The Email Has Been Sent And The Clock Is Ticking

by Travis Mateer

Before I get to the email sent to A LOT of local officials in Missoula AND Mineral Counties, I’d like to add another person to the WON’T CALL ME BACK list, and that person is the Executive Director of Hope Rescue Mission, Jim Hicks.

When I called Hope Rescue Mission this week, the woman who answered seemed genuinely concerned about the death of Joey Thompson. I explained my concern, as an independent journalist, that a vigorous investigation didn’t seem to be occurring, so I was calling to see if any investigator had contacted Hope Rescue Mission. No, said the woman, then she took my name and number to pass along to Jim Hicks. I never heard anything back.

I will probably NOT be hearing back from the Communications Director for the Montana Department of Justice based on this automatic (and out-of-date) reply:

I’m hopeful Kyler Nerison is out in this beautiful state enjoying the scenic wilds and recharging those batteries for the herculean effort at narrative control his position necessitates because, when he gets back to the office, he will see my email. I hope reading my email makes him VERY worried about his ability to control narratives so people, like money-plump tourists, can have that false sense of security as they visit our beautiful state.

Here it is:

Good morning,

What would you do if a young woman at a memorial for an 18 year old kid told you she was raped, she reported it, and nothing happened? What would you do if the young man she was talking about is rumored to be connected to the death of that same 18 year old kid? We are told that if we see something, we should say something. Going further, if I KNOW something, I should report it to the proper authorities. Right?

When I think about the NON response I’ve gotten from BOTH the Missoula County and Mineral County Sheriff Offices in regards to the Joey Thompson case, I think about my own kids and what it must feel like to be a parent stuck in the hell of speculation as weeks turn into months and years of no answers where an investigation is supposed to be. Maybe there is one, and maybe there’s a good reason for the non-response. In that case I hope people like County Commissioners can get involved, like ask questions, and then THEY can be clued in, since they pay the bills.

To answer the question WHAT WOULD YOU DO, well, I’ve seen what grief-stricken parents have been FORCED to do, like Angela Mastrovito. What you have to do, if you can afford it, is PAY the private sector to do what the public sector either CANNOT, or WILL NOT, do, then you crawl up the ladder of public accountability in the hopes accountability, somewhere, exists, instead of just things like self-interested political ambition and incompetency.

I am now trying to contact state officials, as you can see from who I’ve sent this email to, but I don’t have a lot of faith that will do anything other than put a larger target on MY OWN BACK for trying to get answers about other cases, like trying to figure out what REALLY happened to Sean Stevenson inside the Poverello Center, and why Johnny Lee Perry was REALLY out in the woods on the day he was shot in the back by MCSO Deputies.

Enough of you on this email have received MORE information than what I’m choosing to share here, stuff I haven’t even written about publicly at my website, and I say that in case anything happens to me. If you think I’m being dramatic, ask my former spouse about the letter we received at the house I used to live at before I started paying the REAL price for bringing accountability to the surface in this town.

Thank you for doing what you can to lessen the burden of all the unpaid jobs I’m currently doing to satisfy what I feel called to do. I’m going to keep searching for real answers in these cases because I would want someone doing the same thing for me if something tragic happened to one of my kids.

See y’all at a public mic soon, where I will continue following the rules of decorum to the best of my abilities.

On Wednesday, at the Committee of the Whole, I did just that because the disconnects, I suspect, are numerous, and there’s a NEW one I’m currently exploring that I wanted to mention to Council members, since it may be time-sensitive, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I say “the clock is ticking” in the title of this post because that’s the reality in ANY investigation. As time elapses, evidence can be compromised, or destroyed, and memories fade. Just ask the family of Jermain Charlo, a family who got NO CLOSURE after bloody clothes were found on the property where her ex-boyfriend lived. Why? Because too much time went by for the blood sample to be usable. I’m sure that wasn’t intentional, right Guy?

Another person who seems to understand what time can do to evidence is NOT on this email, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know about a conversation this person had with someone regarding the body of Rebekah Barsotti. Was that body kept refrigerated at the Crime Lab in Missoula? The person said no, the body was NOT refrigerated. Who is this person? I’m going to keep that one close to the vest, for now.

Talking about missing persons got me thinking about the LifeGuard Group, so I went to Facebook to see what the Hochhalter family is doing with their family business non-profit, but it appears I’ve finally been blocked. Darn! I guess all the amazingly educational material offered by this “non-profit” will be denied to me. Unless I find other methods to observe it. Like Youtube.

If public sector communication directors are too busy to change their automatic email reply, and if investigators are too busy to investigate, and if documenting all the impressive NOT HAPPENING going on by making public comment after public comment produces nothing of substance, what is an independent journalist to do?

Right now it would be a luxury to entertain next steps in getting basic things to happen in the case of a dead 18 year old kid–or any of the other cases I’m looking into–and that’s because my vehicular problems are not relenting, so once I get that figured out, I’ll wrap up this latest phase of my public comment campaign and plan accordingly.

Now, here’s a big THANK YOU to the recent support I’ve received with some generous donations and a very nice email that helps my morale more than I can say. The ways to join those appreciative Zoom-Chron’ers include Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF), making a donation at my about page, or you can email me at willskink at yahoo dot com for details on where to send non-digital support.

If I return in one piece from Mineral County, Sunday’s post will feature the first chapter of In Retrospect: A History of Mineral County, by Margie E. Hahn (and read by me). Then, on Monday, I’m hoping to have something more substantial about what might be changing with pre-trial supervision.

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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1 Response to The Email Has Been Sent And The Clock Is Ticking

  1. John Kevin Hunt says:

    Holy shit, man! They claim that blood on clothes is “too old” to be usable? DID THEY TRY??? Read this article from the Journal of Forensic Science:

    Dissing J, Søndervang A, Lund S. Exploring the limits for the survival of DNA in blood stains. J Forensic Leg Med. 2010 Oct;17(7):392-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2010.08.001. PMID: 20851360.

    I dealt with DNA A LOT in my practice, and came to be a “go-to guy” in cases utilizing DNA. I got DNA evidence excluded in capital murder trial in Portland, their first offering of it, in 1988. I had consulted some experts but won our motion to exclude without calling any of them — entirely via cross examination of the state’s witnesses, who included the inventor of the forensic DNA technique and the chief scientist at the Oregon State Police Crime Lab.

    DNA in dried blood has been successfully extracted,.amplified and introduced as evidence, from samples more than 20 years old. Its main enemy is mold. Dried blooe dies not require the same temperature and humidity controls as fresh blood. While it’s possible that the DNA was too old & degraded here,.your term “bloody clothes” suggests a large amount of dried blood. I suppose they won’t respond to you,.but dammit it’s important to know whether they tried, or just blew it off. Given that dozens of spots could have been cut out and subjected to attempted extraction and amplification, I’m skeptical. I’d wager they never even tried.

    See, also:

    “…Because the DNA molecule is long lived, it is likely to be detectable for many years in bones or body fluid stains from older criminal cases in which questions of identity remain unresolved.”

    The Unrealized potential of DNA Testing.

    Wlll send URLs

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