Tri-City Americans player's girlfriend charged with harassment

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 23, 2014 

A Canadian reporter was allegedly so angered by news her boyfriend had cheated on her that she told the Tri-City Americans player she was coming to visit and "it would be his last game of hockey."

Tieja MacLaughlin ignored multiple requests by Jackson Playfair to cancel her planned trip. Then, once in Kennewick, MacLaughlin promised police she'd leave him alone but continued to send about 20 to 25 more text messages to her boyfriend, court documents said.

Playfair, a forward for the Americans, notified police after MacLaughlin got to town because he was "worried that she might carry out her threats to kill" based on her prior comments, documents said.

On Thursday, MacLaughlin was charged in Benton County Superior Court with one count of felony harassment with domestic violence.

MacLaughlin is scheduled to appear in court Friday. At that time, she may enter a plea to the new charge.

She had been on a no-bail hold in the Benton County jail since her arrest Saturday afternoon, but a judge set bail Thursday at $50,000.

A story about MacLaughlin in Wednesday's Tri-City Herald went viral online and has drawn interest from newspapers, websites and TV and radio stations across Canada.

MacLaughlin, 25, is a freelance news and sports reporter for two media outlets in Kelowna, B.C., according to her LinkedIn profile. It also shows that she has covered the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.

Playfair, 19, has been with the Tri-City team for two weeks after a trade with the Spokane Chiefs.

The two reportedly started dating in July but it was a "rocky," on-again off-again relationship.

During a heated phone conversation late last week, Playfair admitted he had cheated on MacLaughlin with another girl while in Spokane, documents said.

MacLaughlin became upset, began to make verbal threats toward Playfair and said "he would be dead" by the following night, documents said.

Playfair later claimed MacLaughlin threatened to kill him several times during the conversation. He initially wasn't concerned for his safety because she was at home in Canada and he was in Kennewick.

The couple had planned to spend time together in the Tri-Cities on Sunday when MacLaughlin drove down for a visit. But Playfair reportedly told her not to come after that conversation.

MacLaughlin "advised that she was coming down that day, that he did not have a choice and that he needed to have things figured out or things were going to get very bad," Deputy Prosecutor Brendan Siefken wrote in the court documents.

The conversation ended with MacLaughlin telling her boyfriend "she was going to hurt him the way he hurt her," Siefken said.

Playfair went to bed and awoke the next morning to additional messages from MacLaughlin saying she was at the border and on her way to the Tri-Cities. He contacted her and told her to turn around, but MacLaughlin said she was continuing on with her trip.

Playfair traveled to Seattle on Jan. 17 to play the Thunderbirds. When he got back on the team bus after the game, there were messages on his phone from MacLaughlin saying she was in the Tri-Cities.

Kennewick police responded to the Toyota Center at 2:30 a.m. Saturday to meet with Playfair after he got back in town.

Playfair told police that, during previous arguments, MacLaughlin had made threats to hurt both of them. Those prior threats reportedly are what made him take this incident seriously, along with the fact that MacLaughlin was in Kennewick, documents said.

Officers tracked down MacLaughlin at the Super 8 motel in Kennewick at 4:30 a.m. She denied threatening to kill Playfair and said he had threatened to ruin her career and her life, documents said.

Police told MacLaughlin that she wasn't going to be arrested, and advised her to get some rest and go back home. They added that her boyfriend "just wanted to be left alone."

But MacLaughlin "appeared to ignore the warning" and insisted she needed to talk to Playfair before leaving, documents said. Officers reiterated that he didn't want to speak with her and that she needed to leave town when she woke up later that morning.

MacLaughlin was warned that she would be taken into custody if she continued to call or text him, and she reportedly agreed to back off.

Later Saturday, Playfair contacted police again to report getting a couple dozen more texts from MacLaughlin, documents said. Police asked him to agree to meet MacLaughlin, but an officer instead showed up at the motel and arrested her.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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