MISSOULA – A 22-year-old man was charged with murder Friday as officers searched the Clark Fork River west of here for the body of his 31-year-old roommate, police said.
Cyril K. Richard II told police he and Michael J. Meadows of Jackson Hole, Wyo., had fought over money early Thursday and he stabbed Meadows in self defense. Richard said he wrapped Meadows’ body in a blanket, drug it out of his third-floor apartment to his car, drove to an old railroad bridge that spans the Alberton Gorge and dumped his body in the Clark Fork River, court records said.
Missoula Police Sgt. Travis Welsh said Richard directed police to the spot and Missoula officials were assisting Mineral County officials in searching for the body.
Investigators found blood on the bridge.
“Search and rescue operations are under way right now,” Mineral County Sheriff Hugh Hopwood told the Missoulian Friday morning. “We have a helicopter in the air, people in patrol vehicles checking the Fish Creek area, and we have a boat in the water.”
Welsh said searchers were looking in a treacherous stretch of the river and didn’t want to put divers in the water because of underwater debris and obstructions. He said officers had recovered the murder weapon.
The investigation began shortly before 6 a.m. Thursday, when a resident of the Copper Run Apartments called 911 to report seeing a man cleaning up what appeared to be blood. The caller then went outside and discovered what looked like a bloody drag trail, Welsh said.
The trail led away from the front door of Richard’s apartment, along a walkway and down several flights of stairs, and ended at an empty parking space.
When police traced the blood back to the apartment, Richard answered the door. He complained that his arm hurt and he was treated at a Missoula hospital for a broken arm and what appeared to be a knife wound and defensive injuries, none of which were life-threatening, Welsh said.
Court records said Richard told police Meadows was a friend of his from Wyoming and had been living with him for two to three weeks while he looked for work in Missoula.
Richard told police he and Meadows had been drinking Wednesday evening and early Thursday when Richard “expressed some anger with Meadows because Meadows was unemployed, had no money and (Richard) had to pay for everything.”
Richard told police Meadows came at him with a pocket knife and that Richard was able to take the knife away. Richard said Meadows came back at him and he stabbed him in the abdomen, court records said.
Richard, who is also charged with tampering with evidence, made an initial appearance in Justice Court Friday afternoon. His bail was set at $500,000.
A Cyril K. Richard is listed in the University of Montana’s online student directory, but Welsch said he has not been able to confirm that Richard was a UM student. The phone number in the directory has a Wyoming area code.
Police also interviewed residents of the apartment building, looking for witnesses who might have seen or heard anything suspicious during the course of the night.
“Somebody said they heard a ‘bump, bump, bump’ going down the stairs in the night,” said Assistant Chief of Police Mark Muir. However, the person did not immediately report the noise to authorities.
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