Murder suspects arrested

Interagency cooperation solves Bryant Creek Campground homicide in four days

 

Beaverhead County Sheriff Jay Hansen supervised a murder investigation that began Aug. 9 with a call from Wise River reporting the discovery of a body, and ended the evening of Aug. 12 with the arrest of two suspects in Missoula. 

The Missoula Police Department arrested Christopher Lee Stiles, 29, and Sandra Lee Ann Cantrell, 49, both of Butte, Aug. 12. Both suspects have since been transported to Dillon and are residing at Beaverhead County Jail.

“The outcome was phenomenal when you think about it,” said Hansen. “In four days, not only have you figured out who they are, but now you’ve got them in jail.”

Hansen credited the cooperation of seven different agencies with the quick resolution to the homicide investigation. Playing a role in the outcome were the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement, Missoula Police Department, Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Crime Lab, Bureau of Land Management, and the United States Forest Service. Hansen also praised the efforts of Beaverhead County Coroner Ron Briggs and Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Deputies Joel Bingan, Dan Mulkey and Dave Sullivan.

“There were a lot of people I called upon and asked for help,” said Hansen. “My deputies worked hard with very little sleep, not to mention our dispatchers and coroner. We all worked well together and it came out positive.”

According to Beaverhead County Attorney Jed Fitch, the suspects have both been charged with theft of property and destruction of evidence. Stiles has been charged with deliberate homicide and Cantrell with accountability for deliberate homicide. All charges are felonies. The suspects are being held on warrants requested by Hansen through Beaverhead County Justice Court. Bond for each individual totals $540,000 – $500,000 each on the homicide related charges, and $20,000 on each of the two lesser charges.

Hansen identified the victim as Mark Robert Mullen, 60, of Butte. Mullen died of blunt force trauma Friday evening.

Hansen’s initial press release last week, following the discovery of the crime, identified two vehicles that were possibly connected to the incident – a motorhome and a car. Both vehicles were registered to the victim.

Friday, Hansen would still only release vague details of what led to the arrests on Aug. 12. The investigation included interviewing over 15 witnesses that were near the crime scene the day of the incident. The crime allegedly occurred at the Bryant Creek Campground near Wise River. Hansen said the suspects and the victim were friends that traveled from Butte to the campground together in the victim’s motorhome.

“I don’t want to speculate without reviewing the interviews, but there was an altercation among friends,” said Hansen.

 

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