Reporter allegedly threatened to kill WHL player
Court documents indicate 25-year-old Kelowna resident Tieja MacLaughlin, who police said had been dating Tri-City Americans player Jackson Playfair, was arrested in Kennewick, Wash.
None of the allegations contained in court documents or outlined publicly by Kennewick police have been tested in court, and she has not been charged. She appeared in court Tuesday and was held without bail, according to the documents.
According to a court document outlining the reason for MacLaughlin's detention, Playfair called police early Saturday morning.
He told police he had been in a relationship with MacLaughlin since last July, but the relationship had been "rocky," the document said.
"Tieja found out the victim cheated on her and she told him over the phone that she was on her way to Kennewick," the arresting officer wrote on the document. "During that phone call, Tieja advised the victim that he would be dead by the end of the night."
The document said MacLaughlin denied making the threats after her arrest on Saturday.
MacLaughlin was assigned a public defender. Eric Hsu, the public defence manager for the Benton and Franklin Counties Office of Public Defense, confirmed MacLaughlin was being held in custody but otherwise declined to comment.
The victim in the document is identified only as a player for the Tri-City Americans, but Kennewick police spokesman Mike Blatman confirmed Playfair's identity.
Playfair is originally from Fort St. James, B.C., according to biographical information on the team's website. He is the son of Phoenix Coyotes associate coach Jim Playfair, and his brother, Austyn Playfair, was signed to the Americans last year.
A spokesperson for the Tri-City Americans said neither Playfair nor the team would be commenting.
MacLaughlin is a freelance reporter for Castanet, an online news website based in Kelowna, and has also written for the Kelowna Daily Courier. Two addresses are listed for her in court documents, one in Kelowna and one in Paris, Ont.
Blatman said MacLaughlin had travelled to Kennewick from Paris.
"She got here and apparently there was some sort of a falling out between the two of them, where she became upset that he might have been involved in some other relationship," Blatman said in an interview.
Blatman said MacLaughlin ended up staying in a hotel room for the night, but continued to contact Playfair, prompting him to call police.
He said officers contacted MacLaughlin and she agreed to leave Playfair alone.
"She agreed to do that, said she wouldn't make any contact with him or anything else," Blatman said.
"Between that time and the next morning, there were a substantial number of text messages she continued to send Playfair."
Blatman said MacLaughlin was arrested Saturday. She can be held without charge for up to 72 hours after her Tuesday court appearance.
A profile for MacLaughlin on the social networking site LinkedIn says she is a reporter for Castanet and the Kelowna Daily Courier. Stories with her byline have appeared in both publications, as recently as this month.
A Twitter account that appears to be maintained by MacLaughlin suggests she may have crossed the border into the United States last Friday.
"If I had a dollar for every time a U.S. customs officer chirped my truck, I'd be able to buy a new truck," says a tweet from the user (at)Tieja_Mac.
— By James Keller in Vancouver
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