The First Reports Of A Prisoner Suicide Inside The Mineral County Jail

by Travis Mateer

My Sunday began with text messages about an alleged suicide that occurred inside the Mineral County jail over the weekend. According to NBC Montana, the Missoula County coroner has been sent to this land of Mandamus to “help”.

NBC Montana confirmed with Mineral County Jail staff that an inmate died by suicide.

Officials say the Missoula County coroner has been sent out, and the Department of Criminal Investigations has launched an investigation into what transpired.

Small town talk is of course way ahead of any official acknowledgment of WHO supposedly committed suicide, so I didn’t expect the person who answered the phone at the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office (Lisa) to confirm if the deceased inmate is Shane Pelletier, but for this post that doesn’t matter.

The conversation on social media includes comments making some disturbing allegations. Here are two screenshots to consider (typos on the second one make it difficult to understand):

Spelling issues aside, the Sheriff Deputy being referenced here is, David Kunzelman, the same David Kunzelman Sheriff Mike Toth claimed was sent to him by Missoula Sheriff-elect, Jeremiah Petersen. This quote is from my Mandamus post, linked above:

Sheriff Toth’s strategy on the stand was to overtly and, by insinuation, blame anyone else for what he’s ultimately responsible for. This strategy was on full display as Toth did damage control regarding the hiring of Deputy David Kunzelman.

For Missoula County voters, the first scapegoat should really be of interest, since Sheriff ELECT (Toth’s words), Jeremiah Petersen, was the one who allegedly referred Kunzelman to Toth as a “great guy” who should be hired as a Mineral County Sheriff Deputy, despite a little incident of stealing a law enforcement exam. As Captain of the Missoula County Detention Facility, Petersen’s referral carried a lot of weight with Toth.

And here’s an image so you can see who it is we are talking about:

The reason I don’t need confirmation of who died in the Mineral County jail for this post is because the article I found about Mineral County “lawmen” taking Shane Pelletier into custody last year is so objectively screwed-up, it should be considered regardless of whether or not Pelletier is the deceased inmate.

So here is the article, written by Monte Turner and published on January 20th, 2021.

A Hot Springs man with a $1 million warrant for his arrest was taken into custody by the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office last week.

Without knowing anything about the alleged offenses or the warrant, Mineral County Sheriff Toth and Undersheriff Wayne Cashman apprehended a man at gunpoint, but without incident, last Tuesday in St. Regis.

He was identified as Shane Thomas Pelletier, 32, of Hot Springs.

In addition to WHAT Pelletier did, take notice of WHO he did it to, especially when they have last names like “Jasper” and “Bullock” (emphasis mine):

The call of a man allegedly threatening customers with a knife inside the casino at the St. Regis Travel Center came in around 10 a.m. While en route, Toth, Cashman and Deputy Funk received an update that the man had left the casino and appeared to be walking behind the travel center. 

Arriving in the parking lot, a local citizen pointed to where he was in the backyard of a someone’s property. After arresting Pelletier, Rick Jasper, owner of the Talking Bird Saloon, approached and informed the arresting officers that the man had also attempted to steal liquor from his establishment, but Jasper had been able to fight him off.

Then, Gary Bullock, owner of the St. Regis Travel Center, provided surveillance footage from inside the casino, Pelletier was allegedly seen. The footage showed a dire situation the casino cashier had to endure.

The article continues, showing how quality Deputies who TOTALLY got all the training they needed, like Deputy Funke, did their LAWMAN thing and booked this dangerous offender into the MISSOULA County jail.

According to Toth, Pelletier had left the Hot Springs area earlier Tueday morning. Officers from the U.S. Marshals Service were in Hot Springs looking for Pelletier, who had a $1 million arrest warrant for sexual assault. 

Deputy Funk remained on the scene taking statements and learned that prior to either incident at the casino or saloon, Pelletier had allegedly attempted to enter into private vehicles in the fueling area. 

Toth and Cashman transferred the prisoner to the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office where he was processed and booked before being transported to the Missoula County Jail. 

Charges of felony assault with a deadly weapon, felony robbery and burglary are being filed with the Mineral County Attorney.

Maybe now, after this inmate death in Mineral County, our SOUTHERN BORDER obsessed Attorney General, Austin Knudsen, will give some lip service to the WESTERN BORDER of Montana, where a recreational river those tourists love runs through this “beautifully deceptive” landscape, to borrow a phrase from a recent commenter.

Stay tuned to this blog for the context you won’t find anywhere else in local reporting, and throw me some financial support if you can at my about page.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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