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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: kidnapping

Kidnapping charges added to murder suspect’s case

Murder suspect Jonathan Ritchey appeared in court again on Thursday afternoon with an additional charge of kidnapping.

Both the state and prosecutor reserved on changing Ritchey's release terms, so his bond remained the same at $100,000, Judge James Triplet said.

His charges now match his uncle, Gary L. Stoddard, who was arrested earlier this week for the murder and kidnapping of victim Heather Cassel.

Cassel's body was fond early Monday morning after witnesses said they heard a woman screaming and gun shots at an apartment complex near Spokane Falls Community College.

Ritchey will appear in court for his arraignment on March 26th at 11:30 a.m.

Related stories: Man, nephew face murder charges | Shooting victim's parents answer call to police to identify body

Home-invasion robber gets 10 years

A robber who fled a north Spokane home after being struck with a sword has been sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison.

Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, alias Gardner, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree robbery and was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt to 129 months, according to court records.

McDaniels was arrested in May for a robbery  in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court, as was Nathan W. Day, 21.

Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, a level 3 sex offender, was arrested later in May. Erik J. Zacher, 26, was arrested in July.

The men are accused of entering the home about 2:45 a.m. on May 2, binding residents with zip ties and pistol whipping. The attackers asked about a safe and stolen several items. Police found a stolen Wii console and baggies of methamphetamine when they arrested Day at a home in the 900 block of East Wabash Avenue. They say he had a stolen handgun with him that may have been used in the robberies.

One resident told police four men knocked on the door and he let McDaniels in to use the bathroom. One of the men asked him if he wanted to smoke meth, and the man said he walked the men downstairs to wake up his girlfriend. That's when Day displayed the gun and the man was bound with zip ties as others stole items from the home, court documents say.

Suspect arrested in May home robbery

A fourth suspect has been arrested in a home-invasion robbery in the Indian Trail area that ended with a resident confronting his attackers with a sword.

Erik J. Zacher, 26, is accused of robbing residents in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court in May.

Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested a day after the robbery. McDaniels still is there; Day is out on $25,000 bond.  Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, a level 3 sex offender, was arrested later in May and remains in jail.

The men are accused of entering the home about 2:45 a.m. on May 2, binding residents with zip ties and pistol whipping. The attackers asked about a safe and stolen several items. Police found a stolen Wii console and baggies of methamphetamine when they arrested Day at a home in the 900 block of East Wabash Avenue. They say he had a stolen handgun with him that may have been used in the robberies.

One resident told police four men knocked on the door and he let McDaniels in to use the bathroom. One of the men asked him if he wanted to smoke meth, and the man said he walked the men downstairs to wake up his girlfriend. That's when Day displayed the gun and the man was bound with zip ties as others stole items from the home, court documents say.

Zacher is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and three counts of first-degree kidnapping. He was arrested Saturday.

Plea hinges on murder trial testimony

A 20-year-old woman originally charged with a death penalty eligible crime for the brutal murder of a Spokane man faces 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 years in prison if she follows a plea agreement approved today.

Breeanna C. Sims (pictured left) is to testify at the trial of accused killer Taylor J. Wolf (pictured right), which is scheduled to begin Aug. 20.

Sims, who was involved in a home-invasion robbery with her mother in 2009, pleaded guilty today to first-degree kidnapping with a firearm. Her plea agreement is sealed and hinges on her future testimony.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza today approved the plea deal negotiated by Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla and Deputy Public Defender Tom Trageser. Sims backed out of a potential plea in May.

Sims' brother, Justice E.D. Sims (pictured left), was sentenced in March to about 33 years in prison for first-degree murder and kidnapping.

The three are accused of the brutal torture slaying of Nicholas J. Thoreson (pictured right), who was found dead in the trunk of his burning Thunderbird on Forker Road April 13, 2011.

Detectives say Wolf made incriminating statements to Britney Bjork, girlfriend of jailed Hells Angel Ricky Jenks, just after his arrest in April, leading them to charge her with conspiracy to commit perjury, rendering criminal assistance and arson. Bjork is scheduled to begin trial Sept. 4.

