Archive for December, 2012
By Caleb Hutton
See below for update.
Ferndale police are investigating an apparent nighttime burglary at Vista Middle School.
but few details were available Friday afternoon, Dec. 28.
Someone shattered a classroom window at the school late Thursday, Dec. 27, setting off an alarm, said Ferndale Police Lt. Matt Huffman. Officers found wet footprints near the crime scene and an unlocked door, but no suspect.
At the time of the latest police report, officers were still figuring out what — if anything — had been stolen.
I’ve got a call out to the Ferndale School District and will update this post if I get any more info today.
Update at 4 p.m. School District Superintendent Linda Quinn said it appeared the burglar rummaged through a few drawers, but nothing obvious was missing from the classrooms that were vandalized.
“I can’t say what might have been in someone’s desk,” Quinn said.
The break-in alarm went off about 11 p.m. A few interior windows were shattered in some classrooms. All teachers in the school have laptops, but they’d taken them home for winter break. When school starts up again in January, the principal plans to round up staff to find out if anything was stolen from their rooms.
Quinn suspects the vandal left on foot and in a hurry, because nothing hefty appeared to have been targeted.
By Caleb Hutton
An alleged kidnapper, carjacker and burglar who racked up 11 felony charges in a crime spree was formally charged last week.
The probable cause statements clarify a few things the police weren’t able to answer in the hours after the arrest of James Michael Craver, 28, of Bellingham. (You can read the original story here.)
Here’s the first set of charges. I blacked out sensitive info. A few new details that emerged:
- The couple was not asleep when Craver allegedly crept to their bedroom with a knife on Dec. 11.
- According to the charges, Craver eventually let his ex-girlfriend use the bathroom, but told her if she tried any funny business, he would “kill them all, including the children.”
- An alarm clock may have saved the woman’s life.
And here are the charges from the second leg of the crime spree, when Craver was accused of jacking a college student’s car, forcing her to drive or get shot.
- A Whatcom Community College student leaving class was the first to notice anything suspicious. He saw a man going through the cab of his truck at 4:45 p.m. Dec. 12. He chased the suspect through an apartment complex. That victim tried to get drivers to lock their doors.
- But one victim couldn’t lock her passenger door in time. To convince her to drive, Craver allegedly told her “he was being chased by people with a gun and that he was armed with a gun as well.”
- She tried to drop him off at Walmart, but he wouldn’t leave.
- They drove along Interstate 5 into north Whatcom County. They drove around for hours, and must have turned around at some point, because the Regency Park Apartments are in Bellingham.
View Larger Map
- The woman identified Craver in a photo lineup immediately, saying she was “100 percent certain” he was the man who abducted her.
- But even before seeing the lineup, the woman recalled a U-shaped tattoo on the man’s neck that said “Teresa.”
- Here’s a mugshot of Craver:
In all, Craver is charged — in two separate cases — with first-degree domestic violence burglary, first-degree kidnapping, attempted second-degree robbery, second-degree assault, attempted second-degree robbery, theft of a motor vehicle, attempted theft of a motor vehicle, domestic violence felony harassment, felony harassment and two counts of unlawful imprisonment.
The original story in the paper gave an overview of his past crimes:
Craver has a criminal history dating back to a 1993 shoplifting case. By the time he was an adult, he’d been convicted of more than a dozen crimes, rarely going more than a few weeks without getting into trouble with police, according to juvenile court records.
At age 17, he was convicted as an adult of felony assault for holding a steak knife to the throat of a 13-year-old boy he’d never met. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for that crime.
He also has a history of theft, assault with a sexual motivation, harassment, and drug crimes. In May 2010, Craver was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for trying to break into a home on West Pole Road to steal heroin.
By Caleb Hutton
Two fires in north Whatcom County were ruled accidents this week by the fire marshal.
The info comes from Fire Marshal Will Anderson.
