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Officer, church sexton remembered

Mon., May 21, 2007

Moscow police Officer Lee Newbill and church sexton Paul Bauer were killed by a gunman in Moscow. Here’s what their friends and co-workers had to say.

Lee Newbill

Lee Newbill, a North Idaho policeman, left his historical mark before being killed in the line of duty just before midnight Saturday.

Newbill, a husband and father of three who worked for the Moscow Police Department, obtained $59,000 in grant money so that his club, The Hog Heaven Muzzleloaders Inc., could re-enact Lewis and Clark’s expedition throught North Idaho and capture it on film.

The footage was spliced into a half-dozen documentary films that appeared on public television, including “Across The Great Divide,” “Echoes of a Bitter Crossing: Lewis and Clark in Idaho” and “Lewis and Clark Crossing the Centuries.”

Newbill was ambushed and killed Saturday night by a sniper in Moscow, leaving behind a wife, Rebecca, daughters Christina and Lisa, and son Jeremiah.

As a co-worker, Newbill, who did bicycle patrols and rifle instruction, was a cheerful, outgoing person who walked around with a smile on his face, said David Duke, assistant chief for the Moscow Police Department.

“He established a rapport with everyone in the department,” his boss said.

As an officer he was capable of sizing up situations and applying just the right strategy, Duke said, whether it be mentoring, coaching or taking a tougher stance.

Friends say Newbill was about 48 years old and had a love of history, motorcycle riding and the outdoors.

Vern Illi, of Troy, Idaho, a friend and co-founder of the Muzzleloaders, said Newbill volunteered long hours as the club’s Webmaster. He also wrote a column for the site called Clerk’s Corner.

During the 2004 Lewis and Clark bicentennial, the Muzzleloaders made multiple appearances, putting on live history displays for students and adults in cities from Billings to the coast.

The sets featured camps with people dressed in period clothing and uniforms. Displays were arranged down to the tiniest detail, including replica medicine bottles and guns, Illi said. The club, and its roughly 30 members, built dugouts stretching down the Clearwater River.

Newbill will be missed at the club’s monthly meetings and at the upcoming Fur Trader’s Rendezvous, which Illi said was a favorite event.

“Everybody who met Lee was instantly his friend. He was an easy guy to get to know,” Illi said.

Jim Baillargeon a fellow club founder who rode motorcycles and assembled period weaponry with Newbill, said his friend was a confident and easygoing guy who intentionally set himself up to be the subject of ribbing.

Baillargeon remembers meeting Newbill about 28 years ago. At the time, Newbill was attending the University of Idaho. The Virginia native and Civil War buff had a musket with a jury-rigged piece of string as a sight, Baillargeon said.

“We would tease him mercilessly about that.”

Newbill left the area while he served in the Army and, after retiring, moved his family to Moscow. There, friends say, he took a job as a police officer at the University of Idaho in the 1990s. In 2001, he went to work for the Moscow Police Department.

Newbill had chances to move to bigger cities and make more money, Baillargeon said, but he liked the simpler life of Moscow.

“You don’t stay here in North Idaho for the money. You stay here for the lifestyle,” Baillargeon said.

Now friends are wondering how a crime that seems so out of place in small-town America could claim the life of such a good man.

“He was just a joy to be around,” Baillargeon said. “I’m just going to miss him something terrible.”

Paul Bauer

Church officials confirmed that Paul Bauer, the church’s sexton, was found dead inside First Presbyterian Church.

Little information about Bauer was available Sunday, however.

Church members and officials said Bauer had been the church’s sexton for at least two years.

Bauer apparently came to Moscow 11 years ago to visit his son and never left.

Parishioners said they believed Bauer has family in Western Washington, but family members couldn’t be located for comment Sunday. They said Bauer was originally from upstate New York and had worked for the Xerox and Kodak companies.

He lived in an apartment at the church.


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