(Updated) Police say that a 59-year-old Montana man shot and killed his wife on Sunday, then proceeded to shoot and kill his three young children before setting fire to the family’s home and taking his own life with the same 45-caliber automatic pistol. The tragic and unexplained Montana murder-suicide went down in the family’s cabin “on a forested mountain ridge in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest about 15 miles southeast of the town of Deer Lodge,” according to a June 8 Associated Press report carried by The Daily Inter Lake.
The names of the deceased and the genders of the children will not be released until next of kin can be notified. But in addition to the father, 59, the other family members killed included his 37-year-old wife and three children, ages one, four and six.
Deer Lodge Police Chief Tim Barkell said that the man first killed his wife and his one-year-old child inside their Montana log cabin. The father then went outside and killed his other two children, ages four and six. Detective Steve Barclay said that the father then carried the bodies of two children inside.
The Billings Gazette reported that the body of the wife was found in the kitchen at the dining room table where she was killed. Anaconda-Deer Lodge Police Assistant Chief Bill Sather said that after killing the children, the father placed the one year old in the baby’s crib and then arranged the bodies of the two other dead children on a bed next to the crib.
Sather then went on to say that the father telephoned a friend around 10 a.m. on Sunday, confessed to the murders and told his friend that he was going to set the family’s cabin on fire. That friend then called 911. After getting off the phone, the father set a living room chair on fire which eventually engulfed the cabin in flames. The father then took his own life. The fire was contained to the family cabin and did not spread to the wooded area outside of the home.
Deer Lodge residents who knew the family were shocked to hear about the shootings. The owner of the local eatery, Muriah Buck, said that the family often ate at her restaurant and described the mother as nice and sweet. Buck said that she and others at the restaurant would hold the baby so the mother could eat her dinner.
Buck also described the father as older and controlling. She said the father “seemed off,” and that “He had crazy eyes,” according to The Billings Gazette. Officials still have no motive for the tragic Montana murder-suicide.
Update: Later today, police identified the family members’ names. The shooter has been identified as Michael Augustine Bournes. His wife was identified as Arie Arlynn Lee. “The children were identified as two boys — 5-year-old Augustine and 4-year-old Woodrow — and a 1-year-old girl, also named Arie,” according to The Montana Standard. Bournes, his wife and his three children all died from a single gunshot to the head.
Police also released a possible motive for the killings. Bournes told his friend on the phone that he executed his wife and kids because his wife had been “mocking him and riding him all day,” according to the report from The Montana Standard.