Detectives say Wolf told Bjork he was going to shoot Thoreson but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, which cite recorded jailhouse phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

All three suspects were charged with aggravated first-degree murder. The charge is eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors said from the beginning they would not be seeking that.

Justice Sims is serving his sentence at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Breeanna Sims will stay at the Spokane County Jail without bail. Her sentencing has not yet been scheduled as prosecutors await Wolf's trial.

Thoreson's family and friends attended Sims plea hearing today, including his girlfriend and toddler son.

Past coverage:

Dec. 6: Murder suspect's love letters seized

May 20, 2011: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3, 2011: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21, 2011: New details released in Forker Road homicide

Final kidnapping suspect sentenced

The final of five suspects pleaded guilty Thursday to kidnapping in connection with a case where a woman was tied up in a Spokane hotel and had her head shaved before being dumped in a rock pit by her assailants.

Desiree N. Walling, 31, pleaded guilty to first-degree kidnapping as part of an Alford plea, which acknowledges prosecutors could likely prove the charge. She also agreed to plead guilty to first-degree and second-degree trafficking in stolen property as part of a separate sentence that will run at the same time as the kidnapping incarceration: 51 months.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

May 13, 2011: Five accused of kidnapping, torture

Police: We saved repeat offender’s life

Spokane police say they saved the life of a career criminal and sex offender when he went into cardiac arrest after he was taken into custody Sunday.

Officer Nick Geren administered first aid on Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, while he was being transported to the jail after he was picked up the Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team.

Epperson was taken to a hospital, then booked into jail on a slew of felony charges related to a home-invasion robbery and a burglary spree.

Epperson is level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend. A woman who identified herself as his sister said in an email to The Spokesman-Review that he has “at least 10 kids that we know about.”

“He is a menace,” Melissa Epperson said in the email. “Please fight to keep him locked up for your community and his children.”

Epperson was arrested just three weeks ago for a burglary in the Country Homes area in north Spokane County.

Investigators believe he burglarized homes of guns, electronics and jewelry to help pay a $1,000 debt to his heroin dealer. Epperson's girlfriend, Chelsey M. Loe, also is suspected in the case. Investigators searched the couple's home at 51 E. Crown on May 6 and recovered meth and suspected stolen property.

Epperson told sheriff's detectives he burglarized homes with Anthony L. Haines, who was arrested May 2 with a gun stolen in one of the burglaries, according to court documents.

Epperson was out of jail awaiting arraignment in that case when police say he helped rob residents at a home in the Indian Trail area May 22. Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested Wednesday and remain in jail.

Geren was awarded the Spokane Police Department's life-saving award in 2008 after he and Officer Brian Eckersley administered CPR on a woman who'd fallen unconscious in downtown Spokane.

Kidnapped man escapes from car trunk

A kidnapped man forced into the trunk of a car in Montana freed himself on a Pend Oreille County highway early Sunday, leading to two arrests.

A motorist said he was driving on Highway 2 near Pend Oreille Park about 7:10 a.m. when the trunk of the vehicle in front of him opened and a man started waving his arms and yelling for help, the Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office said today.

The vehicle stopped and the man jumped from the trunk and ran toward the witness's vehicle. He said he'd been beaten, bound and forced into the trunk while in Montana.

Sheriff's deputies stopped the suspect vehicle a short time later near Newport, Wash. The driver initially refused to stop, and someone threw a firearm from the vehicle that was later recovered.

Kenny J. Morrison, 29, and John M. Davis, 39, of Columbia Falls, Mont., were arrested on charges of kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, fourth-degree assault, possession of methadone without a prescription and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Pend Oreille County sheriff's investigators are working with detectives in Flathead County, Mont.

Sex offender arrested in home invasion

A sex offender suspected in a violent gunpoint home-invasion robbery was arrested today.

 Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, was booked into jail on felony charges related to an early-morning attack last Tuesday in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court in the Indian Trail area.

The Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team located Epperson in the 4200 block of North Atlantic Street, Officer Brian Eckersley said in a news release.

Epperson was arrested just three weeks ago for a burglary in the Country Homes area in north Spokane County and is to be arraigned Wednesday on residential burglary, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and resisting arrest charges.

He was out of jail awaiting that arraignment when police allege he partook in the robbery, which involved the victims being bound with zip ties and one being pistol whipped.

Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested Wednesday and remain in jail.

Epperson faces charges of first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping, possession of a stolen firearm, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of possession of a controlled substance, Eckersley said. Prosecutors filed charges on Friday.

Epperson is a level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend. He was convicted of third-degree rape of a child in 2003. He also has a conviction for indecent liberties.

2 arrested in Indian Trail home invasion

Two men have been arrested for a north Spokane home-invasion robbery in which the victims were bound with zip ties and one was pistol whipped.

Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, are accused of entering a home in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court in the Indian Trail area about 2:45 a.m Tuesday, awaking a resident and asking him about a safe before stealing other items.

The victim said Day was armed with a handgun, and McDaniels told him to “be quiet and do what we say or you are going to get shot,” according to court documents prepared by the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Day struck the victim with in the eye with the butt of the gun, but the man said he was able to break free from his zip ties and jump out a window. He said his Wii gaming console and games were stolen during the robbery.

Another resident told police four men knocked on the door and he let McDaniels in to use the bathroom. One of the men asked him if he wanted to smoke meth, and the man said he walked the men downstairs to wake up his girlfriend. That's when Day displayed the gun and the man was bound with zip ties as others stole items from the home, court documents say.

But that man was able to break free, too, and he grabbed a sword and struck McDaniels in the arm with it. The robbers then fled. The man's girlfriend said the robbers also threatened her with a gun and stole her iPhone.

Detectives conducting surveillance on the suspects Wednesday spotted McDaniels in the 4700 block of North Standard and arrested him. He had with him credit cards and a driver's license belonging to one of the victims, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Day was arrested Wednesday in the 900 block of East Wabash Avenue with a stolen handgun. Police recovered the stolen Wii console from a home there, as well as baggies of methamphetamine.

The men were jailed on robbery, burglary and kidnapping charges. A third suspect, Joshua C. Epperson, is not yet in custody,

Uncle in kidnapping jailed on high bond

A longtime Spokane felon accused of kidnapping his 14-year-old niece will remain jailed on $350,000 bond, a judge ruled Friday.

 Steven Norton Tofte, 53, told police he was trying to keep the girl from her abusive family members, but police continue to investigate the circumstances of her disappearance.

“I just wanted to make sure she was safe,” Tofte said, according to court documents. “I always told her that if she was ever going to runaway to call me.”

The girl, who had been missing since Friday, told a friend she was running away with her uncle to Blanchard, Idaho, police say.

Investigators found Tofte and the girl in the Colville National Forest near Cusick Thursday. Tofte was armed with a shotgun but was arrested without incident.

Tofte was arrested on a charge of second-degree kidnapping, residential burglary and felon in possession of a firearm. He has at least 15 felony convictions dating back to 1980, including two for robbing a porn store and a gas station.

Tofte also faces an additional $30,000 bond for an unrelated identity theft case. Even if he posts $380,000 bond, he won't be able to leave prison. Federal authorities have placed a hold on him. Details were not immediately available Friday, but he was arrested on federal land so he'll probably face federal charges.

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.

Bounty hunter in Edwards case jailed

An unlicensed bounty hunter facing criminal charges for his work with Spokane-area law enforcement is to remain jailed on $250,000 bond, a judge ruled today.

Dennis J. Kariores, 42, returned to Spokane this weekend after he was arrested Feb. 9 in Pensacola, Fla., on a $150,000 warrant for first-degree burglary, unlawful imprisonment and second-degree kidnapping for allegedly using illegal apprehension techniques.

Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno increased Kariores' bond today after Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy said he was a flight risk with connections to the bail bond industry. Nagy called for $500,000 bond; Kariores' lawyer, Mark Hodgson, objected, saying Kariores is presumed innocent and had been planning to turn himself in.

 “Mr. Kariores was actually at the airport coming back to Spokane to deal with these charges,” Hodgson said. “He got picked up before he could get on the plane.”

Karories is to be arraigned April 10 at 9 a.m. If he does post the $250,000 bond, he's prohibited from contacting Angels or All City bail bond companies, whose employees are involved in Kariores' criminal case.

Kariores left Spokane last year after learning of the investigation, according to court testimony.

Former Spokane police Officer Alan Edwards, who was fired last month, was suspended for two weeks for arranging a ruse with Kariores that involved using a fugitive to help them gain access to a home they were otherwise not legally authorized to enter.

Kariores' criminal charges stem from allegedly unlawful contacts with citizens in February 2010 and August 2010. Other law enforcement officers have admitted to working closely with Kariores. Read much more here.

Kariores has told The Spokesman-Review he was only doing as the police told him.

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.

Teen gets 33+ years for torture slaying

A 19-year-old Spokane man was sentenced to more than 33 years in prison recently for his role in the murder and kidnapping of a 22-year-old man whose burned body was found in the back of a car last year.

Justice E. D. Sims, 19, (left) pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and kidnapping Friday in connection to the slaying of Nicholas J. Thoreson, who was found dead in the trunk of his Thunderbird on Forker Road April 13.

  Detectives believe Sims, his sister Breeanna C. Sims, 20, and Taylor J. Wolf, 21, brutally beat Thoreson (right) in a garage at the Knotty Pines apartment complex, 13615 E. Trent Ave., in Spokane Valley. Sims then fatally shot Thoreson.

In addition to 400 months in prison, Sims was ordered to pay $5,268 restitution.

Wolf is scheduled to begin trial Aug. 20. Breeanna Sims is scheduled to begin trial April 2.

Detectives say Wolf (left) made incriminating statements to Britney Bjork, girlfriend of jailed Hells Angel Ricky Jenks, just after his arrest in April, leading them to charge her with conspiracy to commit perjury, rendering criminal assistance and arson. Bjork is scheduled to begin trial April 16 and is represented by Chris Bugbee.

Detectives say Wolf told Bjork he was going to shoot Thoreson but “I couldn’t do it, so me and Justice did it together,” according to court documents, which cite recorded phone conversations. “But we had gloves on and stuff.”

Sims originally was charged with aggravated first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty, and the charge was amended to first-degree murder as part of a plea deal.

Also charged in the case is the Simses' half-brother, who pleaded guilty in juvenile court to threatening a witness in the case. The teen is not being named because he was charged as a juvenile.

Emily K. Karlinsey, 19, who is accused of making threatening phone calls to a witness, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault in January and was credited for a day already spent in jail and given two years probation.

Past coverage:

Dec. 6: Murder suspect's love letters seized

May 20: Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21: New details released in Forker Road homicide

Rapist registers as transient in Spokane

A convicted rapist considered likely to reoffend has registered as a transient in Spokane County.

Douglas James Dennis, 44, served 10 years in prison after being convicted in March 1985 of kidnapping and raping a 17-year-old girl.

Dennis is required to check in with authorities once a week because he is not registered at a permanent address.

Dennis is a level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend.

He is not wanted by authorities, but the Spokane County Sheriff's Office wants people to be aware of his presence.

Spokane County's sex offender registry is available here.

Fugitive bounty hunter arrested in Fla.

Federal agents have arrested an unlicensed bounty hunter whose alleged apprehension techniques led to felony charges and a criminal investigation against a Spokane police officer.

Dennis Kariores, 42, was taken into custody today in Pensacola, Fla., on a $150,000 warrant for first-degree burglary, unlawful imprisonment and second-degree kidnapping, according to the U.S. Marshals.

