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An Oak Harbor man has been arrested in the 2011 Montana murder of the man seen above, Mike Crites. (Photo property of Helena Independent Record)

It’s the kind of story Ann Rule would have written.

A cold-blooded killing in Montana has led, nine years later, to an arrest on muggy Whidbey Island.

Oak Harbor resident Leon Michael Ford, 66, was arrested Wednesday and will be charged with deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence in the killing of a man whose chopped-up remains were found in trash bags in Helena back in 2011.

Both charges are felonies.

The remains of the victim, John “Mike” Crites, 48, were found in multiple locations.

Trash bags containing body parts were found at MacDonald Pass outside Helena in October 2011, followed by the discovery of more remains, including the victim’s skull, a year later near Elliston.

The two sites sit approximately 23 miles apart.

At the time of Crites death, Ford owned 15 acres north of the victim’s property northwest of Helena, according to a story in the Independent Record, a daily newspaper in Helena.

The victim and suspect were reportedly involved in a dispute concerning trespassing and property access, and were scheduled to meet on the last day Crites was seen alive.

Ford was arraigned Thursday in Island County, with his bail set at $500,000.

A second hearing has been set for Monday, Aug. 24, and law enforcement is asking for the suspect to be extradited to Lewis and Clark County, Montana.

 

The original story on the arrest:

https://helenair.com/news/local/suspect-arrested-in-2011-killing-of-helena-area-man-mike-crites/article_4508f606-413a-5d76-8715-93f9ce1dfefe.html#tracking-source=home-trending

 

A follow-up story detailing evidence allegedly linking Ford to the crime:

https://helenair.com/news/local/investigation-documents-released-in-2011-killing-of-helena-area-man-mike-crites/article_570b7ca9-ac3b-589f-bba8-58479f916f59.html#tracking-source=home-top-story

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