Adam Dees pleads guilty to Foothills murders, will spend the rest of his life in prison

George Welp said Friday he and the rest of his family support a plea agreement that guarantees his parent’s killer will remain in prison for life — and brings the case to a swift and just resolution.

Adam Michael Dees pleaded guilty Friday to three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Ted, Elaine, and Thomas Welp inside their Foothills home in March.

Dees will serve three fixed consecutive life sentences. In exchange for the guilty pleas, Ada County prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.

If 4th District Judge Samuel Hoagland approves the plea agreement as expected on Aug. 28, Dees will never leave prison.

George Welp, Ted and Elaine Welp’s son and Tom’s brother, attended Dees’ change of plea hearing Friday and said this when it was over:

“Our dad, mom and brother, whom we love dearly, were taken from us and this is something we will never understand.  To say the last three months have been devastating, overwhelming, and painful and would be an understatement.

We celebrate Ted, Elaine and Tom every day.  And we grieve for them. That will never change. But our family needs to heal.  Our family needs time together — living our lives —  in order to feel whole again.  That time will not be spent in a courtroom, enduring a trial, sentencing and appeals that would likely span years — even decades.

There is nothing that can bring my Dad, my Mom and my Brother back or make everything okay.   There is no punishment that will ever change what happened. Nothing a judge could ever do that would make it okay.

The best hope of justice for us is to ensure the person who killed our parents and brother can never — NEVER — harm anyone again.

That is why we support fully the work by the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office to put this murderer in prison for the rest of his life. We, as a family, will be able to move forward with our lives with some sense of peace that no other family – not even this murderer’s own mother and father, will ever have to know the pain we have felt because of him.

We miss our Dad, Mom, and Brother so very much and that will never change, but we are at peace knowing we can now move forward, focusing on life the way our parents and brother would want  – living with love and kindness.”

Dees also pleaded guilty to a count of robbery in connection with the case. He will serve a 25-year prison sentence for that in addition to the three life sentences without parole for the murders.

When asked by Hoagland during Friday’s hearing why he was pleading guilty, Dees told him “sir, I killed three people and robbed their home.”

The plea agreement also requires Dees to fully debrief Ada County Sheriff’s detectives about the crime.

Ada County prosecutors said Friday investigators have found no professional or personal connection between Dees and the Welp family and that all evidence points to Dees being the sole perpetrator of the murders.

More information about the case is expected to come out during Dees’ sentencing hearing on Aug. 28.

29-year-old Kuna man charged with burglary, other felonies after lengthy standoff in Star Thursday

Star Police and Ada County Sheriff’s deputies are still figuring out exactly where Zackery D. Adams went and what he took from homes during a long standoff in Star Wednesday.

Adams is currently being held in the Ada County Jail on felony counts of burglary, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon in connection with the case.

Adams spent about seven hours hiding from police in the neighborhood to the west of Star Elementary School in the Star Road/Blake Drive area before he was arrested behind a home in the 11000 block of 3rd Street early Wednesday evening.

Adams was seen running through backyards and went into unlocked homes and outbuildings in the neighborhood as he hid from Star Police and ACSO deputies.

Deputies know he took two guns from inside a home on Carswell Way — a .357 handgun and a Taurus .380 with a wooden handle. Deputies recovered the .357 handgun near where Adams was arrested Wednesday and found the Taurus .380 in the same neighborhood early Thursday afternoon. Adams told detectives he left that gun in a shed nearby. It is unclear what else he took during the crime spree. Adams is also charged with misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and providing false information to a police officer.

The incident began just after 11 a.m., when Star Police got a call from the public saying that a man with red hair was acting suspiciously — looking into the backyards of homes in the 11000 block of W. Hidden Brook Drive and jumping over a fence.

When officers arrived, they found a man – later identified as Adams — walking in the neighborhood. When an officer asked him who he was, Adams gave a false name. Moments later, Adams took off running and jumped over a fence. He left behind a backpack.

