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Missoula Co. Sheriff’s Office reopens 1991 double homicide cold case

Posted: 11:28 AM, Apr 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-11 18:24:44-04
1991 Missoula County Cold Case
The bodies of Iva LaRue and Kenneth Cheetham were found near Lake Alva on 9.11.1991 (courtesy photo)

MISSOULA – The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office is taking a look at a cold case from 1991 where two people were found shot to death in the Swan Valley.

Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott introduced new members of the Sheriff’s Office office whose sole responsibility is to investigate unsolved cases on Thursday morning.

The two women are retired federal agents with extensive experience investigating to successful resolution a variety of violent crimes, according to Sheriff McDermott.

The pair have been taking another look at the 1991 homicides of Iva LaRue and Kenneth Cheetham.

The married couple was on a road trip when they were shot and killed near Lake Inez in the Swan Valley on or about July 30, 1991. Both died from gunshot wounds.

(Missoula County Sheriff’s Office photo)

A van that LaRue and Kenneth were driving at the time was discovered at the end of a new logging road west of Lake Alva on August 5, 1991, and the couple’s bodies were found approximately two miles south of the van on September 11, 1991.

Sheriff McDermott notes it’s possible the van was moved to this location by a person or person(s) not associated with the homicides.

A Hitachi VM-5200A video camera and case were stolen from the victim’s van and anyone who “acquired or know someone who acquired a Hitachi camcorder in the summer or fall of 1991, we are asking you to contact us,” Sheriff McDermott said during a news conference.

He added that the camera may have been pawned or sold and the person who ultimately acquired the camera would have no knowledge about its origins.

1991 Cold Case Video Camera
(Missoula County Sheriff’s Office photo)

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office is reviewing evidence found on and near the bodies of LaRue and Kenneth as well as the van.

Sheriff McDermott says that new technology has helped develop some “new investigative leads of interest” in the case.

“We believe people who are familiar with the circumstances surrounding this case remain in our community. Law enforcement is aware that there is information that has not been shared,” Sheriff McDermott stated on Thursday.

“We recognize that relationships change over time as do people and their perspectives. It is not too late to come forward. We are asking for your cooperation,” Sheriff McDermott said.

“Please contact us with any information you have regarding the van or the deaths of LaRue and Kenneth even if you have previously provided information,” he added.

Anyone who may have information about the deaths is asked to contact the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office through Facebook , Twitter , or by calling (406) 258-3302.

McDermott added that “if you are worried about the circumstances in which you obtained this information your identity can remain anonymous.”

***CHEETAM HOMICIDE COLD CASE*** Please share. We are hoping to reach a large audience. Release of Information and Request for Community Engagement The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office would like to introduce new members of our office whose sole responsibility is to investigate unsolved cases. Both these women standing with me today are retired Federal agents with extensive experience investigating to successful resolution a variety of violent crimes.Most recently we have been revisiting the 1991 homicides of Iva LaRue and Kenneth Cheetham (whose photos you see here today). They were a married couple on a road trip visiting our community who were shot and killed near Lake Inez in the Swan Valley on or about July 30, 1991. Both died from gunshot wounds.At the time of their deaths, LaRue and Kenneth were driving the van you also see pictured here today. The van was discovered at the end of a new logging road west of Lake Alva on August 5, 1991. The bodies of LaRue and Kenneth were located approximately two miles south of the van on September 11, 1991. It is possible the van was moved to this location by a person or persons not associated with the homicides.A Hitachi VM-5200A video camera and case was stolen from the victim's van either by the killer or killers or possibly by individuals who moved the van. If you saw, acquired or know someone who acquired a Hitachi camcorder in the summer or fall of 1991, we are asking you to contact us. The camera may have been pawned or sold and the person who ultimately acquired the camera would have no knowledge about its origins. We are reviewing evidence found on and near the bodies of LaRue and Kenneth as well as the van. Technology not available at the time of the crime has allowed us to develop new investigative leads of interest. As many of you have likely seen in the media lately, advancements in fields such as genealogy and DNA analysis has led to resolution in many other cold cases. We believe people who are familiar with the circumstances surrounding this case remain in our community. Law enforcement is aware that there is information that has not been shared. It is sometimes the case that people who may have knowledge don’t initially come forward because of their relationships to people involved, concerns for their safety, or they may not realize information that they had is important. We recognize that relationships change over time as do people and their perspectives. It is not too late to come forward. We are asking for your cooperation. Please contact us with any information you have regarding the van or the deaths of LaRue and Kenneth even if you have previously provided information. Our investigative techniques enable us to rule out innocent persons. Therefore anyone who may have information relevant to this case should not be concerned about inadvertently getting someone who is not involved in trouble.Please contact us through Facebook, Twitter, or our tipline: 406-258-3302. Furthermore, if you are worried about the circumstances in which you obtained this information your identity can remain anonymous.

Posted by Missoula County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, April 11, 2019

 

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement Thursday regarding the latest activity on the case:

Release of Information and Request for Community Engagement
 
The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office would like to introduce new members of our office whose sole responsibility is to investigate unsolved cases. Both these women standing with me today are retired Federal agents with extensive experience investigating to successful resolution a variety of violent crimes.

Most recently we have been revisiting the 1991 homicides of Iva LaRue and Kenneth Cheetham (whose photos you see here today). They were a married couple on a road trip visiting our community who were shot and killed near Lake Inez in the Swan Valley on or about July 30, 1991. Both died from gunshot wounds.

At the time of their deaths, LaRue and Kenneth were driving the van you also see pictured here today. The van was discovered at the end of a new logging road west of Lake Alva on August 5, 1991. The bodies of LaRue and Kenneth were located approximately two miles south of the van on September 11, 1991. It is possible the van was moved to this location by a person or persons not associated with the homicides.

A Hitachi VM-5200A video camera and case was stolen from the victim’s van either by the killer or killers or possibly by individuals who moved the van. If you saw, acquired or know someone who acquired a Hitachi camcorder in the summer or fall of 1991, we are asking you to contact us. The camera may have been pawned or sold and the person who ultimately acquired the camera would have no knowledge about its origins.

We are reviewing evidence found on and near the bodies of LaRue and Kenneth as well as the van. Technology not available at the time of the crime has allowed us to develop new investigative leads of interest. As many of you have likely seen in the media lately, advancements in fields such as genealogy and DNA analysis has led to resolution in many other cold cases.

We believe people who are familiar with the circumstances surrounding this case remain in our community. 

Law enforcement is aware that there is information that has not been shared. It is sometimes the case that people who may have knowledge don’t initially come forward because of their relationships to people involved, concerns for their safety, or they may not realize information that they had is important. We recognize that relationships change over time as do people and their perspectives. It is not too late to come forward. 

We are asking for your cooperation. Please contact us with any information you have regarding the van or the deaths of LaRue and Kenneth even if you have previously provided information. Our investigative techniques enable us to rule out innocent persons. Therefore anyone who may have information relevant to this case should not be concerned about inadvertently getting someone who is not involved in trouble.

Please contact us through Facebook, Twitter, or our tipline: 406-258-3302.

Furthermore, if you are worried about the circumstances in which you obtained this information your identity can remain anonymous.