WEST YELLOWSTONE — Law enforcement officials continue to investigate what happened over the last two days that left three people dead: one in Billings and two near West Yellowstone.
“On April 15th, 2021, at about 10:30 pm, deputies were called to an agency assistance request down near West Yellowstone for a vehicle pursuit,” said Gallatin County Sheriff's deputy Justin Schnelback. “The vehicle was wanted in connection to a homicide out of Billings.”
The incident in Billings happened Thursday afternoon; police found a woman dead and said it was suspicious because she showed signs of trauma. The Yellowstone County Coroner's Office on Friday identified the murder victim as 64-year-old Roxann Renee Watson. She died of strangulation and multiple blunt force trauma, the coroner's office said.
A couple of hours later, Billings Police put out an alert on two people of interest, which is where Gallatin County comes in after locating the vehicle.
“Shortly after the pursuit, the suspects fled into a wooded area near Duck Creek,” said Schnelback. “Multiple agencies responded and set up a perimeter. A shelter in place order was requested. Shortly after the suspects fled into the wooded area, law enforcement heard two gunshots. Both suspects were later located deceased.”
Gallatin County Sheriff Dan Springer says the bodies of two people were found in a wooded area near highways 191 and 287 early Friday morning. Springer says both are homicide suspects from the Billings area.
Sheriff Springer said that at about 10:30 pm on Thursday, Yellowstone National Park rangers attempted to make a routine traffic stop of a vehicle on Highway 191. He says the vehicle fled until it neared Duck Creek Road and 191. At that point, the two people inside fled into the woods.
Officers found the two bodies at around 2:30 a.m. on Friday. Neighbors weren’t sure what was going on but knew it was something serious based on how wildlife was responding
“We had a herd of bison stampeding down the road we had to stop because they were just running like crazy then we got closer and we could see emergency vehicles even then,” said Garrett Ostler, West Yellowstone resident. “Man, there were police all over, down the road with spotlights out in the forest and stuff. We hunkered down for the night and had kind of a restless night because they were out there most of the night.”
Right now, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Department is conducting the investigation, but several agencies are involved.