A 51-year-old Helena man was charged in Lewis and Clark County Justice Court Tuesday with deliberate homicide.
Thomas Ralph Bristow was arrested on allegations of shooting another man in the head during a dispute. He is also charged with tampering with evidence and possession of dangerous drugs. All charges are felonies.
On July 1, a witness came into the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office wanting to report a homicide.
The witness reported being with two other people on Sunday, June 30, when they stopped at Bristow's residence located between Helena and East Helena. The witness reported hearing the sound of a scuffle and then a "pop" and the two men he was with came out of the house.
The men were visibly disturbed and said Bristow had shot the victim in the head, according to court documents. While they were driving away, Bristow allegedly called and asked them to not say anything.
Deputies interviewed the other men later on July 1. They said they were attempting to buy methamphetamine from Bristow when he "ripped them off," court documents state.
According to the witnesses, when they went to Brisow's home on June 30, he met them at the door with a gun. During an argument, the victim and Bristow began fighting and Bristow pulled the pistol, racked a round and shot the victim in the head.
The witnesses said they saw the victim lying on the ground, curled up into a fetal position with blood coming out of his head as they were leaving the home. They also said Bristow had offered them the victim's tools and truck as payment for a debt.
Detectives were granted a search warrant to search Bristow's home and interviewed him. He said he had not seen the victim in a few days and had not left his property because his vehicle was broken down. During the search, detectives allegedly found a baggie of meth and a tarp with wet blood on it. Bristow then said he might have gone to Walmart or a gas station in the days prior, court documents state.
Later on, detectives say they found an area of ground near the garage that had been washed recently and a bullet lodged in the garage door at head height. The bullet still had hair on it allegedly matching the victim's hair color.
Authorities have not said if the body of the victim has been located.
All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.