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Lewis and Clark County Sheriff: 1968 murder case solved

Pamela Dorrington case
Posted at 4:42 PM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 12:02:00-05

HELENA — Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said on Friday that deputies have solved the 1968 homicide of Pamela Ann Dorrington.

Deputies say Courtney Brooke Atlas recently confessed to the murder after being provided immunity from prosecution for the crime. Atlas is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife in 1983.

The family of Dorrington was consulted before the offer was made. Pamela's brother Jeff said they were just thankful to have the truth out there.

It’s been more than 50 years since there was an update regarding the death of Dorrington.

The 19-year-old Helena High graduate — who was working as a surgical tech at St. Peter’s Hospital at the time — went missing on Feb. 17, 1968. She had last been seen at The Hofbrau the previous evening.

Altas confessed to deputies on the morning of Feb. 17, 1968, he called Dorrington and said there was a water leak in her apartment that needed to be fixed. He entered her apartment, strangled her to death, and then sexually assaulted her.

Law enforcement, family, and friends searched for her for months, with flyers of her put up across the Northwest.

Atlas had stored the body at a hanger where he taught flying lessons. He later moved the body to the Lakeside area where he chopped up the body before later disposing of the remains by tossing them off the York bridge.

The custodian of the Gates of the Mountains marina discovered what appeared to be part of a human torso floating near the docks on June 13, 1968. Then-Sheriff Dave Middlemas told the Independent Record at the time the recovered portion of her body was from about the waist to the knees.

The time of decomposition, gender, approximate age and suspected height fit the description of Dorrington. The pathologist that inspected the recovered remains noted it has been extensively mutilated, with sexual overtones in the manner of mutilation.

A gravestone for Pamela Dorrington rests in Resurrection Cemetery off North Montana Avenue in Helena.