A Bonner County man, who authorities suspect murdered his stepfather, was on the lam Monday.
James Montz, 44, was supposed to be sentenced on drug charges Monday afternoon but never showed up for court.
Montz’s attorney, Fred Palmer, said he has no explanation for his client’s disappearance.
Authorities had said all along Montz was a flight risk, and Montz feared an ongoing investigation could result in a murder charge against him.
“He (Montz) has always been a prime murder suspect, and the investigation is still under way,” said Bonner County Sheriff Chip Roos.
Bonner County agents arrested Montz in September for growing 80 marijuana plants. An informant led police to a sophisticated underground growing operation on Rapid Lightning Road northeast of Sandpoint.
The informant also connected Montz to the mysterious disappearance of Mike Haire, Montz’s 50-year-old stepfather.
Haire vanished in June 1993 after a fight with his wife. Roos said he now believes Montz shot Haire, then burned his body in a kiln.
A large kiln was found on Montz’s property during the drug raid, and authorities sifted through ash and dirt looking for Haire’s bones and teeth.
The bones they found turned out not to be human, Roos said.
“The only problem with this case is we don’t have a body. It would have been different if we had dug up a hand or something,” the sheriff said.
Ash from the kiln has been sent to labs for DNA testing to see if any of it is human matter. Several other items that were unearthed also are being examined by forensic anthropologists.
“These tests move very slowly, but we have by no means dropped this case,” Roos said.
First District Judge James Michaud issued a $100,000 arrest warrant for Montz on Monday and revoked his $20,000 bail.
Prosecutor Tevis Hull had argued months ago that Montz was a flight risk. He wanted bail to remain at $500,000 because Montz was a murder suspect.
Instead, Montz was allowed to post bail, turn over his passport and work in Moscow. He was supposed to check in with authorities there once a day. But the last time he checked in was June 3.
Montz had pleaded guilty to growing marijuana and faced five years in prison.