August 12, 1995 in Nation/World

15-Year-Old Confesses, Police Say Suspect’s Mother Says If Son Killed Teens, The Other Two Were In On It

Gita Sitaramiah And Bonnie Harris S Staff writer
 

FOR THE RECORD (August 13, 1995): Bonnie Lamebull is not related to Kendra Grantham, a victim in a fatal shooting Wednesday in North Spokane. A story in Saturday’s Spokesman-Review stated otherwise.

A 15-year-old Spokane boy has admitted to police that he fatally shot two teenage girls in north Spokane early Wednesday morning.

Kenneth Comeslast confessed to the shootings Thursday when Spokane Police Detective Minde Connelly brought him in for questioning, according to her affidavit of facts, submitted during his arraignment Friday.

Comeslast is charged with killing Kendra Grantham, 16, and Cindy Buffin, 17, and injuring a third girl in a North Side shooting Wednesday.

Police believe Christopher McIlveen, 17, and John “Doug” Champagne, 18, waited in a station wagon while Comeslast blasted away at the teens with an assault rifle.

Comeslast’s mother said if her son committed the murders, the other two suspects knew it was going to happen.

“I think they’re making it look like my son’s the only one who did it,” said Sharon Comeslast in an interview at her home on East Francis on Friday night. “I don’t know why Chris and Doug are acting like they didn’t know.”

Relatives and friends of McIlveen and Champagne said they weren’t familiar with Comeslast.

“I have no idea who that boy is,” said McIlveen’s mother, Susan Hunstad.

But Sharon Comeslast said the three teens were good friends.

“They were the kind of boys who told each other everything. If they were going to do something, they all knew it,” Comeslast said.

Kenneth Comeslast’s girlfriend, Bonnie Lamebull, 16, said she used to date Champagne and knew McIlveen through him.

“They hung out all the time,” Lamebull said.

Lamebull, who lives with Comeslast’s family, also is Grantham’s cousin.

After the shootings, Connelly said Comeslast gave the assault rifle to an acquaintance for “safe keeping.”

About 3 p.m. Wednesday, Comeslast arrived with Champagne and McIlveen at the West Central home of Adrian Ellenwood. Ellenwood, a cousin of Comeslast, said one of the teens pulled a gym bag out of the car. Inside was the gun, which Comeslast asked Ellenwood to keep.

“I asked him about the shooting,” Ellenwood said. “He just said he didn’t hear about it.”

Ellenwood said he was suspicious but took the gun. He didn’t tell his wife about the gun until hours after she arrived home.

“I didn’t like the kid and I didn’t want the weapon in my house,” Lorry Ellenwood said. “I called Crime Check.”

About an hour later, police took the gun.

Before the officers arrived, the Ellenwoods talked about Comeslast and the double murder.

“Adrian and I walked to the store and he asked me if I thought he (Comeslast) was capable of something like that and I said, ‘Oh yeah,”’ Lorry Ellenwood said.

Adrian Ellenwood said giving the gun to police and talking about his cousin might cause tension in the family.

“But he shouldn’t have killed two people,” Ellenwood said.

Ellenwood thinks his cousin began getting into trouble a few years ago because he lacked positive role models.

“He didn’t have a father to discipline him,” Ellenwood said. “I just think he took the wrong road.”

On Tuesday, two days before confessing to the North Side killings, Comeslast was charged with a Halloween drive-by shooting in the West Central neighborhood, records show.

Police arrested the 15-year-old boy for the shooting last year, but charges were dismissed when witnesses suddenly clammed up.

Prosecutors re-opened the case Tuesday and tacked on two more charges against Comeslast - one for stealing a car and another for unlawful possession of a firearm.

Records show Comeslast was arrested May 23 for stealing a Ford van and again June 26 for carrying a .22-caliber revolver.

He wasn’t held on either charge because they are misdemeanors, Spokane County Prosecutor Jim Sweetser said Friday. Both charges carry sentences of less than five days, he said.

“We filed the charges as quickly as possible and in fact went beyond the call of duty because we re-opened the other case,” said Sweetser, referring to the Halloween drive-by. “He’s being charged with first-degree malicious mischief for that now.”

Deputy Prosecutor Bill Reeves said he wants Comeslast to be tried as an adult for all three charges, as well as the murder and assault charges filed Friday.

Sweetser said it’s important to note that prosecutors filed the charges against Comeslast before the shooting and two days before the youth was arrested. “This wasn’t an after-the-fact thing,” he said.

Comeslast was convicted of second-degree burglary in 1994 for breaking into a Burlington Northern Railroad building at Market and Nebraska, records show. He spent five days in detention and three months under community supervision for that crime.

Comeslast lived with his mother, who has two convictions for welfare fraud.

A neighbor of Comeslast’s family, who asked not to be identified because she feared for her safety, said the murder suspect and many of his friends often stayed in a trailer behind the family’s home at 1918 E. Francis.

“The kids just go in there and sleep and party,” she said.

Last weekend, the kids asked her to turn down her stereo because they couldn’t hear the rap music they were playing.

She is moving from the neighborhood because of their activities. “I just don’t trust gangs.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email