We’re Keeping The Coroner And Crime Lab Busy In Zoom Town!

by Travis Mateer

I drove to Alberton, Montana, twice this past week, and both days (Tuesday and Thursday) the truck above was on the side of the road with the curious word HUSH painted on the back. This spot on I-90 is around mile marker 64, headed east, which is what I told the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office when I called it in. There was a person in the driver’s seat just sitting there with hands on the steering wheel, and the dog to the right, leashed to the vehicle. Weird.

On Tuesday I actually drove all the way to Superior to see if I could turn up any information on Kasen Konop, the young man who supposedly shaved his head and fled to Superior after Joey Thompson went missing on April 11th. Here’s an image from Kasen’s Instagram account, the account that supposedly had posts deleted from it:

It’s surprising how little is known at this point about the death of Joey Thompson. It’s been nearly a month since his body was found 40 miles west of where he was last seen alive and still no word about the manner and cause of death. Also, as of the writing of this post, I’ve received ZERO call-backs from both the Missoula and Mineral County Sheriff Offices. Why?

On Thursday night I couldn’t sleep, so I went downtown and walked around aimlessly for about an hour until several cop cruisers sped by me on Front Street. Where were they going? I walked in the direction the cops drove, toward the Roam student housing complex, and then toward Kiwanis Park. That’s where I saw the authorities removing a dead body from the bathroom at Kiwanis Park.

I watched this scene for awhile trying to determine if the dead body was the result of an overdose or something else. I saw a cop with a flashlight to the right of the bathroom looking for something on the ground by the picnic tables. What was he looking for?

After about 15 minutes of observation I decided to leave. Three young woman who had been going to the park before I suggested they wait wanted an update, so I told them there was a body being processed by law enforcement. Then about a half dozen young men, or boys I should say, showed up (one of ’em looked about 12 years old) and I told them the same thing. Drugs, they asked? Maybe, I replied, then I asked them if they knew about the death of Joey Thompson, and they did, including the story about how Kasen shaved his head and left town.

While the coroner and crime lab seem to be staying busy, the actual RESULT of that work is still a bit of a mystery. I’ve seen a bunch of the crime lab staff testify in court during the Lee Nelson murder trial, so I know they have fancy degrees and can dress nice, but beyond that, I have little-to-no confidence in the crime lab’s ability to act autonomously from the investigating jurisdictions they rely on day to day in this criminal just shit show.

I would like to be wrong about this assessment, but I’m afraid I’m not. And having a broken criminal justice system doesn’t bode well for creating a bustling tourist economy fueling a multi-modal, mixed-use utopia with a couple of weeks of non-mosquito weather perfection we used to be able to enjoy before every inch of park space was ceded to “houseless” drug abusers.

It’s important the tourists and low-information citizens of Zoom Town at least have some IMPRESSION that the criminal justice system isn’t fucked, so cue a well-timed bust of some SEX traffickers!

From the link (emphasis mine):

Deputies observed the conditions in Soul Massage and found what looked like a sleeping area. It had a small twin bed and a space that appeared to be used for cooking and eating. Dirty dishes and pots with food inside were visible.

In one room, deputies observed a makeshift closet with clothes and several suitcases. A small television was present. Deputies also noticed a security camera on the wall. The conditions inside the business were unsanitary, with dirty linens and floors.

A detective who is known to be an expert in Human Trafficking confirmed that victims of human trafficking in illegal brothels or commercial sex locations are often required to live on premises. By keeping victims on-premises, human traffickers are able to exercise control over the victims and can force them to work at all hours of the day or night.

I added the emphasis because I’m curious why this EXPERT detective isn’t named. I’m also wondering if the victim of human trafficking in this case got any nice recovery time in the woods with Lowell Hochhalter and Company at the “safe” house at Crooked Tree Ranch.

All this stuff is keeping ME pretty busy, but the weekend is fast approaching, so I’m going to chill out for a day, then get back to it on Sunday with a review of the week that may include one more podcast episode in the old format I’ve been using since January.

If you appreciate my local, independent journalism, then Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to support my work. Making a donation at my about page is another. I’ll be preparing this weekend for Monday’s City Council meeting where the emergency ordinance to better address “urban camping” will be discussed, so stay tuned.

And 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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4 Responses to We’re Keeping The Coroner And Crime Lab Busy In Zoom Town!

  1. John Kevin Hunt says:

    “I have little-to-no confidence in the crime lab’s ability to act autonomously from the investigating jurisdictions they rely on day to day in this criminal just shit show.”

    This is a MAJOR problem just about everywhere. But the consquences concerning me from state crime labs’ lack of independence from law enforcement agencies, arises from the labs’ testimonial biases favoring law enforcement-desired conclusions in matters of science; their contrived “accuracy audits,” and typical defensiveness when errors in analyses or procedures are brought to light in criminal proceedings where innocent persons stand to be convicted of major offenses and incarerated for decades on the basis of lab technicians’ testimony.

    As for the City of Missoula supposedly having ceded “every inch of park space … to ‘houseless’ drug abusers, that is not true (although not far off the mark). It is true that the City’s response to Martin v. City of Boise and Johnson v. City of Grants Pass has been abysmal. I’m trying to change that, and your support of the ordinance I drafted (and forwarded to you), that is gaining momentum for consideration by the City Council, would help.

    There is nothing in those 9th Circuit decisons that prevents enforcement of controlled substance and other criminal laws, as well as health, public safety, environmental protection, and other laws. The narrow rulings in Martin/Johnson only prohibit the penalization of mere existence on public property of unhoused persons and rudimentary protections from the elements, and apply this prohibition only when safe publicly-owned, -managed, or -sanctioned shelter space is not available or, if available, is offered to an urban camper and refused. Nor is the City prevented by these decisions from moving unhoused persons from one City property to another for good reasons. Nor are the laws concerning commitment or supervision of mentally ill persons who are dangerous, rendered unenforceable.

    What this means, is that we must create more shelter. As you’ve brought to public attention, the conditions in both sanctioned and unsanctioned camps and shelters are unfit and frequently dangerous for children, families or anyone else. Despite objections predicated upon the evils of the ‘Homeless Industrial Complex,’ at some point it’s necessary to “fish or cut bait.” A lack of safe shelter for involuntarily homeless persons, and a ban on camping on all city property all the time, will only net Missoula federal court injunctions and class actions in which the City is assessed up to millions of dollars in damage awards to the plaintiffs.

  2. UPDATE: the public information officer responded to an email inquiry and clarified that the activity I witnessed was a welfare check for “the removal of an intoxicated female”, so NO DEAD BODY. That’s some good news for a Monday morning.

  3. anon says:

    That truck belongs to Ben Said (not real name), a musician out of Portland, OR. I chatted with him over the weekend and heard about some of the problems he’s been having with the truck, a repurposed old USPS rig. He was passing through from CO on his way home and did some zigging and zagging through MT. Seemed like a good guy who’s had some ups and downs in life.

    You can see him in the truck in this video he released last month:

  4. Great article! It’s important to shed light on the mysteries surrounding these cases and hold the criminal justice system accountable. Keep up the good work!

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