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Remembering Randy: a family still searches for answers after 1985 murder in Bozeman

“What was so important that you had to kill him?”
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Posted at 8:20 AM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 10:30:56-04

BOZEMAN — Thirty-six years after the murder of their brother in a Bozeman restaurant, a Havre family still waits for answers. Randy Church was just 23 when he was shot and killed while working at the Bozeman Pizza Hut back in 1985. Now his siblings are calling on the community for information that will lead to the killer, and bring their family peace.

“Somebody out there knows something, somewhere,” said Ruby Burney, Randy’s sister. “They’ve got to.”

Ruby Burney says not a day goes by that she doesn’t struggle with the question: Who would kill her little brother, and why? “My biggest question is why,” said Ruby. “What was so important that you had to kill him?”

Her brothers Rick and Bob Church say it’s a mystery that haunts them as well. “I don’t have a clue,” said Rick Church.

Talking for the first time, the three siblings now call on the public for information that would solve the mystery of their brother’s murder. Randy Church was working as a shift supervisor at the Bozeman Pizza Hut on February 10 of 1985 when an unknown gunman entered the restaurant and shot him.

“I think if we had known it was going to go on for so long we would’ve done things differently. Here we are 36 years later still no answers. If they are still around they need to pay the price,” said Rick. A price they say should’ve been paid many years ago.

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Randy Church, a Montana State University student went to work at the Pizza Hut on Bozeman’s Main Street just as he’d done dozens of times before.

“I think about this all the time, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it,” said Ruby.

In fact, it’s the Bozeman Police Department’s only unsolved killing, a case with more questions than answers. Questions like why would someone kill a 23-year college student? Randy was somebody according to family and detectives, who was a well-liked and good student, a young man with no known enemies and a bright future ahead.

“I think about this all the time, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it,” said Ruby. “I personally think whoever killed him knew him and I think that person knew he was there.”

It’s theories like Ruby’s the rest of Randy’s siblings and investigators alike all want answers to. They are hopeful old evidence, modern technology and new information from the public could crack the case. They also hope a $10,000 reward might inspire someone to come forward.


“If you know something you got to be coming forward,” said Ruby. “You got to be coming forward. Somebody knows something and we just want answers.”

Ruby and her brothers tell MTN their parents died never knowing what happened to their son. They feel now more than ever what happened needs to come to light in order to finally allow their loved ones to truly rest in peace. They are pleading with the public and investigators to keep Randy’s memory alive until this case is solved.

“For people that may know something about this if they could imagine if they had someone they really loved had that happen to them how they would feel,” said Bob Church. “Imagine someone is taken away from you, and someone knows something about it, you’d want them to speak up too because it’s totally wrong. Because someone took away for no freaking reason, it’s totally wrong.”

Meanwhile Ruby has this plea for investigators: “I need you guys to solve this case. He deserves it, his brothers and sisters deserve it and his parents deserve it. Please please don’t give up,” she said.

Detective Benjamin King and Detective Sgt. Joseph Swanson with the Bozeman Police Department say they are diligently working the case. They tell MTN this case had a huge impact on the community and on the police department and they are exploring every single lead as they call for new clues and fresh information.

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If you have any information you can contact the Bozeman Police Department Cold Case Tip Line at 406-582-2025, or Tipsters can remain anonymous and may be eligible for up to $10,000 reward for information that could lead to an arrest in this case.

Remembering Randy: A call for answers in quest to solve Bozeman’s only unsolved killing