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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: fugitives

Chronic eluder arrested for eluding police

A Spokane man with a history of fleeing police led a state wildlife officer on a chase in a stolen car while high on methamphetamine recently.

Michael S. Wheeler, 38, remains jailed on stolen car and eluding police chases after he was arrested at gunpoint Thursday after a high-speed chase that began in the area of 36900 Valley Road.

Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Daniel Rahn was in the area when he noticed a 1986 Doge pickup parked in his neighbor's driveway.

Rahn didn't recognize the truck and watched as the driver approached a parked trailer. The driver told Rahn he was looking for copper wire when stopped, but he soon sped way and a chase ensued.

Rahn ended the chase because of public safety concerns, but a sheriff's deputy was able to stop Wheeler at gunpoint on Deer Creek Road near Elk-Chattaroy after Wheeler lost control of the truck while trying to avoid a spike strip.

Wheeler told police he had taken methamphetamine earlier that day, according to court documents. He said he didn't know the truck was stolen. Police say the truck was stolen that day from a home on Sherman Road in Deer Park.

Wheeler had a Department of Corrections warrant for escape. He has several felony convictions that prohibit from possessing weapons, so he could face another felony charge for a rifle found in the truck.

Wheeler was wanted by Crime Stoppers when he rammed a sheriff’s patrol car in December 2010 while successfully eluding a deputy. Read more here.

Reward for tips on licensed theft suspect

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of an accused metal thief who was part of a licensed business.

Tristan M. Goiri-Christensen, 26, is wanted on a $20,000 warrant after skipping a pre-trial conference April 27. He was scheduled to begin trial Monday on theft and stolen property charges.

Goiri-Christensen is part of a band of suspected metal thieves who created a Spokane-based business, complete with licenses from the Washington Department of Revenue, to get around state laws designed to discourage theft by making it tougher for individuals to sell stolen metal to scrap yards. The state exempts licensed businesses from the mandatory 10-day waiting period for payments of over $30 on scrap metal sold to recyclers.

Goiri-Christensen and four others are accused of stealing thousands of pounds of power lines from Avista Utilities and selling the copper wire to fuel their drug habits. The stolen metal meant a massive payday in the thousands of dollars. A business license meant it came instantly. And it was easy to obtain. Read more here.

Goiri-Christensen, 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds, last gave an address in the 300 block of East Rockwell Avenue in Spokane.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Spokane police arrest longtime fugitive

A Crime Stoppers fugitive wanted since February has been arrested.

 John Gibson Dean, 30, was arrested at an apartment complex at 12426 E. Broadway Ave., after police developed information that he'd been staying there.

A witnesses told police Dean and Lisa M. Baxter, 25, stole her Ford Bronco and were planning to drive it to Montana.

Police contacted Baxter and she denied knowing where Dean was, but she was with Dean at the apartment when police arrived there Tuesday.

Baxter was arrested for rendering criminal assistance, and Dean was arrested on warrants for robbery and gun charges.

He faces a new bail-jumping charge after he left jail on $200,000 bond and never returned to court. He was to begin trial in March but didn't show up for a pre-trial conference in February which led to the warrant.

Dean is accused with Jeremy L. Standon of robbing three people of money, jewelry and electronics after being allowed inside the home at 1415 N. Post St. May 9. Standon pleaded guilty earlier this month and is to be sentenced June 13.

Warrant issued for ‘80s ‘mountain man’

This Dec. 18, 1984 file photo shows Don Nichols, right, standing with his son, Dan Nichols, left, as they pled not guilty in court in Virginia City, Mont. Standing with them is attorney, Steve Ungar. (AP Photo/File)

By MATT GOURAS,Associated Press
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — One of the infamous “mountain men” who in the 1980s eluded authorities for five months by living in the wilderness is on the run from the law again — and considered “armed and dangerous.”

The U.S. attorney's office in Montana has filed federal drug and weapons charges against Dan Nichols, who with his father was convicted in kidnaping a world class athlete in 1984, killing a would-be rescuer and hiding in the remote mountains northwest of Yellowstone National Park.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges Nichols and two other men were involved in a statewide marijuana distribution ring that netted nearly $1.8 million. The news comes as his 81-year-old father, Don, comes up for a parole hearing next week.

Federal marshals said they are now looking for the younger Nichols, who was previously wanted in state court for not appearing earlier this year on relatively minor drug charges filed after his arrest at a rock concert. The new federal charges allege a much larger conspiracy.

“He should definitely be considered armed and dangerous,” said Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for Montana, Rod Ostermiller. “He is obviously someone who hasn't been compliant with law enforcement in the past.”

