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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Murdered Libby man was a registered sex offender

Why would the Sheriff make that comment, esp. when it is unknown who did kill him and why?
3-22-2012 Montana:

LIBBY- The Libby man found who authorities say was murdered in his van in the lower Yaak River area over the weekend was a registered sex offender in Lincoln County.

Ernest Judd, 69, was convicted of one count of sexual assault to a 10-year-old female in 2006 and was designated as a Level 2 offender, meaning there was a moderate risk of a repeat sexual offense.

His body was found in his van in the lower part of the Yaak River area on Sunday and the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department says he suffered fatal injuries from blunt force trauma to his body.

Sheriff Roby Bowe says at this time there seems to be no connection between the murder and Judd's sex offense. ..Source.. by


Yaak Valley Murder Victim Identified, Was A Registered Sex Offender

The death of a Libby man in Northwest Montana's Yaak Valley over the weekend has sent the tight-knit community into a state of disbelief.

"We had no idea that this guy had gotten killed up there," said Libby resident Kevin Martin.

69-year-old Ernest Judd was found in his minivan on Sunday and had been beaten to death.

"I have known Ernest for little over a year now and he's come in and out of the store," explained fellow resident Lisa Block, "He was always quiet when he came in, kept to himself. I don't... I'm just kinda shocked with what has happened."

But Judd had a tainted past - court documents reveal that he pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl in 2006 and was released from Montana State Prison after serving only 6 months of a 10 year sentence. Locals who knew him say his past did not matter.

"I'm not gonna judge him," continued Block, "he served what was put down by the judge as far as I know, I'm not gonna judge him. It's not my place."

Sheriff Robe Bowe says there's no obvious link between Judd's criminal past and the murder, but locals say they hope justice is served.

"That'll definitely be up to the judge and the jury to decide," said Martin, "all that and questions and everything. And hopefully we'll get some answers and know exactly what happened."

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department says the homicide is currently under investigation. ..Source.. by Rebecca Vogt, KCFW Reporter


Suspected murder victim identified

The 69-year-old man found dead of blunt force trauma in his minivan in Lincoln County has been identified as Ernest Cleon Judd of Libby.

Judd and his vehicle were found by a passing driver at about 2 p.m. Sunday in the lower part of the Yaak River area on a gravel U.S. Forest Service road. Initially investigated as a suicide, Lincoln County Sheriff Roby Bowe reported Tuesday that the department now believes Judd was murdered.

According to the Montana Department of Justice’s Sexual or Violent Offender Registry, Judd is a tier 2 registered sex offender. He was convicted in 2006 of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl the year before.

His tier 2 assignment means he was deemed to have a moderate risk of being a repeat sexual offender.

Bowe said his department is aware of Judd’s history, but that there is currently no indication that it has anything to do with his death.

Bowe also addressed a rumor that Judd had recently won a sizable amount of money at a casino, which could have been a possible factor in a murder.

“We’re following all those leads, and as of right now we can’t pin that as a motive either,” Bowe said. “We’ve heard the same rumors, and all they are right now are rumors.” ..Source.. by JESSE DAVIS, The Daily Inter Lake


Lincoln County death investigated as murder; victim identified

Authorities in Lincoln County have released the name of a man whose body was found in a minivan along the Yaak River last weekend, and continue to investigate the death as a homicide.

Ernest Judd, 69, of Libby, died of blunt force trauma, Lincoln County Sheriff Roby Bowe said Friday. His body was found March 18 in a minivan parked on a Forest Service road in the lower Yaak River area.

The death was originally thought to be a suicide, but Bowe said further investigation revealed that it was a murder.

“As of right now, we don’t have any motive,” Bowe said. “We don’t have any inclination at all why this person or persons did this to him.”

Bowe said investigators have spoken with people who knew Judd, and who reported that the man recently won a substantial amount of money at a casino. However, the amounts have varied between $700 and $1,700 and Bowe has not verified the winnings.

“There is speculation that he won money at the local casino, and we are following up on all those leads right now,” Bowe said. “Right now we haven’t confirmed anything, and we are just trying to determine what is true and what’s not.”

Investigators have also taken into account the fact that Judd has a criminal history, but Bowe said nothing so far indicates the murder is connected to the victim’s past legal troubles.

The state Sexual or Violent Offenders Registry lists Judd as a tier-2 registered sex offender. He was convicted in 2006 of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl the year before.

“There is no indication right now that his criminal past has anything to do with this,” Bowe said.

The Montana Department of Criminal Investigations is assisting with the case, and Bowe said the Montana State Crime Lab is processing forensic evidence. So far, there are no suspects.

Judd’s death marks the fourth murder investigation by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in four months, and the only one without an arrest or a suspect.

In December, Kristina Lynn Welch was arrested for the shooting death of her husband, Charles Welch. Then in January, Dale Kinniburgh Jr., 51, killed himself after reporting to police that he had murdered his wife, Catherine Kinniburgh, 55.

Days later, James Bonifas, 75, was arrested for the death of his daughter, 41-year-old Suzanne Campbell.

Bowe said the string of deaths has kept the department busy, but detectives are fully committed to solving the most recent homicide case.

“We are going to take it slow and careful and find out who did this,” he said. ..Source.. by Tristan Scott


Man, 69, killed; identified; was known sex offender

The Western News on Tuesday learned the identity of the 69-year-old man who was found dead in a vehicle in the lower Yaak is Ernest Cleon Judd of Libby.

Earlier Tuesday, a press release from Lincoln County Sheriff Roby Bowe confirmed the death was determined to be a homicide. However, Bowe did not confirm Judd as the victim, whose body was found about 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Western News learned Judd’s identity independently.

Bowe’s updated statement about the investigation revealed the deceased died of blunt-force trauma to the back of the head. The deceased was found in his minivan.

“The problem is we have not been able to notify his next of kin,” Bowe said. “Sometimes, families are tough to locate, and I don’t know when we might be able to do that.”

Conceding to next-of-kin concerns, The Western News has agreed to not post the news of Judd’s slaying on its Website until the geographically distant family members are notified by the Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Bowe was asked whether he could confirm the deceased recently won a sizeable amount at a casino.

Bowe, who stated his department is continuing its investigation, is looking into reports that the deceased boasted about recent winnings — talk that could have made him a target.

“… We’ll be pursuing that,” Bowe said.

The deceased’s body was taken to the Montana State Crime Laboratory where the cause of death was determined, clearing the way for the homicide investigation.

Judd’s slaying is the fourth such homicide in recent months, dating back to December when Kristina Welch allegedly shot her husband, Brian Charles Welch, in their home. Subsequent deaths of Dale and Catherine Kinniburgh, in a murder-suicide in which Dale killed his wife on Jan. 3 before turning the gun on himself.

Three days later, James Bonifas alledgedly shot his daughter, Susanne Campbell, in their home.

In those cases, police had immediate suspects.

Judd’s alleged killer or killers is still at large.

According to the Montana State Web site, Ernest Cleon Judd is a registered sex offender. Judd’s physical description listed him as a 5-foot, 9-inches tall, with blue eyes and white hair. He reportedly weighed 295 pounds. ..Source.. by Western News

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