The Morning Press: A review of the week's news



A look back at some of this week's top stories:

Picture shows strange lights over Battle Ground

Nobody else seems to have noticed the strange lights that Nicole Keller's husband saw over Battle Ground late Monday night — but he does have his cellphone as a witness.

Keller's husband, who didn't want his name used in the paper, gave his wife a picture from his cellphone that shows two clusters of three red lights moving slowly over their home near the Best Western at 1419 W. Main St.

He told her the lights were traveling southward in the sky for about five minutes, close to midnight.

"He was standing outside and saw those strange lights," Keller said. "He said they were going really slow."

Curious about what the lights might be, she sent his image to The Columbian. He doesn't want to have anything to do with any UFO talk, she added.

To see how the mystery unfolded, click here.

Family fears for missing Vancouver teen

A Vancouver family searching for their missing teen fears she may have gotten caught up in the local sex-trafficking scene. While Vancouver police investigate the disappearance of 16-year-old Isabella Castillo, the family is asking the public for help in the search.

Castillo was last seen by her aunt and guardian, Cymany O'Brien, around noon Monday when she left for class. O'Brien believes Castillo may be involved with sex-trafficking because one of her friends said she was with a girl known in the local sex-trafficking world.

O'Brien met the girl about 10 months ago after Castillo ran away with her for a few days. O'Brien picked her up at a gas station, returning her to their home in the Heights neighborhood of central Vancouver.

Although O'Brien discouraged Castillo from hanging out with the girl after she learned of her involvement in sex-trafficking, Castillo was convinced her friend would never lead her down that path.

Read the full story here.

Vancouver man pleads guilty to killing neighbor

A Vancouver man pleaded guilty Tuesday to the March 3, 2012, shooting death of a neighbor at his Cascade Park apartment complex.

Christopher D. Paul, 32, maintained that he killed Eric Walswick in self-defense but pleaded guilty in exchange for a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter. Paul had been charged with second-degree murder, with a firearm enhancement, for shooting and killing Walswick after confronting the 26-year-old about playing loud music around 4 a.m. in the parking lot at Village at Cascade Park Apartments, 501 S.E. 123rd Ave. in Vancouver.

Paul will be sentenced May 17 by Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis.

By pleading guilty, Paul faces substantially less prison time. Under sentencing guidelines, he will likely receive between six and a half years and eight and a half years. Had a jury convicted him of second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement, he would have faced a sentence of between more than 15 to 23 years.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Al Harvey said Walswick was unarmed when Paul shot him in front of his apartment.

Read the full story here.

1 home destroyed in Whidbey Island landslide

SEATTLE — Residents of a hillside overlooking scenic Puget Sound heard the thunder of a landslide that knocked one home off its foundation, and isolated or threatened more than two dozen others on Whidbey Island, about 50 miles north of Seattle, early Wednesday.

A man who escaped from the damaged home was evacuated by rescuers in an all-terrain vehicle, Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin said.

Many of the homes are summer cabins or weekend getaways and were unoccupied.

Eleven people from 16 homes along a road close to the water were evacuated by boat because the road was blocked by the landslide, he said.

And, another 20 to 25 people were evacuated from 17 homes along a road higher up the hill that is being undermined by the slide. Land is falling away just 10 feet from one home.

Read the full story here.

Some things you may have missed:

The whole Maynor truth

Want to know a few things about Eric Maynor? Here are 18 truths about the guard the Trail Blazers acquired in a trade with the Thunder on Feb. 21:

No. 1: The NBA lockout in 2011 made a league of professional basketball players a restless bunch. So while he was out of work, Eric Maynor needed a hobby. He found it while sitting in a tattoo shop.

"Bored," Maynor said, explaining why he turned his body into a canvas during the 149-day lockout.

Back in high school, Maynor had already inked a basketball and a crown with the words "My Life," but now tattoos stretch up and down both arms as well as one that seems to be a life's motto etched over his chest.

Read the full story here.

Report finds VPD is understaffed and lacks focus

The Vancouver Police Department is an understaffed and “deeply divided organization” that needs to move beyond “small town” policing toward a priority-based use of its limited resources, according to a blistering external report released Wednesday.

The 156-page comprehensive assessment of the department’s operations by the International City Management Association Center for Public Safety Management found that the department provides “a high level of service” with limited resources. However, a series of personnel and budget reductions and chronic changes in leadership over several years have caused the department to lose direction and focus.

“A succession of administrations, each with a different policing philosophy, has contributed to a palpable sense of disorientation with respect to the vision and mission of the department,” the report concludes. “Years of internal turmoil have had a negative effect on the workplace climate.”

The report included strengths and weaknesses of the department and list of 16 recommendations.

Read the full story and read the report here.

Scary sale: Out with the old, in with the 'boo'

For the right price, you, too, can own a monster.

But if being surrounded by severed body parts, man-sized snakes and towering, toothy monsters sounds more like the makings of a nightmare than a dream come true, you might want to steer clear of 315 Grand Blvd. on Saturday.

That's when exhibit design company TW Productions — best known for its popular Scream at the Beach Halloween attraction — will open its nearly 16,000-square-foot warehouse and workshop for a rare sale, planning to unload a majority of the props, decorations and costumes it has stockpiled over the years, including many designed and created in-house.

Imagine "The Munsters" having a garage sale and you're on the right track.

Though the company operates from a normally nondescript facility tucked among other warehouses, visitors won't miss two 12-foot-tall Grim Reaper statues strategically stationed at the entrance. It's a ghoulish greeting befitting of the macabre marvels stored within.

Read the full story here.

Looking for a place to hunt Easter eggs this weekend?

The Easter Bunny will be hopping across Clark County this weekend, with a variety of public Easter egg hunts for children to enjoy. From downtown Vancouver’s Esther Short Park to Battle Ground’s Kiwanis Park, there’s a community event for every kind of egg hunter. Autism Empowerment and the Miracle League of Vancouver will be hosting an Easter egg hunt for all abilities, open to families and individuals of all ages with any special needs.

Other Easter egg hunts will include storytime tales, Easter crafts and real bunny rabbits. Families can also enjoy a morning breakfast, offered by the La Center Lions Club and the Washington Masonic Lodge before their events.

While most of the egg hunts will take place Saturday morning, the annual Crown Park Easter Day hunt in Camas will begin Sunday afternoon, complete with Easter bonnets and robots.

And remember, most of the Easter events are B.Y.O.B — Bring Your Own Basket. All hunts are free unless otherwise noted.

See the list here.