That’s when officers began searching the neighborhood for Adams, who was seen running around through backyards and going into at least one unlocked garage before officers lost sight of him.

Police found items from the backpack that linked Adams to a home burglary in Nampa the day before.

Ada County Sheriff’s deputies and Meridian Police helped Star Police set up a perimeter around the neighborhood as they searched for Adams.

Ada County dispatchers called homeowners in the neighborhood west of Star Elementary to tell them what was going on, encouraged them to lock their homes, and asked them to report any sightings of Adams back to dispatch.

A picture and short video of Adams running away from Star Police went out on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook and traditional media outlets to help generate leads.

Adams remained hidden for several hours as officers searched the area. Dispatchers started getting more tips of sightings as people got home from work around 5 p.m. and saw him moving around backyards in the neighborhood.

Officers closed the perimeter around those sightings and eventually boxed Adams in inside a yard in the 11000 block of 3rd Street. Adams tried to run away again but eventually surrendered when confronted by two Ada County Sheriff’s deputies. That happened just after 6 p.m.

Adams had a knife on him at the time of the arrest. Deputies also found a small amount of methamphetamine on Adams.

Deputies later determined Adams hid in a boat in the backyard of the home on 3rd Street right before he was arrested. That’s where they found the .357 handgun.

Deputies took Adams to the Star Police substation for an interview before taking him to the Ada County Jail.

We’d like to pass on some major thanks to Meridian Police K9 officers and their dogs for all their help Wednesday.

Ada County Sheriff’s Office Captain Dana Borgquist thanked the public for all their help in calling in updates on Adams’ movements, which ultimately led to his arrest.

The crime of felony burglary is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. More  charges against Adams are likely. A preliminary hearing on the case will be set for some time in early July.

21-year old man Garden Valley man charged with felony DUI in connection with head-on crash on Idaho 16 Tuesday night

Wesley Alan Watts is charged with felony counts of DUI and leaving the scene of an injury crash after he drove his truck into oncoming traffic and collided with a minivan on Idaho 16 late Tuesday.

Watts is also charged with misdemeanor counts of marijuana possession and resisting arrest.

The female driver of the minivan Watts’ truck hit was badly injured in the crash. Eagle and Star fire crews had to cut through the wreckage of the minivan to get the driver out. Paramedics then took her to a local hospital for treatment.

Initial reports indicate Watts was driving a red pickup truck southbound on Idaho 16, just south of N. Pollard Lane, around 10 p.m. Tuesday when he lost control of his truck and spun into the northbound lane.

The minivan, going northbound, collided with the driver’s side of the truck. The force of the impact did significant damage to both vehicles.

DUI 16 1 DUI 16 3

Watts told an Ada County Sheriff’s deputy who arrived at the crash site a short time later that he was intoxicated and caused the crash. That deputy told Watts to sit by the side of the road when Watts started walking away.

The deputy told Watts, who got about 50 yards south, to stop. Watts walked back to the deputy but then started to move away again. That’s when the deputy stopped Watts and put him in handcuffs. Watts then told another deputy he was drunk.

Deputies then took Watts to a local hospital. While there, a blood sample was taken for evidence testing.

A deputy found a small amount of marijuana in Watts’ shirt pocket at the hospital.

Watts will make his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

The crime of felony aggravated DUI (http://legislature.idaho.gov/idstat/Title18/T18CH80SECT18-8006.htm) is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

21-year-old man arrested for burglary twice this week in connection with string of break-ins in Kuna

Police arrested a 21-year-old Kuna man caught breaking into snow cone stand early Friday morning  – only hours after he bonded out of the Ada County Jail on a different felony burglary charge.

In addition to the break-in at the snow cone stand in the Linder/Deer Flat roads area Friday morning, Shayne A. Angwin is a suspect in break-ins at the Kuna baseball field snack stand on 2nd Street, a Kuna-area dog grooming business, and the City of Kuna maintenance yard on 4th Street earlier this week.

