ANACONDA, Mont. (AP) — A southwestern Montana man told an acquaintance that he shot his family and planned to kill himself because his wife had been “mocking him and riding him all day,” law enforcement officers said.
Anaconda-Deer Lodge Police Chief Tim Barkell on Tuesday released the names of those killed in the quadruple murder-suicide Sunday morning in a log cabin miles from any neighbors in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
The shooter, he said, was Michael Augustine Bournes. Bournes, 59, previously lived in Taos, New Mexico. His wife was Arie Arlynn Lee, 37. The children were identified as two boys — 5-year-old Augustine and 4-year-old Woodrow — and a 1-year-old girl, also named Arie.
Police believe Bournes first shot his wife in the kitchen and his young daughter in her crib before he walked outside and shot the two other children about 20 feet from the cabin, Barkell said.
All five died of single gunshot wounds to the head.
Bournes carried the bodies inside and laid them on a bed, placing their young sister’s body in between the brothers, Barkell said.
Bournes called an acquaintance to tell him he shot his family and was going to kill himself. He set fire to a chair or a sofa, then laid down next to the children’s bodies and shot himself in the head with the .45 caliber handgun.
The acquaintance called 911 and told officers that Bournes “said his wife had been mocking and riding him all day. That’s all he said,” Barkell said.
Officers didn’t find any evidence in the cabin that revealed why Bournes shot his entire family, and Barkell said he planned to close the case after tying up “a few loose ends.”
Police and firefighters had difficulty finding the remote cabin, and had to put out the fire before entering and finding the bodies.
Barkell said Bournes was a handyman who had constitutionalist and anti-government literature in his pickup truck. He said the family moved to the area about three years ago and was virtually unknown to any county officials or law enforcement.
Neither of the adults had full-time jobs, and Bournes performed odd jobs for people such as plumbing and logging, Barkell said.
Bournes bought the 20 acres of land between five and seven years ago, said Steve Kamps, who sold the remote mountain property. Anaconda-Deer Lodge officials said Bournes never filed the deed from the sale and did not apply for the permits required for the cabin he built in 2013.
County officials didn’t realize anybody was living there until officials performing assessments in the area came across the cabin last year. County planning director Doug Clark said that happens more often in the off-the-grid location than county officials would like.
“There are people out there who would just prefer their solitude,” he said.
County officials sent Bournes a letter saying he needed certification for the home, but Bournes did not respond, Clark said.
Officials only realized children were living there when somebody called and asked whether the county would plow the road so the kids could be transported into town for school and daycare, said Clark and Heather Edwards, the county CEO’s executive assistant.
Barkell released the family’s names Tuesday after notifying Bournes’ relatives in New Mexico along with Lee’s mother and her brother, who lives in Spokane, Washington. The brother was headed to Montana on Tuesday, Barkell said.
Blood stains and spent 45-caliber shells were found outside the cabin, indicating the two boys were shot outside, Barkell said.
The cabin sits in the middle of a sprawling property with semitrailers, tents and tools scattered across several acres. Fire officials circled the cabin with police tape, though gawkers were scarce.
The shootings are the first homicides in the county in two years.
“This is the biggest body count I’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Barkell, who has been in law enforcement for 27 years.
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