morning. He was arrested this afternoon in Washington County, where he is currently in custody; click below for the full Boise Police Department news release.

“I know the community demands and deserves answers to the many questions that surround this senseless crime,” Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson said at a news conference this evening. “This case is long on emotions and short on facts, for the time being.” More information will come out during the court process to come, he said. “We obviously have more information than we are able to provide tonight. Our detectives have done an outstanding job.”

The arrest was made around 2 p.m. today, Masterson said, following up on a citizen tip received last night, and the suspect's seeking treatment at a local hospital where “the story did not seem to mesh with the injuries.”

Masterson said the second person sighted outside the zoo has been identified and contacted, but not charged. The suspect who was arrested had injuries to his upper torso, the chief said. A gray baseball cap that was recovered inside the zoo “was found to be the hat that the individual, the suspect that we arrested, had worn that evening,” Masterson said. He added, “These may not be the only two charges that this individual faces.”
  

Arrest made in monkey killing at Boise Zoo

Police have arrested one person in connection with the death of a monkey at Zoo Boise, the AP reports. Police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said no other information was immediately available, but officers and a representative from Zoo Boise were expected to hold a press conference Monday evening. The Patas monkey was found dead of blunt force trauma to the head and neck early Saturday morning, shortly after a zoo security guard frightened away two male intruders. The death left zoo workers shocked and devastated, zoo director Steve Burns said, and prompted an organization called Crime Stoppers to offer an award of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest of the culprits. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

Slaying of monkey at Boise Zoo leaves zoo fans stunned; reward offered

Sad news surfaced over the weekend in Boise, with the news that intruders at the Boise Zoo had killed a beloved Patas monkey. The future of the monkey's cagemate, shown here, is uncertain, as the social primates don't like to be housed alone; the Boise zoo may get another, or may have to find a new home for the remaining monkey. The AP reports that police are following leads in the search for the two intruders, and that it's not yet clear whether the zoo break-in early Saturday morning was a prank that turned violent or something done with more sinister intent.

The monkey was found outside its exhibit, near the perimeter fence of the zoo, shortly after a security guard scared off two intruders; it had a head injury, and died shortly after. The zoo was closed for most of the day Saturday as police searched for evidence. You can read KTVB-TV's full report here, including a clue - police found a gray ballcap that may have been left by one of the intruders; and the Idaho Statesman's full report here; this AP photo of the remaining Patas monkey is by the Statesman's Katherine Jones. A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.

UPDATE: Late this afternoon, Boise Police announced that they've made an arrest; they scheduled a press conference for 7 p.m. to release more information.

BPD plans crackdown on underage drinking around Sat.’s BSU football game

The Boise Police are planning to crack down on underage drinking around this Saturday's BSU home football game against Colorado State, including both underage consumption and adults who provide alcohol to people under age 21. In addition, the police will be patrolling for open-container violations on public streets and sidewalks, in city parks and within 250 feet of the river; parking violations; driving under the influence; and littering. “Officers want citizens to celebrate responsibly,” the BPD announced in a news release; you can read it here. “For public safety, Boise Police will be checking for illegal alcohol use in the campus area. Increases in people on neighborhood streets, parks and parking lots in the Broadway area on game days has resulted in increased complaints and concerns about illegal alcohol use and related problems like disorderly conduct, underage drinking, drunk driving, assaults, urinating in public, loud parties and littering.”
  

Stick-figure threat lands federal charge against inmate on verge of release

A woman who was about to be released from an Idaho prison is now in federal custody, for allegedly sending a threatening letter saying her prison sentence was coming to an end and the recipient should be prepared for his final moments, the AP reports. The letter included a drawing depicting a battered stick figure and such threating phrases as “No tears,” “No hiding” and “No more you.” Linda Joyce Lakes now faces a federal charge of mailing threatening communications, a felony; click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

Wrong number: Man seeking drug buy mistakenly texts narcotics detective

A Lewiston man apparently trying to get the most bang for his drug-purchasing buck mistakenly sent a text message to a narcotics detective while he searched for people to join him in a methamphetamine buy, the Associated Press reports; as a result, Aaron D. Templeton was arrested this week and charged with conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine. A police detective received a text Wednesday morning asking if he knew anyone looking for drugs, and after determining it wasn't his co-workers playing a joke, arranged to meet the man named Aaron the same day to deliver $150 that would be pooled with money from other buyers to enable a bulk purchase of meth, officials said. Click below for the full report from the AP and the Lewiston Tribune.

Boise Police tase naked man after business break-ins

In odd crime news over the weekend, the Boise Police responded to a report of a burglary in progress at 3 a.m. Saturday, to find 27-year-old Boisean Anthony J. Marsh there, naked except for his shoes, standing next to a broken glass door in front of a business on South Shoshone Street, bleeding from cuts. The suspect was behaving erratically and wouldn't respond to officers' commands, and instead attempted to jump through the broken window. “At one point, officers were forced to deploy a taser to take the suspect into custody to avoid further injury,” the BPD reports. Replacement of the safety glass door was estimated to cost more than $1,000; the suspect was also determined to have broken into a nearby laundromat. He was booked on charges of malicious injury to property and resisting and obstructing an officer. No word on where his clothes were; perhaps being washed at the laundromat?

Auto theft solved when thief in stolen car cruises by cop taking the theft report

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) ― Officers in northern Idaho didn't have much trouble resolving a stolen vehicle case after the missing car drove by while police were taking a report from the owner. The Lewiston Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/NN5beq ) Dianne E. Blazer of Lewiston noticed her 2003 Nissan Sentra had been stolen overnight and was talking with police at 9:30 a.m. Thursday when an officer noticed the car driving down the street. The officer ran after the vehicle and ordered the driver to stop. Chon E. Tackett of Coeur d'Alene told police he didn't remember how he got the vehicle and was trying to find a friend's house. Tackett, who is 30, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle and driving under the influence.

Schemer tries to profit from lost cell phone, ends up in jail on extortion charge

Here's an odd one from today's Boise Police crime report: A 27-year-old Boise man is facing extortion charges after he found a woman's lost phone over the weekend, then allegedly contacted her demanding payment or he'd sell it. The victim had lost her phone downtown on Saturday night; suspect Joshua G. Escoto allegedly contacted her last night about 11:30. The Boise Police reported, “After a detailed investigation, the suspect was arrested when the victim arranged to meet him to make the exchange.” In addition to theft by extortion, a felony, Escoto was booked into the Ada County Jail on an additional charge of carrying a concealed weapon without a license.

Man charged after spray-painting ‘I’m not a terrorist’ on fed courthouse

A 42-year-old homeless man has been charged with a federal crime of willful injury to government property, after he allegedly spray-painted “FU 1867 I'm not a terrorist” on windows on four different sides of the James A. McClure Federal Building and Courthouse in Boise on Jan. 2. Charles Arthur Stark, 42, was charged with a Class A misdemeanor and could face up to a year in prison, $100,000 in fines and restitution for the damage; his actions were captured on video and posted on YouTube. You can read the U.S. Attorney's full announcement here.

‘Aggravated battery with a frying pan’

It's not even a full moon, but the Boise Police is reporting, among its usual list of overnight incidents, a case of “aggravated battery with a frying pan.” According to the police report, Daniel J. Lovely, 24, was arrested early this morning after police responded to a report of a fight between roommates, in which the victim told them the suspect “used a cast iron frying pan to strike him more than once in the head, breaking the handle of the frying pan.” The victim was taken to the hospital with a head laceration. Lovely was booked into jail, and “the frying pan was recovered from the home.”

Toddler handled police gun that injured three

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: EMMETT, Idaho (AP) — A 3-year-old child was handling an Emmett Police Department officer’s weapon that discharged and injured three people on Aug. 6. The Idaho Statesman reports the agency has been accused of a cover-up in the incident, so Emmett Police Chief Steve Nebeker is now trying to eliminate some of the rumors. The incident occurred at the residence of Emmett Detective Sgt. Kim Judy. Three people, including the 3-year-old handling the gun, a 2-year-old and Judy’s roommate, Whysper Rowden, were injured. Judy took the three to a hospital, but didn’t immediately report the incident. Nebeker says Judy was probably thinking more about getting to the hospital than calling 9-1-1. The three are recovering. The Ada County prosecutor’s office is now considering possible charges. Nebeker also says there’s an internal investigation.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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