get it home page promo

Human skull found near MacDonald Pass

2012-10-02T00:00:00Z 2012-10-04T09:16:39Z Human skull found near MacDonald PassBy SANJAY TALWANI Independent Record Helena Independent Record
October 02, 2012 12:00 am  • 

A human skull was found west of MacDonald Pass last week.

Powell County Sheriff Scott Howard said Monday that the skull, found Wednesday near the intersection of U.S. Route 12 and Mullan Pass Road, probably dates to a death within the last few years.

“There was a skull found and other human remains found,” Howard said Monday.

He declined to disclose further details, saying the investigation is ongoing.

Lewis and Clark Undersheriff David Rau said the sheriff’s office is assisting Powell County with the investigation.

Authorities would not say whether they believe the skull is related to the death of John “Mike” Crites, a Birdseye-area man whose remains, with unspecified body parts missing, were found about a year ago just a few miles away near MacDonald Pass.

Crites, who was involved in an ongoing dispute with neighbors over roads and land access, disappeared around June 26, 2011.

His death is under investigation as a murder.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(19) Comments

  1. GloryBee
    Report Abuse
    GloryBee - October 09, 2012 3:47 pm
    Citizen0519; fivemsandme:

    I did not know Mike Crites, but I do know he never killed anyone at Birdseye. Mike was entitled to procedural due process as well. In the end, as a citizen, he was deprived of life. The phrase "procedural due process" refers to the aspects of the Due Process Clause that apply to the procedure of arresting and trying persons who have been accused of crimes and to any other government action that deprives an individual of life, liberty, or property. Procedural due process limits the exercise of power by the state and federal governments by requiring that they follow certain procedures in criminal and civil matters. In cases where an individual has claimed a violation of due process rights, courts must determine whether a citizen is being deprived of "life, liberty, or property," and what procedural protections are "due" to that individual.

    The Bill of Rights contains provisions that are central to procedural due process. These protections give a person a number of rights and freedoms in criminal proceedings, one of these rights is the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

    Because of the neighbors and the escalating, existing conflicts which existed, including court, it raises red flags for WANTING to search. However, it is not enough. Including the remark made by Mehan of “live by the sword, die by the sword.” Not the most appropriate remark to make. He does not help his case of innocence by tampering with case evidence. District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock added to the problem by lowering the bond on Mehan.

    If a crime is committed that is a violation of local, state, and federal laws, does the FBI “take over” the investigation? No. State and local law enforcement agencies are not subordinate to the FBI, and the FBI does not supervise or take over their investigations. Instead, the investigative resources of the FBI and state and local agencies are often pooled in a common effort to investigate and solve the cases.

    Federal law gives the FBI authority to investigate all federal crime not assigned exclusively to another federal agency (28, Section 533 of the U.S. Code.) Title 28, U.S. Code, Section 533, authorizes the attorney general to appoint officials to detect and prosecute crimes against the United States. Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 3052, specifically authorizes special agents and officials of the FBI to make arrests, carry firearms, and serve warrants. Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 3107, empowers special agents and officials to make seizures under warrant for violation of federal statutes. The FBI’s authority to investigate specific criminal violations is conferred by numerous other congressional statutes—such as the Congressional Assassination, Kidnapping, and Assault Act (Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 351). The FBI has special investigative jurisdiction to investigate violations of state law in limited circumstances, specifically felony killings of state law enforcement officers (28 U.S.C. § 540), violent crimes against interstate travelers (28 U.S.C. § 540A0, and serial killers (28 U.S.C. §540B). A request by an appropriate state official is required before the FBI has authority to investigate these matters. In addition, Title 28, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 0.85, outlines the investigative and other responsibilities of the FBI, including the collection of fingerprint cards and identification records; the training of state and local law enforcement officials at the FBI National Academy; and the operation of the National Crime Information Center and the FBI Laboratory.

    In summary, the FBI can be asked by any local law enforcement agency. Better yet, to avoid confusion and over stepping law enforcement’s defined area, why not gather together and ask for the State Attorney General to ask the FBI for help?
  2. FlamingLiberal1
    Report Abuse
    FlamingLiberal1 - October 09, 2012 3:38 pm
    I hope the people responsible for the body parts in question are all held to account for what they have done. But the solution is not to charge off half-cocked. We need a solid case and good evidence to get a conviction (and we want to be certain we have the actual perps). I am quite interested that this case not go cold, but I will allow the detectives and forensic people do their jobs before I start pointing fingers. Even if the case seems obvious to us based on what we've been given in the media, that doesn't mean it's sufficient for a conviction.
  3. Citizen0519
    Report Abuse
    Citizen0519 - October 09, 2012 10:07 am
    Amen to this. 1) due process must be followed by the Police and Sheriff's Department and it will be. 2) Judge Swingley has done a marvelous job in his position and so has Judge Wood. If you think your a better candidate, run for office. 3) How would anybody not directly tied (i.e. a detective) have any clue about what kind of evidence was actually found? 4) There is no evidence (yet) that the skull is even related.

