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Colville officer under investigation for sexual misconduct

A Colville Police officer is on paid-administrative leave because of allegations of sexual misconduct, according to Stevens County Sheriff’s Office, who is investigating the matter.

Investigators began looking into the allegations against Officer Rex Newport earlier this month, but no criminal charges have been filed, Sheriff Kendle Allen said.

Newport has been with the Colville department for about 15 years.

In 1999, Newport was involved with an accident in his Colville patrol vehicle while responding to a burglary alarm at a police evidence-storage building, reports said. The alarm turned out to be false.

He destroyed a porch, fences, trees and a gas meter while avoiding a traffic collision, reports added. The damage was estimated to be about $4,000, according to Washington State Patrol’s investigation.

Gun thief gets more time than murderer

A Stevens County judge on Tuesday sentenced a convicted gun thief to 125 years in prison — a term that’s about 100 years longer than the sentences handed down to three others for a murder committed using one of the stolen guns.

Superior Court Judge Pat Monasmith sentenced convicted felon Christopher G. Nichols, 27, to 125 years in prison, despite the fact that he had no role in the 2011 killing of Colville resident Gordon Feist.

Nichols wept, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

March 8, 2012: 2 men get 25+ years in Colville murder

Sept. 26: Two more charged in Stevens County homcide

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Man faces 123 years in prison for guns

A convicted felon from Stevens County now faces a minimum of 123 years in prison after a jury found him guilty today of 21 felonies that were tied to the slaying last year of a Colville man.

Investigators believe was a botched burglary.The jury deliberated about three hours before finding Christopher G. Nichols, who turned 27 Thursday, guilty of nine counts of a felon in a possession of a firearm and nine counts of theft, burglary, auto theft and trafficking in stolen property in the first degree.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

March 8, 2012: 2 men get 25+ years in Colville murder

Sept. 26: Two more charged in Stevens County homcide

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Satanist found with stolen tombstones

More than 70 tombstones and statuettes stolen from Eastern Washington cemeteries have been recovered from the home of a self-described Satanist.

Now, with Memorial Day coming up, Stevens County authorities are asking families to consider checking in on loved ones’ graves in cemeteries located in Chewelah and Valley, Wash., to avoid the possibility of discovering empty holes where gravestones once rested.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Charge dropped in Stevens Co. murder

Murder charges have been dropped against a Spokane man arrested for the homicide of a 62-year-old Stevens County woman.

Robert Cody Wirtz, 30, was released from jail on Tuesday, about a month after statements by his 4-year-old son led detectives to identify him as a suspect in the death of Narleen B. Campton, who was beaten to death in her home in Northport, Wash., near the Canadian border, in late November.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 14: Son's nightmare's about 'dead lady' led to man's murder arrest

CPS report led to father’s murder arrest

A 4-year-old boy’s nightmares about “a dead lady” and his description of how she died led homicide detectives to arrest his father in the slaying of an elderly Stevens County woman, according to new court documents.

The boy’s mother contacted Child Protective Services on Nov. 24 - two days before the decomposing body of Narleen B. Campton, 62, was discovered in her Northport home about 10 miles south of the Canadian border.Re

Read the rest of my story here.

2 more charged in Stevens Co. homicide

Two additional suspects have been charged with murder in the shooting death of a Stevens County man in July.

Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin, 27, (pictured) and Collette Marie Pierce, 25, appeared Thursday in Stevens County Superior Court on first-degree murder charges for the death of Gordon Feist, 63, during what investigators believe was a botched robbery attempt. They also are charged with second-degree murder as an alternate.

They are to be arraigned Tuesday, said Deputy Prosecutor Lech Radzimski.

The accused triggerman, Eric Lee Booth, 26, has been in jail on a murder charge since July 20.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

More charges in Colville murder probe

A 26-year-old man has been charged with stealing the firearm that was then used to kill a Stevens County man and retired U.S. Navy SEAL in what investigators believe was a botched burglary.

