Dayton Chronicle - Your Hometown News Source

Arrests made in mountain cabin burglary


September 24, 2020

DAYTON–Several break-ins of mountain cabins in the past month or so have had the attention of Columbia County Sheriff Joe Helm and CCSO deputies, who arrested two individuals inside a private cabin on North Touchet Road Monday, September 21.

Arrested Monday were Thomas J. Hoover, Jr., 37, of 34 Gap Way, Wallula, Wash., and Erin L. Keller, 37, 1527 N. 19th Ave., Pasco, allegedly inside the Turner Family cabin located about 13 miles from Dayton.

In Columbia County Superior Court during a Probable Cause and Bond hearing Tuesday, September 22, Thomas Jr. was charted with on count of Residential Burglary, one count of Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, one count of Third-Degree Malicious Mischief, one count of Theft of a Motor Vehicle, and two counts of a weapons violation, Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Firearm. Keller was charged with two counts of Residential Burglary, one count of Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, one count of Theft of a Motor Vehicle and one count of Second-Degree Malicious Mischief.

In the hearing, Keller was ordered held on $15,000 bond and legal counsel appointed was Angela Garrett. Hoover Jr. received $20,000 bond and was appointed Rachel Cortez as counsel.

Arraignment was set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 7 by Court Commissioner G. Scott Marinella.

Hoover Jr. is being held in Columbia County Jail and Keller is housed in the Garfield County Jail.

“We received some tips from [mountain cabin] property owners and caught two suspects inside a cabin,” said Sheriff Helm. “We are recovering a lot of property and contacting victims of other burglaries. It’s an ongoing investigation and we believe they are the suspects.”

Following several reports of cabin break-ins since August, and a possible “in progress” burglary, Sheriff Helm and Deputy Sheriff Cesar Rivera responded to Milepost 13 of North Touchet Road Monday morning. Ben Turner, 36, of Dayton, owner of a cabin at that location, advised Helm and Rivera that two unknown padlocks were on the gate.

The officers approached the cabin and noticed wood smoke coming from the chimney, music emanating from the cabin, as well as voices. The occupants were Hoover Jr. and Keller, who were taken into custody.

Further investigation indicated there were no other individuals in the cabin or adjacent area.

Several BB guns, pellet guns, a rifle and a black powder pistol were allegedly observed. A duffel bag containing several laptop computers engraved with “Waitsburg School District” was allegedly found, along with a green Kawasaki ATV under a tarp behind the cabin.

The ATV had been reported stolen by Kenneth Artz, no age or city of residence listed, on September 17, 2020.

Cabin owner Turner indicated a number of items in the cabin that were not his property. A cabinet had been removed from the cabin, CCSO reported, a window and screen were broken, and furniture had been moved within the cabin. Turner also informed officers that numerous items were missing or damaged.


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