This is an event that happened during the week of March 19th near Red Lodge, Montana. This is a small community at the base of the Beartooth Mountains, and is about fifty miles from Billings, where I was born and raised, and from which I escaped in 2001.
According to news reports, Thomas Joseph Schifferns occasionally lived with James McGregor and his common law wife, Shiloh Moncada. McGregor’s body was found near a trailhead in the mountainous area west of Red Lodge. He had been shot and his body dragged, but was easily discovered by police. McGregor’s truck was stuck at the trail head, and Moncada claims his safe was open and empty.
Schifferns is accused of murder and is being held on $1 million bond in Billings.
So far, it all seems plausible. People have killed for less money. I want to just leave this alone except for the things that caught my eye: On the night that the body was found, police (actually a SWAT team, more like militarized police) shut down the highway that leads out of Red Lodge between mile markers 56 and 60. Schifferns is said to be 33 years old, and McGregor 69. Those are all spook markers.
Of course, those are all real numbers too. I was once 33 years old and many people reach the age of 69. Every major highway has mile markers at 56 and 60. So if indeed this is a real event, then all I am looking at is a coincidence, and I am over-thinking.
Here’s some more information: Apparently, Schifferns drove McGregor to the trailhead, and murdered him there, and dragged the body 100 yards away. This had to have been on the 19th or earlier, since Moncada reporting him missing on the 19th. Then the truck got stuck. The body was discovered on the 21st, at least two days after the murder.
Kristen Garcia is a friend of Schifferns. He sought her out and told her he had “ruined his life” and asked her to drive him to Texas or to buy him a bus ticket. She took him to Wal-Mart (in Billings) where he bought camping supplies and a cell phone, apparently planning to go to warmer climes. (Camping in Montana right now is ill-advised.) She then took him to Columbus, north and east of Red Lodge, where he confessed to her that he had murdered a man. His reason was that McGregor had been “disrespectful” and was “homeless.” He did not say money was his motive, and since we know that Schifferns occasionally lived with McGregor and his common law wife, we know McGregor was not homeless.
I understand that people who have done stupid things are often in panic mode. So let’s say that I had done the murder, and emptied the safe. What would I do?
First, I would not tell anyone. That is really important. Secondly, I would leave the area. That could be a problem if I don’t own a car. It is currently bitterly cold in Red Lodge, so hitch-hiking is out of the question. I would consider stealing a car. I might “borrow” Kristen’s car to get some distance between me and Red Lodge, knowing that I would eventually have to ditch it. If that is impossible, only then I would consider a bus ticket, but would use Billings as the place to purchase it. The reason: It is a bigger city, and the bus depot there is usually trafficked by homeless people in need of money. There I would pay someone to buy me a bus ticket. (Drivers check that the ticket is valid, but not for an ID. That is only done at the ticket counter.)
So Schifferns is not terribly bright, and cannot think clearly, and screwed up. He got caught in Roberts, Montana, an even smaller town between Red Lodge and Billings. That should be the end of the story, and I should let it go.
Why can’t I? Three reasons: One, the SWAT team response. McGregor was reported missing, his body found two days later. It is safe to assume the murder happened on or before Monday. The murderer had long left the scene. Why call in SWAT?
Second: Closing down the highway. Having a two-day jump on everyone, it is safe to assume he left the area. But a four mile stretch of highway was closed off, mile posts 56-60, this announced on all local news.
Third, not mentioned before: They closed down all Red Lodge schools on Thursday morning. Apparently they were afraid that Schifferns might also be a mass killer. (In reality, they now have every school kid in the country frightened, their objective no doubt, so why not pour on a little more fear?)
OK, I understand it could all be real, that Schifferns really could have murdered McGregor and has Schiffer brains, so did not know how to leave the area. It could have been a well-planned crime that went awry because the truck, which was to serve as a getaway vehicle, got stuck at the trailhead. What I do not understand is the highway closure, the use of SWAT, and the school shutdown. That appears to me to be unnecessary fear mongering.
We were in Copenhagen, Denmark a couple of years ago, and in the area called Freetown Christiania, a kind of hippie hangout (for lack of a better word), there was supposedly a policeman murdered. We walked in Freetown the day after, and there was no sign anywhere of an event like that, everything business-as-usual, but that does not mean it did not happen. The following day we were in Copenhagen proper, and the entire square we were in was surrounded by police. It was an impressive display, and I could not understand why. There was no law-enforcement purpose. I finally decided it was for two reasons: One to emphasize that a cop had been killed, and two, a show of force. It was otherwise nonsensical.
It could be that in our climate of fear, every event is now hyped and SWAT is meant to be part of every crime. I wish I knew. I know they do fake events as well. If this event is real, their presence was unnecessary.
PS: I should have mentioned this earlier as I had it in mind as I put this post together. It is a comment from Jared Magneson on February 22, an identical situation where a guy had committed suicide, and that brought out a massive police response, even evacuating Jared from his home on a chilly evening. It is a very insightful comment, and can be read here. (You might have to scroll up or down a bit to find it. It is nearby that link.)