Angwin is currently charged with two counts of felony burglary in connection with the break-ins and more charges are possible. He is also charged with resisting arrest in connection with Friday morning’s incident.

Kuna Police began the latest investigation shortly before 1:30 a.m. Friday after getting a call from someone who saw a man go into the snow cone stand on N. Doe Avenue through a window.

When a Kuna Police officer arrived at the snow cone stand moments later, he saw a man — later identified as Angwin — jump out of the building and run away.

That officer chased after Angwin, who refused commands to stop. The short foot chase ended moments later after the officer had to climb over a fence. This time, when the officer told the Angwin to stop, he did.

That officer found flavor packs from the snow cone machine and a word-search puzzle that said “I love sno cones” in Angwin’s pockets.

Officers arrested Angwin and booked him into the Ada County Jail — a place Angwin bonded out of less than 12 hours before.

Kuna Police first arrested and charged Angwin with burglary late Wednesday afternoon.

Officers were investigating the break-ins of three different places — the snack stand at the baseball field, grooming business, and municipal lot — all reported to police on Wednesday morning. Thieves took money from the snack stand and grooming businesses and damaged both buildings.

Kuna police found evidence at the baseball field that linked the break-in at snack stand to two teenagers boys (ages 16 and 17) found a short time later at the skate park on 2nd Street. As the case progressed, officers developed evidence that Angwin orchestrated and did the break-ins at all three places.

Officers tracked down Angwin by Wednesday afternoon and arrested him a short time later after talking to him about the break-ins.

Officers booked Angwin into the jail late Wednesday afternoon. Angwin left jail around 4 p.m. Thursday after posting $5,000 bond. Less than 12 hours later, he was back in the jail on a new burglary charge.

Angwin’s is currently being held in the Ada County Jail on a $25,000 bond. A preliminary hearing in connection for the first arrest is set for July 2.

The teenage boys have not yet been charged. Police have been in contact with their parents and charges are still possible as the case is still under investigation.

The Ada County Board of Commissioners appoint Steve Bartlett to be the new Ada County Sheriff

Capt. Steve Bartlett will take over as Ada County’s top lawman at the end of June when Sheriff Gary Raney retires.

Raney — who has spent the last three decades working for the ACSO, including the last 10 years as sheriff — will retire June 30.

Bartlett said he is “humbled and honored” to be the 38th person to serve as Ada County Sheriff.

Capt. Bartlett is currently in charge of the ACSO’s Community Information Unit, Administrative Investigations Unit, and special projects.

Bartlett joined the Ada County Sheriff’s Office in 2003. Since then, he has served in a wide variety of jobs in the agency — including patrol field commander, sergeant in charge of detectives, crisis negotiator, and Chief of Eagle Police — giving him a diverse background and excellent preparation for his new assignment as Administrative Captain.

Sheriff Raney commended the Ada County Board of Commissioners Monday for appointing Bartlett to take over at the end of June.

“It is always difficult to make such an important decision and (the Commissioners) ensured the process was thorough and fair.

Steve is undoubtedly the best choice to lead the Ada County Sheriff’s Office into the future. He has proven himself to be an effective leader who knows the current issues, ensuring a seamless transition.

This is an exciting time for the Ada County Sheriff’s Office. Steve has the knowledge, experience, skills, support and energy to move the agency forward.

Steve has the support of the men and women in the Sheriff’s Office as well as the support of other local law enforcement leaders.

That will be critical to his continued success as he faces the never-ending challenges of leading a large law enforcement agency.”

Ada County Commissioner Jim Tibbs said he and his fellow commissioners appointed Bartlett because of his vision for the ACSO, leadership skills, experience with the agency, and ability to collaborate the members of other law enforcement agencies.

“We had an obligation to the citizens of Ada County to select someone who could hit the ground running — and not just keep the sheriff’s office train on the tracks — but take things that are already in process to the next level,” Tibbs said Monday, while introducing Bartlett to a group of reporters. “It was clear to us that Steve Bartlett was the right choice for the job.”

