“Jury duty” phone scam hits Treasure Valley again

Here’s a tip that’ll help keep Ada County residents from being victimized by the latest phone scam.

Ada County Sheriff’s Office deputies will never call and threaten to arrest you because you missed jury duty.

Deputies will also never ask you to place funds for payment on a pre-paid credit card to “cancel the arrest warrant” for missing that phony jury duty.

Several Ada County residents received phone calls this week from scammers pretending to work for the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

This is same scam that targeted Treasure Valley residents last spring.

In most recent cases, the scam caller identifies himself as “Captain Johnson” and requests personal information so he can clear the person’s name and cancel the mythical arrest warrant for missing jury duty. The mythical amount people “owe” has been anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000.

The scammers tell their victims to go to a store, get a pre-paid credit card (like a Green Dot), load it up with money, and then call a phone number with the card information.

The Ada County Sheriff’s Office and Ada County Jury Services Department got several phone calls from concerned citizens about the scam late this week.

The scammers acquire phone numbers with a 208 area code to make the scam seem more credible.

One number being used by scammers this week is (208) 220-9154.

The Better Business Bureau says people can protect themselves from becoming victims of identify theft by never giving out any personal information when getting an unsolicited phone call.

Giving out sensitive information over the phone — both personal and financial — can put people at risk for fraud.

If you did miss jury duty in Ada County, you would get a letter in the mail.

If you have received one of these scam phone calls, contact the Ada County Sheriff’s Office at 377-6790 or the Better Business Bureau online at BBB.org.
Scammers attempted the same con at least three times over the past two years.

Adam Dees tells detectives he picked Foothills house to rob at random

On Friday, 22-year-old Adam Dees found out he will never leave prison for the rest of his life for the killing of three people in their Foothills home last spring during a home invasion robbery.

Dees admitted to the murders of Ted, Elaine, and Thomas Welp months ago. What we didn’t know for sure until today was why he picked the Welp family to terrorize.

Dees told detectives Monday he had never met or known the Welp family before he picked their Cartwright Road house to rob because it wasn’t close to any roads or neighbors and looked like a home that people who had money lived in.

Dees also explained in detail how he robbed the home and did the killings by himself. He also said it was his first and only home-invasion robbery. Dees admitted to thinking he might try to do more in the future if he hadn’t been caught.

Dees told detectives he was depressed, suicidal, and didn’t see his life going anywhere at the time so he decided to “just go rob a house … that’ll give me money to play with for a while.”

Dees said he used Google Maps to search for remote areas around Boise and Mountain Home for high-end homes to rob. He settled on the homes near Cartwright Road and used satellite maps to pick some targets.

Dees said he drove along Cartwright Road on March 8 and began looking around, dismissing some Foothills homes because they were too close to roads or other homes, before settling on the Welp’s residence.

Dees said he parked his car on a nearby street, hiked down a hillside, and staked the home out while he worked out plan.

Dees then said he drove to his Nampa residence, waited until it got darker, and then drove back to Cartwright Road. Dees said he wore black clothes and armed himself with guns and knives. He parked his car far away, hiked down the hillside again, and began his plan.

Dees said he first broke into a second house being built on the property and stole some power tools. He then moved over the main house, where he found that a door to the garage was open, so he went inside and hid.

Dees said he found set of house keys inside a truck in the garage, which he used to get in the house. Dees said he saw a security system for the home was not armed when he went inside. Dees said that if the security system was turned on, he would have left immediately. He also said he probably would have given up on his plan if the family had a bigger dog.

Dees also went over several other things with detectives, including his “addiction” to violent “first-person shooter” video games. When asked specifically about the murders of the Welps, Dees said it wasn’t that difficult for him to because he had done so much killing in video games.

Dees will soon be placed in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction, where he will serve three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Dees’ debriefing with detectives Monday was one of the conditions of his plea agreement with Ada County Prosecutors.

When news of this horrific crime emerged in March, the leaders of the Ada County Sheriff’s Office promised answers when we could provide them. We understand people were deeply concerned about what happened and why. At least now we have some of those answers.

