Bail Set at $400K in Decade-old Montana Killing, Dismemberment

Leon Michael Ford appeared in Lewis and Clark County Justice Court on charges of deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence

By Tristan Scott

HELENA — Bail was set at $400,000 Monday for a man accused of killing and dismembering a Montana man nearly a decade ago in a dispute over land access.

Leon Michael Ford appeared in Lewis and Clark County Justice Court on charges of deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence. He had been arrested Aug. 19 in Oak Harborn, Washington and was returned to Montana to face charges.

Ford, 66, is charged with killing John “Mike” Crites, a Helena-area man who went missing from property northwest of the city in 2011. Parts of Crites’ body were found in garbage bags four months later. His skull was found separately about a year after his death near MacDonald Pass west of Helena.

An autopsy found that Crites died from two gunshot wounds to the head.

Ford owned 15 acres of land north of Crites’ property and was scheduled to meet with Crites on the last day Crites was known to be alive, court records said.

If Ford posts bond, he will have to sign an extradition waiver and turn over his passport before being released, KTVH-TV reported. His attorney, Palmer Hoovestal, did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday.

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