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Investigators: Son said dad forced him to Belgrade shooting scen - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Investigators: Son said dad forced him to Belgrade shooting scene

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Joseph Paul Dewise, 47, appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court in January on a charge of deliberate homicide. (MTN News photo) Joseph Paul Dewise, 47, appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court in January on a charge of deliberate homicide. (MTN News photo)

The son of a Bozeman man accused of killing his estranged wife in early January reportedly told investigators that he was in the house with his father when two women were shot, one fatally.

According to charging documents filed Thursday, Feb. 1, the teenage son of Joseph Paul DeWise told investigators that he had been in the Belgrade house on Jan. 7 when his stepmother Lauren Walder DeWise, 35, was shot and killed. Another woman, Ashley Van Hemert, was also shot and severely injured.

DeWise has been charged with deliberate homicide and attempted deliberate homicide, both felonies. Dewise remains jailed at the Gallatin County Detention Center.

Dewise was arrested on Jan. 11. On Jan. 12, detectives conducted interviews with two of DeWise’s children. During the interview, the 15-year-old boy provided information similar to what he had said in earlier interviews. When shown a pair of tan boots, the boy indicated he had a pair just like them that his mother had purchased from Walmart in Florida. When asked where they were, the boy said he threw them away a week or two earlier, because they had been torn.

He told detectives that the boots were size 6. The boy also said his father didn’t have matching boots but did have some similar boots.

Investigators were interested in the boots due to shoe impressions left at the scene in Belgrade. An size analysis of one boot impression was estimated to be a size 6 to 6 1/2.

On Saturday, Jan. 13, DeWise’s ex-wife arrived from Florida to meet with her children. A detective met her at the airport and informed her that her son may have more information about what had happened or possibly could have been forced to be a part of the homicide.

When asked if the boy could be interviewed after advising him of his rights, so very specific questions regarding his knowledge or involvement could be asked, the mother and son agreed to waive the boy’s rights.

The boy initially remained consistent with the information he had previously provided, but when challenged about his boots and that he had not gotten rid of them before the homicide, he indicated he did not have a choice.

He told law enforcement he feared for his sisters and felt like he had to go with his father on the night of the shootings. He said DeWise told him to come with him and get in the car, and when asked where they were going, DeWise reportedly told his son that he did not need to know.

When the pair got to the Belgrade home, the boy told investigators that his father told him to get out of the car and to “follow me.” He said his father also had a pistol that he’d never seen before.

He said his father kicked in the door of the house in Belgrade where Lauren and Van Hemert resided.

The boy told officers that he was in the living room when he heard gunshots. His father then came back and told the boy to go to the car. On the way back to their house, the boy said DeWise stopped and purchased beer.

When they arrived back at their house, DeWise told the boy to give him his boots. DeWise then left the home for a while and came back.

After DeWise returned to the home, he told the boy what to say and that he had to stick to that story or DeWise would go to prison.

The boy also told investigators that he and DeWise had left their phones at their home before the shooting.

Detectives identified shoe impressions at the scene in Belgrade that indicated there were two suspects. One impression was identified as being consistent with that of the boot allegedly belonging to the boy. The other was consistent with a men’s Merrell Reflex hiking shoe. Video surveillance of DeWise from the gas station on Jan. 7, shows the man wearing what appears to be Merrell Reflex hiking shoes.

During a search of DeWise’s home, vehicle and person, no hiking shoes matching the description were found.

In a press release on Jan. 17, law enforcement asked for the public’s help as they are seeking items that were "possibly disposed of after a criminal act." According to the statement, the items being sought are:

One pair of tan boots

One pair of tan/black hiking shoes

Two pairs of gloves

A Garmin GPS unit

A pistol

-- Reporting by Kaitlin Corbett, Ken Spencer and Morgan Davies

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