Last week the office filed charges of a very unusual nature. Terry Lee Verhaag, DOB 10/20/63, has been charged with three counts of Unlawful Removal of Grave Markers. These are felony charges. The discovery of his possession of the gravestones came about as a result of an investigation into another situation. When Law Enforcement officers contacted him, they noticed the back of his truck had several grave stones in it. After some further investigation, the officers obtained a search warrant and found over 70 grave stones and markers. They appear to have been taken from at least three area cemeteries. The investigation is continuing. It is a large task to locate all the places from where these items were removed. Please remember that the filing of charges is not proof of guilt and a person is presumed innocent unless and until guilt is established.
As people make visits to pay respects to our deceased family and friends this spring, please be on the lookout for missing gravestones and grave markers. If you notice anything missing, please contact the caretakers of the cemetery and they can notify the authorities. Brass markers are often the object of metal thieves. Metal recyclers keep records on who brings in metal.
There is increasing contact between people and wolves in Stevens County. Wolves are usually seen at night crossing roads and in the mountainous areas of our county, but they are not confined to the northern portion of our county. There has been a confirmed kill of a moose by wolves in the Fruitland area. The moose was not full grown and there were at least three wolves involved from what I have heard. Please be alert to the presence of these predators. There will be more and more contact between wolves and people in the future, as the wolf population grows and they increasingly look for easy prey. Our state has given them protections, but people have a right to protect their property and their lives. If you see wolves or have concerns about them harassing and killing livestock, please contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife or a local Law Enforcement agency.