The federal Gulf Coast Regional Task Force arrested Kariores after agents here learned he'd fled to Navarre, a small city just outside Pensacola.

Kariores called The Spokesman-Review Wednesday and said he planned to turn himself in.

Spokane police Officer Alan Edwards was suspended for two weeks for arranging a ruse with Kariores that involved using a fugitive to help them gain access to a home they were otherwise not legally authorized to enter. (Other law enforcement officers have admitted to working closely with Kariores. Read much more here.)

Kariores has been a fugitive since Aug. 30, when he was charged for allegedly unlawfully detaining suspects while acting as an unlicensed bounty hunter.

According to court documents, Kariores and licensed bond agents John P. McCormick, 43, and Eric W. Houchin, 40, unlawfully stayed inside a home in the 1100 block of North Nelson Street in February 2010 and grabbed a woman while trying to contact her husband for failing to uphold his bond agreement with All City Bail Bonds. The woman was not wanted by police, which meant the bondsmen had no authority to detain her.

The men are charged with first-degree burglary and unlawful imprisonment for the incident.

Charles E. Dasenbrock, 26, is charged with second-degree kidnapping, along with Kariores, for an Aug. 26, 2010, incident in which the men detained a fugitive at a home in Spokane Valley and transported him to Spokane, where Edwards arrested him. Prosecutors say neither had the authority to apprehend and transport the man against his will. McCormick, Houchin and Dasenbrock have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

Kariores said he was only doing as the police told him.

Kariores, a convicted felon, applied for a recovery agent license with the state of Washington in March 2009 but was rejected.

In his application, he said he’s worked with police in Spokane County and North Idaho and has arrested more than 500 people in six years. “I am known as the guy to go to when they can’t find people, whether it be in Washington or out,” Kariores wrote.
  

Rape alleged in prostitute’s brutal murder

Spokane police are recommending murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping charges against a sex offender suspected of killing a Spokane woman who was working as a prostitute last August.

Major crimes detectives have submitted the charging request for Derrick Ross Vargas, 24, (right) to the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office, police said today.

Vargas, who has long been a suspect, is accused of raping and murdering Evon M. Moore, 48, whose body was found in an alley near North Ralph Street and East Riverside Avenue Aug. 13. Police said the condition Moore's body showed she was obviously the victim of a “brutal murder.”

Detectives were looking for clues from cars seen on surveillance video in the area when a Washington State Patrol trooper contacted Vargas during a traffic stop Sept. 23.
 
A woman jumped out of his red truck and said Vargas had raped her. Police say the woman was working as a prostitute on East Sprague Avenue when she met Vargas - just like Moore (left). And Vargas' truck matched  a truck seen on the surveillance video near where Moore's body was found.
 
Vargas was released from federal prison on Aug. 2 after serving about four years for having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl when he was 19.
 
Detectives found a pair of shoes with blood on them in Vargas' East Trent Avenue apartment that matched the shoe tread pattern found near Moore's body. They also found a purse believed to belong to Moore, who was a student at Spokane Community College.
 
He's been in jail since Sept. 23 on a rape charge for the alleged incident with the prostitute. He has not yet been formally charged in Moore's death.

$50k bond for elderly home armed robbery

A former assisted living center employee accused of robbing the place at gunpoint early Wednesday was ordered jailed on $50,000 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court.

Timothy J. Martinez, 28, locked a 20-year-old female employee and a 77-year-old male resident in a room at Guardian Angel Homes in Liberty Lake after stealing a bag of narcotics about 2 a.m., according to Liberty Lake Police Department.

The center is across the street from the police department.

An officer and two sheriff's deputies responded within one minute.  They saw a man later identified as Martinez throw something under a parked car near the center. An officer forced him to the ground and put him in the back of his patrol car before retrieving the bag of drugs and an Airsoft rifle that had a laser sight attached, accoridng to court documents prepared by police.

