It’s been 40 years since Karl Randall “Randy” Bachman killed two young girls, and Bachman has been in the Montana State Prison since his conviction in 1977. If Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan has his way, that’s where Bachman will stay.
Bachman is up for a parole hearing on Oct. 30 at the prison, and Corrigan said he intends to let the state parole board know that Bachman should not be released.
Bachman was convicted in 1977 of the 1973 slayings of Jessica Westphal, 9, and Karen Tyler, 11. The girls, who were best friends, went missing after riding their bikes to the Marion Store in the summer to buy some candy.
After extensive searches that led nowhere for over three years, a hunter found the girls’ bodies two miles from where they were last seen. There was little to identify the bodies, other than some scraps of clothing and their dental records.
Both girls had been shot six times each in the head.
A man who had seen the two girls on the road before their disappearance said they were talking to a young man with a red pickup truck. The suspect at the time was identified as a white male between 20 and 22, 5’10”, light-colored hair, plastic-rimmed glasses and a bandanna around his neck.
Bachman was eventually collared as the murderer after he was arrested for an attempted sexual assault on a 19-year-old woman near Lake Five.
“Not only did he murder the girls, he kidnapped a gal and tried to rape her,” Corrigan said.
According to police reports from the time, the woman said she was hitchhiking from Kalispell to West Glacier and made it to Coram, when a man picked her up. Her description of the driver matched Bachman, who, an hour before the call about the attempted rape, was chatting up a sheriff’s deputy at the mercantile in West Glacier.
The woman said Bachman drove her down the road to Lake Five, pointed a gun at her face and told her to get on the floor of the truck. She reached for the gun, pushed it away and pleaded that he not hurt her.
She said Bachman then said he didn’t want to hurt her, that he didn’t know what he was doing, and that he would tell her his story. After he put the gun down, the woman jumped out of the truck and ran back to the highway to flag down help.
The deputy who had been sitting and chatting with Bachman in West Glacier recognized the description the woman gave, identifying Bachman.
After his arrest for the attempted rape, Bachman broke under investigators’ questioning and admitted to killing the two young girls in 1973, saying he blacked out the murders and doesn’t remember committing them, but knowing he did.
Bachman pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in November, 1977 and was sentenced to life in prison. He has since been denied parole.
Corrigan said the Flathead community is welcome to write to the parole board if they have opinions about Bachman’s potential release.
“Anybody who wants to write a letter in opposition would be gladly received,” he said.
UPDATE: This story has been changed to reflect the Westphal families’ wishes to let it be known they still live in the valley. It was previously written that, according to Corrigan, the family had moved from the valley.
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