Crime

Ferndale man wanted on suspected rape detained at Lynden border crossing

Crossing the U.S.-Canada border? Here’s what you need to know

Whatcom County has 5 border crossings into Canada, including one of the busiest in the U.S. If you're traveling to British Columbia, here's what you need to know.
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Whatcom County has 5 border crossings into Canada, including one of the busiest in the U.S. If you're traveling to British Columbia, here's what you need to know.

A Ferndale man wanted on suspicion of four crimes including second-degree rape of a frail elder or vulnerable adult was detained Sunday evening at the Lynden border crossing by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, according to a release.

The 55-year-old man, who was not named in the release but was identified as Willie Orlando Lawton III by Washington State Patrol Trooper Heather Axtman, attempted entry into the U.S. from Canada at the Lynden Port of Entry, the release stated.

A check of his name revealed that Lawton was wanted on a warrant out of Skagit County on suspicion of second-degree rape of a frail elder or vulnerable adult, indecent liberties with a frail elder or vulnerable adult and two counts of fourth-degree assault with special allegations for sexual motivation.

“Our officers’ vigilance ensures we apprehend felons and wanted individuals encountered at the border,” Port Director Phillip Stanford said in the release. “The work we do is vital to protecting our communities, especially the vulnerable members within them.”

Lawton was transported to the Whatcom County Jail by the Washington State Patrol and booked at 6:58 p.m. Sunday, according to jail records. Skagit County Jail records show Lawton is now being held there in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Jail records also show Lawton was originally arrested by Anacortes police.

Lawton was charged with second-degree rape of a frail elder or vulnerable adult for an incident that occurred in March 2016, court records show, and a warrant was issued April 24. The indecent liberties of a frail elder or vulnerable adult charge was from an alleged incident in August 2017, while the two fourth-degree assault charges stemmed from alleged incident in April 2017 and February 2018.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.


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