A federal prosecutor said she's "appalled" by the number of people who had their mail stolen in in a suspected regional theft ring and may seek aggravating circumstances against four suspects.
"This is an ongoing, every day thing," Assistant U.S. Attorney Pam Byerly said. "This is their job."
Dominque M. Ryan, 18; her sister, Candice J. Thompson, 22; and Thompson's boyfriend, Eric J. Peltier, Jr., 29, are in federal custody without bail after their arrests Monday.
U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno denied requests by Ryan and Thompson's lawyers, Bevan Maxey and Jeffry Finer, to be released. Finer has appealed the decision and cites, among other reasons, the fact that the U.S. Probation Office recommended she be released to live with her father in Tacoma.
Ryan's boyfriend, Kyle K. Croson, 21, is at large. Peltier's lawyer, Jaime Hawk, had his bail hearing postponed until Tuesday. Peltier has a misdemeanor warrant in Pierce County.
The suspects face months to a couple of years in prison if convicted of stealing mail, which is a federal offense.
Ryan, who had methamphetamine and marijuana with her when she was arrested, has no criminal history and works at a call center. Thompson has convictions for driving while license suspended and failure to transfer car title.
The women have been deeply affected by the drug overdose death of their mother, according to court testimony. Lawyer Jeffry Finer said he's worried Thompson is "chasing her mom's history."
Thompson's three-year-old daughter was in their apartment in 300 block of East Baldwin Avenue when law enforcement arrived Monday. The child is now in the custody of Child Protective Services. Finer said it's difficult to discuss that with Thompson. "Whenever we touch on that issue, she breaks down," Finer told Imbrogno.
Investigators recovered about 1,000 pieces of mail stolen from hundreds of people in Eastern Washington and North Idaho in the apartment and in two cars Monday.
Peltier told police he and Thompson moved to Spokane from Tacoma about two months ago with their daughter to live with Ryan and Croson.
He, Thompson and Ryan cried in court on Thursday.
"I love you, too" Peltier said to Thompson as she was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
He then turned to two friends in the audience and, through sobs, denied the allegations.
"It wasn't us," Peltier said. "It wasn't us."