Hatchet attack in SW Washington the latest in Bellingham man's lengthy court troubles

Cleve Allen Goheen-Rengo, 26, appears in court Thursday, June 8, 2017. He faces felony charges of intimidating a Whatcom County judge in response to her ruling in a child custody case.
Cleve Allen Goheen-Rengo, 26, appears in court Thursday, June 8, 2017. He faces felony charges of intimidating a Whatcom County judge in response to her ruling in a child custody case.

Less than a month after he was released from jail while awaiting trial for allegedly threatening a Whatcom County judge, a former Bellingham man involved in a years-long, public child custody dispute allegedly drunkenly entered a residence in Southwest Washington, ran at the occupants with a hatchet and crawled into bed, nearly naked, with the homeowner.

Cleve (or Cleave) Allen Goheen-Rengo, 27, of La Center pleaded not guilty June 28 to first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and residential burglary in Clark County Superior Court for the alleged hatchet attack. His jury trial is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 20.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office was called to the 39000 block of Northeast 6th Avenue in La Center minutes before 5:30 a.m. on June 19 for a report of an unknown, naked man inside a residence, according to court records.

When deputies got there, they saw a man wearing nothing but green shorts running around outside of the house. The man, who was later identified as Goheen-Rengo, got into a white minivan, rapidly reversed and drove out of the driveway before deputies stopped him. Deputies noted it was immediately apparent that Goheen-Rengo was “extremely intoxicated,” court records state.

One of the residents of the house and her friend were hanging out in a shop on the property, when a man they had never seen opened the door and walked in “like he owned the place,” the records state. The pair said they were alarmed, but recognized the man was intoxicated and spent about a half hour trying to calm him down before he broke a liquor bottle and they asked him to leave.

Goheen-Rengo became agitated, picked up a hatchet sitting on a nearby table, raised it and rushed at the pair, records state. The resident told deputies she tried to grab the hatchet and cut her finger in the process before she was able to get it away from Goheen-Rengo and they were able to remove him from the shop.

Shortly after, the homeowner, who was asleep in the house, awoke to an unknown man wearing only underwear “flopping” on her bed. The woman told deputies she was extremely frightened and ran out of the house to find the other resident and their friend, records state. The resident and friend determined Goheen-Rengo had entered the unlocked house after leaving the shop, and they called 911.

The friend went back into the house and found Goheen-Rengo’s clothing lying on the floor in the living room, adjacent to the homeowner’s bedroom, records show. He also found Goheen-Rengo curled up on the floor behind the sofa in the living room.

Goheen-Rengo is currently in the Clark County Jail on $100,000 bail.

Threats to a Whatcom judge

In addition to the Clark County case, Goheen-Rengo is scheduled for trial July 23 for allegedly threatening a Whatcom County judge about year ago.

In February 2017, Goheen-Rengo lost his parental rights to his three young children when Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis ruled he could no longer have contact with them out of concern for their safety and welfare. During the contentious hearing, Goheen-Rengo made comments about how everyone involved in the case should “be in a box in the desert” and that “you all should be afraid of me,” according to Whatcom County Superior Court records.

A screenshot of a post on the Facebook page of Cleve Allen Goheen-Rengo, 26, aka Cleave Rengo. A blurry object in the bottom left corner appears to be a handgun, according to charging papers. Prosecutors allege he was making a death threat to a Whatcom County judge. Facebook

In June of last year, Goheen-Rengo uploaded an album to Facebook, titled “Return the Rengo Children NOW! Or Else,” and included three pictures of himself. One was a selfie where he was wearing a black zip-up sweatshirt and appeared to be holding a small, silver handgun, records state.

“Not much Else going to be able to do unless you are understood,” the post said. “Thank God for the Day which is a coming, you can see God if you are pure in heart!”

Due to previous statements Goheen-Rengo made during the child custody proceedings, Montoya-Lewis took the posting in context as a direct threat to kill her or her family, or others involved in the case, records state. She also got a gun for personal protection and took lessons on how to use it, records show.

Goheen-Rengo is charged with felony harassment and intimidating a judge, also a felony. His case was transferred to Skagit County Superior Court in late October, due to conflicts of interest. Goheen-Rengo was released on pre-trial conditions from the Skagit County Jail on May 25 of this year, barely a month before the alleged hatchet attack.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Eric Richey, who is still handling the case, said Goheen-Rengo’s recent arrest in Southwest Washington shouldn’t affect the case in Skagit and it will continue as planned.

Losing parental rights

Goheen-Rengo’s battle with the courts and Child Protective Services over his three young children began in 2014 after his story went viral on various social media sites and advocacy web pages, like

Goheen-Rengo and his partner, Erica May Carey, said they were being bullied by CPS for their beliefs in home births and a holistic lifestyle, after Carey gave birth to their twins at home. The couple argued there was no abuse or neglect and that their children were all healthy.

But CPS contended that the home births weren’t the issue, and they were instead concerned about the family’s numerous contacts with law enforcement for alleged domestic violence issues, as well as the parents’ various mental health concerns and failure to provide medical treatment for the children, who all have special needs, according to court records.

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The children were initially removed from the home in November 2014, but were given back to the couple in early December of that year as long as they complied with conditions and cooperated with CPS. But after the couple failed to follow the rules, a Whatcom County commissioner ruled in January 2015 the children should be taken into protective custody by the state.

Before that could happen, Goheen-Rengo and Carey took their children and fled to California. Their children were listed as missing for a brief time, until the pair were spotted in February 2015 and the children were taken into custody. When local California authorities tried to take the children, Carey allegedly became combative and was later arrested.

Goheen-Rengo was allowed supervised visitation with the children at the Whatcom County courthouse, but in late January 2016 at the end of the visit, Goheen-Rengo became upset and made threatening statements to one of the caseworkers, court records show. He then trapped the children and two caseworkers in the elevator, refusing to let them leave until the children smiled.

Goheen-Rengo was sentenced to three months in jail for two counts of unlawful imprisonment, both felonies, for trapping the caseworkers.

The children have been in Washington state’s custody since February 2015. The Washington State Court of Appeals ruled in March of this year that Goheen-Rengo and Carey had lost their parental rights to their first three children. A resolution in a child custody dispute involving a fourth child is pending.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt