Authorities Arrest Three Additional Suspects in Creston Murder Case

The murder investigation remains active and more arrests are likely, sheriff says

By Beacon Staff
Four suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder of a 35-year-old Kalispell man east of Creston. Clockwise from top left: Robert Wittal; David Vincent Toman; Melisa Crone; Christopher Hansen. Courtesy Flathead County Sheriff's Office

Updated June 15, 3:15 p.m.

A fourth suspect has been arrested in connection with the murder of a 35-year-old Kalispell man east of Creston.

Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry identified three additional suspects on Wednesday as Melisa Ann Crone, 29, Christopher Michael Hansen, 28, and David Vincent Toman, 20, all of Kalispell. All three people are in custody pending deliberate homicide charges.

On Monday night, Flathead County sheriff’s deputies arrested Robert Matthew Wittal, 29, of Kalispell, after discovering a body in a creek east of Creston.

Authorities have identified the victim as Wade Allen Rautio, 35, of Kalispell.

Curry said the investigation remains active and more arrests are likely. It appears the murder was drug-related, according to the sheriff.

“We are working on this case around the clock,” Curry said. “There will likely be additional arrests.”

Although more arrests are likely in the case Curry did not believe there was an immediate safety threat to the public.

All four suspects are being held at the Flathead County Detention Center. Curry expected formal charges to be filed against all four suspects within a day.

The suspects were arrested after law enforcement learned about a possible murder that occurred in the Peters Ridge area over Memorial Day weekend. On Monday, detectives searched an area approximately four miles up Peters Creek Road near Strawberry Mountain and found Rautio’s body in a creek, according to Flathead County Undersheriff Dave Leib.

The initial investigation indicated that the victim was stabbed multiple times.

In April, Wittal was charged with felony criminal possession of drugs and misdemeanor possession of a concealed weapon.

According to court documents, Wittal was arrested on an out-of-state warrant near a Kalispell bar in December. When he was taken into custody, authorities found a small bag of methamphetamine in his coat pocket. A firearm was also found inside his waistband; he did not have a concealed weapon permit.

Wittal was released on bond in early May and was scheduled to appear at an arraignment on June 2 but, according to court documents, he skipped the hearing. District Court Judge Amy Eddy signed a warrant for Wittal’s arrest on June 13.

Hansen was convicted of stealing more than $3,500 worth of weapons and tools from a home in Marion in 2012. He was given a six-year deferred sentence in 2013 but that was later revoked and he was sentenced to five years with the Department of Corrections. He also had to pay restitution to the victim.

This story will be updated when more information becomes available.