Officials: Trio linked to fight, burglary

Officials say three men held in different jails around the region were involved in a fight and burglary.

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DAYTON -- Three men now in custody appear to be connected to a fight and burglary in the 1400 block of South Second Street late in January.

Deputies responding to a report of a fight involving three men, but found only two men, Loren M. Mullins and Eric VanZandt at the scene. Mullins and VanZandt told deputies they had not been fighting. VanZandt, 28, was arrested Jan. 29 on a Walla Walla County warrant.

Mullins, 42, of 522 W. Cameron St., No. 7, had a bloody nose, but told officers he had fallen earlier in the day. Mullins went home but was transported to Providence St. Mary Medical Center by a private party.

Columbia County sheriff's officers learned from the medical center Mullins had 4-inch deep a stab wound to his torso. Mullins refused to say who had stabbed him.

Deputies who responded to the Second Street address did not notice Mullins was injured nor did they observe any blood, according to charging papers filed in Columbia County Superior Court. Mullins was extremely intoxicated, according to the deputy's report.

Earlier Jan. 29, a neighbor reported he was missing four guns, approximately 50 knives, a spotting scope, video recorders, a spotting scope and a rangefinder from his shop.

A deputy searching VanZandt's home for a knife possibly used to stab Mullins observed items matching the description of the missing items. He secured an amended search warrant, resumed his search and found items matching the descriptions of those missing from the neighbor's shop.

Mullins came to law enforcement's attention again Feb. 6, when he was arrested at the trailer court where he lives and charged with second-degree criminal trespass, obstructing a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and second-degree malicious mischief. He was arraigned Thursday and is in the Columbia County Jail with bail set at $20,000.

The third man allegedly involved in the Jan. 29 incident is Scott Watkins, officials said. Watkins is being held in the Walla Walla County Jail on a community custody violation. Watkins, 33, address not given, confessed to the burglary during an interview with Columbia County deputies Feb. 4, officials said.

In a subsequent interview Feb. 11, Watkins provided deputies additional details about the burglary, officials said. Watkins said he acted alone, and decided to confess because he did not want VanZandt or Mullins to take the blame, according to a probable cause statement filed in Columbia County Superior Court.

VanZandt is set to go to trial March 15 on charges of second-degree burglary, three counts of theft of a firearm, three counts of first-degree possession of a firearm, second-degree theft and second-degree possession of stolen property. He is being held in the Garfield County Jail with bail set at $250,100.

Watkins has not been arraigned but will be charged with the same crimes as VanZandt, according to Columbia County Prosecuting Attorney Rea Culwell.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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