Lifestyle

South Whidbey’s Most Wanted

Paul Samuelson is among the 10 Relay For Life prisoners waiting for their release. - Brian Kelly
Paul Samuelson is among the 10 Relay For Life prisoners waiting for their release.
— image credit: Brian Kelly

They are your neighbors, your friends.

They look like they couldn’t hurt a fly, but behind the innocent facades of the small-town business owner, politician, real estate agent and, yes, even a former judge, hide some serious criminal minds.

But at last, justice has been served and 10 of South Whidbey’s Most Wanted have been apprehended by law enforcement and are now incarcerated by the Relay for Life Correctional Department.

Among the prisoners are Denise, Michele and Virginia LaRue of Langley. The three First Street business owners claim they are innocent.

It’s their story and they are sticking with it, they said.

“Paris Hilton has nothing on the three of us, except that she can wear orange,” said Denise LaRue. “Please save us from the humiliation of an orange jump suit.”

“Who can let our 87-year-old mom spend unfashionable jail time?” LaRue pleaded with the community. “Come and bail us out.”

Well, OK, they aren’t real criminals. The South End trio are just pretending to be during a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Even so, organizers of the annual event won’t let their prisoners walk without posting bail.

LaRue wasn’t sure how much bail money would be required to release the triple threat of LaRue women.

But the women hope to raise a significant amount of money.

“Give till it hurts — as much as possible,” LaRue said.

The South Whidbey’s Most Wanted fundraiser is a new addition this year to Relay for Life. The cancer fundraiser is set for this Friday and Saturday.

Registration for Relay For Life will begin at 3 p.m., and teams will start walking at 5 p.m. at the South Whidbey High School stadium.

“It’s supposed to inspire people,” said organizer and prison warden Ginny Nelson.

“It’s a fun thing and it helps a great humanitarian cause,” she said.

The prisoners will report to the Relay For Life jail between 5 and 9 p.m. Friday to begin serving their sentences.

A judge and prison staff will keep an eye on the jail birds and they’ll have to stay in the cell until they have raised their bail money.

Nelson said people can make donations before the event or bring them to the jail on Friday.

One of the prisoners, city councilman and Langley mayor-to-be Paul Samuelson had two reasons why people should bail him out of jail.

“Hair around town would get pretty long pretty fast,” the barber said. “And if they don’t get me out by fall, I can’t go to work at city hall.”

Even though Samuelson isn’t a significant flight risk, his bail was set at $1,000.

People can drop off donations for the “Free Paul Fund” at Paul’s Barber Shop at Langley Village or they can donate during the event at the jail itself.

Some prisoners were a bit worried about the length of their prison stay.

Charlene Arnold, a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker Tara Properties, said she will be calling on friends and family.

“You get at least one phone call from jail, right?” Arnold asked.

“I am used to asking people for money,” she added. “So they may leave me in there.”

Arnold wants to raise $500 for her bail. She hopes to have enough money by early morning Saturday, just in time to start her rounds around the track for Relay for Life.

“I like to walk first thing in the morning, when it is all quiet,” Arnold said, “and honor those who have died.”

Martha Murphy, founder of Whidbey Children’s Theater, said she doesn’t mind jail if it’s for a good cause.

“I have cancer survivor family and friends, and I also have lost good friends to cancer. I want to help in a personal way to find a cure for cancer,” she said.

She plans to raise $500 for her bail money.

“That’s what it will take to get me out of prison,” Murphy said. “I need to get out of prison before June 25 when I start teaching summer drama classes for Whidbey Children’s Theater. I just can’t allow anyone else to teach these children.”

Other prisoners include high school baseball player Colton Wilson, cancer survivor Kelly Henriot, Lynn Tippery, Nichols Brother CEO Matt Nichols, former judge Larry Shafer and Shayne Thatcher.

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