Comment aimed at girlfriend may have led to murder - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Comment aimed at girlfriend may have led to murder

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Cecil Thomas Rice and Heather Joy Meeker (Flathead County jail booking photos) Cecil Thomas Rice and Heather Joy Meeker (Flathead County jail booking photos)
Anthony Walthers (Facebook) Anthony Walthers (Facebook)

Investigators said they believe a Flathead County murder last week was committed because of an inappropriate comment made about the suspect's girlfriend.

Cecil Thomas Rice, 26, is accused of pushing 34-year-old Anthony Andrew Walthers into the Flathead River and to his death late last week near Evergreen. 

Walthers' body has not been recovered.

Rice has been charged with deliberate homicide, while his girlfriend, 25-year-old Heather Joy Meeker, is charged with felony tampering with evidence.

Court documents reveal details surrounding what authorities allege happened on the evening of April 26. 

Law enforcement responded to Holt Stage Road after receiving reports that a man had fallen into the river. Numerous witnesses saw Walthers struggling in the river screaming for help.

In follow up interviews, Meeker confirmed to detectives that Rice had pushed Walthers off the bridge. Meeker told detectives Rice was upset over an inappropriate comment Walthers made about her earlier in the day.

The Flathead County Sheriff's Office said last week Meeker would be charged with accountability to deliberate homicide, but as of Monday she has only been charged with tampering with evidence. She's accused of throwing Walthers’ backpack out the window of a van.

The sheriff's office said last week they were seeking a second man that may have been involved in the crime, but they now say that man is no longer a suspect.

Both defendants are expected to appear for their arraignments in Flathead County District Court on May 25.

A gofundme account has been set up by Walthers' family.


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