Latest from The Spokesman-Review
University of Idaho officials and the family of a graduate student who was killed by a professor she had dated have agreed to a financial settlement in a claim against the school over the 22-year-old’s death, sources told the Associated Press on Tuesday. A settlement would bring some closure in the wake of shootings that police have described as a murder-suicide, which horrified faculty, students and parents and brought Idaho’s oldest public university under intense scrutiny. The terms of the agreement between Katy Benoit’s family and the school were not immediately available. Benoit died in August after police say she was shot 11 times by Ernesto Bustamante, an assistant psychology professor with whom she had recently broken off a romantic relationship. Police say Bustamante, after shooting Benoit, checked in at a Moscow hotel and killed himself. He had resigned from his position at the university only days earlier/Jessie Bonner, AP. More here.
Images from the memorial service for Katy Benoit Aug. 30, 2011, at Boise High School. (Idaho Statesman/AP photo: Chris Butler)
By filing the claim, Katy Benoit’s family has taken the first step toward suing the University of Idaho over its hiring, supervision and retention of their daughter’s former professor, lover and killer, Ernesto Bustamante. The tort claim puts the university on notice of damages the family could seek in court. The claim was filed Dec. 8; the university did not file a response within 90 days, which ended earlier this week. That means the Benoits are free to file a lawsuit against the university, which they had not done as of Friday afternoon. U of I officials declined comment Friday. A lawyer for the Benoit family did not respond to a request for comment and details about the allegations in the claim. Moscow police say 31-year-old Bustamante shot and killed Benoit, 22, at her off-campus home Aug. 22 — the first day of fall classes — and then killed himself the next morning/Patrick Orr. Idaho Statesman. More here.
A notorious anti-gay church known for protesting military funerals says members will be at Saturday’s memorial service for Charlie and Braden Powell, claiming their deaths are payback from God over the state Legislature's support of gay marriage. An online campaign is already under way to keep the Westboro Baptist Church (pictured) from disrupting the funeral, which will be at Life Center Church in Tacoma at 11 a.m. Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, died Sunday when police say their father, Josh Powell, intentionally set fire to his home in Graham, Wash. The boys were there on a supervised visit, but the supervisor was locked out of the house/King5 News. More here. (AP file photo)
KPerry: (RE: Latest on Powell murder-suicide): When I saw the information on the “chopping injuries” in the news yesterday it made me wonder if we really needed that bit of information. It doesn’t change that they are dead. It doesn’t change that he had them in the house for a horror filled three minutes before the explosion. It just puts evil visions in our minds eyes. Sometimes I just wish we didn’t live in an age where every single gory detail has to hit the news so the newspapers and TV stations could get ratings. Those boys and their mother are in God’s arms. Peace be with them. (Courtesy photo: Chuck Cox sits with his grandsons, Charlie, left, and Braden, right, at the Coxes home in Pullayup, Wash.)
Question: Is it the media's responsibility to withhold information in a case like this that may be too graphic?
The maternal grandparents of Josh Powell's two sons say the boys were playing happily Sunday and didn't want to visit their father. Charles and Judy Cox tell KIRO-TV that the grandmother talked them into a supervised child custody visit with their father. When the boys arrived at Powell's Washington state home, their father barred a social worker from entering and then lit the house on fire. All three died. Charlie and Braden Powell shared a bedroom in the Cox's Puyallup (Pyoo-AL'-up) home since last fall, when they were removed from their father's custody. The Coxes are parents of Susan Powell, who has been missing since 2009. Josh Powell was a person of interest in her disappearance in Utah/Associated Press. More here. (AP photo: Fire investigators take measurements as they work their way through charred rubble at the home where Josh Powell and his two sons were killed Sunday, in Graham, Wash.)