- Fire No. 1. A 50-by-100-foot barn at 9451 Swanson Road was destroyed Dec. 16, when a homeowner intentionally left an oil heater on overnight for his John Deere tractor. An electrical problem sparked the blaze. It was the first time he’d used the heater this year. The structure was mostly a roof, with concrete siding to support it. Damage was estimated at $100,000.
- Fire No. 2. A 20-by-30-foot home on Henley Street in Birch Bay was ruled “undetermined,” but an accident. The resident, a man in his 50s, was awakened by the smoke at 5:55 a.m. Dec. 17, and suffered burns to his feet as he escaped. The home — a vacation-style house built in the mid-20th century — burnt down to almost nothing. The most likely cause of the fire was a baseboard heater that was too close to a pile of the resident’s belongings. But Anderson said because no crime is suspected, he’d leave it up to the insurance company to investigate further. The day after the fire, some smoke was reported coming from the charred remains. It turned out to be minor and was quickly extinguished.
- Fire No. 3. See this story that will be in tomorrow’s paper. The lede: “A buildup of peanut dust and debris is suspected of causing a small fire in the Golden Nut Company’s roasting room earlier this week, the Whatcom County fire marshal said Thursday, Dec. 27.” Here’s the story that was in today’s paper.
By Caleb Hutton
A Bellingham man was arrested Christmas Eve on suspicion of carjacking an acquaintance.
Below is the gist of the police report. Everything in the box came from Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young. It’s all been paraphrased and condensed.
The 50-year-old victim, from Maple Valley, had been “hanging out” with three people in Bellingham for most of Christmas Eve.
At 3 p.m. he reported a passenger in his 2002 PT Cruiser grabbed the keys from him and said he would need to fight to get them back. The driver felt threatened and got out of the car in the 1800 block of Cornwall Avenue.
The carjacker — identified as Steven D. Wages, 48, of Bellingham — allegedly hopped into the driver’s seat and drove away. The suspect hit a curb, flattening a tire, at some point in the drive.
Police found the car at Gladstone and Lincoln streets. Wages was booked into jail on suspicion of second-degree robbery, theft of a motor vehicle and driving under the influence. Officers chose not to arrest the two passengers.
By Caleb Hutton
BELLINGHAM — Freeway traffic was slow-going Friday morning, Dec. 21, after a pair of crashes on both northbound and southbound Interstate 5 near the Sunset Drive overpass.
Here’s the picture that tells the story, courtesy of the state Department of Transportation.
— Bellingham Crime (@bhamcrime) December 21, 2012
The northbound three-car crash came first at 11:20 a.m., said Washington State Patrol Trooper Mark Francis. Two people were taken by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital. Traffic was at a crawl for about an hour.
— Bellingham Crime (@bhamcrime) December 21, 2012
In the southbound crash, one car rear-ended another, lurching the second car forward into a third, Francis said. Two more people were taken to the hospital. Traffic cleared up a bit faster.
Troopers went to the hospital to continue the investigation. More details weren’t available at the time of this post.
By Caleb Hutton
BELLINGHAM — Downtown thrift shop Wise Buys will be closed for several weeks because of sprinkler damage from an upstairs apartment fire, the store’s operators announced Thursday, Dec. 20.
Firefighters and police are investigating how the apartment caught fire Saturday. The flames were contained to a single unit, but the water caused a lot more damage than the fire or heat, said Roger Christensen, acting chief of the Bellingham Fire Department.
He wouldn’t say if investigators suspect arson.
“Arson is a finding,” not a label that can be put on an active investigation, he said. Christensen declined to release much information this week. I’ll be checking back soon.
Here’s most of the press release from Wise Buys.
The water damage occurred Saturday, Dec. 15 in response to a fire in an apartment above Wise Buys, located at 1224 N. State St.
Wise Buys is operated by volunteers from Lydia Place, a nonprofit, community-based serving homeless people since 1989. Since Wise Buys is completely run by volunteers, all of its proceeds go to Lydia Place.
