Alder Lake Fire continues despite rains – Update, Saturday, August 29, 3 pm.

 

By Bruce A. Smith

National Forest Service spokesperson Kristin Bowles announced today that the overnight rains have “calmed things down” at the Alder Lake fire but not extinguished it. The fire has entered its third week of burning. Continue reading

Posted in Eatonville News, Environment, Health, Nature, Uncategorized, Weather | 1 Comment

Updates – Smoke and fire threaten southern Pierce County

by Bruce A. Smith

Concern is mounting in Eatonville and surrounding communities as our skies become smoke-filled and many local residents are staying indoors to protect themselves from unhealthy air. The culprits seem to be two-fold – first an 100-acre fire on the south shore of Alder Lake, and secondly, contamination from regional forest fires east of the Cascades. The following press release has been issued by the National Forest Service (NFS) and the US Department of Agriculture giving details about a 100-acre forest fire on the southern shores of Alder Lake. Dozens of firefighters are battling this blaze and have attacked the flames with bulldozers and aerial water drops.   Continue reading

Posted in Ashford, Eatonville News, Environment, Health, Mount Rainier, Nature, Weather | Leave a comment

Kapowsin Meats taking steps to control Salmonella outbreak

by Bruce A. Smith

John Anderson, president of Kapowsin Meats in Graham, announced today that his wholesale meat producing firm has issued a recall notice for all “Whole BBQ Hogs” sold between May 14 and July 21, 2015.

These meat products have been identified by the Washington State Department of Health as a primary source of the Salmonella outbreak that has caused illnesses in 134 cases state-wide. Continue reading

Posted in Health, Kapowsin | 1 Comment

Kapowsin Meats identified by State Health officials as one source of Salmonella outbreak

By Bruce A. Smith

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced today that its team of investigators have discovered Salmonella bacteria in products from Kapowsin Meats in Kapowsin.

Continue reading

Posted in Health, Kapowsin | Leave a comment

Harris arraigned on $2 million bail in death of Nicole White as mysteries swirl about case

 

By Bruce A. Smith

Jonathan D. Harris appeared before Justice Megan M. Foley in Pierce County Superior Court June 24 to answer charges that he killed Nicole White, the Orting mother of two young boys.

 Harris pleaded not guilty and was placed in Pierce County jail pending payment of his a $2 million bail. He is charged with 2nd degree manslaughter. For the past week he has been in federal custody on an unrelated weapons charge.

 The court’s gallery was packed with family, friends and media as Harris entered the chambers. He was heavily shackled and wore a full-length padded suit, believed to be bullet-proof, and Nicole’s supporters gasped audibly when he walked into view.

 Charging documents and court statements further shocked the family. Harris, 29, has numerous prior convictions, ranging from a 2008 assault to a 2011 DUI.

 In addition, White’s death was brutal. Court documents reveal that she suffered a fractured skull, a broken eye socket, several broken ribs, and numerous contusions and lacerations. Harris, too, when he was later arrested on the weapons charge, was found to have a swollen wrist, and numerous bruisers and scratches on his arms and legs.

 “He is a complete monster,” Amy Ancira later told the Mountain News. “He needs to be held fully accountable for his actions.”

 Ancira said that Harris deserves the death penalty, a sentiment widely shared by Nicole’s supporters, dozens of whom brought signs into court demanding an “Eye for an Eye.” Court officers insisted that they not display the signage before cameras, and they later held a protest rally in front of the courthouse, receiving approval from many passerbys.

 On the street most of the signs proclaimed “Justice for Nicole,” and when asked what that justice might look like, one supporter simply said, “Fry the motherf-ker.”

 But the supporters also drew attention to another disturbing dynamic in the death of Nicole White – did Harris act alone?

 Harris lives with his mother in an upscale double-wide sited at the end of a rural road in Graham, off 70th Ave. Reportedly, she was home when her son allegedly murdered Nicole. Court documents also reveal that she spotted bloody clothes and a blood stain in her home on the Sunday after the incident, but supposedly was told by her son that the family’s dogs had killed a rabbit and tracked in blood.

 Additionally, a neighbor told police she heard a woman’s scream about 4 am on the morning of June 7, which ended abruptly. Yet, she did not call 911.