 Christopher George Nichols (left) remains in the Stevens County Jail on $500,000 bond after pleading not guilty last week to nine counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, nine counts of theft of a firearm, and single counts of residential burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and trafficking in stolen property in the first degree. 

Detectives believe Nichols, a convicted felon, burglarized the home of Robert Hannigan, 3294-H Bradeen Road, on June 28, with Eric Lee Booth, 26, (right) who is accused of shooting Gordon Feist to death on July 17.

Feist served three tours in Vietnam as a U.S Navy Seal and it was considered in character for him to confront prowlers outside his upscale home south of Colville, according to a police report. Booth had worked at the home before; detectives believe he told Feist he'd run out of gas when he was confronted, and that Feist trusted him and let his guard down.

The 63-year-old retiree was shot to death as he gave Booth a ride on his utility vehicle to his supposedly out-of-gas car, detectives believe, leading the vehicle to crash into a power pole. Booth was arrested three days later after a Washington Department of Corrections officer noticed cuts on his face consistent with the crash while talking to Booth's brother. It took four officers to restrain Booth and place his in handcuffs, according to a police report. He'd told his family he'd been injured in a motorcycle crash. When his mother learned he was a suspect in Feist's death, she approached him and yelled “Eric what the **** are you doing? Gordon is a family friend,” according to the report.

Booth told deputies he burglarized Hannigan's home with Nichols, and deputies located two stolen rings through the Spokane pawn shop database. Nichols denied pawning the items, but a receipt at Pawn 1 in North Spokane was signed by him, according to police.

 According to a previous report, Booth told detectives that 27-year-old Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin (left) and 26-year-old Collette M. Pierce were with him during the botched burglary at Feist's home.

Fellman-Shimmin remains in custody at the Ferry County Jail on a hold from the state Department of Corrections.

Pierce pleaded guilty to the drug charge last week and was sentenced to 90 days at the Stevens County Jail. Booth faces $750,000 bail for murder, burglary and gun charges. The investigation into Feist's death is ongoing.

Past coverage:

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Murder suspect may plead insanity

COLVILLE – The suspect charged with killing a Colville-area man last month is exploring the option of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, a prospect that bothers the dead man’s common-law wife.

 “I find that really unsatisfying,” Denise Ridley said Tuesday after the scheduled arraignment of accused killer Eric L. Booth (pictured) was postponed for a mental evaluation. “He knew what he was doing. He just ruined my life.”

Booth is charged with first-degree murder, burglary and possessing a stolen firearm in connection to the July 17 killing of 63-year-old Gordon R. Feist, Ridley’s partner of 13 years.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Cops think botched theft led to murder

When a gunman shot and killed a 63-year-old retiree in a quiet Colville-area neighborhood, detectives say he left behind a crucial piece of evidence: The suspected murder weapon.

A handgun located near Gordon R. Feist, who was found in the wreckage of his utility terrain vehicle Sunday with two bullet holes in his head, helped police identify Eric Lee Booth, 26, (pictured) as a suspect in Feist’s murder, Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen said today.

Booth, who was arrested Wednesday, appeared in Stevens County Superior Court today on charges of second-degree murder and possession of a stolen firearm. He remains in jail on $750,000 bail.

Investigators believe Booth was trying to burglarize Feist’s upscale rural home south of Colville when he encountered Feist and told him he needed help because his car had run out of gas.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Stevens Co. slaying baffles neighbors

A 63-year-old retiree is dead after a weekend attack outside his upscale home near Colville, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

Gordon R. Feist was shot twice late Sunday on Smart Way, a private cul-de-sac about four miles south of Colville, as he rode a small utility vehicle. He was taken off life support Monday at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

A neighbor reported a car crash to Stevens County officials about 11:20 p.m. after witnessing Feist crash into a utility pole as he rode a small vehicle that another neighbor described as a Kubota-style golf cart. Medics arrived to find Feist bleeding from two gunshot wounds, said Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen.

Sheriff’s officials say they have no suspects or motive in the slaying but say they don’t believe it was accidental.

