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Montana Cold Cases

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Montana Murders

On the websites of numerous law enforcement organizations, you may find historical and current reports and data on the number of murders in Montana by year. A Uniform Crime Report is also published every year by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which lists the types of crimes, crime rates, and crime locations in most cities and counties in every state in the United States. This report is a great resource for anybody interested in crime statistics. Additionally, Project: Cold Case, a nonprofit organization, has compiled and published a public database of more than 25,000 unsolved murders across the United States. In addition to their database, Project: Cold Case has created a detailed webpage dedicated to the number of unsolved homicides and the homicide clearance rate for each state. In Montana, between 1980 and 2019, there were about 1,303 unsolved homicides, according to Project: Cold Case’s data. Approximately 881 of the homicides have been solved over the years, leaving approximately 422 unsolved murders in Montana as of the website’s most recent update.

Unfortunately, there is no single database or list of Montana’s many unsolved homicides, and many local law enforcement agencies fall into the same category. Due to this, finding Montana cold cases to research can quickly become a daunting task, especially when trying to find information on unsolved murders in specific areas of the state. A few of the unsolved murders in northern Montana which can be found within various websites and news articles include: the 2003 murder of Darlene Wilcock and the 1992 murder of the Sheridan County Jane Doe, along with other cold cases, such as the 2017 disappearance of Ashley Loring HeavyRunner.

Other types of cases included within these lists are the many unsolved central Montana murders, including the 1994 murder of Julianne Stallman, the 1985 murder of Randall Church, the 1996 murder of Cliff Nelson, the 2019 murder of Kaysera Stops Pretty Places, and the 2018 murder of Harriet Wilson, among others. In addition to those already mentioned, a few of the unsolved murders in Helena, Montana, can also be found in the limited lists or within databases, including the 1974 murder of Israel Goss and the 1969 murder of Cleve Harrigfeld. Finally, a few unsolved murders in Lewis and Clark County, Montana, are also included within law enforcement lists or databases, including the 1968 murder of Pamela Ann Dorrington.

Unsolved Montana Murders

At the time of the last update to Project: Cold Case’s website, there were around 422 Montana cold cases waiting to be solved. Other than the database provided by Project: Cold Case, there is not a single list or database of all unsolved murders in Montana, or even very many local law enforcement agencies that have published lists. In addition to the unsolved killings of Darlene Wilcock and Jane Doe in Sheridan County in 1992, which are the most well-known northern Montana unsolved murders, there are additional cold cases in northern Montana, such as the disappearance of Ashley Loring HeavyRunner in 2017. Also among the lists are a couple of unsolved murders Helena, Montana, including the 1974 murder of Israel Goss and the 1969 murder of Cleve Harrigfeld. In addition to those previously stated, a couple of the other unsolved murders Montana included within the few lists of Montana cold cases are the few examples of east Montana unsolved murders and disappearances. These include the 1985 murder of Dexter Stefonek and the 1991 disappearance of Jody Fern Howard.

Joseph Smedley
Joseph SmedleySuspicious Death, 2015
Asha Degree
Asha DegreeMissing, 2000

Consider this

More than 200,000 unsolved cases have gone cold since 1980, and murder clearance rates continue to drop. With equity for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other underserved victims not prioritized in the true crime community—together we can do better.

Famous Montana Murders

A few names on the lists of murders in Montana which can be accessed on numerous law enforcement agency websites may ring a bell. Some of the names on the numerous lists of all murders in Montana, list of Montana murders, and notorious Montana criminals have become easily recognizable over time.

A few of the most well-known or infamous Montana murders and disappearances which remain unsolved to this day include: 2000 murder of Jeannette “Charlie” Atwater and the 2019 murder of Kaysera Stops Pretty Places, along with the 2017 disappearance of Ashley Loring HeavyRunner, the 1983 disappearance of Nyleen Kay Marshall, and the 1991 disappearance of Jody Fern Howard, among others.