 Casting more doubt on Jonathan Harris’ mother, Amy Ancira told the Mountain News that Nicole’s mother went to the Harris home on Sunday afternoon after her daughter failed to return home in Orting. Nicole’s family claims that Mrs. Harris gave them no information, denied access to Jonathan, and told Nicole’s family to leave.

 As a result, several signs in the courtroom demanded that Harris’ mother be charged as an accomplice.

 However, the Mountain News was unable to talk with the mother, and no one answered at the Harris’ home when this reporter knocked on the door.

 When asked about the mother, Sheriff’s spokesperson Ed Troyer simply said that his department is “still investigating.”

 But adding to the mystery, Jonathan Harris was captured by police because he returned to the scene where he allegedly dumped White’s body on early Sunday. Because of his DUI conviction, his vehicle has an ignition interlock which requires him to breathe into the device to start the engine.

 Why he revisited the scene is unknown, but presumably, when he returned from inspecting the body on Sunday, he blew into the interlock, which also snapped a cell phone picture of him and his surroundings. Police retrieved the cell phone picture when they arrested Harris on the weapons charge, and spent nearly two weeks matching local landscapes with the picture. On Saturday, June 20, Sheriff deputies and K-9 teams found Nicole’s badly decomposed body in a wooded ravine off the Camp One East Road on Hancock timberlands southeast of Lake Kapowsin.

 The court proceedings also had the synchronistic effect of bringing many interested parties together who were able to share their insights into how Nicole and Jonathan met, and how this death might have occurred.

 Members of Nicole’s family said that she had met Jonathan weeks earlier through an online dating service. In addition, “Kathy,” the owner of the Jeepers Country Bar and Grill, told the Mountain News that both Nicole and Harris were known as regular customers at Jeepers, and that they had met there as friends the week prior, Saturday, May 30.

 “But it was a date on the 6th,” she told the Mountain News.”

 Tracey Rutherford, a Jeepers customer toting a sign at the courthouse, said that she had spoken with Nicole at Jeepers on the 6th, confirming that Nicole and Harris were on a date.

 “I saw her standing by herself near the fire pit out back. I walked up to her and asked how it was going. She said it was a ‘first date’ and not going too good because Harris wasn’t talking to her and was hanging out with everyone else,” Rutherford said.

 Rutherford said that she and her friends stayed until closing, at 2 am, and never saw anything threatening.

 “I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary or aggressive. It was just a regular night.”

 However, the Jeepers owner did acknowledge that Harris had broken two beer bottles that night.

 “He said the first one slipped out of his hands, and the second one happened out at the fire pit, “Kathy told the Mountain News. “My security talked to Harris, but it didn’t seem like a big deal.”

 Kathy also said that Harris was well known to her and her customers, and claimed that Harris was well-known in many local taverns in the Spanaway area.

 “He’s worked at a lot of bars around here.”

 She also described Harris as a non-threatening guy.

“I’ve even driven him home once – he lives not too far from my place. I certainly wasn’t afraid he was going to kill me,” she said.

 As for Nicole and Harris, Kathy said they left together, leaving the bar at 2 am.

 “She hugged my security guy out in the parking lot, and nothing seemed out of place. If she was worried about something, if she was scared, she could have whispered something to the security guy but she didn’t.”

 But another woman at the courthouse raised other concerns. A woman who said she was a waitress at the Roy Y Bar and Grill, near Jeepers, claimed that Harris worked there as a bouncer. The waitress said that Harris frequently followed women to their cars in a menacing manner, but when she confronted Harris he claimed he was providing a measure of protection, a notion she did not believe.

 But a related issue looms for many women – how can you trust an online dating site?

 “Online dating is now the way of the world,” Tracey Rutherford said. “Everyone is doing it – but how can you be safe? What happened to Nicole is very sad, and it hits very close to home – it could have been anybody.”

 Acknowledging that Harris was not a stranger, Amy Ancira simply said, “Nicole trusted someone who could not be trusted.”

 Nicole’s family has not made any funerary plans as they have not received the body back from the coroner, and the Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that the autopsy process is not finished.

 Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said on Q-13 that the state of decomposition was delaying the testing process, and his office wanted to wait until all findings were complete because he would increase the criminal charges to first degree murder if premeditation or planning could be determined.

______________________________________________

PCSD, Nicole, Steven and Gracie, signage, best

Family members Steven Ancira and Gracie Sandoval display signage at the arraignment of Jonathan Harris in the murder of Nicole White.

______________________________________________

PCSD, Nicole, Tracey Rutherford, sign, best,

Tracey Rutherford displaying her support for Nicole White

_______________________________________________

 PCSD, Nicole, groups signage on street, court

Family and friends showing support for Nicole in Tacoma

______________________________________________

PCSD, Nicole, Amy and Melissa address media,

Amy Ancira, right, and Melissa Nieto, left, addressing the media at the Pierce County Superior Court on Wednesday, after the arraignment of Jonathan Harris in the murder of Nicole Harris

Posted in Cops and courts, Graham News, Kapowsin, Orting, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jonathan Harris charged in murder of Nicole White

~

Special to the Mountain News

By Bruce A. Smith

 The Office of the Pierce County Prosecutor announced today that Jonathan Harris – the man first identified by the family as responsible for her disappearance two weeks ago – has been criminally charged in her death.

 Nicole’s body was found late Saturday in a wooded area southeast of Lake Kapowsin, off of Camp One Road East.

 The following is the press release received by the Mountain News.

 ****************************

 

TACOMA, WA – Today, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged a Graham man in the murder of Nicole White, 28, who was missing for over two weeks. Jonathan Daniel Harris, 29, is charged with murder in the second degree and is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in room 270 of the County-City Building in Tacoma.

 “Finding Nicole was a joint effort between law enforcement and the community,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Detectives from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI went above and beyond in their use of forensic tools to apprehend the defendant.”

 On June 6, 2015, White picked Harris up from his home and they drove to Jeepers Country Bar and Grill in Spanaway. Several hours later, witnesses saw the two leave the bar together in White’s car. She never made it home and was reported missing on June 7.

 Over the next two weeks, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI and volunteers conducted an extensive search. On June 20, a K-9 from a volunteer search and rescue team found White’s body at the bottom of wooded ravine south of Lake Kapowsin. Her body was wrapped in a green tarp and was severely decomposed.

 Detectives believe that after the two left the bar, they drove back to Harris’ house. He beat White to death and wrapped her in the tarp. Harris loaded White into her car, drove to the wooded area and rolled her down the ravine. Then, he drove her car off the side of the road near his house and walked home.

 The next day, according to cell phone records and data stored on the ignition interlock device in his vehicle, Harris drove his car back to the site where he dumped White’s body.

 During a search of Harris’ home, detectives located the sweatshirt he was wearing at the bar the night White disappeared. DNA from blood on the sweatshirt was a match to White.

 The medical examiner identified White’s body and found the manner of death was a homicide.  The cause of death is pending.

 Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

PCSD, Nicole, headshot, 6. 9. 15

Nicole White, the Orting mother of two young boys, was found by police after two weeks of searching by hundreds of volunteers, family and friends.

Posted in Cops and courts, Graham News, Kapowsin | Leave a comment

Person of Interest in Nicole White case arrested

 

Nicole White Update Number 5, Monday, June 15, 2015:

 by Bruce A. Smith

John Harris, the person of interest questioned last week in the disappearance of Nicole White, has been arrested on unrelated weapons charges, according to KIRO news.

 KIRO also confirms what Nicole’s sister, Melissa Nieto, had told the Mountain News last week that Harris was a convicted felon and had arrests for assault.

 Detective Ed Troyer, the spokesperson for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, has been asked to confirm this news break but has been non-responsive throughout the day on Monday.

 KIRO is also reporting that the PCSD has suspended their independent search for Nicole today to allow their rescue dogs to rest. Again, this has not been confirmed.

 Additionally, Jeepers Bar and Grill has announced that it is hosting a fundraiser to support the Help Find Nicole effort. Jeepers will have a local country band, Broken Trail, perform live this Saturday night, and the $5 cover charge will be donated to the cause. Also, Jeepers will offer a sirloin steak dinner special for $8.

Posted in Cops and courts, Graham News, Orting, Spanaway | Leave a comment