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Kelowna area reporter in US jail after allegedly making death threat
A Kelowna-based reporter is being held in a US jail after allegedly making a death threat against her teenage love interest.
Tieja MacLaughlin, 25, was arrested Saturday morning at a hotel in Kennewick, Washington after allegedly threatening Jackson Playfair, 19, a member of the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans.
"She (said) he wouldn't make it through the night ... that's it in a nutshell," said Craig Hanson, the arresting officer as well as the public information officer for the Kennewick Police.
MacLaughlin had been seeing Playfair and was scheduled to go visit him in Kennewick Sunday, Jan. 19.
Hanson said something went awry between the pair and MacLaughlin then—two days ahead of schedule— allegedly sent a number of menacing text messages, made the death threat and went on the 509 km drive.
Playfair filed a complaint with the police and MacLaughlin was told to turn back and go home. She didn't and was arrested in her Kennewick hotel room Saturday "without incident." She was put on a 72-hour hold without bail, pending an investigation for felony threat.
In general, Hanson said the situation is somewhat unusual.
"Only speaking from my experience, it does go beyond what we typically deal with," he said. "Usually they don't come in early, don't come this far then hang around after they've been told to leave."
MacLaughlin would have had her first appearance before the courts Tuesday, said Hanson. Now it's up to the prosecutor's office to decide whether or not they intend to pursue criminal charges. If she is tried and eventually found guilty, she could net a one-year-plus prison sentence.
On her LinkedIn account, MacLaughlin has listed herself as an employee of both Castanet and Shaw TV. She's also worked for the Kelowna Daily Courier, which can be seen in the story-accompanying photograph.
Also a prolific user of social media, she chronicled her trip to the US on Twitter, writing on Friday afternoon under the handle @Tieja_Mac "If I had a dollar for every time a US customs officer chirped my truck, I'd be able to buy a new truck."
Later that night she followed up with the tweet that some online commentators have surmised could have indicated her romantic predicament; "Is asking for your Twitter handle the modern version of asking for your phone number?"
Playfair told police he had been seeing MacLaughlin since July.
He is the son of NHL player and coach Jim Playfair.