    I feel for all the people affected by this tragic incident and want to see justice done to the people who commited this crime but if this case is 100% rock solid then any good defense lawyer will beat it to pieces and the killers can get away with it. And that is where the money has influence: buying a good defense lawyer.

    Stop judging the police and deputies. They do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
    Stop judging the Sheriff and the Chief. They are both good men who do an outstanding job.
    Stop judging the judges. They were put in there position because of their knowledge and experience.
  4. fivemsandme
    Report Abuse
    fivemsandme - October 05, 2012 1:04 pm
    RebelHar where are you getting this info about 2 serial killers in Montana? I have lived here my whole life and I have not heard anything like your are posting here. Please let us know what you are talking about!
    Did it ever occur to you that the Sheriff's office is making sure it has everything in place so they can assure a conviction in this case. I agree it has been over a year and one would hope that they find the killer or killers soon. However, until they had a body they could not say for certain he was dead. As far as the Helena Police Department they would not be involved in this case as it happened in the county and the Sheriff's office handles County cases. At least in Montana that is how it is done.
  5. PCone1
    Report Abuse
    PCone1 - October 04, 2012 10:50 pm
    "affluent", "rich", "cover up" Where would one get the idea that the people involved are rich or affluent? A cover up would be a crime - we should all be careful with accusations on the internet.
  6. LCHelena
    Report Abuse
    LCHelena - October 04, 2012 7:54 pm
    I found Dutton to be very professional and helpfull when i was inquiring about my property during a forest fire in 2010. It was obviously chaotic that day by canyon ferry. The authorities cant file any charges until they have evidence
  7. chaotic
    Report Abuse
    chaotic - October 04, 2012 5:44 pm
    LOL FlamingLiberal...yes me too, I have been checking this website every few hours to find out what they were doing out here yesterday morning... sounds like those warrants they served...
  8. GoGreen
    Report Abuse
    GoGreen - October 04, 2012 12:10 pm
    And your source?
  9. FlamingLiberal1
    Report Abuse
    FlamingLiberal1 - October 04, 2012 9:47 am
    Nosy people like me would like a follow-up on this information.
  10. unknowen
    Report Abuse
    unknowen - October 03, 2012 6:01 pm
    Shannon Clair LaBau, John Reamer, and many more
    I'm only 18 years old and I’m upset, I will not rest until these people are found and the cases are solved. Why has Montana officials been denying help from the FBI. I want to know why their names were long forgotten, I want to know why the police are not investigating. I want to know why the police are covering up the crimes. It's time to take a stand people of Montana and rise up to help the forgotten. I for one want answers.
  11. chaotic
    Report Abuse
    chaotic - October 03, 2012 1:22 pm
    Well something was going down this morning...I live out in Birdseye and the cops were swarming out here, watched them suit up with their bullet proof vests and all before heading further down Birdseye..looked to me like they were getting ready to go make an arrest or something of the sort
  12. RebelHar
    Report Abuse
    RebelHar - October 03, 2012 3:10 am
    His family lives in a constant nightmare, but it is not only his family, but his friends, like me; who have known him 30 years! Friends who grieve his loss daily and I have to deal with his best friend who can't take this much more. We have to help each other just to get through a day or week. Aren't you Montanans (?spelling) sick of a police force, sheriff, DA, or judges who won't go after certain people because they are rich? THEY KIDNAPPED HIM FROM HIS OWN HOME IN BROAD DAYLIGHT, THEY MURDERED HIM, BUTCHERED HIM, THEN BURIED HIM IN TRASH BAGS! GOOD LORD, WHEN DO YOU PEOPLE SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AND MAKE YOUR PUBLIC OFFICIALS BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE OR VOTE THEM OUT???!!! THIS TRULY SMACKS OF PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT TO THE RICH WHO CAN THEN HELP DAs AND JUDGES RETAIN THEIR SEATS IN OFFICE!!! BY THE WAY I PRAY THE HELENA IR HAS ENOUGH GUTS TO POST ALL MY POSTS BECAUSE I KNOW IT MEANS STANDING UP AGAINST SOME MIGHT POWERFUL PEOPLE.
  13. RebelHar
    Report Abuse
    RebelHar - October 03, 2012 2:57 am
    That is sure the hope of us friends and of Mike's family!
  14. RebelHar
    Report Abuse
    RebelHar - October 03, 2012 2:51 am
