BELFRY, Mont. — A man accused of killing three people he was living with in a tiny Montana town was arrested early Friday after authorities tracked him to Washington state.
Robert James LeCou, 39, faces three counts of deliberate homicide in the shooting deaths of two women and one man, whose bodies were discovered in a home in the tight-knit town of Belfry, just north of the Wyoming border.
Authorities followed leads to an unincorporated Washington community more than eight hours away and took LeCou into custody in a house just outside Spokane, Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes said.
LeCou could face the death penalty if convicted, according to charging documents filed by Carbon County Attorney Alex Nixon.
LeCou was living in the Belfry home where the bodies were found Thursday, Nixon said. A worried neighbor had called police after not hearing from the residents.
Gary Hill, who lives next door, said he went by the house Wednesday and nobody answered the door but he noticed the television was on. When he saw the set was still on at 5 a.m. Thursday, he suspected something terrible had happened.
"It was right then I said, 'He killed those people and left.' I told my wife I'm calling the sheriff," Hill said.
Sheriff's deputies went into the house and found one woman's body sitting on a couch with gunshot wounds to her head, according to court documents Nixon filed Friday. The second woman was found in the bathroom, also with gunshots to her head. The dead man was found in bed with injuries to his head, Nixon wrote.
LeCou had been in a Belfry bar Tuesday and the bartender refused to serve him, according to charging documents. One of the victims, who was not named in the records, confronted LeCou about his drinking, Nixon wrote.
A resident told investigators that LeCou had recently asked him for 9 mm ammunition. It was not clear whether the resident obtained it for him.
In the small, agriculture-oriented town of 200 people, the triple slaying shocked residents.
"This doesn't happen here," said Theresa Kokkeler, who lives three doors down from where the bodies were found. "This only happens on TV. I've been here 55 years. Never."
Sheriff's officials have declined to identify the victims until their families are notified and autopsies are conducted.
But neighbors named two of the victims as Sharon Hill and Lloyd Lamb, a couple in their 70s. They said LeCou was married to Hill's sister.
They had moved into the home three or four years ago, said Kokkeler and Gary Hill, who is not related to Sharon Hill. Lamb used a walker and Sharon Hill periodically called Kokkeler for assistance when the man had fallen and needed help getting up, Kokkeler said.
About six months ago, a younger couple moved in, presumably to help Hill care for Lamb, said Kokkeler and Gary Hill.
The younger man, LeCou, stuck out because he would never speak to Kokkeler when they ran into each other. That's unusual in the tight-knit community of Belfry, she said.
"He was a strange duck," Kokkeler said of LeCou. "He would ride his bike by and not say a word to you. And here, everybody's friendly."
Gary Hill said there was "feuding — all the time" at the one-story house where LeCou and the victims lived at the edge of town.
LeCou was being held in a jail in Spokane on a $10 million bond. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
In 2000, LeCou was accused in the beating death of a homeless man in Fort Worth, Texas. He was convicted of aggravated assault, according to court filings.
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This story has been corrected to show that Alex Nixon is Carbon County attorney, not Cascade County.