NEWS BRIEFS Dec. 8, 2001

Suspected stalker sought by police

Law enforcement in Island County is seeking the public’s assistance in finding a fugitive who police fear may be stalking his ex-wife.

Being sought is Richard Wayne Weatherford, 39, who is wanted on several Superior Court warrants, including Assault 2 (threats to kill), and Assault 4, domestic violence. Bail on the warrants totals $40,000.

The search began Friday morning, according to Det. Russ Lindner, Investigations Chief for the Island County Sheriff’s Office.

Weatherford’s ex-wife, who lives in the Central Whidbey area, made a cell phone 911 call at 6:15 a.m. to report that he was following her vehicle in a pickup truck. Lindner said Oak Harbor police later located the pickup in the Penn Cove area. The driver, possibly Weatherford, had fled, but a passenger was arrested on other warrants. “He jumped out and told the guy to take the truck,” Lindner said. “We believe he’s on foot.”

“We’re treating this as a stalking case, domestic violence,” Lindner said.

Weatherford is described as 5-feet, 11-inches tall, 185 pounds in weight, with blue eyes and brown hair. He sometimes goes by the name of Richard Chapel. He may be residing anywhere from Coupeville to Mount Vernon.

Lindner warns that Weatherford may be armed. “We consider him dangerous,” he said. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call 911.

Emus found, serval at large

Two emus were found but a serval is apparently still on the loose in the aftermath of a house fire on Dec. 2.

The home of Maria Kieferwiese on Benton Place off Crescent Harbor Road burned and the animals escaped the property. The story was reported in Wednesday’s Whidbey News-Times, and since then the emus were located, according to Jan Smith, Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. One of the emus died of apparent over-excitement following its capture by Animal Control and a veterinarian, Smith said, but the other is doing fine.

As for the African serval cat, it may have been seen one morning this week. Mary Dale, who lives in the Monroe Landing area, said Friday that she saw a large cat moving across a nearby field. “I’ve never seen such a big cat in my life,” she said, estimating its weight at 30 pounds. Dale watched the animal through binoculars and had no doubt that it was a cat. “My cats weigh 16 pounds,” she said, “but this was like a baby mountain lion.”

Anyone who sees the serval is asked to report it by calling 911, according to Smith.

Canadian dollars in short supply

Northwest Washington communities have been hurt financially by the reduction in the number of people coming here from Canada due to the terrorist threat and economic conditions.

According to the office of Washington Gov. Gary Locke, Blaine, Lynden, Sumas and Bellingham have suffered a 50 percent decrease in retail sales from Canadian shoppers this year. “That translates into over $100 million in lost sales this year,” Locke said.

Locke made the comments Wednesday in a statement urging the federal government to improve border security while speeding up traffic through the border crossings.

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