June 26, 2009 in City

Felon suspected of WSP lot break-in

Prints found on vehicle seized in investigation
Meghann M. Cuniff meghannc@spokesman.com, (509) 459-5534
 

A felon arrested after a daylong standoff at a north Spokane apartment may be responsible for a break-in at the Washington State Patrol impound lot in April, police said.

Detectives found Casey D. Beckham’s fingerprints on a Chevy Suburban in the WSP impound lot, which was prowled hours after the vehicle was seized in April as part of an investigation into Beckham, whom police suspected of stealing an ATV.

Surveillance video shows a man entering the impound lot April 15 and taking something from the Suburban about 2:45 a.m., according to a search warrant filed this week in Spokane County Superior Court.

The next day, at 5:11 a.m., three men entered the lot and prowled the Suburban and other vehicles, including a trailer seized as evidence in an investigation involving Pinnacle Realty founder Joe Ward, who’s suspected of operating a drug and stolen-property ring out of his home overlooking Long Lake.

On May 27, a SWAT team allegedly found Beckham, 33, hiding in the rafters of the Whitworth Arms Apartments with a pound and a half of methamphetamine.

WSP Detective Jeff Thoet, assigned to the Ward investigation, searched the apartment but found no property from the evidence room theft and isn’t sure if anything was taken from the prowled trailer. Detectives have no reason to believe Beckham knew the trailer was part of the Ward investigation, Thoet said.

But the case illustrates the close network of accused meth dealers, stolen-property traffickers and identity-theft suspects operating in Spokane.

“It just kind of keeps snowballing,” Thoet said of the Beckham investigation. “Our whole goal is to keep it rolling until it runs dry.”

Detectives searched a storage unit on North Division on June 16 after matching the name on the rental agreement with a stolen identity Beckham had used to rent the apartment at Whitworth Arms, according to the search warrant.

That search led detectives to another storage unit at the facility police suspect was rented by Beckham or an associate, Michael I. Masters, 31, using another stolen identity.

In that unit, detective found parts of an $18,000 motorcycle they say Masters sold for $400 to an associate of Ward’s, according to the search warrant.

Masters, who was arrested this month on unrelated charges, has no prior convictions.

Beckham’s criminal history goes back to at least 1995 and includes two prison terms for residential burglary, drug possession and theft.

Both are being held at the Spokane County Jail awaiting trial.


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