Christmas week in East Idaho ended with an apparent murder-suicide at a home northwest of Blackfoot.
But prior to that incident local law enforcement officers had been busy responding to several unrelated but serious crimes: an alleged Thursday rape and assault, a Christmas Day pursuit involving a tractor-trailer as well as a search for a dangerous individual that resulted in an Idaho Falls hospital being locked down, violent crimes on Christmas Eve and a hit-and-run incident involving a pickup truck and freight train on Monday.
The most gruesome of the holiday incidents was the murder-suicide near Blackfoot.
The Bingham County Sheriff’s Office said that it received a call around 9:30 p.m. Friday requesting that deputies check on the well-being of individuals living in the residence northwest of Blackfoot.
Responding deputies looked through the home’s windows and saw an unresponsive person sitting in a chair.
Deputies breached a door to enter the locked home and soon found a deceased Bevin Chippewa, 45, in one of the home’s bedrooms, the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office said. It appears that Chippewa had been fatally shot, deputies said.
The deputies then found a deceased Jeffrey Phelps, 50, sitting in the living room chair. It appeared that Phelps had committed suicide by fatally shooting himself, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Authorities are describing the incident as a murder-suicide but are not yet providing additional details such as the apparent motive, exactly when the incident took place or who contacted the Sheriff’s Office concerned about the well-being of the home’s occupants.
The Sheriff’s Office said both Phelps and Chippewa lived in the home but were not related to each other.
Sheriff’s deputies did recover a firearm from the home but further information on that gun is not yet being released.
More information on the incident will be provided on Monday, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Authorities said that although the murder-suicide remains under investigation, there is currently no threat to public safety resulting from the incident.
Prior to deputies discovering the murder-suicide, East Idaho law enforcement officers responded to several other unrelated Christmas week crimes that resulted in arrests.
Fabian C. Taguinod, 29, of Bonneville County, was arrested on Thursday by Bonneville County sheriff’s deputies and charged with rape, aggravated assault, attempted strangulation and domestic battery in the presence of a child.
The charges stemmed from a Thursday morning incident in which deputies were called to a home on Daleen Street in Ammon to investigate a domestic battery incident. The deputies discovered that a woman at the home had been the repeated victim of domestic abuse by Taguinod, authorities said.
The woman was visibly injured and witnesses at the home told deputies “that Taguinod had held a knife to the woman’s neck, attempted to strangle her, and forced her into a sexual act,” the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Deputies then confronted Taguinod with the allegations and arrested him. He’s currently being held at the Bonneville County Jail in Idaho Falls. The Sheriff’s Office said Taguinod denies he committed any of the crimes.
Deputies transported the female victim to a local domestic violence center so she could get assistance.
Prior to that incident, law enforcement officers from multiple agencies were involved in a pursuit that resulted in trucker David S. Burkey, 28, of Montpelier, being arrested on eluding and driving under the influence charges.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office reported that one of its deputies first tried to pull over Burkey’s tractor-trailer around 9 p.m. Wednesday at the junction of Highways 34 and 36 after a motorist had reported that Burkey was driving recklessly.
Burkey refused to stop and the deputy continued pursuing him into Preston, where Preston police joined the chase. Burkey then headed north on Highway 91 and entered Bannock County.
State police and Bannock County sheriff’s deputies joined the chase and officers were able to successfully use spike strips to deflate some of the tires on Burkey’s semi.
Burkey eventually pulled over near Interstate 15 in southern Bannock County and was arrested. He’s currently being held at the Cache County Jail in Logan, Utah.
Also on Christmas Day, a California man caused the brief lockdown of Idaho Falls Community Hospital before being arrested.
That individual, Stephen F. Moreau, 32, first got the attention of local law enforcement on Wednesday night when the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office was alerted by his family that he was trying to track down and kill his ex-wife in Idaho Falls.
Then around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday Moreau while driving intentionally struck another vehicle at the intersection of 25th Street and South St. Clair Avenue in Idaho Falls and then sped away from the scene, authorities said. No one in the other vehicle was injured in the collision.
Authorities then received a report that Moreau had entered Idaho Falls Community Hospital looking for his ex-wife, who he believed was at the hospital.
The Sheriff’s Office put the hospital on a brief lockdown while deputies and hospital security personnel searched for Moreau.
But shortly thereafter Bonneville County sheriff’s deputies and Idaho Falls police pulled over Moreau on South St. Clair near 17th Street and took him into custody without incident.
Moreau was subsequently charged with aggravated assault for the hit and run crash and stalking and police also trespassed him from Idaho Falls Community Hospital, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office said. Moreau is currently being held at the Bonneville County Jail.
Bonneville County sheriff’s deputies were also busy on Christmas Eve when members of a family got into a fight involving a shotgun at a residence in the 900 North block of 70th East.
Alcohol and small children were present at the home at the time of the Tuesday night incident, authorities said.
Deputies and state police arrived at the home and arrested Samuel W. Sherry, 27, of Bonneville County, for aggravated assault, domestic battery in the presence of a child and resisting/obstructing arrest, authorities said.
The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office said that during an argument with his wife at their home, Sherry had “pushed his wife against a wall prompting (his) brother-in-law to intervene. During this time, all parties were verbally arguing and making threats until Sherry retrieved a shotgun from a nearby room and pointed it at (his wife and brother-in-law). The brother-in-law continued in a physical fight with Sherry and the shotgun was taken away and secured in a separate room until deputies arrived. “
Sherry is currently being held at the Bonneville County Jail.
Earlier on Christmas Eve, Bonneville County sheriff’s deputies responded to an incident in which a man and woman had reportedly forced their way into a residence in the 3200 South block of 65th West.
The incident was reported around 2:20 p.m. Tuesday and responding deputies were told that the suspects had fled on foot.
The incident remains under investigation but soon after it was reported a sheriff’s deputy spotted fugitive Dustin D. Strange, 37, of Idaho Falls, walking on 33rd South near the residence. The deputy determined that Strange, who was wanted on a felony parole violation warrant, had been at the residence but had not committed a crime there, authorities said.
However, Strange was found to be in possession of two drug pipes, a half-gram of meth and over 27 grams of marijuana.
Strange was subsequently booked into Bonneville County Jail on the felony parole violation warrant along with new charges of meth possession, marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The week started for East Idaho law enforcement with an unusual incident — a hit-and-run crash involving a pickup truck and freight train.
Around 2:15 p.m. Monday a pickup traveling on North 15th East between 113th North and 129th North struck a freight train at a railroad crossing. The pickup sped away after the collision, according to the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office.
The pickup was described by the train’s crew as being a 1990s maroon Ford.
The Sheriff’s Office said the pickup suffered heavy damage when it clipped the rear of the train.
The train suffered minimal damage.
Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office 208-529-1200.