Montana News

Jul 6, 2013 1:34 PM by Kyle Benton (Billings)

Escaped prison inmate shot dead in Billings

BILLINGS - The search for escaped Montana State Prison inmate Dean Randolph Jess ended in Billings on Friday when he was fatally shot by a Yellowstone County Sheriff's deputy.

Jess, 42 years old, was sentenced in 2005 to 30 years in prison after being convicted on two counts of incest and one count of failure to register as a sex or violent offender.

On Monday, July 1st, Jess escaped while on a service call for Motor Vehicle Maintenance, triggering a days-long search across the region.

On Friday, Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder says that his office received a tip.

Linder said during an afternoon press briefing, "At 11:30 this morning, I received information at the Sheriff's office that the escaped convict Dean Jess from the Montana State Prison was possibly in our area."

The anonymous tipster gave the Sheriff's office a phone number, which was then traced and eventually led deputies to Walmart on Billings west end, where a deputy spotted a vehicle matching the description of a stolen Jeep Rubicon.

Linder said, "He stopped the vehicle before it left the parking lot. They had already been in touch with officers at the scene and they were able to pin the vehicle in right where they were at. They didn't want to get into a situation with a pursuit."

It was at that moment that Alicia Griggs and her mother were stopped at a red light and witnessed what happened next.

Griggs said, "We saw cops and I thought it was a car accident. We heard banging and we saw cops trying to break into the Jeep, but the windows wouldn't break."

Officers saw that Jess had a gun, which he pointed at an officer.

Griggs recalled, "The cops told him to put his gun down but he didn't. And all of a sudden, we heard seven to eight shots."

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