Police followed Martinez's footprints in the snow back to the center. The employee said the robber knocked on the door and said he had a medication delivery, then displayed the rifle when she opened the door. The man was wearing a ski mask, but the employee said his voice sounded very familiar and that he kept apologizing to her and calling her by name. Martinez worked at the center last summer, according to police.

Martinez told police he was sorry but was “having money issues and had no choice,” according to court documents.

“This is what I get for having an idea about trying to make a quick buck,” he said.

Martinez remains in jail on charges of first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree kidnapping and three counts of possession of a controlled substance: Lorazepam, Tramadol and Hydrocodone.

Man sues hostages for breaking promise

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Can there be no trust between a kidnapper and his hostages?

A man who held a Kansas couple hostage in their home while fleeing from authorities is suing them, claiming they broke an oral contract made when he promised them money in exchange for hiding him from police. The couple has asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

Jesse Dimmick of suburban Denver is serving an 11-year sentence after bursting into Jared and Lindsay Rowley's Topeka-area home in September 2009. He was wanted for questioning in the beating death of a Colorado man and a chase had begun in in Geary County.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Dimmick filed a breach of contract suit in Shawnee County District Court, in response to a suit the Rowleys filed in September seeking $75,000 from him for intruding in their home and causing emotional stress.

Dimmick contends he told the couple he was being chased by someone, most likely the police, who wanted to kill him.

“I, the defendant, asked the Rowleys to hide me because I feared for my life. I offered the Rowleys an unspecified amount of money which they agreed upon, therefore forging a legally binding oral contract,” Dimmick said in his hand-written court documents. He wants $235,000, in part to pay for the hospital bills that resulted from him being shot by police when they arrested him.

Neighbors have said the couple fed Dimmick snacks and watched movies with him until he fell asleep and they were able to escape their home unharmed.

Dimmick was convicted in May 2010 of four felonies, including two counts of kidnapping. He was sentenced to 10 years and 11 months on those charges. He was later sent to a jail in Brighton, Colo., where he is being held on eight charges, including murder, in connection of with the killing of Michael Curtis in September 2009. A preliminary hearing originally scheduled for Dec. 6 has been rescheduled for April 12. No plea has been entered in the case.

Robert E. Keeshan, an attorney for the Rowleys, filed a motion denying there was a contract, but said if there was it would not have been binding anyway.

“In order for parties to form a binding contract, there must be a meeting of the minds on all essential terms, including and most specifically, an agreement on the price,” he wrote.

Keeshan said the contract also would have been invalid because the couple agreed to let Dimmick in the home only because they knew he had a knife and suspected he might have a gun.

2nd man arrested in porn shop robbery

A fingerprint found on merchandise at a Spokane porn store helped police identify a second suspect in a gunpoint robbery earlier this month.

Clinton James Smith, 50, (right) was arrested Wednesday on first-degree robbery and first-degree kidnapping charges. He's accused with James A. Turnipseed, 32, of robbing the Hollywood Erotic Boutique, 3813 N. Division St., and tying up the clerk on Nov. 8.

Turnipseed (left) was arrested a couple blocks away while riding a bike shortly after the robbery and remains in jail on $75,000 bond. Police say he had two bags containing erotic material stolen from the store.

A fingerprint found on merchandise packaging at the store matched Smith's, and police found a hat with the name “Smith” embroidered on it in a backpack that was left at the store when the robbers fled, according to court documents prepared by Spokane police major crimes Detective Chet Gilmore.

Smith denied participating in the robbery and told police he'd only been in the store twice and never handled the merchandise.

An acquaintance of Turnipseed and Smith told police Turnipseed called him from jail the night he was arrested and said he'd been caught because of Smith and Smith “needed to come down and do something about it,” documents say.

Smith told the man he was sitting at the park near the porn shop when Turnipseed ran up, grabbed the bike and said “I gotta go.” A confidential source told police Smith had talked about planning to rob the store three weeks before the hold up.

Smith already has two felony cases pending in Spokane County - a WalMart theft case from February and a stolen car case from December 2010.

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