Ada County is a safer place to live today. Adam Dees will never leave prison for the rest of his life.

Adam Dees given three life prison terms for Foothills slayings

Ada County is a safer place to live today, because we know Adam Dees will never leave prison for the rest of his life.

Dees, who killed a Boise-area family in their Foothills home last spring during a home-invasion robbery, was sentenced to three life-without-parole prison terms Friday by 4th District Judge Samuel Hoagland.

Dees avoided the possibility of the death penalty with guilty pleas earlier this year to three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Ted, Elaine, and Tom Welp in March.

Dees has also agreed not to appeal the sentence and will meet with detectives next week to hopefully shed some light on why he chose the Welp family for his horrific crimes, as there is no know connection between Dees and the Welps.

Several members of the Welp family sent letters in to Hoagland mourning the loss of Ted, Elaine, and Tom — and asking the judge to ensure that Dees never be allowed to leave prison.

Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Brian Naugle read some of those letters Friday during Dees’s sentencing hearing, including a message from Lori Hudson, a daughter of Ted and Elaine Welp.

“There is no perfect memory to capture my family. My family is rich with unique stories about triumphs, hardships, joys and heartbreaks.

My memories can never express the injustice that my mother, father and brother have sustained. My memories don’t reflect the future that was stolen from me. To be denied saying goodbye, I love you, and thank you for being you to those you cherish the most, for me is heartbreaking.

The lessons I have learned by being their daughter and sister are what I hold near and dear to my heart and sustain me.

I would like to leave this court with a few thoughts. The first was when I was cleaning out my mother’s office and I found an index card. I laughed because I felt my mother was still with me giving me direction even though she’s gone. The index card in her writing said ‘No matter what life brings you, kicks some grass over that shit and move on.’

I think it was my mom’s way of telling me, this situation is a bunch of crap, it shouldn’t have happened, and you mustn’t let this stop you from being the best mom, wife and person. Live your best life because that is what your dad, your brother and I would have wanted for you.”

Hudson then addressed Dees, saying “I’ve had almost 6 months to think about what type of person (and I am using this term loosely here) could slaughter an 80 year old man, 77 year old woman and a 52 year old blind and deaf man.

I’ve concluded, in my humble estimation that you are essentially a lazy, greedy, cowardly, remorseless SOB and I am so happy that your incarceration will keep the community of Boise safe for the rest of your life and God’s judgment of you will keep heaven safe for an eternity.

Naugle also read a message sent to the court from Gary Hudson, who is married to Lori Hudson, to Dees.

“Nothing that happens today will bring back the people we love.  Nothing that happens today will take away the pain that I feel every day.  Nothing that happens today will take away the sorrow I see in my wife and children.  Nothing that happens today will change the stupidity and cruelty of your actions.

The only good that happens today is that you will go away to nothing and not be able to harm any more innocent people for greed.

I hope that nothing fills your days, nothing fills your nights, and nothing fills your years; there is obviously nothing in your heart.  You made a choice, and nothing good has come out of it for anyone.”

Dees, who remained stoic and expressionless throughout most of the three hour hearing, struggled at times to keep his composure when he told the family of Thomas, Ted, and Elaine Welp that he wished he could “take it all back” and that he was sorry for what happened.

Dees 2

He also told the family he was suicidal and depressed when he committed the crimes and decided “to live crazy before I died.”

Earlier in the hearing, prosecutors played a taped phone call from the jail where Dees is heard telling a family member he was going to have a hard time showing remorse during his upcoming sentencing hearing. Dees laughed when the family member told him to think about missing his X-box.

Dees attorney, public defender Tony Geddes, told Hoagland that Dees is remorseful about what he had done but the medication Dees was taking for depression and bi-polar disorder made it harder for him to show emotion and think clearly.

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

Dees will be placed in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction once he has finished briefing Ada County Sheriff’s Office detectives about the case.

Eagle couple arrested for passing counterfeit $1 and $50 bills

Police arrested an Eagle couple Thursday for using counterfeit money — $1 and $50 bills — several times over the last month at local businesses.