Read the rest of my story here.

Man’s use of elderly woman’s cash probed

The investigators who rescued a 105-year-old woman in late May from a squalid Kettle Falls, Wash., home are now looking into whether the woman’s care provider was also improperly using her money.

Stevens County sheriff’s Detective James Caruso said he and other deputies on Tuesday again searched the home where on May 26 they found Frances Swan, who has since turned 106, begging for food in a house that was filled with trash, rotting food, dogs and feces.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

June 21: Man held after police rescue famished woman, 105

Stevens County shooting ruled justifed

No charges will be filed against a Stevens County sheriff’s deputy who shot a burglary suspect as he was in bed reaching for a gun.

Deputy Travis Frizzell was justified in believing Trinidy Capone Lopez, 24, posed a serious threat during the March 5 confrontation, according to Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, who decided against filing criminal charges after reviewing the police investigation.

Deputies were trying to question Lopez about vehicle prowlings outside a Stevens County bar.

“While Frizzell had no duty to retreat, retreat was impossible due to his close proximity to Lopez and the narrow stairway he would have to negotiate to get to a place of protection,” Rasmussen wrote. “He had no other reasonable choice than to protect himself from the threat presented to him by Trinidy Lopez and his firearm.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 8: Deputies in Stevens County shooting identified

March 7: Man shot by deputies denies being armed

Woman, 105, found living in squalor

Stevens County deputies discovered a 105-year-old woman begging for food after being asked by an animal cruelty suspect to retrieve his medicine from the squalid Kettle Falls home before taking him to jail.

The woman, Frances Swan, was rescued and now is recuperating at a Colville nursing home, while her self-described caretaker, 78-year-old John H. Friedlund, was charged today with felony criminal mistreatment in connection with the May 26 discovery. Swan, who turns 106 on Wednesday, is believed to be one of the state’s oldest residents.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Tips sought on owners of killer dogs

Authorities are asking for help identifying the owners of dogs that are believed to be attacking farm animals in southern Stevens County.

The dogs pictured are thought to be responsible for the deaths of animals in the areas of Bittrich Antler, Scotts Valley Road and Casberg Burroughs Road as well as the 6800 to 7200 block of Highway 291. 

Photos from a camera set up at the location of a previous attack recorded images of the dogs when they returned.

Anyone with information is asked to call (509) 684-2555 or 1-800-572-0947.

Sex offender registers in Colville

Authorities are warning of a sex offender considered likely to reoffend who recently registered at an address in Colville.

Clifford T. Morton, who was born in 1985, is living in the 1100 block of Basin Road, the Stevens County Sheriff's Office said today.

Morton, a level 3 sex offender, was convicted in Whatcom County of third-degree rape of a child in 2004 and second-degree assault and second-degree burglary in 2006.

He is not wanted by law enforcement, but the sheriff's office wants people to be aware of his presence.

“This notification is not intended to increase fear,” the sheriff's office said in a news release. “Rather, it is our belief that an informed public is a safer public.”

Man shot by deputy denies being armed

A suspected thief shot multiple times by a Stevens County sheriff’s deputy disputed law enforcement reports Sunday that he was armed with a pistol even though authorities say they recovered a gun and several other stolen items at his home.

“I woke up with my body hit like a freakin’ target,” said Trinidy C. Lopez, 23, who explained during a brief telephone interview from his hospital bed that he had been asleep in his bedroom after a night of partying when deputies arrived at his Loon Lake home early Saturday and one of them began shooting. “I woke up in excruciating pain.”

Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen, however, said Lopez was wielding a stolen pistol. “It was either pointed at the deputy or coming to bear onto the deputy,” Allen said of the firearm.

Read Jonathan Brunt's story here.

2 arrested for child abuse in Stevens Co.

Two caretakers have arrested and charged with assaulting a child in their home in Marcus, Wash., north of Kettle Falls.