Ostermiller wouldn't say whether authorities believe Nichols has taken to the woods again. But he warned the public to be wary of the 5-foot-11, 150-pound Nichols.

“I think there is some definite safety issues involved regarding this individual,” the marshal said. “That is just one thing we can't stress enough.”

The original, bizarre crime gripped the state and the nation when the father and son abducted world-class biathlete Kari Swenson in 1984 while she was on a training run in the mountains above the resort town of Big Sky. The elder Nichols was reportedly looking for a wife for his then 19-year-old son.

The so-called mountain men had been living continuously in the woods for a year prior to the abduction, growing hidden makeshift gardens, poaching game and generally staying out of sight.

The scheme quickly fell apart when would-be rescuers stumbled upon the camp. In the melee, Dan Nichols accidentally shot Swenson. An armed standoff ensued, and the elder Nichols gunned down Alan Goldstein.

The Nichols evaded capture by living in the Madison Range, until they surrendered when a Madison County sheriff caught up with them.

Swenson, despite diminished lung capacity from the gunshot wound, went on to win a bronze medal in the world biathlon championships.

The new charges against Nichols include allegations the felon illegally amassed dozens of rifles, assault weapons, pistols, and shotguns while engaged in drug crimes. Christopher Wayne Williams and Christopher Lindsey, two of the five co-founders of the now-shuttered Montana Cannabis statewide medical marijuana operation, are also charged, but they are not on the run.

Drug Enforcement Administration agent Wesley Smith said Thursday at a sentencing of Richard Flor, another Montana Cannabis co-founder, that Nichols worked for Williams at the operation's Helena marijuana nursery overseeing the care of hundreds of pot plants.

Federal agents raided the nursery as part of a crackdown on medical marijuana operations last year, and Smith said agents found a handgun in the camper that Nichols had been living in next to the nursery.

Federal authorities say the trio was involved in an operation that grew and sold marijuana in several Montana cities from 2006 until 2011. This came at a time when many in the state thought they were legally running medical marijuana businesses under a state law.

All of the Montana Cannabis co-owners, who also ran the Montana Caregivers Association, have been indicted or pleaded guilty to federal drug charges.

Wigged felon with gun, drugs charged

A fugitive felon arrested in Spokane with drugs and a gun while wearing a wig and sunglasses has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

James Anthony Stinson, 41, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Stinson was arrested Jan. 16 after a Spokane police officer spotted him driving a blue Ford Explorer while wearing the disguise, according to court documents.

Stinson had an escape warrant from the Washington Department of Corrections. Police arrested him in a motel parking lot at 4301 W. Sunset Blvd., and found methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin in a black case.

Stinson also had a black and silver Taurus 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in the car, police say. He's prohibited from possessing guns because of six felony convictions, all drug related.

Stinson was charged in Spokane County Superior Court with three counts of possession of a controlled substance. He's out of jail on $10,000 bond with trial scheduled for June.

The federal gun charge in U.S. District Court was filed Tuesday. He has not yet been arrested in that case.

Valley police arrest 4 burglary suspects

Police on Friday arrested four men considered to be “well known burglars” responsible for crimes in Spokane Valley, officials said today.

A Spokane Valley night-shift patrol platoon led by Sgt. Don Manning focused on the area of 400 North University Road and the area of 13500 East Rich Road, which police say “have been notorious for criminal activity for some time.”

Arrested were Damian M. Plumley, 22, on warrants for three counts of second-degree theft and one count of first-degree trafficking in stolen property; Steven D.T. Devitt, 42, on a warrant for second-degree theft and vehicle prowling; Christopher Michael Stoddard, 20, on new charges of second-degree theft and first-degree trafficking in stolen property; and Mark William Bush, 37, on a Washington Department of Corrections warrant for failure to comply.

 Bush (pictured) is a repeat offender who was targeted by Crime Stoppers in February even though he already was in DOC custody.

Police recovered a large amount of stolen property during the arrests Friday, which property crimes detectives identified and returned to their owners.

“The return of these items took longer than normal because none of the high value items had been reported stolen,” sheriff's spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin said in a news release. “When detectives asked the property owners why they did not report the thefts, the property owners said they had not gotten around to it.”

“Citizens are asked to report any type of theft, suspicious vehicles or persons to either 911 or Crime Check,” Chamberlin continued. “This information is extremely valuable and played a vital role with the multiple arrests made this weekend in Spokane Valley. The Sheriff's Office has devoted extra resources to focus on burglaries in unincorporated Spokane County and the City of Spokane Valley.”

Video questions account of shooting

Watch me talk about the story in the video above with KHQ's Dave Cotton.

