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Ice cream at Martin Luther King Center

In conjunction with Spokane’s Night Out Against Crime on Aug. 3, the Martin Luther King Jr. Outreach Center is holding an ice cream social in support of a new program for crime victim advocacy.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Outreach Center will provide resources and information such as crisis intervention, victim’s rights education, advocacy and emergency financial assistance to victims of crime.

The center is located at 845 S. Sherman Street and the ice cream social runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 3. It’s one of many events to be put on in Spokane that night, as part of the National Night Out Against Crime.

So, what else is new?

The Fair and Parade this weekend is over and has been declared a success. It was the 11th year that neighborhood organizers pulled off this event and attendance was higher than ever before. Feel free to post about your favorite or not favorite parts of the event - and then let’s move on:

This summer’s outdoor movies at The Shop begin on Saturday with Time Bandits - bring your own chairs, movie is free and starts at dusk.

An out-of-state blog reader sent this e-mail:

“I am so glad to see that you have a love for the neighborhood. I bought a home on E. 7th in late 2005. At the time the neighborhood was really improving, but I am hearing distressing news about the neighborhood. Everything on your blog seems to suggest the opposite of what I am hearing. Please email me to let me know if you think the neighborhood is improving.”

What do you think? Is the neighborhood improving?

Summertime, and the stealin’ is easy…

This just in from Sgt. Dave Reagan of the Sheriff’s Department - some good reminders in here for all of us:

Property crimes investigators report that the annual summertime crush of vehicle prowling incidents has begun and that losses are mounting.
Thieves know that boaters, hikers and walkers/runners don’t want to carry wallets, purses, cameras, GPS units, I-pods, I-pads and I-other things while they are out enjoying the day.  They consider parking lots target-rich environments for stealing items easy to pawn.The best way to defeat a vehicle prowler? Keep your valuables out of sight, preferably placed in your trunk before you arrive at the county park, Centennial Trail or boat launch parking lot. 
Criminals frequently sit nearby and watch for would-be victims who stuff their valuables beneath a seat as they lock up their vehicle, and it takes mere seconds to break a window to gain entry.

Leave the porch light on

Officer Dan Strassenberg is the neighborhood resource officer for the South Perry District. What does that mean? That means he has an office at COPS East Central on East Fifth and he’s the guy who responds to tips from neighbors about suspected drug houses, abandoned vehicles and other neighborhood concerns.

“It’s my impression that South Perry has changed a lot over the past couple of years,” Strassenberg said. “The neighborhood has really improved.” His biggest concern is with Grant Park where, he said, teens tend to hangout at night – especially now when school is out.

COPS and neighborhood policing

The South Perry Blog is visiting with COPS East Central and Officer Strassenberg (your neighborhood resource officer) Wednesday morning - let me know if there are any specific questions or issues you’d like to find out about.

Also, does anyone in the South Perry district have an active Block Watch group?

74-yr-old arrested in condiment crime spree

Here’s a news item from The Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Police say a 74-year-old Boise woman arrested after pouring mayonnaise in the Ada County library’s book drop box is a person of interest in a yearlong spree of condiment-related crimes of the same sort. Joy L. Cassidy was arrested Sunday at the library, moments after police say she pulled through the outside drive-through and dumped an open jar of mayonnaise in the box designated for reading materials. Cassidy has been released from the county jail and faces a misdemeanor charge of malicious injury to property. A motive was not disclosed by police. Boise police say Cassidy is under investigation for at least 10 similar cases of vandalism since May 2009. Library employees have reported finding books in the drop box covered in corn syrup and ketchup.

Lock your cars

This came from reader Nate Bartlett, Friday June 11: “I got home late last night from a school function and forgot to lock my truck, I went to leave this morning and someone had stolen my silver iPod classic that has over 12,000 songs on it, and its charger. I live on Hatch just past 41st.  I park in the alley there near my garage between Hatch and Scott. They didn’t take anything else, just looked through all of the stuff I have in my truck. Anyways, I know that it’s my own fault to forget to lock my truck, but it still makes me crazy that someone took my music.”

Have you ever had your car broken into in the South Perry neighborhood? When did it happen and what was stolen?

‘Judge Judy’ spot leads to more charges

An appearance on the TV reality show “Judge Judy” has brought a Spokane man more than just 15 minutes of syndicated fame.  Joshua J. Mulvey, 26, now faces new criminal charges in an Internet fraud scheme after a Snohomish County man who saw the episode recognized Mulvey as the same person who conned him out of $2,500 last year, police say. Mulvey was arrested at a Coeur d’Alene motel in February. Detectives used a cell phone tower ping triggered by Mulvey’s mobile phone to trace him to the Lake City after they say he escaped from his Spokane apartment during a raid. Read more about the latest twist in the case, and see a video of his Judge Judy appearance, here.

