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Charges added in hammer incident

by David Cole
| December 22, 2010 8:00 PM

Police reports indicate that 31-year-old Bayview resident Larry W. Cragun allegedly entered his next-door neighbors' mobile home with both a large kitchen knife and hammer, aiming for and landing multiple blows to their heads.

One woman died from massive head trauma after being taken to Kootenai Medical Center. Two others were taken to the hospital, and a fourth was wounded but refused treatment. The attack occurred Sunday on the 34500 block of North Limekiln Road in the community on Lake Pend Oreille.

Kootenai County deputy prosecutor Art Verharen said Tuesday that Cragun is charged with one count of first-degree murder, two of first-degree attempted murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault and burglary. All are felony charges.

A motive for the attack wasn't immediately established Sunday or Monday.

Sheriff's department Maj. Ben Wolfinger said Tuesday that Cragun stated his neighbors had sexually assaulted his ex-wife and daughter. His ex-wife, Katie, says there's absolutely no truth to those allegations.

"That is why he went there," Wolfinger said.

Cragun hollered out during his first appearance Monday that he and his family had been raped. Court records show a preliminary hearing is scheduled for him on Dec. 30.

Michael Heath, 40, suffered minor injuries and was able to tell police that Cragun attacked his wife, son and mother. His wife, Patricia Heath, 43, died Monday at the hospital.

"I'm just trying to put the pieces together," Michael Heath told The Press.

Heath told police his family had been "having some problems" recently with Cragun. Snowballs have been thrown at their trailer. Curses have been hurled their way.

Heath told police his son, 21-year-old Jedidiah Heath, had been accused by Cragun of sprinkling pubic hair on Cragun's food. Michael Heath said that allegation and all the others are bogus.

Cragun's girlfriend, Christine J. Barron, who also lives near the Heaths and Cragun, told police she was aware of problems between him and neighbors.

Barron, 25, told police Cragun would often walk to her residence with a hammer in hand, but only "to break ice and to defend himself," according to police reports.

She didn't believe Cragun was capable of hurting other people, unless it was self-defense.

In a written statement to police just after Sunday's incident, Michael Heath said that Cragun entered the home as the family was seated and watching TV.

Cragun yelled "mother (expletive)," then hit Heath's mother, Lorraine Wallis, 58, with the hammer. A spokeswoman for Kootenai Medical Center on Tuesday said Wallis' condition had improved to fair from critical.

Jedidiah Heath tried to stand up and was struck with the hammer. The first people on the scene found him with head wounds and a towel over his head.

Michael Heath got hit by the hammer in the arm, he wrote in the statement. He said Cragun also threw his knife at Heath, hitting him. Cragun picked up the knife and scrambled out of the home. Heath said he grabbed a baseball bat to chase Cragun.

According to police reports, investigators found tracks in the snow that lead back and forth between the two mobile homes.

Cragun has previous convictions for drug possession, domestic violence assault, attempting to elude police, drunken driving and battery, according to court records.

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