Man allegedly lured into Wash. woods to die survives thanks to dog

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 1:43 AM CDT
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SPOKANE, Wash. (KXLY/CNN) - A Washington man survived for three days after police say his neighbor lured him into the woods and left him for dead over a dishwashing dispute.

Ralph Roberts, a Marine veteran, was at his home with his dog, Leia, on July 19 when his neighbor’s 16-year-old son came over to do the dishes. Roberts says the teenager didn’t do a good job, and the teen complained to his father, John Price Jr., according to court documents.

Deputies say Price and his son returned to Roberts’ home, and Price told Roberts he had to pay his son the $10 he was promised per hour to help out around the house. They say Price then told Roberts he had something to show them at their place about a quarter mile away.

Roberts says he trusted the pair and followed them into the woods with Leia by his side. Deputies say Roberts normally has an oxygen tank and can’t walk well.

The father and son allegedly left Roberts in the woods to die. Price was later arrested for attempted murder.

“‘Y’all are planning on leaving me down here to die.’ He wouldn’t speak to me or nothing, wouldn’t even give me a hello or nothing, and that’s what they did,” Roberts said.

Roberts says after the two left, he crawled around, trying to find anyone who help could help him. He screamed and screamed but only heard an echo.

“Oh, God, I crawled a very, very long way,” he said. “Putting me out there in those mountains really did hurt me bad, and I don’t want to ever go through that again.”

To survive, he drank swamp water for three days. Deputies say it was in the mid to upper 90s the whole time.

"I didn't want to die. I haven't seen all my grandchildren yet," Roberts said.

Leia, Roberts’ best friend, stayed by his side throughout the whole ordeal. On the third day, he told her to go find his landlord and next-door neighbor, Roy “Tag” Canfield.

“The last day I said ‘Look, you got to go find Tag. We’re both going to die right here,’” Roberts said. “She found Tag. She went straight to Tag, and Tag knew that I was somewhere around here.”

Canfield called 911 the night of July 22 and said he hadn’t seen Roberts for a few days. Deputies arrived and located Roberts, who was screaming for help.

When deputies found Roberts, he was cold and shirtless. He had scratches all over him and was taken to the hospital.

“That was a dream. I knew I was going home,” Roberts said. “I thanked them all. Trust me, I thanked them all. And that’s what saved my life was that dog.”

Deputies say they arrested Price based on Roberts’ statements and “the fact that there is no way he could have physically gotten down through the woods and the swamp on his own.” Court records show the suspect is due back in court in September.

It’s unclear if Price’s son will face any charges in the case.

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