Brian D. Lembcke, 34, and Rebecca L. Pelissier, 37, were arrested on charges of third-degree assault of a child and booked into Stevens County Jail Thursday. They allegedly assaulted an 11-year-old girl they had been caring for. It is unclear what their relationship is to the child.

Stevens County sheriff's deputies were called to a report the girl had been assaulted on Wednesday.

They obtained a search warrant on the home to recover items used in the alleged assault. Itwas unclear what the items were or if any were recovered.

The case has been turned over to the Stevens County prosecutor's office. Third-degree assault of a child is a class C felony in Washington.

Stevens Co. couple busted w/ 9 oz heroin

A Stevens County couple are accused of selling large amount of heroin in a criminal venture that allowed them to live well beyond their means, federal court documents allege.

Carl K. Conner III, 33, (pictured) and Janine J. Bryan, 28, are in the Spokane County Jail without bail, charged in U.S. District Court with possession of 100 grams or more of heroin with intent to deliver.

A confidential informant told the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office in July that Bryan and Conner traveled to Seattle once or twice per week to pick up 10 ounces of heroin that they distributed throughout Stevens County.

The Sheriff’s Office already had revived complaints about heavy foot traffic at the the couple’s apartment. Detectives noted that neither was employed but “appeared to be living a lifestyle above their means,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.

The couple were stopped July 28 near Deer Park while driving back from Seattle. Conner was arrested for driving without a license. Detectives said they were going to obtain search warrant for the vehicle.

“Det. Manke told Bryan “you know what we do” and Bryan responded, “and you know what I do,” according to the affidavit.

Detectives found two chunks of black tar heroin weighing 127 grams each (nearly nine ounces). Conner and Bryan were charged in Stevens County Superior Court, but the case was transferred U.S. District Court on Sept. 24.

Both were ordered held without bail Sept. 30.

Stevens Co. warns of convicted rapist

The Stevens County Sheriff’s Office is warning of a sex offender who is considered likely to reoffend and lives in Colville. 

Daniel I. Buchmann, 38, is not wanted by authorities, but he is on probation for a 2001 conviction for fist-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping and the sheriff’s office wants the public to be aware of his presence. His victim was a 14-year-old female neighbor.

Buchmann, 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, is prohibited from entering bars, taverns, lounges, parks, playgrounds, schools or any place frequented by minors.

Buchman is living in the 1000 block of Middle Basin Road in Colville. He’s a level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend.

Sex offender indicted on child porn charges

A child molester considered likely to reoffend was arraigned on child pornography charges in federal court Monday.

Donald D. Holloway, 50, has been in Spokane County Jail since December after federal authorities said he’d uploaded child pornography to the Internet.  Holloway was on probation for a 2002 marijuana conviction; he was booked into jail Dec. 22 for violating his probation.

According to his probation officer’s report, Holloway uploaded pornographic images of teen and pre-teen boys in March, April and July 2009.

A grand jury indicted Holloway last Thursday on a federal charge of receipt and attempted receipt and child pornography for alleged activity between Sept. 18 and Dec. 21 in Valley, Wash. Holloway had lived in the 2900 block of Bakie Road in Valley since at least April 15, 2009, when the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office issued a notice warning residents of his presence.

Holloway was convicted of indecent liberties in 1981 and second-degree and third-degree child molestation in 1992. His victims were between the ages of 8 and 16 and were male and female, according to the sheriff’s office.

Holloway, a level 3 sex offender, pleaded not guilty to the new federal charges on Monday and remains in jail.

$500,000 bond for man held in wife’s slaying

A man who police say called 911 after killing his wife will remain in jail on $500,000 bond.

A judge increased Craig R. Cosby’s bail from $250,000 during his first appearance on a second-degree murder charge in Stevens County Superior Court today.

Cosby, 68, was arrested Saturday in the front yard of his home in the 1200 block of Overlook Boulevard in Marcus, a small town along the Columbia River in north Stevens County.

His wife, Susan May Cosby, 53, was found dead from gunshot wounds inside the home, according to the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office.