Unlawful imprisonment case in PT prompts charge of witness tampering

Posted 11/10/22

A 37-year-old Puyallup woman has been charged with witness tampering after she allegedly schemed with a Port Townsend man currently in jail to keep two crucial witnesses from showing up for his …

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Unlawful imprisonment case in PT prompts charge of witness tampering

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A 37-year-old Puyallup woman has been charged with witness tampering after she allegedly schemed with a Port Townsend man currently in jail to keep two crucial witnesses from showing up for his trial.

Jessica Lynn Lawson made her initial appearance in Jefferson County Superior Court on Friday for a single felony count of being an accomplice to witness tampering.

She was immediately arraigned on the charge, following a request by her attorney, Jonathan Morrison, and Lawson pleaded “not guilty” to the accusation.

Prosecutors allege that Lawson and another man have been in contact with Joshua Quinn Keele during Keele’s incarceration in Jefferson County Jail.

Keele remains in custody on two counts of unlawful imprisonment after he allegedly threatened two housecleaners with a stun gun and wouldn’t let them leave his home.

Keele was arrested July 26 after one of the housekeepers, a 23-year-old from Bremerton, called police and said Keele had imprisoned her in his home overnight with the other housecleaner, a 22-year-old woman also from Bremerton. 

The woman said after they arrived at his home, Keele accused the pair of stealing a glass dish and then began to threaten them with a stun gun and pepper spray. She said he continued to threaten them even after the glass dish was found, and he refused to let them leave the house and menaced them with weapons whenever they tried to go.

The woman also said Keele became paranoid as the night went on, and had the women hide in his bedroom or bathroom when he looked outside through the window blinds.

She also said Keele would not let her get to her cellphone, and kept her away from the phone by threatening her with a Taser, according to court documents. At one point, Keele activated a Taser-like weapon and pointed the sparking device at the women.

After the sun came up, one of the women got out of the house but came back to get the other woman and their possessions. Every time they tried to grab their things, Keele allegedly would threaten them and lunge at them, “saying he was going to punch them, taze them, or pepper spray them,” according to an incident report written by Port Townsend police. 

Keele, 47, remains in jail and bail was earlier set at $275,000.

While in jail, Keele has been in contact with Lawson and another person by sending them messages through “Chirps,” a text messaging device available to inmates.

Authorities claim Keele and the pair have been trading messages about the two witnesses, using code words for the witnesses’ names and Keele’s upcoming trial.

In the messages, recorded by the jail in September, Keele referred to the two witnesses and his “cousins” and his trial as “the Huskies game.”

In a recorded message Sept. 30, Lawson wrote to Keele: “Has anyone tried to find these girls? Does the state even know where they are?”

Keele responded: “We should get tickets to the Huskies game for this weekend know what im sayin? ;) Im gonna give you a phone number to see if this person wants to go. They ... would know all about the ‘Huskies game.’ He is a very old friend and very solid people and you can ask him about the Huskies game and who if certain people ... will show up. He knows everyone! Do you understand?”

During a visit to the jail Oct. 2, Lawson was recorded as she met with Keele, and he asked her if she had met his “cousins.”

According to court documents, authorities said Keele, Lawson, and another man “have been working together in order to track down, contact, and intimidate the witnesses, or worse.”

Authorities also think others who have not yet been named may also be involved in trying to intimidate the two housecleaners.

Lawson was ordered released on her personal recognizance following her court hearing Friday.

Her trial was set for Jan. 9 though Jan. 12.

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