The murder of a University of Idaho graduate student quickly spurred security reviews at other local and regional campuses this fall, but little change has been instituted. To date, only Boise State University has signaled a policy shift, emphasizing security and safety over the privacy of its employees and students. “(The) tragic set of events at the University of Idaho provides many lessons for us and we are carefully reviewing our policies, procedures and communication methods to ensure our system is as effective as it can be,” a BSU official said in an email. “Safety and the proper assessment of concerning behavior are of the utmost importance and in the best interest of security for all”/Joel Mills, Lewiston Tribune. More here. (AP file photo of murder victim Katy Benoit)
Question: What are Idaho colleges & universities waiting for?
In his blog today, editorialist Kevin Richert of the Idaho Statesman focuses on UIdaho's failure to report to Moscow police that associate professor Ernesto Bustamante had pointed a gun three times at eventual victim Katy Benoit: “Would this have made any difference? Would this have prevented this abusive relationship from ending in murder-suicide? That is unknown. And unknowable. This much is evident: U of I officials did a disservice to police, and to Benoit, by withholding evidence of a series of violent crimes”/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Now that you've had time to digest the murder-suicide involving associate professor Ernesto Bustamante and victim Katy Benoit, do you think this tragedy could have been prevented?
The New Jersey company that offered Ernesto Bustamante a job as he was being investigated by the University of Idaho for sexual harassment never called the university for references, a company spokeswoman said today. “The references he provided were not from the University of Idaho,” said April Perrone, human resources manager at Hi-Tec Systems, an aviation industry engineering and research company based in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. The assistant professor of psychology agreed to resign his position with the university effective Aug. 19, three days before gunning down graduate student Katy Benoit, with whom he had an intimate relationship. Soon after killing her, he committed suicide in a nearby hotel room/Kevin Graman, SR. More here.
Question: How did this guy slip through all the cracks?
The University of Idaho is strengthening its ban on faculty-student relationships after the slaying of a 22-year-old graduate student by her professor, who then killed himself. University President M. Duane Nellis announced the changes Wednesday in Moscow, Idaho, as the university released employment and other records of the professor, Ernesto Bustamante (pictured). Judge John Stegner ordered disclosure of the public records, which were sought by several news organizations, including The Spokesman-Review. The records, more than 4,200 files including personal Bustamante emails, were expected to be delivered to the media today/Kevin Graman, SR. More here.
Question: Did you ever — or anyone you knew — date a teacher in college? How did that turn out?
- UI releases detailed timeline in Bustamante case/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise
In response to questions from reporters, UI President Duane Nellis said former professor Ernesto Bustamante was allowed to resign rather than fired because it was “the fastest way to make that happen.” He said, “We were interested in expediting this, and that was the fastest way to get that done.” Asked if UI personnel gave recommendations to Bustamante, who reportedly had other employment lined up, Nellis said, “Not to our knowledge.” He said, “I think we acted aggressively and appropriately.” Nellis said, “We did immediately contact the Moscow Police Department.” But asked why the university didn't immediately inform the Moscow Police that the professor had assaulted graduate student Katy Benoit with a handgun and threatened her life, UI general counsel Kent Nelson said, “That was information that Katy had and did not want us to disclose it to police. … We respected Katy's wishes”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
- UI reworking its ban on faculty-student relationships/Kevin Graman, SR
- Nellis: 'We must learn from this tragedy and prevent from happening again
- Nellis: 'We are honoring commitment to transparency
Question: What do you hope to learn from the release of the associate professor Ernesto Bustamante's personnel records?
More than two months before her death, Kathryn “Katy” Benoit told an official at the University of Idaho that she was frightened by her professor, who carried weapons “everywhere, including to campus,” and that she also worried about the safety of fellow students. Benoit, 22, was killed on Aug. 22 by Ernesto Bustamante, with whom she had an intimate relationship. The assistant professor then killed himself in a Moscow hotel room. Previously unreported details of Benoit’s June 12 complaint to the university were revealed in the graduate student’s letter to Carmen Suarez, of the Office of Human Rights, Access and Inclusion. A friend of Benoit’s who proofread the letter provided a copy of the document; another friend verified that it is the letter submitted to the university/Kevin Graman, SR. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: As new details come out re: murder of UI grad student Katy Benoit, has your thoughts about the University of Idaho's reaction changed?