“The repairs will be covered by insurance,” said Emily O’Connor, executive director of Lydia Place. “However, much of our merchandise was either damaged or related to the holidays, so we could use donations of gently used clothing and household items when Wise Buys reopens in January.”
Updates about Wise Buys will be available on Lydia Place’s Facebook page and by calling Lydia Place at (360) 671-7663. The public is asked to withhold donations of clothing and household items until the store reopens.
Wise Buys originally was launched in 1974 as Y’s Buys and run by the Bellingham YWCA until Lydia Place assumed operations in the early 1990s.
Lydia Place provides a six-month, multifaceted residential program that supports women and children in their transition from homelessness to independence. Lydia Place also offers support and services for local residents in subsidized housing.
For more information about Lydia Place, call (360) 671-7663 or visit www.lydiaplace.org.
By Caleb Hutton
Today the New York Times published this jaw-dropping article about an avalanche at Stevens Pass that killed three skiers in February.
It’s a powerful story. And the visuals are incredible. You should read it.
For some quick background on the avalanche, here’s the AP story that ran at the time.
By Caleb Hutton
BELLINGHAM — Police don’t suspect foul play after a man was found dead in a parking lot on Railroad Avenue over the weekend.
Dylan J. Boatman, 25, was found outside early Saturday, Dec. 15, slumped against the side of a pickup parked in the 1100 block of Railroad, said Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
No evidence of inflicted trauma was found on Boatman’s body — as I wrote on this blog Monday — so investigators are awaiting results of toxicology tests to determine how he died.
Update Feb. 1 Boatman died of alcohol poisoning, according to the Whatcom County Medical Examiner’s Office. His death was ruled an accident.
By Caleb Hutton
LUMMI RESERVATION — As we reported Monday, Dec. 17, high tides and
story stormy weather led to flooding along the coast of Whatcom County, from Boulevard Park in Bellingham to Birch Bay Drive in Birch Bay.
A reader sent in this photo of seawater that reached the tribal veteran’s hall on the Stommish Grounds.
Photo credit to Evelyn Jefferson.
The water bottle at the bottom right gives you an idea of how high the flooding got.
Here’s the location of the hall.
Posted by Caleb Hutton
Text courtesy of the Blaine Police Department, with minor edits for style.
Tuesday, Dec. 11
1:06 p.m. Dispatch reported a 911 hang up at a business on H Street. Police arrived just a couple of minutes later and found everything looking peaceful in the office from which the call originated. Two busier-looking gents directed police to a third man in a corner office, who was looking like he wanted to be somewhere else. It turned out that the manager’s unique phone dialing technique had caused a couple of other 911 hang up calls earlier in the week.
3:13 p.m. The driver of a small sedan stopped northbound on Grant Street, looked right to make sure nothing was coming, and pulled out onto H Street. This utterly surprised the driver of the enormous pickup truck which was eastbound on H Street with the right of way and bearing down on the little sedan from the left. The pickup crashed into the driver’s side of the sedan, totaling the car and trapping the driver inside. Arriving police officers shut down the roadway with the help of Border Patrol agents, and kept the sedan driver stable until responding firefighters from North Whatcom Fire and Rescue extracted her for transport to hospital. She was cited for failure to yield right of way, and the pickup driver was cited for driving without insurance. The roadway was closed for about an hour while police completed their investigation.
Wednesday, Dec. 12
10 a.m. A 19-year-old Custer resident was appearing in Blaine Municipal Court and mentioned that he had forgotten to go to court in Bellingham the previous day on an unrelated matter, and hoped the Blaine court could also take care of that other charge. It turned out that the court in Bellingham wanted to work out their matter in person, and had issued an arrest warrant to get the young man’s attention. An officer assisted the gentleman by transporting and booking him into jail in Bellingham, which is conveniently located only four floors up from his cell block.
