by Rob Lopresti
Today I am going to bring you up to date on some crime news from the Evergreen State. Why should I let Leigh and Florida have all the fun? We’ll start at the north end and slide down.
Don’t let your little light shine
Whatcom County, where I live, bumps up against the Canadian border. This is a blessing and a curse. When the exchange rate is favorable we get a lot of foreigners heading south of the border to spend their money. On the other hand, when someone does something stupid at the crossing (a regular event) we get the privilege of finding jail space for them.
For people who live way up near that border line things can be more problematic. In April a man named Wayne P. Groen was convicted in federal court of incapacitating the pilot of an aircraft. Back in September a Customs helicopter had been patrolling near Lynden, WA around 9:30 PM. Groen was awakened by the noise over is backyard, went outside, and shone a spotlight on the chopper. The pilot, who was wearing night vision goggles, was blinded by the light and says he was disoriented.
My assumption was that Groen’s neighbors would be a little cranky with him for endangering the lives of a government pilot and, potentially, everyone in the homes the chopper was flying over. Apparently not, though. Lynden residents have been protesting (see the photo above) and urging that Groen not get a prison sentence (he could theoretically get 20 years). They say the flashing was the result of government officials harassing them to distraction.
At the very least we can all agree that the Border Patrol has a public relations problem.
This is a song by Chuck Brodsky about the friction between long-time residents of a rural area and the newcomers who come from the city.
The come heres live in cabins – the been heres live in shacks
They’ll say hello in passing – talk behind each others’ backs . . .
The come heres & the been heres – there’s talk about a fence
The whole town is divided – half for and half against
I suspect that this sort of resentment is at the root of this story from the Seattle Times about a feud between two families in Sultan, WA, in rural Snohomish County, a bit north of King County (home of Seattle). Gayle and Ray Harvie live in a 3,200-foot house. The Pepperell family next door live in a smaller manufactured home. It was the eighteen-year-old son of that family who stole, and crashed, the Harvie’s $12,000 motorcycle. The Harvies pressed charges and things went to merry hell after that. Six years so far, and counting.
Two of the Harvies dogs were apparently poisoned, one fatally. (They owned eight 170-pound Tibetan mastiffs, and there have been complaints of noise and one bite.) The Harvies installed a $60,000 security system and hired a private detective. They learned that Caroline Pepperell had been fired from a previous job for misusing a law enforcement database, but was now working for the Sultan Police Department. She was later fired from that job, reinstated, fired again, and then “settled with the city for $15,000 and agreed not to sue, according to court documents.”
After an investigation the police chief resigned and pled guilty to lying to a public official. A year later the entire police force was disbanded.
The Harvies and Pepperell sued and countersued each other in Snohomish County, with the Harvies accusing Pepperell of poisoning their dogs. Pepperell, who also goes by the last name Feldmann, claimed “severe public humiliation,” said she was unable to get another job and, in a strange twist, accused the Harvies of convincing her own son, the motorcycle thief, to steal documents from her home.
Before the thread closed automatically, the Seattle Times story had acquired 480 comments.
It makes you think your neighbor’s noisy stereo is not such a big deal…
Next we go south and west to Grays Harbor County on the Pacific coast. Hoquiam is a charming little town of 9,000, and I’m sure it’s immune from the weirdness of the metropolitan regions further north. It stands to — Uh, what was that, Seattle Times?
Police say a man was carrying a dead weasel when he burst into a Hoquiam apartment and assaulted a man.
The victim asked, “Why are you carrying a weasel?” Police said the attacker said, “It’s not a weasel, it’s a martin,” then punched him in the nose and fled.
The police caught up with the martin man and he had an explanation for the home invasion (trust me, it’s not worth going into), but he declined to explain why he left a dead martin in the flat. The article ends with this helpful tidbit:
A martin is a member of the weasel family.
So now you know.
The deadliest snatch
Okay, I admit that Los Angeles is not technically in Washington. But there is a connection.
On May 20th a truck driver arrived at the Los Angeles Cold Storage Company to pick up 25,000 pounds of Russian king crab destined for Seattle (See?). Later the driver called, supposedly from Oregon, to say he was having mechanical trouble. That was the last anyone heard from driver or crab.
Turns out his paperwork was all fraudulent, his company didn’t exist, and $400,000 worth of crab is gone for good.
And so is whatever time you spent reading this. I hope you don’t regret it.