Along with his body, police found Ernesto Bustamante’s Moscow hotel room filled with guns, bullets and pills. There were drugs to ward off depression, to take care of bipolar disorder and epilepsy, to treat anxiety, to help him sleep. It’s unknown if any of these prescriptions were in Bustamante’s system hours before, when, on Aug. 22, police believe he shot and killed Katy Benoit, a recent University of Idaho graduate with whom he had had a romantic relationship. What is known in the wake of the former UI assistant professor of psychology’s apparent suicide the next day is that the incident represents a worstcase scenario in a state that has slashed mental health funding to nationally low levels/Chris Stein, Inlander. More here.
Question: Is it right to use the murder-suicide involving Ernesto Bustamante and Katy Benoit as an indictment of Idaho's poor funding of mental health?
Ernesto Bustamante once threatened to kill a woman other than Katy Benoit, and had sexual relations with at least one other University of Idaho student while he was a professor there, according to court documents. Bustamante and Benoit, a UI graduate student, had a sexual relationship that deteriorated earlier this year, leading to Bustamante’s Aug. 19 resignation from the university. Bustamante killed himself last week after murdering Benoit on her front porch. According to a statement from Moscow police detective Rodney Wolverton contained in a search warrant application, Bustamante made the previous threat while in his “psychopathic killer” personality/Joel Mills, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
From the time Benoit contacted the UI on June 10 with her concerns, the university appeared fully engaged. It investigated. It contacted police. It prodded Benoit to take precautions. It severed ties with Bustamante six weeks after Benoit made her complaint - virtually the speed of sound in a government bureaucracy. Moscow police should have been brought in sooner and more aggressively. Focusing the investigation more firmly upon Bustamante - such as bringing him in for an interview and checking his background - might have yielded results. Nonetheless, would an irrational person respond to rational appeals? It suggests cops have more discretion than they otherwise might when no restraining order was sought or issued/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Can society deal with a mentally ill person bent on violence?
University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis responded Friday to demands from the public and the family of slain graduate student Katy Benoit for an explanation about how the university handled her complaint against the professor who killed her Monday. The school’s account said it met with Benoit and counseled her numerous times beginning June 10, including the day she died. University officials referred her to Moscow police for assistance and contacted the police department themselves on June 10. “I am committed to ensuring the continuing safety and welfare of members of the university community,” Nellis told reporters Friday. He said he had commissioned an independent review of university safety policies, the details of which would be released later. “I don’t have any reason to think our policies and procedures are not all they should be,” he said, “but I want to be absolutely certain”/Patrick Orr, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Do you now feel as though the University of Idaho is on top of this tragic situation?
In an editorial today, Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune lambastes state Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, (pictured) for his insensitive remark that a gun safety class might have prevented the murder-suicide at the University of Idaho that claimed the life of grad student Katy Benoit: “That transcends oafishness. It's beyond ugly. It exceeds insensitivity. Inhumane doesn't begin to describe it. Such talk from anyone is irresponsible. From an elected official charged with writing our laws and embracing our standards of decency, it is nothing short of depraved. Complete editorial here.
Question: Do you think Rep. Hagedorn has learned a lesson in using this tragic matter to push his political agenda?
I got my first clue, as many parents do, on Facebook. My oldest son, a senior at the University of Idaho, had written a post asking if anyone else had taken a class from Ernesto Bustamante, the former assistant professor who is believed to have murdered a U of I graduate student before taking his own life. Anyone else? After swapping text messages, I learned that, indeed, my son had taken a psychology class from Bustamante. It was one of those chilling moments for a father, and one of those difficult moments for a journalist. It's where the passions of parenting collide with a profession that demands detachment. It's an awkward place, but here we are. Standing at this intersection, I better understand just how much of a crisis this is for the U of I/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Are you a Vandal parent with concerns re: how UI handled Ernesto Bustamante?