A homeowner says his surveillance video brings into question the official account of why law enforcement shot and killed a North Idaho fugitive three weeks ago, though police warn against drawing too many conclusions from the footage because it captures just a portion of the chaotic 20-minute chase and final encounter.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 12: Man killed by Post Fall police identified

$250k bond for child abuse suspect

A 22-year-old Spokane man accused of assaulting his infant daughter will remain jailed on $250,000 bond, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Joshua E. Gillis is in the Spokane County Jail after he was arrested in Texas last week by federal marshals at the request of Spokane police.

Gillis is accused of assaulting his daughter in January. He and the girl's mother, Ashley B. Huston, brought the girl to a hospital with multiple skull fractures, a fractured right shoulder and a spiral fracture to her right thigh, police say. They told doctors the girl was anemic.

GIllis is charged with two counts of second-degree child assault.

Fugitive arrested in Center of Universe

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A man who failed to appear in court on charges he caused a disturbance at a Missoula hotel was taken into custody by a bail bond company after a standoff at a Wallace, Idaho, hotel.

Michael Dell Babinski, 42, was booked into the Missoula County jail early Tuesday, the Missoulian (http://bit.ly/HHBR9U) reported.

Chase Investigations owner Kelli Martin told the newspaper her team took Babinski into custody at about 2 a.m. Tuesday at the Wallace Inn. She said he raved about bombs and the federal Department of Homeland Security during the standoff.

Babinski initially was arrested Saturday at the Hilton Garden Inn. He had been kicked out of the Missoula hotel on Thursday for having a dog. He returned on Friday. On Saturday, prosecutors said Babinski was again asked to leave and threatened to “take down” the hotel. Officers said he was carrying several knives, a semiautomatic handgun, a stun gun and pepper spray and had a large dog with him.

Officers who searched Babinski at the jail Saturday reported finding eight hydrocodone tablets and 7 ½ tablets of lorazepam, an anti-anxiety drug.

Babinski was released from jail Sunday after posting bond on $50,000 bail. Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech issued a $100,000 bench warrant Monday when Babinski failed to appear in court on two counts of criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal trespass and carrying concealed weapons.

A records check showed he had four restraining orders in Spokane County, Wash., and Shoshone County, Idaho, according to the affidavit. Two of those orders prohibit him from possessing firearms, it said.

Reward targets property crime couple

Crime Stoppers is targeting a couple accused of stealing more than $40,000 in guns, jewelry and electronics from the wife's mother.

Tiffany N. Russell, alias Thompson, and Kevin C. Russell, both 34, are accused of burglarizing her mother's storage unit at 11018 E. Sprague Ave. and her apartment at 6010 E. Sixth Ave. while her mother was out of town.

Her mother let her stay at her home periodically since she was released from prison about two years ago, according to court documents prepared by the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

She said only her daughter and her daughter's husband knew where the stolen firearms, including a sniper rifle, were located, and knew of the jewelry and electronics that turned up missing from the home. The woman learned her daughter sold some of the items at a Spokane Valley pawn shop.  She also found surveillance video at the storage center showing her daughter loading items into her car.

Kevin Russell is charged with second-degree burglary and nine counts of theft of a firearm. Tiffany Russell is charged with second-degree burglary, first-degree theft, three counts of trafficking in stolen property in the first degree and nine counts of theft of a firearm. Prosecutors charged the couple March 23.

Kevin Russell, 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, last gave an address on East 32nd Avenue in Spokane Valley.

Tiffany Russell, 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, last listed her mother's apartment in Spokane Valley - one of the crime scenes - as her address.

Anyone with information on their current locations is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Woman sought in meth-fueled robbery

A new suspect has emerged in a meth-fueled robbery that led to a police SWAT team standoff at a north Spokane apartment last December.

Allison Elaine Hubbard, 30, (right) is wanted on first-degree robbery and first-degree kidnapping charges for the Dec. 1 assault of a 22-year-old woman who was choked unconscious with her own necklace.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to her arrest. 

Hubbard is accused of robbing Jennifer M. Taylor of methamphetamine on the South Hill with the help of Bobby S. “Angel” Decaney, 35, and Maceo L. Williams, 27, who were arrested later that day.

A police dog found Decaney (left) inside a couch in his apartment at 13110 N. Addison. A SWAT team had pumped tear gas into the apartment, but Decaney, a reputed Sureno gang member, refused to exit. He faces life in prison if convicted because he has two previous convictions for violent felonies.

Williams and Decaney have pleaded not guilty.

Decaney left jail early February after posting $50,000 bond. His trial is set for April 16. Williams remains in jail awaiting an April 23 trial.

