Cheney Free Press -


Lucid employee's body found in Four Lakes

Shooter/kidnapper captured in Goldendale, describes area where he left Cameron Smith


September 21, 2017

John McCallum

Spokane County Sheriff's Office officials blocked off 6th Avenue at the intersection of Garfield Road last Friday afternoon to investigate the area and later remove Cameron Smith's body.

The man who shot and kidnapped an employee of a marijuana shop in Cheney on Sept. 10 has been captured, and the body of his alleged victim found off a street in Four Lakes last Friday.

Yakima Police Department arrested Donovan Culps, 36, after a chase that ended in Culps' vehicle going off the road in Goldendale, Wash. last Thursday, Sept. 14. According to a Cheney Police Department news release, Culps was arrested and charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery in the abduction of Cameron Smith, 46, from the Lucid marijuana shop on First Street. Culps was seen on video surveillance cameras attempting to purchase marijuana from the shop, but being denied.

He was then shown outside the shop where he stood next to the driver's side door of Smith's 2008 Acura SUV, and fired a 9 mm handgun twice into the window where Smith sat eating his lunch. Culps subsequently entered Smith's vehicle and fled north on State Route 904, followed closely by a white Ford F-250 utility truck authorities later learned was reported stolen out of White Swan on the Yakama Nation Reservation.

Culps was transported to Spokane on Sept. 15 and booked into Spokane County Jail that evening. Cheney Police Chief John Hensley said during transport, he provided a description to Cheney officers where Smith's body would be found. Police had earlier searched the area of Murphy and Meadowlake roads, led there by a signal from Smith's cellphone that indicated it was nearby.

Hensley said Culps description was not entirely accurate of the area Smith's body was later found in.

"It was enough so we could stumble on to it," he added.

At around 3 p.m. last Friday, a Spokane County Sheriff's Office search team located Smith's body roughly a half mile east of the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Garfield Road, well east of SR 904. The body was just off the road and concealed in "heavy cover," Cheney Capt. Rick Beghtol wrote in the news release.

"The Washington State Patrol Crime Lab was called and collected evidence from the scene," Beghtol said. The lab also processed Smith's SUV, which was found at the Spokane Tribe of Indians' casino construction site on Sept. 12 and transported to Cheney.

Smith's wallet and identification were found Monday, Sept. 11, near Little Falls on the Spokane Reservation by tribal police.

Hensley said Thursday's chase was the second time Culps was pursued by police. Earlier in the week, a Yakama Nation police officer encountered the F-250 on a road on the reservation and gave chase, but could not make a stop due to lack of back up.

Two individuals who accompanied Culps to the Lucid location in the utility truck are being sought at press time, Sept. 19. Culps' niece, 18-year-old Violetta Culps, who was also videotaped attempting to purchase marijuana at the shop and was denied. She is still at large.

The third suspect who remained in the truck was identified. On Friday, Sept. 15, Yakima police arrested 18-year-old Alisha Jackson. According to news reports, Jackson was charged with failing to report a felony, but was subsequently released.

While she apparently provided a confession, Hensley said at the time of her arrest there was no specific evidence linking her to the Lucid incident, although she gave investigators "valuable information" during her interview. Since then, those circumstances have changed.

"You have to have something aside from a confession to tie someone to a crime," Hensley said. "Now, we do have the evidence and we'll have her in custody."

John McCallum can be reached at


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