Undersheriff Shares Details of Christmas Morning Arrest of Burglars Caught in Act

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

On Christmas Day, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office command staff makes an effort to get on the road to take pressure off deputies and let them have time off with their families.

Chief Deputy Dusty Breen was on his way to pick up Undersheriff Wes Rethwill for their turn on patrol at 6:15 a.m. that morning when he saw a truck parked on the side of the road in the 200 block of Hamilton Road North that “piqued his curiosity,” Rethwill told the Lewis County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

 Footprints in the Snow Lead Lewis County Deputies to Burglaries in Progress

Breen followed his curiosity, leading him to come face to face with two men allegedly in possession of more than $185,000 in stolen items.

Two suspects, Donald Edward Emery, 48, of St. Helens, Oregon, and Derrick Lee Lyons, 31, of Warren, Oregon, pleaded not guilty Jan. 4 to four counts each of second-degree burglary, first-degree attempted theft and attempted theft of a motor vehicle.

The two are charged as co-defendants and their trials are currently scheduled for Feb. 26. Both are being held in the Lewis County Jail on $250,000 bail.

Rethwill recounted the incident from Breen’s perspective Tuesday while Breen was in training.

He said Breen stopped to check out the truck after noticing it was not covered with the snow that fell overnight. He met a woman in the truck who told him the vehicle broke down and her companion went off to get help.

Then Breen noticed footprints in the snow.

“So he started following these footprints and they went into this business and they went into that business,” Rethwill said. “Long story short the deputies didn’t get to spend the morning with their families because everybody rallied around.”

Command staff, deputies and reserve deputies showed up to help track the suspects making the footprints, who at that point were still inside one of the businesses they were accused of burglarizing.

“They had it all loaded up into a vehicle inside one of the businesses. They had the keys to the vehicle and they were waiting for the moment they could open the garage door and take off,” Rethwill said. “It was at that same moment Chief Breen made contact with that vehicle, scared them, they went on the run two different directions.”

Deputies tracked Emery and Lyons through a swampy area and caught them both.

According to the Lewis County Jail log, Emery was booked at 9:10 a.m. Dec. 25 and Lyons was booked at 10:43 a.m. that day.

Investigators recovered items including tools valued at $100,000, a tool box and contents valued at $30,000 and a Chevrolet Silverado work truck valued at $50,000, along with miscellaneous items bringing the total value of the alleged theft to $185,800, according to court documents.