Nampa man who tried to use Facebook to entice a teenage girl last summer will spend at least five years in prison

A 36-year-old Nampa man could spend up to two decades in prison for using Facebook to try to lure a 13-year-old girl into having sex.

Dion Garcia pleaded guilty earlier this year to felony charges of enticement of children over the Internet and possession of sexually exploitative materials.

Garcia found out last week those crimes earned him a prison sentence of up to 20 years — 15 years for enticement and five years for the possession charge.

Ada County prosecutors originally charged Garcia with two counts of enticement and three counts of possession of sexually exploitative materials. Three of those charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Garcia can ask for parole after serving five years.

Detectives began their investigation in August when the parents of a 13-year-old girl discovered sexual messages from Garcia on the girl’s Facebook page and told Meridian police.

An Ada County Sheriff’s Office detective took over the page and began talking to Garcia. They ultimately arranged to meet the morning of Aug. 16.

Deputies arrested Garcia after a traffic stop in the Ten Mile Road/Pine Avenue neighborhood that day — a few miles away from a park where he was supposed to meet the girl.

Garcia will have to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison.

The Ada County Sheriff¹s detective in charge of the case works with the Idaho Crimes Against Children Task Force, a statewide coalition of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies focused on apprehending and prosecuting people who use the Internet to criminally exploit children.

The ACSO gets $150,000 MacArthur Foundation grant

The Ada County Sheriff’s Office is one of 20 jurisdictions across the U.S. selected for the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge — a $75 million program to improve criminal justice on the local level.

That means the ACSO gets a $150,000 grant to continue our work to keep people out of jail who don’t need to be there — and to keep people who have been in jail from coming back.

Over 200 law enforcement agencies from across the U.S. applied for the Safety and Justice Challenge.

The 20 finalists range in size from large cities including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Houston to smaller localities like Ada County, Mesa County, CO, and Pennington County, SD, as well as the State of Connecticut.

The focus of the project is to reduce overcrowding in jails across the U.S. The MacArthur Foundation wants to help reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

That is a perfect fit with our philosophy here at the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, where we’ve been working for years to keep people who shouldn’t be in jail from getting there if possible.

Two particular areas of emphasis for the ACSO are the pre-trial release and misdemeanor probation programs, where we use data and science to figure out which people need to be kept in jail and which ones don’t — and how to keep the people who are out accountable while making them less likely to commit future crimes while they keep their jobs and support their families.

The ACSO vision lined up with the MacArthur Foundation’s program, which is how we got to be included in the first wave of finalists for the Safety and Justice Challenge.

“Nearly 200 diverse jurisdictions responded to our challenge, reflecting nationwide interest in reducing over-incarceration,” said Julia Stasch, President of the MacArthur Foundation. “Each of the sites selected has demonstrated the motivation, collaboration, and commitment needed to make real change in their local justice systems. The aim is that local efforts will model effective and safe alternatives to the incarceration status quo for the rest of the country.”

Next year, the MacArthur Foundation will select 10 of the 20 finalists to receive a second round of funding – between $500,000 and $2 million annually, depending on the size of the jurisdiction – to implement their plans for reform. The women and men here at the ACSO are thrilled to be part of the project and will work hard to be included in that second wave next year.

Major Ron Freeman and Capt. Steve Bartlett were in Washington D.C. Wednesday for the announcement of the 20 finalists. Expect to hear more from us in the coming weeks and months about our work with the Safety and Justice Challenge.

According to recent research from the Vera Institute of Justice, nearly 75 percent of the population of both sentenced offenders and pretrial detainees across the U.S. are in jail for nonviolent offenses such as traffic, property, drug, or public order violations. Further, low-income individuals and communities of color disproportionately experience the negative consequences of incarceration.

