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Community Reeling After Washington Budtender Found Deceased

September 18, 2017

Members of Cheney, Washington’s cannabis community received news on Friday that their worst fears had been confirmed: Cameron Smith, the budtender who was abducted the previous weekend, had been found dead.

Smith’s body was discovered by Spokane County Rescue just off State Route 904 west of Cheney, near Four Lakes, on Sept. 15 around 3 p.m. Cheney PD described the location of Smith’s body as being “concealed in heavy cover” several feet from the roadway, near where authorities last made contact with his cell phone and just south of where his vehicle was ultimately located, in Airway Heights.

Stacia Shirley, manager at Lucid Cheney, described the dispensary atmosphere upon hearing the news. “We’re just heartbroken,” she said.

The team at Lucid received word about an hour before the news was officially released to the media on Friday.

Employees were sent screenshots of a Facebook update written by the suspect, 36-year-old Donovan Culps. “It was essentially a crazy written confession of guilt,” Shirley said. “Basically, ‘Yes, I did it, the two women weren’t involved.’ And the end, about how Cam was gone–‘Ain’t no coming back.’”

“He was a son, a father, a brother, an uncle, and a grandfather. He was a beautiful person doing the best he could do, and he was a good friend.”

According to Shirley, Culps’ post on his private Facebook profile also indicated that he was ready to take on law enforcement. “He said they had a ‘shoot to kill warrant’ and that he was ready for it,” she explained.

Culps was apprehended on Thursday in Goldendale, 240 miles south of Cheney, near the Washington–Oregon border. The suspect was arrested after leading police on a chase that ended with Culps crashing into a tree. He was booked into Klickitat County Jail awaiting charges of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery. A Cheney police captain said last week that if Smith’s body were to be found, the charges would be upgraded to include first-degree murder.

Law enforcement also apprehended Alisha Jackson, 18, for her presence during the abduction. She was already in police custody for separate charges but faces a federal charge of failing to report a felony. The third suspect, 18-year-old Violetta Culps, niece of Donovan Culps, has not been apprehended.

The team at Lucid has been reeling since Smith’s abduction, but Shirley told Leafly that they’ve all been trying to stay strong for Cam. “We’re just trying to push forward with a strong face, and that just shows what a strong influence he was on us. He would want us to stay strong,” she said.

Lucid has set up a GoFundMe campaign to support Smith’s family and help cover funeral costs. Shirley also asked that members of the cannabis community consider one of Smith’s biggest goals. “He always wanted to be [DOPE Industry Awards’] Budtender of the Year. It’s what he lived for and what he strived for, and now we’re trying to get him nominated.”

Shirley’s words echoed many of the sentiments expressed through the community on Lucid’s social media: “He was a son, a father, a brother, an uncle, and a grandfather. He was a beautiful person doing the best he could do, and he was a good friend.”

Lisa Rough's Bio Image
Lisa Rough

Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.

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