Question: Do you know someone who has ever been on a courtroom TV show? Or any reality TV show?

Burglary on South Hatch

Via e-mail from COPS volunteer and neighborhood ‘crime hound’ Sue Hille:
“Around midnight Saturday 5/15 there was a break-in and burglary on the 600 block of South Hatch. The residents came home to find the door kicked in. Police were called to investigate. Some things were taken, mostly stuff that’s small and easy to carry.
It’s a good idea to take pictures frequently of things in your home to help remember what you had in case of a burglary.
Also, give one copy of those pictures to a friend or relative to keep for you in case of a fire. Alarm systems can be pricy, but do help. Renter’s insurance is not terribly expensive and really a good idea.
The good news is that we have some really great new neighbors buying, living and raising food and families in the area.”

I couldn’t agree more, Sue. My house was burglarized some years back, I lost a lot of things, new and old, and it took me forever to come up with a complete list of what I was missing as I kept remembering things. It’s also a good idea to make an effort to get to know your neighbors, chat a little and share phone numbers.


Wasden to Senate committee: Crime, violence in Mexico affects states including Idaho

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law yesterday, and had an interesting story to tell about how Idaho has a stake in establishing a system in Mexico that relies on the rule of law. Wasden’s been active on the issue through a partnership of attorneys general that promotes cross-border law enforcement cooperation and is assisting the government of Mexico in reforming its court system; the Idaho Statesman’s Erika Bolstad covered the AG’s testimony and has a full story here. “There’s a parade of drugs that are coming north, and there’s a parade of guns and money that is going south,” Wasden said.

Arson in the neighborhood?

Read Kevin Graman’s story about the Saturday morning fire at the HiFumi En Apartments on East Eighth here. There has been two other suspected arson fires at the HiFumi En lately - and residents still can’t return.

Same inmate escapes from Idaho jail via crawl space for second time in a month

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: FORT HALL, Idaho (AP) — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes say a Wyoming man has escaped from the Fort Hall Jail for a second time in the past month, as a new jail sits empty. Tribal officials say Jerome Cerino of Lander, Wyo., and Joseph Deluna of Fort Hall, escaped from a holding cell through a crawl space early Tuesday. Tribal spokeswoman Laverne Beech says Cerino was one of six inmates who escaped from the Fort Hall jail on April 17. They escaped from a different cell, but used the same crawl space to access an emergency exit. That escape happened five days before inmates were to be moved into a new jail. However, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is requiring that all correction officers attend a six-week training course in New Mexico before the inmates are moved. Eight officers from Fort Hall are currently attending the training.

South Perry crime watch

One of the things we can do on this blog is to share information and tips about neighborhood crime - kind of like a large blockwatch group. If there’s something going on in your neighborhood, shoot me a quick e-mail and I’ll share your tip - but I will not share your address.

Thursday morning, someone was peering in windows at a home in the area around Eighth Avenue and Hatch. The homeowner and the homeowner’s dog woke up around 2 a.m. because of the commotion on the front steps. No one was spotted outside, but the incident was reported to Crime Check at 456-2233.

Neighbors report repeated ‘drug running’ in the 500 block of South Hatch Road, between Sherman and Hartson. If you suspect drug related activity on your block - lots of comings and goings from one house, at all hours of the day; frequent stops by many different vehicles - the thing to do is to write down the time of day, a license plate (if you can safely see one) and the nature of the activity - then call Crime Check.

The COPS Station that covers South Perry is located at 3001 East Fifth Avenue and the front desk is staffed most days from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. East Central COPS can be reached at 625-3330 or simply by stopping in during opening hours.

Shock: Downtown duck’s nest raided

Someone or something raided a mama duck’s nest in downtown Spokane on Friday and made off with four of her six eggs.

Several tulips that had sheltered the duck in a planter in front of the Lincoln Building were ripped from the flower bed and feathers were strewn about.

Gary Grissom, a loan officer with Academy Mortgage who has been monitoring the duck’s nest, was devastated. The attack was sudden, he said, and not what he expected.

In an e-mail titled “Something terrible happened!!!” Grissom wrote, “I have no idea what happened, but it may be over now…..” The loan officer added, “I am so sick about it.”

