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Cheney marijuana store kidnapping victim’s SUV located in Airway Heights; suspects identified by police

Sept. 12, 2017 Updated Tue., Sept. 12, 2017 at 8:22 p.m.

By Nina Culver and Jonathan Glover The Spokesman-Review

Police have identified two of the three suspects wanted in connection with a Sunday kidnapping at a marijuana store in Cheney, and then found the SUV owned by the kidnapping victim abandoned in a field in Airway Heights on Tuesday.

The Acura SUV owned by 46-year-old Cameron Smith has been located in Airway Heights. Cheney police said Smith was not with the car and is still missing.

The car was discovered sometime Tuesday on a dirt road in an empty field near South Craig Road and West 12th Avenue near SpokoFuel. Construction workers in the area saw the car on Monday but didn’t report it, said Airway Heights Police Chief Lee Bennett.

“Today they still saw it sitting there and thought it was odd,” Bennett said. They then called police.

Forensic technicians spent the afternoon Tuesday collecting evidence from in and around the SUV, including footprints.

Meanwhile, police identified Donovan Culps, 36, and Violetta Culps, 18, as two of the three suspects were filmed by Lucid Cannabis Company surveillance cameras when they entered the store Sunday afternoon but were not allowed to buy items due to lack of identification and age, Cheney police said. Donovan Culps was later videotaped outside, shooting at and abducting store employee Cameron Smith, who was on his lunch break in the parking lot, police said.

Violetta left the store in a white Ford F-250 pickup truck with an unknown female. Donovan left in the victim’s 2008 Acura MDX SUV.

Both suspects are from the White Swan area of Yakima County, where police believe they are currently residing. Donovan is Violetta’s uncle.

Cheney police Capt. Richard Beghtol said there was a possible sighting of one of the suspects in Yakima Monday, but neither of the suspects have been detained. “We are in constant communication with all the law enforcement down there,” he said.

Beghtol, who used to work for the Washington State Patrol in Yakima, said he is very familiar with Donovan Culps, who has an extensive criminal history. He is currently wanted on a federal probation violation warrant, Beghtol said.

“They said they’ve been looking for him for a long time,” Beghtol said.

Smith’s wallet, which included his identification, was found on the Spokane Indian Reservation near the Little Falls bridge by a road construction crew Monday.

“They didn’t realize what it was,” Beghtol said.

The wallet was turned in to the Spokane Tribal Police late Monday. On Tuesday searchers from Spokane Tribal Police, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and Border Patrol searched the area for Smith without success, Beghtol said.


Monday evening, more than 100 of Smith’s friends and coworkers gathered for a candle light vigil outside of the store at 1845 First Street, where he was abducted. They joined in prayer and passed around a book for attendees to sign that would be sent to his family in Toledo, Ohio.

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