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Sunday, January 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Community saddened after body of kidnapped Cheney man found near Four Lakes

UPDATED: Sat., Sept. 16, 2017, 10:19 p.m.

A picture of Cameron Smith is seen as friends and acquaintances write messages to him on posters during a candlelit vigil for Smith on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, outside Lucid Marijuana in Cheney, Wash. Smith, 46, a Lucid Marijuana store employee was kidnapped at gunpoint Sunday after the store refused to sell to two customers. His body was found Friday. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
A picture of Cameron Smith is seen as friends and acquaintances write messages to him on posters during a candlelit vigil for Smith on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, outside Lucid Marijuana in Cheney, Wash. Smith, 46, a Lucid Marijuana store employee was kidnapped at gunpoint Sunday after the store refused to sell to two customers. His body was found Friday. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Friends and co-workers reacted with sadness after Cameron Smith, who was allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint from the parking lot of the Lucid Marijuana store in Cheney last week, was found dead Friday.

Michael Schofield, the owner of Lucid Marijuana, said he’s planning a memorial gathering for Smith but plans have not yet been finalized. He also wants to raise money to send Smith’s body back to Toledo, Ohio, where his family lives.

Smith had worked for him since the shop opened in November and was also a longtime family friend, Schofield said. “Cam was just a really solid individual,” he said. “People thought it was so senseless. It’s hard.”

Cheney police report that the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team found Smith’s body off state Route 904 near Four Lakes around 3 p.m.

A police roadblock closed Sixth Avenue at Garfield Road on the edge of Four Lakes long into the night Friday and only residents were allowed in and out. Smith’s body was concealed in “heavy cover” several feet from the road, according to police.

Smith, 46, was reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint Sept. 10 from the parking lot of Lucid Marijuana on Sixth Street in Cheney. Police say 36-year-old Donovan Culps and his niece, 18-year-old Violetta Culps, kidnapped Smith when they were refused service inside the store because they didn’t have identification. Smith was eating lunch in his car, and both he and his car were taken.

Donovan Culps was captured in Goldendale, Washington, on Thursday after a police pursuit. He was booked into the Spokane County Jail just before 7 p.m. Friday on charges of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery.

Last week, Cheney police Capt. Richard Beghtol said that if Smith’s body was found, Culps would be charged with first-degree murder.

On Friday, the Yakima Police Department arrested 18-year-old Alisha Jackson, who is believed to have been with the Culpses when they allegedly committed the crime. She is facing a charge of failing to report a felony. Violetta Culps has not yet been captured.

Smith’s car was recovered on the edge of Airway Heights on Tuesday and his wallet was found on the Spokane Indian Reservation by a road construction crew on Monday. Search and rescue teams spent several days searching for Smith on the reservation.

Schofield said he hopes he was able to help police solve Smith’s disappearance. He said the cannabis community rallied together and began scouring social media for clues. Some went as far as creating fake profiles to try to draw Culps out. The information they found was forwarded to police.

He hoped that Smith would be found alive, but quickly realized that Smith was likely dead, Schofield said.

“There was a lot of Facebook posts coming from the suspect alluding to what had happened, so it wasn’t a surprise,” he said.

Several people sent Schofield screenshots of a message reportedly posted by Donovan Culps on Facebook that confessed to the crime. The Facebook account is private and the post could not be independently verified.

In the post, it says that the two women with Culps had nothing to do with the kidnapping. “I am a person that will tell you just how it is,” he allegedly wrote. “I want everybody to know including the FBI I take full and all responsibility … He gone ain’t no coming back.”

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