The learn more about the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, check out http://www.safetyandjusticechallenge.org/about-the-challenge/

Vandals empty tires in south Boise neighborhood but don’t deflate community spirit 

Seven families in a south Boise-area neighborhood woke up Sunday morning to find their cars and trucks had flat tires — a condition that didn’t last long thanks to ACSO deputies and a local tow company.

It seems a vandal – or group of vandals – walked along S. Sumpter Avenue in the Cloverdale/Amity roads neighborhood overnight Saturday and put pebbles in the air valves of tires of cars and trucks parked outside. The vandals left seven flat-tired cars and trucks — 18 flat tires total — in their wake.

When Ada County Sheriff’s Sgt. Derek Savage arrived at the neighborhood after the calls started coming in around 8:30 a.m., he turned back around, went home, grabbed an air compressor, and drove back. Savage and Dep. Dagan Fluke then began pumping up tires.

While that was going on, one of the victims called Rocky Mountain Towing to inflate four flat tires on their car. When the Rocky Mountain Towing crew arrived in the neighborhood and saw what happened, they joined Savage and Fluke and began inflating tires free of charge.

tiregate1tiregate2

None of the tires had permanent damage, so it didn’t take long to get everyone up and running again.

Deputies are still looking for whoever flattened the tires. Anyone with info should call Ada County dispatch at 377-6790.

17-year-old Eagle High Student in serious trouble for purposefully crashing school district network

A 17-year-old Eagle High student who overloaded the West Ada School District’s computer network to avoid schoolwork is in serious trouble — the kind that results in felony charges.

School officials suspended the boy Friday and are recommending expulsion.

The student launched something called a Distributed Denial of Service attack on the computer network for the entire West Ada School District earlier this week.

The student paid someone to overwhelm the school district’s computer systems with traffic from multiple sources.

The effect was widespread and significant. For instance,  students from all across the district working on Idaho Standard Achievement tests lost all their work — with some students having to take the tests multiple times. Online learning classes and textbooks were not available for much of the last week. Administrative and business systems like payroll were also affected by the attack.

The attack took place earlier this week. District officials traced the source of the attack to the student and tracked him down Friday. The problem has been fixed and the network is back up.

Eagle Police continue to investigate the case. The boy will likely be charged with a felony charge of computer crime — http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/idstat/Title18/T18CH22SECT18-2202.htm — which is punishable by up to 180 days in a juvenile detention facility. The boy’s family will also be responsible for any financial restitution suffered by the school district.

Federal charges are also a possibility.  Eagle police are also investigating if a student at Eagle Middle School attempted to do a similar attack this week.

The West Ada School District is the biggest in Idaho, with 52 schools and over 36.000 students.

Detectives continue search for whoever spray-painted prom proposal on Black Cliffs

We are still looking for “Destiny” — and whoever did or didn’t take her to the prom.

Ada County Sheriff’s detectives continue to follow leads to find whoever spray-painted “Desinty, Prom?” on the side of the Black Cliffs east of Boise earlier this spring.

Prom 1A

Spray-painting the side of the cliff is illegal – a misdemeanor charge of injury by graffiti, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

That doesn’t include the cost of clean up.

The graffiti in question is on the side of the Black Cliffs in East Car Body Canyon, a popular rock climbing spot along Idaho 21 west of Lucky Peak that is also a culturally significant area to Native American tribes.

Clean up will likely be difficult and costly since it is a long hike to the top and requires scrambling over boulders.

Initial reports indicated that section of the Black Cliffs was on Bureau of Land Management land. Officials later determined the cliffs are on Idaho Fish and Game land.

Fish and Game officials are figuring out how the get the graffiti off the cliff wall while doing the least amount of damage to the rock patina. Several different options are being discussed, including sandblasting, but no decisions have been made.

Prom 2A

Ada County Sheriff’s Office, BLM, and Fish and Game officials continue to work together on the case.

Anyone with information should call Ada County dispatch at 377-6790.