Over the past two days, the story of Katy Benoit’s slaying has unfolded — in slow and unsettling detail. According to a police affidavit, the Boise High School graduate and University of Idaho psychology student had been threatened several times over a period of months. Benoit’s assailant, U of I assistant psychology professor Ernesto Bustamante, once put a gun in her mouth. According to family members, Benoit was “deeply alarmed” by Bustamante’s behavior after their breakup. “Our family had grave concerns when we heard that the university may have received complaints from other students about Bustamante, and that Katy was the only one willing to sign her name to a complaint.” The one entity that can address many questions about Benoit’s death — and, indeed, the entity with the most to answer to — is largely silent/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here. (SR photo/Christopher Anderson: Students, staff and friends gathered in downtown Moscow to honor slain U/I grad student Katy Benoit)
- Bustamante told classes of mental problems/Idaho Statesman
Question: What should the University of Idaho have done when it received complaints about the behavior of Ernesto Bustamante?
A psychology professor who shot and killed a graduate student at the University of Idaho had threatened the young woman in the past, according to court documents filed in the case.Police say Ernesto Bustamante shot and killed Katherine Benoit Monday night on the front porch of her off-campus apartment. Bustamante, an professor in the Psychology and Communications Department, killed himself at a hotel a few hours later. Court documents obtained by kxly reveal the two had a sexual relationship which deteriorated earlier this year, and that Benoit complained to the University of Idaho about Bustamante's behavior. Benoit's roommate told police, “Benoit complained Bustamante had pointed a handgun at her on multiple occasions and put the gun in her mouth at one point”/Executive Producer Melissa Luck, KXLY. More here.
Question: Am I the only one who's amazed that a person as troubled as Bustamante could work as a psychology department prof at the University of Idaho?
Members of the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office investigate the death of two adult women and two small children today in Ammon. Authorities say five people are dead after a man shot two women, two young children and then himself in a house in eastern Idaho. Story here. (AP Photo/Post Register, Monte LaOrange)
- Sen. Risch to see bin Laden photos/Jamie Gray, KTVB
- Cougar captured in Lewiston euthanized/Fox12Idaho
- UI Vandal footballers reach plea deals in party tussle/Associated Press
- Labor Secretary Solis to speak at Bridgeport graduation/Jody Lawrence-Turner, SR
- Blog: Despite Idaho's 'miracle money,' schools still need help/Kevin Richert, IS
- 5 accused of kidnapping, torturing Spokane woman/Meghann Cuniff, Sirens & Gavels
- Alleged Clarkston bomb maker jailed without bail/Meghann Cuniff, Sirens & Gavels
- Boise police arrest naked man who 'wanted to face his fear'/Jamie Gray, KTVB
- Woman allegedly finds meth after hearing subliminal messages/Brad Guire, TFTN
- State worker's fraud scheme endangered children, cost districts/Nishi Gupta, KTVB
- Missoula horror flick so bad it's good/Joe Nickell, Missoulian
- U.S. Marshals to sell Unabomber manifesto in online auction/Associated Press
Detectives are investigating the deaths of an elderly man and woman in Chattaroy as a murder-suicide, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Their bodies were discovered today in a trailer in the 3100 block of East Chattaroy Road. Both are in their 70s.
Fire personnel found a body on the floor of the home after an out-of-sate relative called the sheriff’s office about 9:50 a.m. and asked that deputies check on the couple.
Fire crews left the home to wait for law enforcement after discovering the body.
“Names, cause of death, and manner of death will be provided after autopsy Monday,” sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release.
Police have identified two people who were found dead inside a Post Falls home Thursday evening. Christina K. Mandriguez, 38, and Jeffrey A. Hayes, 54, each died of a single gunshot wound to the forehead in a homicide/suicide, said Post Falls Police Chief Scot Haug. The couple’s landlord found Mandriguez’s body around 5:15 p.m. and called police. Investigators found her slumped up against the front door, with a cell phone in her hand, Haug said. Hayes was found a few feet away in a hallway. A Glock handgun was between the two bodies/Chelsea Bannach, SR. More here.