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Helena FBI agent charged with stalking ex-girlfriend
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Helena FBI agent charged with stalking ex-girlfriend

Ricky James Shelbourn

Ricky James Shelbourn

An employee of Helena's FBI branch was arrested earlier this month and charged with misdemeanor counts of stalking his ex-girlfriend and obstructing the officers who were investigating the incident. 

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton confirmed Ricky James Shelbourn was arrested March 16. According to the arrest warrant, Shelbourn was required to appear at the sheriff's office "for the purpose of being fingerprinted, photographed, and booked," before being released on his own recognizance.

The arrest warrant further states that as a condition of Shelbourn's release, he is "not to possess or have access to any firearms."

The local FBI branch has yet to return multiple calls requesting comment on whether Shelbourn has been placed on leave. 

Sandra Barker, an FBI public affairs specialist based in the Salt Lake City field office, said in an email Monday that "We are aware of the matter involving the charges against an FBI employee. The FBI takes allegations of misconduct very seriously. As such, the incident has been referred to the FBI's Internal Affairs Section. We cannot comment further on an ongoing personnel matter."

When pressed about whether Shelbourn had been placed on leave, Barker again declined to comment.

The investigation and subsequent arrest were conducted by agent Bruce McDermott with the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.

In his affidavit, McDermott characterized Shelbourn as someone "obsessing about (the woman) and unwilling to let their relationship end."

The woman detailed to Agent McDermott months of "substantial emotional distress" after she ended an "intermittent, intimate relationship (that lasted) for approximately three years" in the later part of 2019, according to the affidavit.

McDermott further reported that Shelbourn "followed, monitored, observed, surveilled, and harassed her or those around her."

Shelbourn is also accused of sending electronic messages to the woman's children regarding his relationship with their mother.

One night in early December, the woman reported, she parked her car near Helena's Cinemark movie theater and learned that Shelbourn was seated in the window of a nearby establishment so he could observe her. At that point, the woman said, she returned to her vehicle to leave and saw Shelbourn sitting in his pickup truck "within line of sight of her vehicle," the affidavit states.

Concerned for her welfare, the woman asked friends to watch as she left the parking lot in case Shelbourn followed her, which he allegedly did.

The woman took a circuitous route through the city before eventually pulling into a fast food drive-thru to prevent Shelbourn from following her. Shelbourn managed to keep up, pulled into the drive-thru and "placed his truck lights on high-beam while he was directly behind her smaller, lower car," McDermott reported.

After realizing she had lost contact with her friends, the woman said, she drove to a well-lit gas station and contacted the police.

When officers arrived, "they found (the woman) was very distraught and frightened," according to McDermott. They also found Shelbourn parked at the gas station.

He admitted to officers that he had been following the woman and told them he was trying to protect her from another man, McDermott's report states.

Shelbourn was not detained at that time.

Later on in the investigation, Shelbourn reportedly admitted to investigators he had been contacting the woman after she asked him not to and "agreed his repeatedly contacting her was a bit obsessive."

Investigators noted that Shelbourn's "version of what occurred prior to speaking to the Helena Police on the second occasion was notably different than what he reported to the police that night."


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Local Government and Crime Reporter

Nolan Lister is a reporter at the Helena Independent Record with an emphasis on local government and crime.

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