Missoula Woman Dies Nearly 3 Months After Shooting

Julie Blanchard, 52, was shot along with her son after they stopped to help a motorist

By Tristan Scott

MISSOULA — A woman who was shot along with her son and his friend after stopping to help an apparently stranded motorist in Missoula has died in Washington state where she was undergoing rehabilitation.

Chelan County officials say Julie Blanchard of Missoula died Monday, two days after her son Casey Blanchard returned home to Stevensville from a Utah hospital in a wheelchair.

Coroner Wayne Harris tells the Missoulian Julie Blanchard, 52, was having respiratory problems over the weekend and was taken to the hospital. Her cause of death is under investigation.

Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer was shot in the head, face and neck near Evaro early on March 15 while searching for the suspect in the March 14 shooting that injured the Blanchards and killed Shelley Hays. Casey Blanchard was shot eight times. He is now a paraplegic.

Palmer is home after spending two months in a Utah hospital, but faces a lengthy rehabilitation process.

Jonathan Bertsch, 28, of Arlee has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide and three counts of attempted deliberate homicide. He remains jailed with his bail set at $2 million.

Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks said Tuesday prosecutors are gathering information, including Julie Blanchard’s medical records, to evaluate whether Bertsch should face additional charges.