BILLINGS — A $50,000 warrant has been issued for the arrest of Big Horn County Coroner Daryl Craig Nordquist, who is wanted for felony attempted aggravated burglary.
On December 13, Nordquist was arrested for misdemeanor criminal trespass for failing to vacate a residence owned by the Hardin cemetery board he was authorized to live in until he was terminated from his position as cemetery groundskeeper; and misdemeanor criminal contempt for failing to follow his conditions of release stemming from an April 2021 arrest for felony theft in Yellowstone County.
According to court documents in that case, Nordquist allegedly purchased two dirt bikes and an all-terrain vehicle despite knowing the items were stolen then reportedly attempted to sell them back to the original owner.
According to charging documents, on January 22 at about 7 p.m. a woman requested assistance from the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office because there was a man “a male trying to kick in the door” at her residence located along Cemetery Road west of Hardin.
Two deputies responded to the scene within minutes and found a couple at a residence owned by the Hardin Cemetery District at the Van Zandt Road and Cemetary Road intersection west of Hardin. According to the woman, Nordquist was reportedly making threats against the couple, at one point saying “Open the f—— door you son of a b—- I am going to kick your a—.”
During their investigation deputies saw Nordquist’s pickup truck parked in the westbound lane on Van Zandt Road.
According to charging documents, at approximately 7:17 p.m., Nordquist called county dispatch and sounded “out of breath … like he was running.” He told the dispatcher he loaned his truck to his son and the truck had broken down at the “cemetery house.” The dispatcher asked Nordquist for his location and he ended the call. Dispatch called Nordquist back on a recorded phone line and told him the vehicle needed to be towed because it was blocking the road.
Nordquist reportedly responded by using expletives and threatening language.
Meanwhile, deputies saw an open can of Twisted Tea in the cup holder of Nordquist’s truck, as well as keys still in the ignition. Deputies also saw fresh damage to the front driver’s side of the truck and leaking fluids from the vehicle, which created a trail, along with vehicle tire tracks, that led to a canal access road just west of the residence where Nordquist was reportedly threatening the residents.
Deputies also reportedly found an empty Twisted Tea can on the ground at the entrance to the canal access road near a bent reflective sign.
According to charging documents, the woman who called the sheriff’s office, answered a phone call later in the evening from Nordquist’s son. He asked to speak with her husband. When the husband took the phone to speak, Nordquist began speaking and told the couple, “You guys don’t know what you have coming.”
Nordquist did not retrieve the pick-up truck and it was towed.
According to court documents, Nordquist was allowed to live at a residence owned by the cemetery district located near the cemetery when he was employed by the Cemetery District as the Hardin-Fairview Cemetery groundskeeper.
In early September 2021, Hardin Cemetery District No. 1 Board held a due process hearing to review Nordquist’s job performance. During the hearing, the board voted to terminate Nordquist’s employment effective October 6, 2021.
Nordquist was served that same day with a notice of termination and a notice to vacate the residence in seven days.
Court documents state that on October 14 Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office was requested to accompany the board of directors to the residence to inspect the property. When board members and the deputy arrived they reportedly saw Nordquist exit his pickup truck, walk into the residence and lock the door behind him.
As the deputy began to look around the property he reportedly saw several empty alcohol beverage containers, including a liquor bottle. Along with the alcohol, the deputy found a .22 caliber handgun on a cooler outside the residence.
Documents also show Nordquist was still residing at the property. He informed the deputy that he had been fired as the caretaker, but he hadn’t moved out of the residence because he said he had nowhere to go. He also reportedly told the deputy his attorney had advised him not to leave the residence until the issue was “settled in court.”
Charging documents also stated Nordquist was still living at the property at the beginning of November even though he had no legal permission to stay on there.
On December 8 the cemetery board changed the locks at the residence, but court documents show on December 9, deputies went back to the property and found Nordquist still had personal property, as well as two dogs, at the residence.
On December 13, Nordquist was arrested for misdemeanor criminal trespass for failing to vacate the property and misdemeanor criminal contempt for failing to follow his conditions of release stemming from an April 2021 arrest for felony theft in Yellowstone County. According to charging documents, Nordquist was released on conditions that included him not using or possessing alcohol, firearms or dangerous weapons.
The Big Horn County Justice Court also filed a motion to revoke Nordquist’s release in Yellowstone County, where it is alleged in district court documents he bought stolen off-road vehicles and attempted to sell them back to the original owners.
Nordquist reportedly purchased two dirt bikes and an all-terrain vehicle even though he had the “feeling that they were stolen” during the transaction, he told investigators.
Court documents say the owner of the UTVs reported the theft of a cargo trailer the weekend of April 27. Inside the trailer were four motorcycles and two all-terrain vehicles, which he reported were worth over $23,000.
According to investigators, the owner of the trailer told police he was in contact with Nordquist who reportedly said he might know where the stolen items were located. Nordquist arranged a meeting on April 29, 2021 at a Lockwood Town Pump Store, telling the owner that he was in possession of two of the dirt bikes and one of the all-terrain vehicles.
Law enforcement was present at that meeting and a detective ran a VIN number of the stolen off-road vehicles, which was reported as stolen. Nordquist was taken into custody by a detective with the Yellowstone County Street Crimes Unit.
Court documents show that Nordquist said he purchased the vehicles without titles from a man named “Josh.” He told investigators he never checked with law enforcement to see if the vehicles were reported stolen even though he claimed had a feeling they might have been.
Nordquist faces up to 40 years in the Montana State Prison and/or a fine of not more $50,000 for felony attempted aggravated burglary; up to 10 years in the Montana State Prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 for felony theft; up to six months in the Big Horn County Jail and/or by a fine of not $500 for misdemeanor criminal trespass; and up to six months in the Big Horn County Jail and/or by a fine of not $500 for misdemeanor criminal contempt.