Suspect in Ferndale Killing Held Without Bail

By Beacon Staff

KALISPELL (AP) – A Bigfork man charged in the December shooting death of a Ferndale man was ordered held without bail during a Justice Court appearance Thursday.

Ronald L. Petersen, 19, was arrested in North Carolina after his brother told investigators that Petersen had confessed to murdering Clyde Wilson, 24, early on Dec. 31.

Petersen was returned to Lake County Tuesday night. His District Court arraignment on the murder charge is scheduled for Feb. 13.

Authorities allege Petersen broke into Wilson’s cabin early on Dec. 31 and shot him three times with a semiautomatic pistol as Wilson and his girlfriend slept in the living room. Wilson’s girlfriend, 20-year-old Randy Frick, called 911 at about 5:30 a.m.

On Jan. 26, Petersen’s brother, Ryon Gates, told investigators Petersen confessed to the crime, described details about the shooting not released to the public and showed him the gun, court records said.

Petersen, who is in the Army, was arrested the next day at Fort Bragg Army Base near Fayetteville, N.C.

Gates said Peterson told him the gun belonged to Zachary Forkin, 19, of Bigfork, with whom Peterson stayed while on leave.

Deputies searched Forkin’s house, but were unable to find the pistol. Investigators did recover the gun’s case, holster, a black ski mask, and a test-fired casing that came with the pistol. Forkin told investigators he loaned his mother’s pistol to Petersen, court records said.

Forkin was questioned in connection with the shooting, but has not been charged.

Divers searched the icy Swan River on Jan. 29 in an unsuccessful attempt to find the gun, which Peterson is believed to have thrown in the river from a bridge in Bigfork, court records said.

Investigators have not released a motive in the shooting.