dtl_montanamomcodyweb_170519-nbcnews-fp-360-200Dateline NBC, March 21,  featured a story on the murder of Kalispell native Nicole Waller.

Investigators believe Johnston, a native of Fairview, killed Waller and put her body in a barrel. Then, according to his cellphone records, he lied about his whereabouts on the day Waller went missing and turned off his phone for three hours to prevent law enforcement from tracking him.

A witness testified during Johnston’s trial that during that time he helped Johnston move Waller’s car, and others said Johnston asked them to make fake social media posts from Waller’s account to make it look like she was still alive.

Prosecutors said the last time anyone heard from Waller was when she contacted her family on Valentine’s Day 2013 saying she was breaking up with Johnston and returning to Kalispell.

Waller’s body was never found

 

June 11 2015 ]

9-10-15-waller-charges-cody-johnston-web

Cody Johnston, 36, was found guilty of deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence at trial. The trial was anticipated to last eight days, but a verdict was pronounced after just three days of testimony.

Jurors determined that Johnston had killed Nicole Waller, 31, during a visit she made to see him at his home near Sidney. Prosecutors believe the murder occurred on Valentine’s Day.

Waller’s body has never been found.

“It’s extremely difficult, it’s a small victory,” said Waller’s sister Carmen Keibler.. “we still don’t have Nicky, we cant give her a funeral. All we have is to know that he got convicted. A lot of mixed emotions today. I’m heartbroken because this is a man my family knew, a person that has a wife and kids. It’s destroyed a lot of lives, not only for my family but also his family.”

[June 2015 Nicole Waller still missing unlike Sherry Arnold]

]two years since anyone has seen or heard from Nicole Waller; the mother of three mysteriously vanished on February 14th, 2013 while driving from Fairview to Kalispell, Montana.

Nicole Waller

Nicole Waller

Nicole Waller

Name: WALLER, NICOLE YVONNE
Aliases: WILLIS, NICOLE YVONNE
Gender: FEMALE
Date of Birth: 05/22/1981
Race: WHITE
Hair Color: BROWN
Eye Color: HAZEL
Height: 5′ 0”
Weight: 165 LBS.

Incident Information
Date of Last Contact: 02/14/2013
Age Now: 33 YEARS
Other Reported Dates of Birth:
Investigating Agency: FLATHEAD COUNTY SHERIFF,(406) 758-5610

[February 12 2014
On Valentine’s Day 2013, 32-year-old Nicole Waller packed her car in Fairview – on the Montana-North Dakota border – and headed home to see her three young children in Kalispell.

She never made it back to them.

Waller’s 1999 Ford Expedition was found the same day on the side of U.S. Highway 2 near Poplar – only about an hour’s drive from where she started her journey.

Inside the car, officers found her children’s guinea pigs – still caged – and her clothes and other belongings.

But there was no sign of Waller.

Agent Mark Hilyard with the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation said foul play is suspected in the disappearance of Nicole Waller,

[March 23 2013]

FBI finds Sherry Arnold body in Williston, 50 miles from her home

FBI finds Sherry Arnold body in Williston, 50 miles from her home

The remains of Ms Arnold, a high school maths teacher who disappeared in Sidney, Montana during a morning run more than two months ago, were buried outside Williston, North Dakota.
The recovery effort started on Tuesday in western North Dakota about 50 miles from Sidney, and the body was found by the FBI early on Wednesday.
The location of the body across the state line from where the alleged kidnapping occurred means there could be federal charges against the two suspects in the case, Michael Keith Spell, 22, and Lester Van Waters Jr., 47, both of Parachute, Colorado.
[March 22] By the early morning hours of March 21, 2012, special agents had recovered the physical remains of a female. While a positive identification has not been made at this time, it is believed the remains are those of Sherry Arnold of Sidney, Montana. Further efforts to verify the identity of the remains are currently underway by law enforcement. After a positive identification is made, a news release will be issued. Due to the ongoing investigation, no further details about the case can be released at this time.

Ms. Arnold went missing Saturday, January 7, 2012 at approximately 6:30 a.m. while on her morning run in Sidney, Montana.
FBI

One of the alleged murderers

One of the alleged murderers

Lester Van Waters Jr., 50, was sentenced to 80 years in prison on Monday for his role in Sherry Arnold’s murder.

Lester Van Waters Jr., 50, was sentenced to 80 years in prison on December 15 for his role in Sherry Arnold’s murder.

December 17, 2014, 11:40 AM: “Mr. Waters you are losing your freedom. Sherry Arnold lost her life,” Judge Simonton said. Based on the plea agreement, Simonton sentenced Lester Waters Jr., one of the two men who pleaded guilty in the homicide of Sherry Arnold, to 100 years in the Montana State Prison with 20 years suspended. Waters, 50, will be eligible for parole in 20 years after pleading guilty to the amended count of accountability to deliberate homicide. Keith Spell, 25, allegedly told authorities that Van Waters killed Arnold, a jailhouse informant testified that “Spell said he choked her out … pushed Sherry’s face into some water and drowned her to make sure she was dead.” Spell later admitted that he was unsure if he or Waters killed Arnold.

The younger man reportedly acted on the older’s directive because Van Waters said “he wanted to have sex,”
The judge noted eastern Montana and western North Dakota were greatly affected by the kidnapping and murder of the Sidney teacher on Jan. 7, 2012. He said the only way that he was open to accepting the binding plea agreement was that attorneys instructed him that the family of Arnold was agreeable. Simonton also ordered Waters to pay $21,448 in restitution to Gary Arnold, Sherry’s husband. Waters’ vehicle will be sold with funds going toward the restitution.
According to pre-sentencing information, Simonton said Waters is about $84,000 in debt due to back child support. Waters has seven children with five different women. read more read Spell

[August 13 2013 Sherry Arnold :Lester Van Waters Jr ( 2 children) pleads guilty]

M. K Spell

M. K Spell

L V Waters

L V Waters

SIDNEY – Lester Van Waters, Jr., the co-defendant in the Sherry Arnold murder case, has entered into a plea agreement with the state.