Police used cell phone information to identify Hubbard as the woman who was with Decaney and Williams that night. Messages on Decaney's phone from Hubbard discussed robbing Taylor, police say. A witness also identifed Hubbard from a photo montage.

Prosecutors filed charges March 22.

Hubbard, 5-foot-7 and 220 pounds, has a criminal history that includes convictions for assault, burglary theft and drug possession. She was a Crime Stoppers fugitive in November 2010 when police identified her as a marijuana growing suspect with a “shopping list.”

Hubbard last gave a home address in the 10000 block of East Sixth Avenue in Spokane Valley.

Anyone with information on her current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Child abuse suspect arrested in Texas

A 22-year-old Spokane man accused of assaulting his infant daughter was arrested this week in Texas.

Joshua E. Gillis is awaiting extradition to Spokane on a $250,000 warrant for first-degree child abuse.

Federal agents in Houston located him there at the request of Spokane police, U.S. Marshal Bob Doty said today.

Gillis is accused of assaulting his daughter in January. He and the girl's mother, Ashley B. Huston, brought the girl to a hospital with multiple skull fractures, a fractured right shoulder and a spiral fracture to her right thigh, police say. They told doctors the girl was anemic.

Police searched the couple's home at 123 E. Baldwin Ave., and seized evidence of the alleged assault, as well as nine marijuana plants.

Prosecutors charged GIllis Feb. 22.

Suspicious vehicle leads to meth arrest

A suspicious vehicle report in north Spokane led deputies to arrest a wanted man on new drug charges early today.

Deputies were watching a Suzuki that was parked on he wrong side of the road in the area of 630 West Ivanhone Road when they contacted the driver, Bryan E. Aden, 42, and asked what he and his passenger,

Jason William Gilmore, also 42, were dong out at 2 a.m., according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Gilmore said they were gong to his mother's house near Chattaroy to help her, deputies say.

Deputies say Gilmore gave them permission to look inside a backpack, which contained a ski mask, tire iron, taped-up wrench and a flashlight with a blue lens cover.

Gilmore also had a felony warrant for his arrest through the Washington Department of Corrections. He was arrested for that as well as a new charge of possession of burglary tools. He also faces a drug charge after deputies found meth in a small vial where he had been standing.

Aden was cited and released for third-degree driving while license suspended.

CdA sex crime fugitive arrested in LA

A child molestation suspect who has been missing since escaping a manhunt in North Idaho in December was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles.

Nathaniel Robert Howell, 32, was booked into jail in Los Angeles County about 3:52 p.m. Thursday, according to online records.

Howell had been wanted on a felony warrant in Kootenai County charging him with four counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and five counts of sexual exploitation.

Coeur d'Alene police notified the public about his fugitive status after he ran from police through the woods in the 1500 block of South Sagle Road last December.

Howell had seen police while visiting relatives nearby. He's now awaiting extradition to North Idaho from California.

Shot fugitive had wig, weapons, paint

A fugitive shot to death by police in North Idaho had material for changing his identity in his vehicle, as well as weapons, drug paraphernalia and an active police scanner.

 The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department announced the discovery Wednesday as part of its ongoing investigation into the death of Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33.

Todd died early Monday after he was shot by multiple Post Falls police officers following a 20-minute chase that ended in a residential area in west Hayden, Idaho.

Todd was shot after he struck an Idaho State Police trooper with his car and knocked him to the ground. The trooper suffered minor injuries.

Todd, a longtime felon, was wanted on a warrant for eluding police when his car triggered an alert system on Interstate 90 that detects stolen vehicles and fugitives.

Investigators said Wednesday that Todd's car had recently been painted from blue to white. They found six cans of black spray paint in the car that indicated Todd may have planned to paint it again. They also found a brass knuckles/stun gun combination weapons, a knife, three cell phones along with the paraphernalia and scanner.

Investigators interviewed all officers involved in the incident Wednesday. The Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office will decide on charges once a report is submitted.

Fugitive shot, killed by Post Falls police

A North Idaho man with an extensive criminal history was shot and killed by a Post Falls police officer early Monday after striking a state trooper with his car, police say.

Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33, died at Kootenai Medical Center after a nearly 20-minue police chase ended with shots fired in a residential area near St. Estephe Court and Bordeaux Drive, just west of Ramsey Road and south of Honeysuckle Drive in Hayden.

Read the rest of my story here.

TV show to feature Post Falls murders

In this 2008 photo, Kootenai County sheriff’s Sgt. Brad Maskell stands in the area where newspaper carrier Gary Loesch was murdered in November 1995. (SRarchives)

 A cable TV show on Saturday will feature the case of two fugitive North Idaho women who committed suicide in Arizona after America's Most Wanted detailed their ties to two murders.

