“Person of interest” arrested in Missoula double-murder case

Posted at 3:22 PM, Nov 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-01 17:22:22-04

MISSOULA – LaBenza Charlo, who is considered by law enforcement to be “a person of interest” in two Missoula murders, is behind bars in the Mission Valley.

The Missoula Police Department reports that Charlo, 18 years old, has been arrested by Tribal Police and Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell tells MTN News that Charlo was not arraigned in Polson and is being sent back to Missoula.

Charlo was wanted by police in connection with the October 19 double murder at the Mountain Valley Inn on West Broadway and had a warrant out for her arrest stemming from a different offense.

Jason Flink, 23 years old, and Megan McLaughlin, 31, were shot and killed in the incident; the nature of Charlo’s involvement has not yet been released.

Her last known address was in Polson but police believe she may have also been staying in Missoula.

(OCTOBER 23, 2018) Preston Rossbach and Jonathan Whitworth have been arrested in connection with two murders that happened on the morning of Friday, October 19, at the Mountain Valley Inn.

Rossbach and Whitworth are facing homicide charges as police continue to investigate the deaths.

According to court documents, three people were shot in room 228 of the Mountain Valley Inn early Friday morning. Jason Flink, 23 years old, and Megan McLaughlin, 31, did not survive their wounds.

A third person, Kaleb Williams, did survive and was taken to a Missoula hospital; the extent of his injuries has not been released.

Police reviewed surveillance video and saw two men and one woman leaving the hotel in a pickup truck at 1:01 a.m. on Friday. The video showed both men carrying firearms. The woman was running.

Police arrested Rossbach later Friday morning. In his interview with police, Rossbach said that Whitworth, an unidentified female, and he had gone to the motel to find drugs.

Whitworth was also identified in the video by several people interviewed by police.

According to court documents, investigators say the three went into the motel room with Whitworth asking if anyone had drugs. In court documents, someone stated they did not have drugs and the three people left.

Rossbach told police the group then went back to their vehicle, but Whitworth began to make his way back to the hotel room. Rossbach says that Whitworth went on to shoot the three people.

Rossbach claims to have not shot anyone and that he did not have a gun on him that morning, but police have determined from the surveillance footage that Rossbach did carry a weapon when leaving the hotel room and will now face homicide charges in Missoula District Court.

Rossbach is being held in the Missoula County Detention Center on $250,000 bond.

Whitworth was arrested Sunday near the Missoula International Airport. He is also facing homicide charges, and his bond was set at $250,000. 

Preston Rossbach and Jonathan Whitworth
Preston Rossbach and Jonathan Whitworth

Law enforcement officers apprehended Rossbach and questioned him late Friday morning, but said it took them more time and effort to locate Whitworth throughout the weekend.

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office emphasized that they had unmarked vehicles in the Lolo area searching for Whitworth and conducting surveillance.

“It came in Sunday that we had a guy that looked like Jonathan Whitworth on a bike out by Missoula International Airport so deputies obviously were quick to respond out there,” Missoula County Sheriffs Office spokeswoman Brenda Bassett said. “It just so happened that he was Jonathan Whitworth and we were able to take him in to custody without incident so we felt good about that. I think there was a lot of people in the Lolo communities especially that slept a lot better that night just knowing that he was in custody.”

The MCSO said that the information they received from the public was significant and thanked all other law enforcement agencies in the arrest of Rossbach and Whitworth.