Suspects Arrested in Oregon Coast Lighthouse Vandalism
(Oceanside, Oregon) - Two suspects were arrested Wednesday in the vandalism at the historic Cape Meares Lighthouse near Tillamook, after a tip led investigators to two Oceanside residents.
Arrested were 26-year-old David Wilks and 23-year-old Zachary Pyle, taken into custody at a Florence-area construction site, where they worked. The pair lived in the 200 block of Hillsdale Street W in Oceanside, where authorities had searched earlier after obtaining a search warrant.
The investigation involved numerous law enforcement agencies, including Oregon State Police (OSP) detectives, the OSP’s arm of Fish & Wildlife, Tillamook County Sheriffs, Tillamook Police, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services and Tillamook County District Attorney's Office. Authorities looked at many different kinds of evidence left behind, including shell casings and the tire marks they left on the grass of Cape Meares State Park. Still, it was the information from a tipster that led to the arrest.
Wilks and Pyle were transported to the Tillamook County Jail in Tillamook. They have since posted bail and are out, awaiting future court appearances which have yet to be scheduled.
Detectives seized evidence related to the ongoing investigation that started January 10th when several rounds were fired breaking 15 windows of the Cape Meares Lighthouse and several pieces of a historic Fresnel lens. Additional rounds were fired into an active Coast Guard light and surrounding equipment. The suspects allegedly drove down a blocked maintenance road in a vehicle to the lighthouse viewing area, and while driving away the vehicle damaged a grassy area.
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is breathing a sigh of relief.
"We want to thank the prompt, professional investigative skills of the Oregon State Police, US Coast Guard Investigative Services and Tillamook County area law enforcement agencies for bringing us to this point," says Tim Wood, Director, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). "We have a substantial, even daunting, task ahead of us, but it is made much easier with continued leadership from the Coast Guard, and help from the Friends of Cape Meares and the many people who have stepped forward to offer their moral and financial support."
OPRD now turns its attention to funding the recovery of the lighthouse and its lens. Experts from the Florida-based Lighthouse Lamp Shop are currently in the final stages of assessing the cost of the damage, which has already exceeded $500,000. It is estimated that on top of that cost, another $80,000 will be needed to fix other portions of the lighthouse structure.
The park is still closed to the public while staff work on temporary repairs to the structure.
Donations are still being accepted by the Friends of Cape Meares Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge. These can be made at any of the TLC Federal Credit Union locations on the Oregon coast, or via PayPal on the Cape Meares lighthouse webpage. You can also send a check to TLC at PO Box 160 - Tillamook, OR 97141, or at the Friends of the Cape Meares, PO Box 262, Netarts, OR 97143.
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