 Tina R. Loesch (left) and Skye M. Hanson (right) were wanted for the 1998 murder of Loesch's mother, Barbara, and suspects in the 1995 murder of her father, Gary, when America's Most Wanted spotlighted them in November 2008.

Gary Loesch, who was killed while delivering copies of The Spokesman-Review, had written his daughter out of his will after she told him she was in a lesbian relationship with Hanson, according to previously published reports.

Detectives believe the women hired Bradley Steckman to kill Barbara Loesch, who was found dead in her hot tub with the TV inside. Steckman is serving life in prison for Loesch's murder and for the 1996 murder of an 89-year-old Pullman woman.

Police have long suspected the father-daughter rift and a $500,000 life insurance policy Tina Loesch took out on her mother were motives in the killings.

Post Falls police had been trying to find the women for years - they were last seen with Loesch's son, Kristopher, in Spokane in 2000. The night the program aired, Loesch and Hanson were found dead of suicide in their SUV northwest of Tucson. Police had no idea the women were in Arizona.

Lt. Greg McLean said Thursday that detectives still are trying to find Kristopher Loesch, who would be 21. Cadaver dogs have searched for his body in Arizona amidst rumors the couple had killed him, but his location still is unknown.

“We're not sure if he was dropped off somewhere before they decided to end their lives,” McLean said. “if he was, we haven't been able to find him yet.”

“It's just been a long-term investigation that in my opinion still hasn't been closed because we're still missing Kristopher,” McLean said.

The show airs at 9 p.m. as part of Investigation Discovery's new series, Deadly Sins. It features interviews with Loesch's brother, Charles Loesch, Paul Farina of the Post Falls Police Department and Brad Maskell of the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department. A channel finder is available here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 18, 2008: Murder suspects found dead in Arizona

Jan. 6, 2008: Missing women remain key in 2 murders

Spokane fugitive dead in Lynnwood lake

A Spokane fugitive found dead in a Western Washington lake has been identified as Seth Brian Brandley, 28.

Brandley was wanted on a Washington Department of Corrections warrant when he fled police in the Everett area Feb. 26.

Authorities responded Feb. 29 to North Lake Stickney Drive in Lynnwood for a report of a body floating in the water near a dock.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office identified the man Monday as Brandley, a Spokane resident with an extensive criminal history that includes three drug convictions in Spokane.

He also has convictions in Stevens County for residential burglary and second-degree theft.

He was sentenced in April 2011 in Spokane County for taking a motor vehicle without permission.

Brandley's cause and manner of death are pending investigation, the Medical Examiner's Office said.

Brandley leaves behind a wife, Tracey S. O'Blenness, 46, whom he married in 2010.

Man sought on gun, robbery charges

A man accused of a gunpoint robbery last May is wanted by Crime Stoppers after failing to show up for court.

John Gibson Dean, 30, was to begin trial this week on robbery and gun charges, but he never showed up for a pre-trial haring last week and a $200,000 warrant was issued for his arrest.

Dean is accused with Jeremy L. Standon of robbing three people of money, jewelry and electronics after being allowed inside the home at 1415 N. Post St. May 9.

Spokane police paid a confidential informant $100 for information that helped identify the men as suspects. Standon, who is in jail, is to begin trial March 19.

Dean had a Glock 22, .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol that was stolen in Wilbur, Wash., when he was arrested, which led to a felony gun charge.

Dean's criminal history includes convictions for riot, making false statements, refusing to cooperate, forgery, theft, harassment, obstructing an investigation

Dean, 6-feet tall and 185 pounds, last gave an address in the 5000 block of East Sharp Avenue in Spokane Valley.

Crime Stoppers on Thursday offered a reward for tips that lead to his arrest. Anyone with information his current location is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Man accused of sex abuse in North Idaho

A Spokane man is wanted in North Idaho for allegedly sexually abusing a child.

Chad Andrew Radden, 21, is being sought on a $40,000 warrant in Kootenai County for sexual abuse of a minor under 16, as well as a probation violation warrant in Washington.

Radden has felony convictions in Spokane County for property crimes and is awaiting trial on a car theft charge that he was arrested on in December.

Radden was arrested in October 2010 for an alleged car-prowling and window-breaking spree in Spokane Valley.

Anyone who knows where Radden, 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, is now is asked to contact the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force (208) 665-1471.

Reward money is available. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Radden is one of several people wanted on a felony warrant spotlighted this week by the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department. Read more at Dave Oliveria's Huckleberries blog.

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