Private investigator accused of intimidating witnesses & crime victims

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- A local private investigator is in jail accused of intimidating witnesses and crime victims. Stephanie Barnes was booked on multiple felony charges.

Stephanie Barnes is used to find out the dirty details on other people. But it was Friday night that her own home and workplace were raided by Yakima Sheriff's and Yakima Police. The private investigator is suspected of tampering with witnesses, also intimidating witnesses and crime victims.

It's connected to a kidnapping case from March. Four people were arrested. Barnes said she was hired by two of those people. Detectives think she used that role to try to get her clients off.

Court papers said she offered a deal to the victim: write a new statement that said Barnes' clients were not involved in the kidnapping and get a 30,000 in cash plus a car. The victim understood it that if he or she didn't take the deal, personal safety could be at risk.

"The criminal justice system runs and is affected based on witness and victim testimony to help us to hold people accountable with the things they do in the courts and when that is hampered in any way, it really causes great concern for the entire criminal justice system as a whole," said Yakima County Sheriff's Detective Sergeant Mike Russell.

YPD also investigated an assault case that Barnes worked on. The assault victim said Barnes pressured her to re-write her statement on what happened or leave out the part about the suspect having a gun.

Both crime victims reported their communication with Barnes to police. She made a first appearance Monday on charges of intimidating, tampering and bribing a witness.

Barnes works under S & P investigation. KIMA obtained an email that was sent by Barnes's office account roughly a week before her arrest. It was emailed to a number of local attorneys, relaying concerns people were slandering Barnes. In all-caps, the email says 'I DO NOT coerce, or intimidate witnesses nor have I ever been charged with that.' She is currently held on two million dollars bail.