Read the rest of Jody Lawrence-Turner’s story here.

Past coverage: Duck rescuer’s celebrity lives on

From another perspective, Tacoma really is Washington’s second city


Our good friends at the political blog at The News Tribune in Tacoma appear to be challenging us to a friendly Swivel chart war.

Responding to our bar chart showing that Spokane is the second largest city in the state — with a 2,000-person lead over Tacoma — The News Tribune’s Political Buzz reminded us that Pierce County has a signficant lead over Spokane County and easily claims the highly coveted title of “Washington’s Second County.” We at Spin Control do not dispute this title, only its relevance.

A heinous criminal…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Eric John Rick Vogel, a former radio announcer in Libby, Montana, will not be broadcasting any more shows for awhile. That’s because he is doing 40 years at the Montana State Prison for sexual assaulting five out of his seven children. I’ve been following this case closely as it wove its way through Lincoln County Courts in Libby, thanks in part to Steve Thompson’s insistence.

For the record, here is his prison picture:



Sex crime charge reduced, to, um, burglary

Here’s an odd one: A former BSU football player who was charged with two counts having sexual contact with a female inmate while working as an officer at a state prison has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge - burglary. Timothy Ryan Gilligan will not have to register as a sex offender after he admitted in court that he twice entered the Idaho Maximum Security Institution with the intent of having sexual contact with a female inmate, a felony, the Idaho Statesman reports. Entering a building with the intent to commit a felony is burglary. / More here


When it is time to be quiet…

Good evening, everyone…

After a thorough review of the police reports involved, including those given to the Spokesman, it is painfully aware to anyone reading the story of what happened, we have either (a) a suspect with a gun who vanished into thin air or (b) an officer either didn’t see what his statements indicated or as a final option, someone cleverly escaped from an open window in the house, eluding the police that had a house surrounded and managed to effect an escape. It all depends upon whom you believe.

It about 9:00 AM this morning, when Spokane Valley police were attempting to do a follow-up on a report stolen property had been seen on the property at 11423 E. Broadway. After a scuffle in the front yard involving two people, police arrested a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, but still no sign of the stolen property. However, according to all available news reports, one officer stated he saw a male run back into the house carrying a gun. Thus began a standoff, the lockdown of several nearby schools, street closures and police telling their neighbors not to leave their homes.

According to Detective Dave Thornburg’s press release, deputies said after the two juveniles were arrested, they saw a possible third suspect looking out of a window in the home, along with lights being turned on and off.

Once a search warrant was obtained, officers from SWAT made entry into the house and searched the premises for the man with a gun, but could find no trace of him nor of a gun. They did, however, recover some stolen property from a burglary at A to Z Rental, including two weed trimmers, a rototiller and a chain saw. Most had been dismantled. Thornburg said the stolen items may have been used for parts for two mini-cycles found inside the home, which use the same type of motor. Now that is interesting. A mini-cycle powered by a chain saw motor won’t go very fast, but it will cut down trees with the proper appointments.

In a statement made by the co-owner of the house, Vanessa Westerman, made lots of florid press when she stated the arrested teens are her children. “If they punched a cop, good for them,” she said. “They (the police) have no right to be in my house.”

Don’t look now, but the search warrant and the recovered stolen property gives them every right to be in the house. Perhaps at this late stage of the game she might want to contact a bail bondsman for her teenagers, and maybe an attorney to help explain away the recovered stolen property before she makes any further statements for the news media. 



Burglary caught on video; reward offered

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A brazen convenience store burglary was caught on video, and Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to an arrest.

About 12:30 p.m. on April 21, a man walked into the Hico at 1201 N. Barker Road and stole cash from an office while the clerk helped a customer.

Surveillance video shows a heavy set, older man with white or gray hair walking into a room and rummaging through an open safe, then returning to grab money from a bank deposit bag left on a desk.

Police estimate the man to be in his 60s and about 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10.

Anyone with information on the crime or a suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (509) 327-5111 or submit tips online at www.crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org.

Courthouse watch: 5.21.09

A man charged with threatening to kill city of Spokane and Cowles Co. officials and a man charged with impersonating a federal agent were among cases with hearings today in Spokane County.

Steven E. Escallier, 40, (left) is charged with criminal impersonation, first-degree attempted robbery and malicious mischief after police say he tried robbing two men who were completing a cell phone sale arranged through Craigslist in early March.

Escallier told officer he thought the men were drug dealers when he identified himself as a DEA agent and ordered one to “hand over his drugs,” according to police. He was arrested a few blocks away from the crime scene at Crestline and Empire.