Homicide Rate in Montana

In 2019, the violent crime rate in Montana was 404.9 per 100,000 people, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2019 Uniform Crime Report. Thus, in 2019, violent crime directly affected almost 405 people per 100,000 persons. The homicide rate in Montana in 2019 was 2.5 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the same FBI data. Approximately 2-3 people per 100,000 Montana residents were slain in 2019, according to this estimate.

Helena, Montana’s capital, is currently home to a population of more than 426,000 residents. In 2018, the violent crime rate in Helena, Montana, was about 614.46 per 100,000 inhabitants, while the murder rate in Helena, Montana, was approximately 6.27 per 100,000 persons. Although there currently is not a definitive way that we can accurately predict how many murders in Montana 2021 or how many murders in Helena, Montana, 2021, we can look through archived crime reports to make an educated guess based on the data and crime trends over time. Based on these archived records, the homicide rates in both Helena and Montana as a whole appear to be growing slowly year after year.

Lewis and Clark County Murders

More than 71,000 people now live in Lewis and Clark County, Montana, according to the most recent census. Although we currently have no way of knowing exactly how many Lewis and Clark County murders have been committed in the past few years, you may look through FBI Uniform Crime Reports from prior years to get a good idea of the current trends. One murder occurred in Lewis and Clark County in 2016, one occurred the next year, two occurred in 2018, and one occurred in 2019. The number of murders in Lewis and Clark County, Montana, appears to have stayed stable in recent years, based on the limited statistics available.

In most Lewis and Clark County murders cases, authorities are ready to accumulate enough Lewis and Clark County murders evidence to charge and bring their main suspect to Lewis and Clark County murders trial. The kinds of evidence commonly offered in Lewis and Clark County homicide cases are determined largely by the features and characteristics of the crime itself. For example, evidence might include blood, semen, or other DNA evidence, or fingerprints, and most commonly, Lewis and Clark County murders crime scene photos, which display to the jury the conditions of the environment that surrounds the crime scene, the general areas of any essential items of evidence, and any other aspects that may have an effect.

Helena, Montana Murders

Due to its relatively small size and population, compared to other cities, Helena, Montana, murders seem to be substantially lower than in more populated areas in the state. The number of unsolved cold case murders in Helena, Montana, has been significantly declining in recent years, yet police continue to look into those that remain unresolved. As you may expect, there continues to be endless Helena murders discussion on various popular social media websites, most notably Facebook, Websleuths, and Reddit. Users on these social media wesites commonly have discussions which focus mainly on sharing speculations, opinions, and other thoughts about Helena murders pictures, Helena murders crime scene photos, and Helena, Montana, murders autopsy photos, among other areas of discussion.

Montana Serial Killers

Montana has attracted a surprising number of Montana killers throughout the course of its lengthy history. You may find the most well-known and famous Montana serial killers by looking at a serial killer list, such as a Montana serial killer list or a list of serial killers in Montana. A few of the most infamous or notorious Montana serial killers can be easily found included on these lists, including: David Meirhofer, who murdered at least four people from 1967-1974; and Wayne Nance, also known as the “Missoula Mauler,” who is believed to have murdered at least six people from 1974-1986.

Crimes in Montana

If you’re interested in understanding more about crimes in Montana, a number of law enforcement organizations provide annual reports on their websites that explain the types of crimes committed in the state through detailed statistics. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation publishes a yearly Uniform Crime Report that includes crime rates and statistics for most cities and counties in each state in the United States, including a detailed report on crime in Montana.

Sadly, it appears that the number of Montana homicide and true crime stories in Montana will never be ended completely. According to Project: Cold Case, there were about 1,303 murders in Montana between 1980 and 2019. According to the most current website update, about 881 of the killings have been solved, leaving approximately 422 unsolved homicides in Montana alone. Regardless, Montana’s law enforcement authorities will continue to work diligently to solve all of Montana’s true crimes.

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Additional Montana Cold Cases