Waters has been charged with deliberate kidnapping and deliberate homicide in the 2012 death of Arnold.

According to the Richland County Clerk of Courts, Waters will appear before District Judge Richard Simonton on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 pm.

The plea agreement calls for a 100-year sentence that will spare Waters the death penalty, as long as he agrees to plead guilty and assist the state in the prosecution of Michael Spell.

In addition, 20 years of the 100-year sentence would be suspended, and there would not be any restriction on Waters’ eligibility for parole.

Judge Simonton will make the final ruling Tuesday afternoon as to whether or not he’ll accept the plea agreement.

Click here to read the plea agreement (PDF).

TIMELINE (2012)

January 7th: Sherry Arnold, a 43 year old teacher in Sidney, Montana is reported missing after failing to return from a morning run.

January 7th: A search begins for Arnold which includes 100 people, including 40 members of the Montana National Guard and two planes searching by air.

January 7th: Authorities recover one of Arnold’s jogging shoes in northeast Sidney along Ninth Avenue. A substance which has not been identified by law enforcement was found on the shoe.

January 9th: The Montana Department of Justice issues a Missing Persons Alert for Arnold.

January 10th: The Federal Bureau of Investigation becomes involved in the investigation into Arnold’s disappearance due to proximity to North Dakota and potential of kidnapping.

January 11th: A tip line is set up by investigators for information leading to the whereabouts of Sherry Arnold (406) 433-4027. Also, a “Help Find Sherry Arnold” page on Facebook garners thousands of visits.

January 12th: Formal search efforts are suspended until authorities receive new information.

January 12th: Arnold added to the FBI Missing Persons List.

January 13th: The Sidney School District posts on their website that it had informed students and teachers that Sherry Arnold is dead. The school says they were informed by Arnold’s family.

January 13th: A press conference is held by Sidney police in conjunction with the FBI. Sidney Police Chief Frank DiFonzo said a 47-year-old man is in custody in Williston, North Dakota, and a 22-year-old man had been detained for questioning in Rapid City, South Dakota, both in connection with Arnold’s disappearance.

January 13th: Hundreds pour into the gym at Sidney High School for a memorial vigil.

January 14th: Sidney Police Chief Frank DiFonzo confirms that the two men in custody have been arraigned on charges of aggravated kidnapping and are being held at the Williams County Jail in Williston, North Dakota.

January 15th: The two men held on charges of aggravated kidnapping are identified as 47-year-old Lester Waters Jr. and 22-year-old Michael Spell. Both men are most recently from Parachute, Colorado.

[January 19, 2012]

Waters had several stints in jail in Indian River County and was incarcerated three times by the Florida Department of Corrections: from September 2002 to December 2003; August 2007 to March 2008; and March 2009 to August 2010.

In an application for a public defender filed in Williams County, N.D., Waters listed his home address as Parachute, Colo., where court records also show he had a driver’s license. He listed two children, ages 5 and 15, and said he was not married.
Michael Keith Spell, 22, and 47-year-old Lester Vann Waters are charged in Montana with aggravated kidnapping, a felony charge that carries the death penalty in that state, in connection with the Jan. 7 disappearance of teacher Sherry Arnold of Sidney enter a Williams County courtroom Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 for a preliminary extradition hearing in Williston, N.D. Spell’s application for a public defender in the missing teacher case suggests he is married with a 1-year-old son.

Michael Keith Spell

Michael Keith Spell


Accused kidnapper Lester V Waters

Accused Kidnapper


Pastors from Sidney Montana for Sherry Arnold at  gym, recited the Lord's Prayer

Pastors from Sidney Montana for Sherry Arnold at gym, recited the Lord's Prayer


Lester Van Waters Jr., 47, and Michael Keith Spell, 22, both of Parachute, Colorado, have been arraigned in Williams County, North Dakota, on charges of aggravated kidnapping in connection with the disappearance of Sherry Arnold.
SIDNEY, Montana: “It’s just so sudden.”
it is believed that Sherry Arnold may be deceased and that her body has not been recovered.

Law enforcement officials are requesting that North Dakota property owners in Williams County, McKenzie County, Mountrail County, and those in extreme northeastern Montana check shelter belts and vacant farmsteads on their land for disturbed soil.

The surrounding grassy area may also appear to be matted. A shelter belt is a line of trees that protects soil from the wind. Ms. Arnold’s body may be buried in a shelter belt that contains mature or rotted trees. Mrs Arnold, 43, disappeared while on an run along a two-lane, farm-to-market route with mostly local traffic and some tractor-trailers,.a truck route on the edge of the oil boom town in northeast Montana that has about 5,500 residents.
Sidney — a town of about 5,000 only 10 miles from the border with North Dakota — is changing as people pour in from out of town, chasing the money brought by the Bakken oil boom.
He’s seen it before — the last time there was an oil boom in the 1980s.
“We have a lot of activity now at this part of the state,” DiFonzo said. “A lot of out-of-state people are here to work, and locals don’t know them or recognize them.”
The influx has increased crime, and DiFonzo said officers are responding to more bar fights, domestic violence and drunken driving.
“We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
read
The Town of Parachute is a Statutory Town in Garfield County, Colorado, United States. The population was 1,006 at the 2000 census. they had to either charge the two men being questioned (and in custody) or to let them go no later than Sunday night, as it would have completed the 72-hour window allotted them for questioning without bringing charges.

The two men were charged.

Riders from Parachute, Colorado

Riders from Parachute, Colorado

here