Monday morning's headlines

Jan 31, 2011

Making headlines this morning around the Northwest:

  • Prison guard death first in 30 years
  • Details on Anti-War Protester Spying 
  • Suicide Prevention Fence for Olympia I-5 Bridge


Monroe Guard's Death

Shock and sadness over the murder of a Monroe Reformatory guard dominate western Washington headlines.  Jayme Biendl was killed late Saturday night while on duty in the prison chapel. An inmate - three-strikes  lifer Byron Scherf - is the lone suspect. 

KPLU's Austin Jenkins reports Biendl had reportedly voiced her concern recently about the lack of security in the room: no surveillance camera, and her assignment to lone duty at the site. 

The Seattle Times' Sharon Pian Chan and Carol Ostrom report state Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail may order an external review:

"Everybody's stunned, and we're probably going to be in that place for a while," Vail said.

The Herald of Everett's Scott North and Diana Hefley report the 52-year old suspect has a long history of violence against women:

Scherf received a life sentence for a 1995 rape and kidnapping of a woman in Spokane County. 

His first 'strikes' were for assault in 1978, and a 1981 sexual assault of a Pierce County woman, whom he abducted and set on fire, according to the Herald.


Former JBLM Worker's Spy Work Detailed

The News Tribune features Jeremy Pawloski's report on documents revealing the spy work of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord employee who collected personal information - including Social Security numbers - on anti-war protesters. The information provides:

"...detail years of surveillance of protest groups by Pierce County detective Christopher Adamson as part of his work with the “South Sound Regional Intelligence Group.”

The documents were released by the City of Tacoma under a records request into the activities of John Towery. He'd been employed by a Pierce County detective to collect information, and is no longer employed at JBLM. Pawloski reports a Joint Base spokesman refused to comment on the case, citing ongoing legal action.


Preventing Suicides Along I-5 in Olympia

After a number of suicides from the state capitol area's I-5 bridges, the state is moving forward with work to erect protective fences along one prominent arch. The Olympian's Matt Batcheldor reports work will start in March on a 9-foot barrier along the Capitol Boulevard Bridge, a project promoted by former state legislator Brendan Williams:

“It manages to avoid what could be characterized as an attractive nuisance, to use a legal term, for those who are suffering from depression … considering suicide,” he said.

The work will take four months, and is part of a larger Department of Transportation effort. Recently, another suicide jump onto I-5 - by a teenager - rocked the Marysville community in Snohomish County, according to the Herald of Everett.