Resident pepper-sprayed during Coyle home invasion robbery

COYLE — A 72-year-old man was pepper-sprayed during a home-invasion robbery Wednesday night, with at least one assailant making off with several medical marijuana plants, $300 in cash and the victim’s pickup truck, which was driven away and burned.

Harvey Caldwell, a Go-Onna Beach Road resident, told Jefferson County sheriff’s investigators that his doorbell rang after 10 p.m., and when he answered, he was blinded by pepper spray to the eyes, Sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Stamper said.

Caldwell was not injured otherwise, but he said the pepper spray disabled him and the intruder walked in.

The incident was still under investigation Thursday, Stamper said.

Caldwell did not report the incident for about an hour after it happened, Stamper said.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived around midnight, Stamper said, about 24 medical marijuana plants remained in Caldwell’s home

“At least one male suspect confronted him and took part of his marijuana grow,” Stamper said, adding that Caldwell showed investigators proof of a medical marijuana prescription, one that was being checked with his doctor.

Stamper said investigators were also checking if it was a legal growing operation under state laws for medical marijuana.

60-day supply

A qualifying patient or designated provider can have a 60-day supply of medical marijuana under state law. A 60-day supply is defined as 24 ounces and 15 plants. The law states that a patient can exceed these limits if he or she can prove medical need.

Fearing for his life, Caldwell offered up $300 in cash in a drawer to the robber.

“There were trails where [the robber] went out of the house with full plants,” Stamper said.

The robber demanded Caldwell’s cell phone and his truck keys.

The abandoned, burned-out truck was found about six miles north of Caldwell’s home on a logging road off Coyle Road, which runs down the Toandos Peninsula between Hood Canal and Dabob Bay.

“He took the 1992 Ford pickup and it was recovered” early Thursday, Stamper said. The vehicle was destroyed.

Stamper said it appeared there might have been a second robber involved, possibly waiting outside in another vehicle.

Traces of pepper spray were found on the man’s door frame, Stamper said, and there was no indication that other weapons were involved.

The robber went through the house and knew what he was looking for, he said.

“It’s a very active investigation at this point,” Stamper said. “It was definitely drug-related, according to deputies.”


Port Townsend-Jefferson County Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

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