BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A man accused of killing his wife and two of her relatives in a tiny Montana town told authorities that a stranger must have broken into the house they shared and shot the victims, court documents released Thursday said.
Robert James LeCou, 39, made the claim during an interview with Montana law enforcement following his arrest in Washington state on April 8, according to an affidavit from Carbon County District Attorney Alex Nixon.
Authorities allege LeCou shot his wife, her sister and a brother-in-law three days earlier and fled.
LeCou told the agents from the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation that "there was a pistol stored in a back bedroom, and theorized that a stranger must have gone into the residence ... and used the pistol to kill the three remaining in the residence."
A resident of Belfry, an agriculture-oriented town of 200 near the Wyoming border, called authorities after seeing no activity at the victims' house for two days.
Found dead inside from gunshot wounds were Lloyd Lamb, 76; Lamb's wife, Sharon Hill-Lamb, 72; and LeCou's wife, Karen Hill-LeCou, 54. The women were sisters.
Because a prior violent conviction prohibited LeCou from owning firearms, his wife had purchased two boxes of 9 mm ammunition for him about three weeks before her death, according to a witness cited in the affidavit and surveillance video from a Cabela's sporting goods store in Billings, Montana.
A 9 mm handgun that Lloyd Lamb apparently owned and kept at the residence has not been found. Numerous 9 mm shell casings were found in and outside the house, inside a camper-trailer on the property and in a dumpster, the affidavit said.
LeCou told authorities he left the house at noon April 8, the day of the slayings, the affidavit said.
Neighbors told The Associated Press that they had seen LeCou leave around 8 p.m. April 5. That's about the same time another Belfry resident reported hearing gunshots in the neighborhood, the affidavit said.
LeCou arrived at his mother's house in the Washington state community of Nine Mile Falls early April 6.
His public defender in Washington has not responded to requests for comment.
Authorities on Wednesday added a charge of tampering with evidence to the three counts of deliberate homicide that LeCou faces. He was not fighting extradition to Montana, prosecutors said.
LeCou previously was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 10 years in prison for the 1999 beating death of a homeless man in Fort Worth, Texas. He was paroled in 2009.
LeCou arrived in Belfry roughly six months ago to help care for Lloyd Lamb, who used a wheelchair, according to several neighbors.
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