6:19 p.m. A customer arrived at a business, found the door unlocked, and called police. An officer responded and found the cause of the problem. The business owner was on site and open for business, just tending to some tasks back in the warehouse. Owner and customer were introduced and the officer cleared the scene.
8:30 p.m. Person reported her back window to her vehicle shattered as she was pulling into a parking lot on Eighth Street. Police investigated and determined the window shattered when a previous crack to the window’s corner gave way, causing the entire sheet of safety glass to fail. An officer helped the driver temporarily secure the hole.
Thursday, Dec. 13
10:02 a.m. A resident on D Street report that two small gas cans had been stolen from a shelf in his unsecured garage. The theft happened sometime on Wednesday or Thursday. Some other items were moved around but nothing else was taken.
11:23 a.m. A care provider grew concerned when a child she normally cares for was absent for a couple of days and she was unable to contact the parent. She called police, who checked and determined that the parent was in jail. The child was being tended to by a family friend. Both parent and friend were appreciative when the child care provider offered to take the young one for a spell.
Friday, Dec. 14
5:50 a.m. A U.S. Border Patrol agent came upon a man staggering along in the dark eastbound on D Street at Allan Street. He was a very intoxicated U.S. citizen who’d decided to walk home to Custer from a friend’s house. A Blaine Police responded to check on the sojourner. His dark clothing and unsteady gait put him at significant risk of being struck by a passing car, so an officer gave the man a ride to his residence.
8:40 p.m. Officers were dispatched to a report of an erratic, possibly intoxicated driver northbound on Mitchell Avenue from Peace Portal Drive. They intercepted the suspect vehicle at Grant and Sr-543 and contacted the driver for a traffic violation. The elderly motorist was very tired and returning from visiting her husband in a hospital. She had not been drinking and was much more awake at the end of the contact.
Sunday, Dec. 16
1:26 a.m. A couple sleeping in their sailboat at Blaine Marina were awakened by two people thrashing about on the deck. They yelled out at the intruders to interrupt whatever crime was being committed overhead, and the thrashing trespassers abandoned ship and ran away as the live-aboards called 911. Blaine officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents arrived in time to apprehend the two adults leaving the area, and a witness positively identified the 25-year-old woman and 24-year-old man. The pair eventually explained that they had climbed around the locked Gate 1 marina entrance to get onto the floats, intending to board a vessel and commit romance. They claimed they set the boat to rocking only after no one answered their knocking. They were given Criminal Trespass citations and copies of their arrest photos to commemorate their sailing adventure.
7:47 p.m. Police investigated a two-car injury collision at intersection of SR-543 and Boblett Street. A driver illegally turned his car left in front of another vehicle and the pair collided in the intersection. Air bags were deployed in both vehicles. A rear passenger in the other vehicle complained of shoulder pain. She was addressed by medics on scene and released. Both vehicles were towed away at their respective owner’s request. The offending driver was issued a citation for fail to yield right of way at an intersection and driving without insurance.
Monday, Dec. 17
12:33 p.m. Police were contacted by a Semiahmoo Marina resident who reported a fuel siphoning. The victim explained that sometime during the past month or two someone had stolen gasoline from his vehicle in the marina parking lot. In the process they damaged the spout and filler line for his car tank, causing about $200 damage.
3:42 p.m. Blaine police were contacted by a business on Alder Street which was concerned about an employee who might be suffering domestic abuse. Officers have contacted and interviewed the people involved, and are investigating the report.
4:27 p.m. A resident on Martin Street reported that a desperate nicotine addict is trespassing onto her porch to steal the left over cigarette butts there. Officers were advised to watch for a surly white man in his early 20s.
9:51 p.m. U.S. Border Patrol agent patrolling along the border found an open door at a warehouse. Police officers arrived and searched the premises but found no one inside. There were no signs of forced entry and it appeared the door had blown open in the wind. Police were able to shut and secure the door.