David H. Elton, 43, was another defendant in court today who’s made the news.

Charged with three counts of felony harassment - threats to kill, Elton was arrested in February after several people told police of emails he’d sent threatening to kill Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan and Betsy and Stacey Cowles, who own The Spokesman-Review. Elton has said he suffers from bipolar disorder.

“Elton states that the people he has targeted are largely semi-innocent, but his hate for them is based on their greed and ignorance,” according to court papers. “He states that the only exception is his ex-wife. He writes that he dreams of killing her and burning her remains and he listens to Chopin and Van Halen.”

Judge Ellen Kalama Clark granted trial extensions for Escallier and Elton Thursday. She also allowed a special judge to be assigned to Elton’s case.

Escallier remains in Spokane County Jail; Elton, who is out on bond, is represented by private criminal defense lawyer Mark Vovos. Vovos described the case as “complex.”

Police search killer’s boyfriend’s computers

A search warrant filed this week regarding the Spokane police investigation into the boyfriend of convicted killer Shellye L. Stark reveals new details.


The day police arrested Brian L. Moore in Anahiem, Calif., on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder, a Post Falls private investigator Moore hired, Ted Pulver, gave detectives a zip drive that he said contained a conversation between Moore and Michael Kendall, Moore’s former Orange County business partner.

“Moore later filed an alleged extortion complaint against Kendall in an attempt to prevent Kendall from cooperating with the police investigation,” wrote Detective Kip Hollenbeck in the search warrant, which was filed Tuesday in Spokane County District Court. “Your affiant believes probable cause exists to search this zip drive to examine the contents for any evidence related to this investigation.”

Pulver (featured left in an April 2008 photo by the SR’s Kathy Plonka) and Kendall are witnesses in the case against Moore, who’s accused of helping Stark plan the Dec. 9, 2007, murder of her husband, Dale Robert Stark, then working with her to concoct a sordid tale of spousal abuse to support a self defense claim.

A jury rejected that claim after a two-week trial in March, and Stark was sentenced to 50 years in prison last month. She remains in Spokane County Jail.

Her new lawyer, Julie Twyford, filed a motion last week asking Judge Tari Eitzen to reconsider the length of Stark’s sentence and Eitzen’s past rejection of motions for a new trial and an arrest of judgment. Included with the filing is a declaration from inmate Christine W. Warman.

Warman said she was in a holding cell with Stark and four other inmates on April 30. After Stark left, one of the inmates said her father served on the Stark jury and said jurors discussed details of the case when they weren’t supposed to, Warman said.

The state has not yet filed a response to that motion. Once that happens, Eitzen will set a hearing to rule on the motion.

Stick with The Spokesman-Review for updates.

Update: the state filed a response this week, and it’s now in the online court system. Eitzen has a hearing set for 3 p.m.

Police search for man with colorful criminal history

A wild chase involving a man on a stolen ATV and a state park ranger was caught on tape, and tipsters have led police to a Spokane man with a colorful criminal history.

Casey D. Beckham, 33, is no stranger to police, the courts or the prison, records show. He’s already got a Crime Stoppers reward out for warrants for bail jumping, possession of a controlled substance and escape from community custody, and news archives show he’s had police attention since at least July 1995 when he walked away from a Spokane County Jail work crew while serving nine months for theft and burglary.

That was the beginning of a tumultuous three years for Beckham in which he appeared in two articles detailing his alleged crimes.

Three months after his first news story, Beckham and a woman were arrested and charged with forgery after being stopped from a traffic violation in Spokane Valley. Both had warrants when Beckham was stopped for having defective equipment on his car, and deputies found a purse, wallet and checkbook that were stolen from cars outside a movie theater earlier that week.

In February 1997, Beckham and another man were arrested for residential burglary after the victims went on what a news article described as a “Dukes-of-Hazzard-style chase.” Kathy Asher, chased down the suspects, hit their car and forced them into a ditch on a rural road near Valleyford. Asher received the sheriff’s office Concerned Citizen Award for her actions; Beckham spent four years in prison.

But Beckham’s big day came in October 2003 when he pleaded guilty to eight crimes involving drug possession and theft. But when Spokane County Superior Court Greg Sypolt handed a longer-than-expected sentence, Beckham tried to withdraw his plea. The Washington Court of Appeals rejected his appeal the following year.

Beckham was released from prison in April 2008, according to the Department of Corrections. About a year after his release, a man hopped on a stolen ATV and sped away from a Washington State Parks and Recreation ranger in the parking area at the Carlson trail head in Nine Mile Falls.