Joseph G. Bylow, 31, and Rachel A. Eyskens, 24, are both charged with four felony counts each of possession of forged notes, bank bills or checks in connection with the case. They are both being held in the Ada County Jail on $50,000 bonds.

Eagle Police officers began their investigation July 15 after getting information that man and woman — later identified as Bylow and Eyskens — used counterfeit $1 bills at a gas station in Eagle.

Detectives later determined the couple used $1 bills at a local pizza delivery business, several different fast food restaurants, a local grocery store, and a large retail store.

Detectives identified Bylow and Eyskens as suspects, interviewed them, and confiscated the equipment the pair used to make the fake $1s from their Eagle home as part of an ongoing investigation.

It was while that was going on that fake $50 bills began showing up at restaurants in Eagle and detectives once again identified Bylow and Eyskens as suspects.

On Aug. 16, Bylow went to a local hotel and demanded change for a fake $50. At that point, detectives developed evidence the pair was responsible for the fake $50s showing up in Eagle and got a search warrant for the couple’s Aikens Street residence.


Officers found more counterfeiting equipment inside the home Thursday afternoon – including dozens of fake bills in various states of completion.

Bylow and Eyskens were then arrested and booked into the Ada County Jail.

More charges against the pair are pending.

Each charge of possession of forged notes is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

If anyone comes across $1, $20, or $50 bills that appear counterfeit, please call Ada County Sheriff’s Office dispatch at 377-6790.

Couple who worked at church ranch in Eagle charged with sex abuse of children

A married couple who worked as “house parents” at the Christian Children’s Church Ranch in Eagle are now in jail after admitting to having illegal sexual contact with two teen girls who were under their care.

Michael P. Magill, 30, and Jennifer Nicole Magill, 32, are charged with sexual battery of a child 16-to-17 years of age and sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16.

Ada County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating if there are any additional victims connected to Michael and Jennifer Magill, who have also worked as youth group leaders and camp counselors outside of their work at the Christian Children’s Church Ranch.

The couple worked at the ranch for the last 11 months as “house parents.” People who work that job act as parental figures to as many as 10 at-risk children who live in one of the four homes at the ranch.

The two victims in this case are 14 and 17 years old and were under the direct care of the Magills when the abuse occurred earlier this summer.

Detectives began their investigation Thursday after being contacted by officials from the church ranch, who found out about the abuse from a family member of one of the victims.

Detectives interviewed the victims, searched the Magill’s ranch home, and collected evidence there before arresting the couple by Friday night.

The Magill’s two biological children, who lived at the same church ranch home with the victims, were declared to be in imminent danger and placed in the custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The officials at the church ranch contacted the ASCO shortly after finding out about the abuse and have fully cooperated with the investigation.

Michael and Jennifer Magill (who is also know by her middle name Nicole) are each being held in the Ada County Jail on $500,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 31.

Anyone who has any information about the case should call Detective Shellie Strolberg at 577-3788.

Deputies find elaborate marijuana grow operation inside home near Eagle Island State Park

A 33-year-old Eagle man is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver after deputies found 11 drying pot plants and two pounds of dried marijuana inside his home late last week.

Ryan Loy Thomas, who is also charged with manufacturing a controlled substance in the presence of a child, is being held in the Ada County Jail on a $15,000 bond.

Thomas is set for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 19.

Deputies began their investigation just before 5 p.m. Aug. 4, after going to Thomas’ home in the 600 of block Dolson Lane, near Linder and Hatchery roads, to investigate a report of hazardous living conditions.

Once deputies arrived, they began smelling a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the home. The deputies eventually got a search warrant after Thomas would not let them inside to look around.

Once inside, deputies found 11 marijuana plants drying in a closet, a total of over two pounds of pot in various containers — including several live plants that were inside a room with an elaborate system of hydroponic equipment and grow lights.

pot bust 1 Pot bust 2

Both the drying closet and grow room were unlocked and accessible to a 5-year-old boy who lives at the home.

Deputies eventually arrested Thomas and booked him into the jail later that night.

28-year-old Boise man arrested for dealing Adderall

A 28-year-old Boise man who sold the prescription drug Adderall to undercover officers earlier this summer is charged with multiple counts of drug delivery.

