Odd stories of 2010 bring smiles, head scratching

The biggest stories aren’t always the most popular – or even the most fascinating. Following are seven eyebrow-raising tales, in chronological order. Why seven? Stories this odd deserve an odd number.

APRIL: Man returns to resolve 1974 arrest warrant

Bruce Villamor says his days living in the Olympia area in his early 20s are “a fog” – but that he has never had trouble with the law.

The 59-year-old also says he can’t remember passing bad checks during his time here. Villamor, of Oregon, didn’t know he had an outstanding criminal case against him until he applied for Social Security benefits, and the Social Security administration likely notified the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, which mailed a warrant to him.

The result? Villamor showed up in court to answer to a 36-year-old arrest warrant, creating a buzz among court staffers who’d never seen anything like it.

The checks were for small amounts, and the story has a happy ending: Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy dismissed Villamor’s case.

MAY: Small dog chases a burglar from owner’s home

Neighbors dubbed Little Riki, a Pomeranian-dacschund, "Killer" after he chased a burglar from his owner’s Olympia home shortly after she arrived home from a doctor’s appointment.

Owner Mitzi Lisle, 50, arrived home May 11 just as a burglar entered her Fir Street home. She pulled into the driveway with Riki, got out of her car and heard the sound of breaking glass. Once the door was open, Riki took off, barking at the man who had entered the house. Lisle next saw a man leave from the side of her house and run down the street.

This story also has a happy ending: Suspect Sabir S. Kahn, 39, was taken into custody by the Olympia Police Department and booked into the Thurston County Jail on suspicion of felony residential burglary and possessing opiate narcotics, after a Thurston County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit tracked him down.

Lisle, who said she had lived in the area for nearly eight years, said the suspect left her house carrying a bag with her foreign-coin collection, jewelry and a GPS device.

MAY: Saks Fifth Avenue sues Olympia business

It isn’t difficult to figure out where downtown Olympia’s Salon Fifth Avenue got its name. It’s a salon. It used to be on Fifth Avenue.

That didn’t stop Saks Fifth Avenue from suing, claiming in a cease-and-desist letter that the salon’s name and logo design were too similar to the national retailer’s and falsely imply that it “is affiliated with or sponsored or approved by Saks.”

New York-City-based Saks generated about $3 billion in net sales last year, according to its annual report. The company doesn’t operate a store in Washington, according to its website.

Still, the deep-pocketed retailer prevailed – sort of. The salon changed its logo font but kept its name as part of a settlement. Other terms were not disclosed.

JUNE: After mother’s seizure, boy steers car out of danger

Kellie Klennert of Tumwater said she’s always thought her 11-year-old son was a cool, collected and laid-back person.

She didn’t realize just how cool he was until she had a seizure while driving on the freeway in Bellevue, and he very possibly saved both their lives by grabbing the wheel and steering the car into the median. He then called 911 and family members for help.

“I thought she was dying,” Daylon Klennert said. “I was thinking about whether I would live.”

Daylon had been counting semitrailers at 11:30 a.m. on a Wednesday to pass the time when he noticed his mother was slumped in the driver’s seat. They were in the left-hand lane of northbound Interstate 405.

His actions prevented a crash during a busy time of day, Washington State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Freddy Williams said.

“He knew to steer to the left. If they had stayed in that lane they would have been rear-ended,” he said.

JULY: Former car salesman charged in theft of Porsche

When you’re driving a stolen Porsche valued at nearly $75,000, make sure you don’t give police a reason to pull you over.

The wife of a former salesman with Larson Porsche-Audi in Tacoma learned that lesson after she was pulled over Oct. 18 in Lacey, driving a Porsche Cayenne that was reported stolen from Larson’s lot in 2006. Her husband, Elwood Randolph Younkins, was charged with felony possession of a stolen vehicle.

Rebecca Younkins told the officer who pulled her over that her husband worked at Larson, and that he was borrowing the vehicle with his employer’s permission. The officer ran the Porsche’s vehicle identification number and learned that the car had been reported stolen.

UPDATE: Elwood Younkins has been admitted into the Friendship Diversion Services program. His charge will be dismissed provided that he completes the program and complies with its terms.

AUGUST: Man fires toward workers keeping him awake

Is 9:30 p.m. too late for workers to be making noise? Randy Leroy Thiesfeld thinks so.

Thiesfeld fired a rifle into the ground near two state Department of Transportation workers Aug. 20, warning them that if they didn’t shut down operations for the night, he would “spray some lead” in their direction, court papers state.

The shaken workers stopped, and Thiesfeld, then 51, received a visit from Thurston County sheriff’s deputies at his Gibson Road home shortly thereafter. He was arrested on suspicion of felony harassment and two gross misdemeanors – illegal discharge of a firearm and reckless endangerment.

UPDATE: Thiesfeld was sentenced to 20 days in jail after pleading guilty to one count of harassment.

OCTOBER: ‘Girls of the Pac-10’ gives exposure to Olympia model

Olympia native Michelle Wittenberg said she has really come out of her shell since arriving at Washington State University. The next step for the 22-year-old psychology major: coming out of her clothes.

Wittenberg decided to give modeling a shot when Playboy visited Pullman. Eight weeks later, she awakened on a June morning to a voicemail saying she’d been chosen. Several days later, she was in Chicago for the shoot.

“I’m very comfortable being naked,” she said.

NOVEMBER: Footprints in snow help police nab suspects

Fingerprints are a common way to track criminals. Footprints? Not so much.

Yet that’s exactly how Olympia police identified three people suspected of burglarizing an office building occupied by the Community Action Council of Thurston County on Nov. 23.

Police responded to a burglary alarm at the offices, in the 3700 block of Griffin Lane Southeast, at 3:12 a.m., Sgt. Dan Smith said. Officers pulled over a car that was leaving the area with its headlights off, he said.

The treads on the footwear of the car’s three occupants matched footprints left in the snow of the burglarized building, Smith said. The footprints led from where a car was parked to the office’s front doors, which had been broken open.

Marcus Almanzor, 38, and Richard Meredith, 42, both of Olympia, and Jamie Davis, 29, of Tacoma, were arrested on suspicion of second-degree burglary.

Brian Sandford: 253-597-8354bsandford@theolympian.com