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Hammer attack kills one

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

BAYVIEW - A 31-year-old Bayview man was arrested on Sunday for allegedly beating four people in Bayview with a hammer, sending three people to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d'Alene, where one later died.

Larry W. Cragun was arrested and initially booked into the Kootenai County jail on one count of burglary and four counts of aggravated battery, said Maj. Ben Wolfinger, a spokesman for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department. One of the charges was amended to murder after the death of a woman from massive head trauma Monday afternoon.

Cragun's bail has been set at $1 million.

Cragun was known around Bayview as "Crazy Larry" for some of his conspiracy theorist-type beliefs, and "Bobblehead," because of the way his head bounced around, said community resident Vera Gress, who works at a local hangout, Ralph's Coffee House.

Cragun was spotted early Friday handing out flyers, headlined "Resist Socialism," at Ralph's and other locations in the community, Gress said.

"Surveillance in the form of a brain-wave generator capable of the invasion of our minds has been unleashed into the public, myself an unwilling test subject," Cragun apparently wrote in the flyer.

He continued: "Our local base has built this device in the form of an umbrella 1,400 feet submerged beneath our lake's surface to pick up impossible frequencies to detect in the form of submarines. I inform you that our own brain frequencies are no longer sacred and run at millibeats per second. Combined with GPS tracking satellites, our minds can and are being opened up like so much wrapping paper."

Bayview is well known for the longtime presence of the U.S. Navy. It currently has an acoustic research detachment that uses the 1,150-foot depths of that part of Lake Pend Oreille.

Within the same few paragraphs, he also wrote that, "One of our citizens, her child, and husband have become the victims of rape and molestation. It sickens many of us to know that the residents of the town of Bayview have taken bribes paid for by the taxpayer to cover up these hideous crimes."

Gress said Cragun had an antenna attached to his van, which he apparently claimed was used to communicate with submarines in the lake.

Other than that, he acts like a normal guy, she said. He drops by Ralph's now and then to use the computer because he's unemployed, she said.

Deputies responded to a mobile home at 34553 N. Limekiln Road about 1:30 p.m. Sunday after it was reported a man had entered the home and struck the occupants with a hammer multiple times, Wolfinger said. The man, who was identified by the victims as their next-door neighbor, Cragun, then fled on foot, Wolfinger said.

Deputies were able to locate Cragun at a local business, Bay Cafe, and he was taken into custody without further incident, Wolfinger said.

Sheriff's department investigators are continuing to look for a motive, he said.

The initial investigation indicates that Cragun allegedly just walked into the victims' mobile home where they were seated in a living room and watching TV. Cragun yelled profanities at them and allegedly began swinging the hammer at them, striking each of them multiple times, Wolfinger said.

Patricia Heath, 43, suffered critical injuries and was taken to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d'Alene. She died there Monday shortly before 1 p.m. from massive head trauma.

Her husband, Michael Heath, 40, suffered minor injuries.

Lorraine Wallis, 58, suffered serious injuries and was taken to the hospital. She was listed in critical condition late Monday.

Jedidiah Heath, 21, suffered serious injuries and was taken to the hospital. He was treated and later released.

Gress said Patricia and Michael Heath and Lorraine Wallis are her friends.

"They're very nice people," Gress said. "It doesn't make any sense."

Herb Huseland, 72, lives next door to both the victims' mobile home and Cragun's mobile home.

"This is not a violent town," Huseland said outside his mobile home. "I'm shocked. I don't feel the reality of it yet."

Huseland, who has lived in his home for 15 years, said Cragun has been acting irrationally lately, with comments about being raped by the community, and that the government had invaded his mind.

Cragun also had shared concerns about nuclear material being buried or dumped in Lake Pend Oreille from the base, Huseland said. Cragun also had claimed one or more of the victims had stolen from him, Huseland said.

Huseland said he had no reason to believe any of it.

Huseland said Cragun went to three businesses to report the incident. He first went to JD's "and (allegedly) said he'd killed a bunch of people," but got thrown out, Huseland said.

He went to Bayview Mercantile with the same story, then to Bay Cafe, where 911 was called and police were notified, Huseland said.

Cragun has previous convictions for drug possession, domestic violence assault, attempting to elude police, drunken driving and battery. He completed eight hours of anger management classes after the 2002 battery conviction, according to court records.

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