Wilmer R. Lopez-Avelarde is charged with three counts of delivery of a controlled substance and one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Lopez-Avelarde will make his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

Lopez-Avelarde sold drugs to officers three times prior to Tuesday’s arrest — including small amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana — in addition to 125 Adderall pills.

Lopez-Avelarde was on his way to sell more Adderall on Tuesday morning when deputies pulled him over. Deputies found 101 Adderall pills inside his car.

A short time later, detectives searched Lopez-Avelarde’s home in the 7700 block of Ustick Road and found other evidence of drug dealing.

Deputies then arrested and booked Lopez-Avelarde into jail.

Adderall is a stimulant — a prescription drug including amphetamines, used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Adderall has become a popular drug of abuse among young adults, particularly for people who want to stay awake for long periods of time. Adderall is habit forming and people can overdose on the drug.

While detectives have encountered Adderral users in the field and have purchased prescription pills like Adderall during drug buys, the arrest of Lopez-Avelarde is unusual because of the large amount of Adderall pills they were able to buy.

Police investigate break-in at Kuna Disc Golf & Rec building last week

The City of Kuna is offering a $100 reward for information that leads to the arrest of whoever broke into the Kuna Disc Golf & Rec building last week.

Whoever broke into the building, located next to the skate park in the 400 block of W. 2nd Street, stole over $8,000 worth of recreation equipment from inside and did over $500 in damage to the building.

The break-in occurred sometime between 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and 2 p.m. Wednesday. The business sells and rents recreation equipment — including skateboards, disc golf equipment, rafts, and floating tubes — to Kuna residents.

The building was locked at the time so thieves forced their way in through the front door.

We are asking anyone with information to call Kuna Police at 577-3860. Kuna Reward

32-year-old registered sex offender charged with sexual battery of a minor

A Boise man is charged with sexual battery of a minor for having illegal sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl he met online.

Josiah P. Kershner is being held in the Ada County Jail on a $200,000 bond.

Ada County Sheriff’s deputies began their investigation of the 32-year-old Kershner on Sunday after being contacted by a third party. By the end of the day he was in jail.

Kershner contacted the girl earlier this summer through an online dating website. The conversation then switched over to Google Gmail accounts.

Kershner arranged to pick up the girl near her Kuna home Sunday afternoon. They then went to another area, where he had illegal sexual contact with the girl.

A short time later, deputies were called and began their investigation. Kershner continued to send messages to the girl after dropping her off.

Deputies identified Kershner — who was first listed as a registered sex offender in the State of Washington in 2006 in connection with an internet enticement sting operation — at a home in Boise. Deputies arrested him a short time later.

Kershner’s next court appearance is set for Aug. 10. Detectives are working to determine if Kershner has any other victims.

Kuna woman charged with felony vehicular manslaughter in connection with fatal car vs. bike crash last fall

Ada County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 43-year-old Kuna woman Thursday afternoon for her role in a car vs. bike crash on Meridian Road in November that resulted in the death of cyclist Kurt Krieger.

Sharon Howell is charged with a felony count of vehicular manslaughter and a misdemeanor court of resisting arrest.

Howell was released from the jail Thursday night after posting a $20,000 bond. Her initial court appearance is set for July 21.

The fatal collision occurred just before 5 p.m. on Nov. 28 in the intersection of Meridian and Lake Hazel roads.

Howell was driving a Ford Taurus north on Meridian Road when the car collided with Kurt Krieger, who was trying to cross Meridian Road on a bike at the Lake Hazel Road intersection.

The force of the impact knocked the 47-year-old Krieger off his bike. He was not wearing a helmet.

When deputies and paramedics arrived moments later, two off-duty nurses were giving Krieger CPR at the scene. Paramedics continued treatment before the cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.

Howell was transported to a hospital after the crash, where deputies interviewed her.

Deputies later sent their report to Ada County Prosecutors, who issued an arrest warrant for Howell Wednesday.

Deputies went to Howell’s home Thursday to serve the warrant. Howell refused to come out of her home for about 30 minutes, which led to the misdemeanor resisting charge.