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Plateau suspects charged with first-degree murder
By Dennis Box
It was a typical fall night in the Bonney Lake area. There was a chill in the air and it felt like rain.
But Oct. 15 would not turn out to be a typical Friday night. It was the night 18-year-old Christopher Ballou was murdered in a greenbelt park inside Ponderosa Estates, just west of busy South Prairie Road.
At 7:57 p.m. Ballou's mother, Lisa, received a phone call from Garold "Andy" Fiscus. She knew the time because she checked the phone's Caller ID feature.
"He told me there was an emergency and he needed to speak to Chris," Ballou said. "I said he wasn't home, but I'd give him the message."
Ballou said she wasn't sure who Andy was, but he told her he lived a few houses away from Grandma Joe.
Grandma Joe was Don "Kelly" Hogsed's mother. Hogsed was Lisa Ballou's live-in boyfriend. There were a lot of kids in the area, and it wasn't unusual for kids to call looking for her son.
"He said it was an emergency, and that was the only reason I asked him who he was," Ballou said.
Her son returned home about 15 minutes later and Ballou gave him the message. He made a phone call and left.
It was the last time Ballou saw her son alive.
Christopher Ballou had been attending Collins High School in Buckley. He lived with his mother and Hogsed in Rhododendron Park on the edge of Bonney Lake.
He did not know his father, and had been raised by his mother and John English for most of his life until the couple split up a few years ago.
Hogsed had been Lisa Ballou's live-in partner since her break with English and had acted as Ballou's stepfather since that time.
Earlier in the evening of the murder, a few doors down from the park in the 20800 block of Bonanza Drive East in Ponderosa Estates, the 17-year-old Fiscus, 18-year-old Andrew Burns and 18-year-old Raymond Henick met at Fiscus' house.
A fourth person was with the three, but Pierce County Sheriff's deputies and the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney's office have judged him not to be involved in the crime.
According to a prosecutor's charging papers, Fiscus, Burns and Henick were drinking beer and smoking cigarettes at Fiscus' house when they decided to buy some marijuana.
Fiscus stated he knew Ballou had some for sale. It was at that time Fiscus called Ballou's mother.
The exact order of events that followed are not certain, except for the ending.
The charging papers stated Fiscus told the other defendants he was angry with Ballou for stealing some items from his home.
The three defendants decided at this point to "jack," or rob, Ballou of his marijuana and physically beat him.
Burns produced a knife, stating he would stab Ballou. Apparently an argument ensued about whether Burns should bring the knife.
The three decided to lure Ballou to the park, telling him they wanted to buy the marijuana and smoke some of it with him.
Sometime after 8 p.m., Ballou rode his bike from his mother's house in Rhododendron Park to the park in Ponderosa Estates.
Burns, Fiscus and Henick lured Ballou into the park. As they walked down the trail, just out of sight from the road, the three attacked.
Ballou was beaten and kicked repeatedly and was hit on the head with a heavy, blunt object.
During the beating, Ballou was also stabbed six times. Three wounds were to the front of the torso and three in his back.
Investigators did not know if one or more knives were used or exactly who stabbed him.
A knife was recovered at the scene.
Family members and those close to Ballou were certain he fought back.
Burns sustained knife wounds and was arrested later in the evening while being treated at Auburn General Hospital.
Larry Hogsed was standing in the street smoking a cigarette at the time of the murder. Hogsed is 20 and lives across the street from the park with Grandma Joe. He described himself as a Ballou's cousin.
"I heard someone yell, 'stab him, stab him, stab him,'" Hogsed said. "I ran down the trail and they took off. Chris was on the ground. He told me he was dying and that he'd been stabbed and it was Andy."
Hogsed ran and called 9-1-1. By the time he returned Ballou was unconscious.
Emergency medical personnel treated Ballou at the scene, but he was pronounced dead around 10 p.m. at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup.
According to the charging papers, the fourth person who had been with the defendants during the crime, but was not involved, stayed at the scene and cooperated with the deputies in the investigation.
A neighbor saw Fiscus run from the scene into his home and told the deputies.
When the deputies knocked on the door, Fiscus' mother answered, but refused to permit the deputies to enter and claimed her son was not home.
When deputies informed her she would be charged with obstruction, she began yelling to her son to leave the home.
Fiscus refused to leave the residence and was warned a police dog would be sent in after him.
He did not respond, and according to the papers, the dog went in and "arrested" Fiscus, who required medical treatment for injuries to his leg sustained during the K-9 unit's involvement.
Each defendant admitted to beating and robbing the victim, but each denied stabbing him.
The fourth person who witnessed the crime stated Burns stabbed him and yelled, "I stabbed that fool five times!" while leaving the scene.
Either Burns or Henick is believed to have taken Ballou's backpack, which investigators reported had marijuana and other personal items in it.
Family members believe Ballou may have been in possession of more than $400, and the defendants were really after the money.
All three defendants have been charged with murder in the first degree and robbery in the first degree. Court-appointed attorneys have been assigned to each.
Although Fiscus is 17, he is being charged as an adult because of the seriousness of the crime, according to the prosecutor's office.
A pre-trail hearing is scheduled for Nov. 4.
Dennis Box can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.