FBI not actively seeking suspects in woman’s car trunk death
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The FBI is not actively seeking any suspects in the case of a Montana woman who was found dead in the trunk of her car in Spokane, Washington after telling her family she had been abducted from a rest stop north of Helena.
The agency released a statement Wednesday saying the investigation into the Sept. 6 death of 47-year-old Rita Maze of Great Falls was not complete, but investigators have not uncovered any evidence to indicate anyone else was involved. Some lab tests are pending.
Rochelle Maze has said her panicked mother called saying she was in the trunk of a moving vehicle. Her body was found a few hours later.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the case, who was not authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press that investigators have found no reason to suspect foul play.
Judge denies Ryan Payne’s motion to undo guilty plea
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge has denied Oregon refuge occupier Ryan Payne’s request to withdraw his guilty plea.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown ruled Wednesday that Payne’s plea in the Oregon case wasn’t, as his attorney argued, contingent on reaching a plea agreement in a case against him in Nevada.
Payne, of Anaconda, Montana, admitted in July that he conspired with others to prevent Interior Department employees from doing their jobs during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildfire Refuge.
Payne was one of 11 defendants to plead guilty before others in the case went to trial and were found not guilty.
Payne will be sentenced at a later date.
In Nevada, he’s accused of organizing “armed protection” in an April 2014 standoff over impounding Cliven Bundy’s cattle.
Burglary suspect injured in shootout with homeowner
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Authorities have arrested two burglary suspects after one of them was injured in a shootout with the owner of a cabin near Helena.
The Independent Record reports that officials say the owner had arrived at his cabin Wednesday to find a black SUV parked outside and the residence being burglarized. A confrontation ensued between the homeowner and the suspects and shots were fired.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says it’s still too early to tell who opened fire first.
One of the suspects, a man in his 20s, was taken to a hospital after the incident. Details about the extent of his injuries have not been released.
Authorities located and arrested the other suspect hours after the shooting.
The incident remains under investigation.
4 people injured in gas explosion at West Yellowstone home
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say four people, including three children, were hospitalized after a gas explosion at a home in West Yellowstone.
Shane Grube, chief of the Hebgen Basin Rural Fire District, tells The Bozeman Daily Chronicle that firefighters were called to the mobile home Tuesday morning. He says the explosion caused a fireball that blew itself out.
Two people suffered severe injuries and two were moderately injured. All of the victims were taken to a hospital in Rexburg, Idaho.
The fire district is investigating with help from the state fire marshal’s office.
No other details were released.
Missoula man charged with failing to pay restitution
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A 52-year-old Missoula man is charged with failing to pay restitution for the theft of brass from an ammunition reloading business in Stevensville.
The Missoulian reports (bit.ly/2iEIX8G) John Michael Frenn made an initial appearance in Ravalli County Justice Court on Tuesday after being charged with two counts each of theft and forgery.
Frenn received a 10-year suspended sentence in July 2011 and was ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution. Ravalli County put a lien on his vehicle to guarantee payments.
The court ordered his vehicle forfeited in August after he fell behind on his payments, but it had been stripped of parts and was damaged.
Court records say Frenn told the officer the vehicle had been in several accidents and he filed $12,000 in insurance claims, but didn’t use the money to repair the vehicle or pay restitution.
Prosecutors have also filed a motion to revoke his suspended sentence.
Walter Wick, former publisher of Arizona newspaper, dies
SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (AP) — The former publisher of the Sierra Vista Herald, who with his brother grew Wick Communications into a media company with publications in 11 states, has died.
Walter M. Wick died Christmas morning at his home in Hereford. He was 85 and had pancreatic cancer.
Wick was a member of the Arizona Newspaper Association Hall of Fame and was publisher emeritus of the Herald and the Bisbee Daily Review newspapers.
Walter Wick and his brother, Robert, bought their uncle’s interest in the company in 1965. They took over full ownership when their father died in 1981.
Robert Wick told the Herald he was “as blessed as any brother could be with Walter’s presence in my life.”
Family members still run the company. Services are set for Jan. 6 in Sierra Vista.