    I know a little about the cases of some of the missing people in Montana and know that you have had two serial killers in the area for awhile and I have yet to read they have been found. One is believed to be a woman and one a man...and the two people are not connected to each other. About Mike...if this turns out to be Mike's skull I know some people who will be freaking out because they throught they had gotten away with murder. You NEVER get away with murder; for if you are not caught on Earth you will surely face the Good Lord on Judgment Day. Make no mistake people who know about Mike's case, the people who killed him, may just come after you...if you think you know who they are and they know you...what do you think is going to keep them from doing to you what they did to Mike? And let's recap what they exactly did to Mike just so you know the horror the family and friends of Mike have had to face and sadly he faced the last hours on Earth; and you may be facing...because if they can do this to him, they can do this to you....kidnapping him from his own home in broad daylight, taking him by force to a second location where he was murdered. dismembering his body once he was dead (at least that is our prayer, because we can't deal with the grieve it would cause if they did this to him while he was alive!), putting him in trash bags, and then burying him like he was trash. And a warning to the Helena Police Department, the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Department, and the Lewis and Clark Distirict Attorney's Office; there are way higher powers of the police family looking at this and how you are not doing your job by not serving search warrants on suspects! And there will be an accountability as to why those search warrants, when there was more than enough evidence to issue them, were denied by a judge that has a very personal stake in this case since they agreed to bring Mike up on bogus charges before his death and lost their case! So, their refusal to issue search warrants to affluent people that may have been involved should cause the people of Helena to look around and find another District Attorney and possiby get that judge voted out! I am a friend of John Michael Crites and I won't back down! People of Helena it is time you put your public officials on notice to either do their job or plan on losing them when time comes to vote. Even if you didn't like Mike, how would your family feel if they did this to you? Allowed you to be kidnapped, murdered, and butchered and then because they were afraid of some rich people didn't want to bring charges against them when they had ample evidence to at least do search warrants? You thnk you live in Utopia? You are about to learn you live in Hel_ if ths cae goes unsolved because the powers that be are afraid of the people who commited this crime! LostInTranslation: I personally asked the Helena Police Department to bring in the FBI, they refused. I asked the FBI to look into it and was told they can't just go look into a case unless the "locals" invite them to help them. The only thing they asked the FBI or MBI to do was to do the DNA test on Mike's bones to prove it was him. This smacks of cover-up and if you are rich you can get away with kidnapping, murder, dismemberment, and burrying the body! You people who killed Mike better get ready because one way or the other Hel_ is about to be unleashed on you, not by my power, but by God's. Let's see how your rich butts do when you ae in a 6X9 cell and are facing people that will eat you for lunch! They will make you look like the Brady bunch; becaue you are horrible and despicable people, but guess what, there are worse people in prison than you and your money won't save you there! Helena Police Dapartment we trusted you to do your job, NOW DO IT! AND IF THAT JUDGE WON'T GIVE YOU THE SEARCH WARRANT, GO TO ANOTHER DISTRICT COURT JUDGE. SHERIFF DUTTON SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF HOW HE HAS HANDLED THIS CASE FROM THE START! That is my humble opinion and since I am a friend of Mike's and an American, by the Good Lord, it should count!
  15. Curmudgeon
    Report Abuse
    Curmudgeon - October 02, 2012 3:43 pm
    This sounds like a case for Prof. Kathy Reichs, Ph.D., forensic anthropologist.
  16. FlamingLiberal1
    Report Abuse
    FlamingLiberal1 - October 02, 2012 11:24 am
    I agree. They never did find out whose legs those were, or if they did, it's not been publicized. I hope we can solve the mysteries surrounding these dismemberments and put the murderers behind bars.
  17. LostinTranslation
    Report Abuse
    LostinTranslation - October 02, 2012 10:28 am
    One must wonder if this is really connected to the Crites murder. What if it is connected to the pair of legs they found outside of Butte? Why have we heard nothing more on that? It is scary to think that their is 1 or more people out there who have committed these crimes yet we have no evidence against them. Might be time to call in the big boys for a lil help!
  18. steeline
    Report Abuse
    steeline - October 02, 2012 8:13 am
    It won't supprise me, now that they have the new evidence, that someone will be charged.
  19. cynthiak
    Report Abuse
    cynthiak - October 01, 2012 10:03 pm
    I hope they can solve this and the one(s) who did it can be sentenced...what a terrible thing to happen..has to be very hard on the family members.,.left behind.

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps:

    1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

    2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

    3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

    4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

    5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

    6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

    7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

    8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

    9. Don't write a novel. If your comment is longer than the article you're commenting on, you might want to cut it down a bit. Lengthy comments will likely be removed.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick


Follow the Independent Record

Great Helena Businesses