December 20, 2010 in Idaho

1 dead, 3 injured in Bayview hammer attack

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Larry Cragun
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location

A North Idaho woman died Monday after she and three others were bludgeoned with a hammer in what authorities describe as an ongoing neighbor dispute that took a violent twist.

A suspect, Larry W. Cragun, 31, was arrested after employees at several Bayview businesses said he walked in after the attack and said he’d “just killed four people with a hammer,” according to police reports.

Cragun, who residents say has a history of odd behavior, remains in Kootenai County Jail on $1 million bail, charged with murder in the beating death of Patricia A. Heath, 43. Three others survived the attack, though one remains in critical condition.

The attack at Heath’s mobile home at 34552 N. Limekiln Road in Bayview followed weeks of problems between her family and Cragun, including bizarre claims by the suspect that authorities say were unfounded.

Also injured was Lorraine Y. Wallis, 58, who was in critical condition Monday. Jedidiah M. Heath, 21, was treated and released, and Michael L. Heath, 40, suffered less serious injuries that did not require medical attention.

Michael Heath said deputies had visited Cragun’s home, which is about 75 feet from Heath’s, several times to investigate false claims, including an unfounded allegation that Jedidah Heath was “placing pubic hair in Cragun’s food,” according to the report.

“Michael said deputies had been to Cragun’s residence numerous times and determined Cragun’s allegations to be false and unfounded, but Cragun apparently did not believe the deputies,” deputies noted.

Michael Heath told deputies Cragun was always angry over the last few weeks and often threw snowballs at his home and yelled profanities at his family.

But Heath said he didn’t know why Cragun attacked his family on Sunday. He said they were watching television about 1:30 p.m. Cragun burst in carrying a large kitchen knife and a large hammer, called the four a profane name, then attacked with the hammer.

Deputies found Patricia Heath bleeding heavily from head wounds and said she reportedly stated that she wanted to go to sleep. She was rushed to Kootenai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead about 1 p.m. Monday.

As deputies were at Heath’s home, an employee at Bayview Mercantile, Paul Celeri, said Cragun had just entered the store and claimed to have killed four people.

Celeri said “Cragun was known for being odd and making crazy statements,” according to the report. A neighbor told The Spokesman-Review that Cragun had posted a letter recently accusing the government of “invading” his mind.

Deputies arrested Cragun shortly after in the parking lot of the nearby Bayview Diner.

Customers at JD’s Resort also told authorities that Cragun had said he needed to call 911 because he’d killed three or four people. He didn’t complete the phone call. Instead, he grabbed a customer’s beer “drank it, and left a dollar on the bar,” according to the police report.

Cragun’s girlfriend, Christine J. Barron, 25, told investigators Cragun often carried a hammer but that he isn’t capable “of hurting anyone, and if he did, it would only be in self defense,” according to the report.

Cragun has previous convictions for drug possession, domestic violence assault, attempting to elude police, drunken driving and battery. He completed eight hours of anger management classes after the 2002 battery conviction, according to court records.

In addition to murder, Cragun faces new charges of aggravated battery and burglary.

Staff writers Alison Boggs and Mike Prager contributed to this report.


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