The man took off after the ranger told him it was illegal to use the ATV in a state park and, according to a search warrant filed April 17. The chase ended as the man drove through private property, a barbwire fence and disappeared into the rocky hills, the search warrant says. The ranger’s dash camera caught the beginning of the chase.

Beckham is wanted for questioning in the case, said Washington State Patrol trooper Troy Briggs.

If you see Beckham or know where he is, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

UPDATE: Beckham was arrested May 27. Read a story on his arrest  here.

Courthouse watch: 5.20.09

Suspects scheduled to plead innocent in Spokane County Superior Court today included two young men charged with two counts of first-degree robbery for a knife-point holdup in downtown Spokane this May.

Joseph E. Whipple, 21, and Jimmy D. Dempsey, 17, are each charged with two counts of first-degree robbery for the May 2 incident. Police learned of the two through an anonymous letter mailed after a TV station featured the robbery, which occurred behind a coffee stand at Second Avenue and Washington Street, court papers show. The robbery netted $12, according to police.

Unusual charges on today’s docket included possession of a machine gun. Victoria C. Bolter, 19, pleaded not guilty to that charge and one count of possession of a controlled substance in relation to an investigation that court papers show began in January when Spokane County Sheriff’s detectives learned of Bolter’s husband’s arrest in Kootenai County on drug delivery charges.

One notable absence in the out-of-custody arraignments before Judge Jerome Leveque today was Dmitry A. Stepanov, 24.

Stepanov was due to appear this morning on charges of trafficking in stolen property, third-degree theft, unlawful possession of a payment instruction, malicious mischief and vehicle prowling. He didn’t show, and Crime Stoppers is now offering a reward for information that leads to his capture. He’s got a warrant out for second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, according to a Crime Stoppers news release prepared by sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Stepanov’s recent charges relate to vehicle GPS devices that he’s accused of stealing and pawning, court papers show.

Stepanov’s last known address was 4421 E. Frederick in Spokane, according to Crime Stoppers, and he may be driving a red Honda Civic with Washington license plates.

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

Tipsters do not have to leave a name but should provide a code word or number.

UPDATE 5/22/09: Stepanov was arrested Thursday and had his first appearance in Spokane County Superior Court Friday. He remains in jail.

Sen. Sheldon on rural crime and armed homeowners: “There is no bag limit. There’s always an open season on criminals in Mason County…”

Sen. Tim Sheldon, who’s also a county commissioner in rural Mason County, told the local weekly that he felt that his well-armed constituents would dampen the effect of proposed budget cuts at the county sheriff’s office.

“There is no bag limit. There’s always an open season on criminals in Mason County,” Sheldon told the Shelton-Mason County Journal. “I think that the Mason County citizens are very well aware of how to protect themselves in a situation that might need a response.

In follow-up remarks to a reporter from The Olympian, he described locals’ response to any home invasion attempts as “a hot Mason County lead enema.” Sheldon told The Olympian’s Brad Shannon that his remarks shouldn’t be construed as urging people to take the law into their own hands.

CDA Man Shoots Self In Knee

A 45-year-old Coeur d’Alene man accidentally shot himself in the leg as he was leaving his vehicle this morning in the parking lot of the Guesthouse motel. Kevin M. Peterson said he had his 9mm handgun in his left hand when it discharged. He was hit in the knee by the bullet. His wife was present when the accident occurred. He is in stable condition at Kootenai Medical Center, facing possible charges for discharging a firearm in city limits. Peterson has a criminal arrest record/Sgt. Christie Wood, CPD Blue. Full news release here.

Man Tries To Run Over PG Wife

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department is investigating an Aggravated Battery that occurred in the parking lot of Wells Fargo Bank/Hayden. Initial investigation indicates that Kimberly Booker, 24, or Athol, Idaho was arguing with her estranged husband, Jerry Booker, 25 also of Athol, over income tax return when he tried to leave the area.  Kimberly, who is 8 months pregnant, stood behind Jerry’s car and attempted to call for law enforcement, when Jerry backed up the car, striking Kimberly, knocking her to the ground. Emergency Medical personnel from the Northern Lakes Fire District responded and concluded that Kimberly was not injured in the incident/KCSD news release. Complete release here.


In A Story That Shocked CHS Today …

… Jerry Carlson, a well-known insurance agent and major athletic supporter, was arrested over the weekend for possession of cocaine — with more charges pending. Meghann Cuniff is working on the story now. More to come.