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1991 double homicide cold case reopened in Missoula

Posted at 3:56 PM, Apr 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-12 19:05:51-04

MISSOULA – The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office is taking a look at a cold case from 1991 where two people were found shot to death in the Swan Valley.

On Thursday morning, Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott introduced new members of the Sheriff’s Office whose sole responsibility is to investigate unsolved cases.

The two women are retired federal agents with extensive experience investigating to successful resolution a variety of violent crimes, according to Sheriff McDermott.

The pair have taken another look at the 1991 homicides of Iva LaRue and Kenneth Cheetham.

The married couple was on a road trip when they were shot and killed near Lake Inez in the Swan Valley on or about July 30, 1991. Both died from gunshot wounds.

Courtesy: Missoula County Sheriff’s Office

A van that LaRue and Kenneth were driving at the time was discovered at the end of a new logging road west of Lake Alva on August 5, 1991, and the couple’s bodies were found approximately two miles south of the van on September 11, 1991.

Sheriff McDermott notes it’s possible the van was moved to this location by a person or person(s) not associated with the homicides.

A Hitachi VM-5200A video camera and case were stolen from the victim’s van and anyone who “acquired or know someone who acquired a Hitachi camcorder in the summer or fall of 1991, we are asking you to contact us,” Sheriff McDermott said during a news conference.

He added the camera may have been pawned or sold and the person who ultimately acquired the camera would have no knowledge about its origins.

1991 Cold Case Video Camera
Courtesy: Missoula County Sheriff’s Office

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office is reviewing evidence found on and near the bodies of LaRue and Kenneth as well as the van.

Sheriff McDermott said new technology has helped develop some “new investigative leads of interest” in the case.

“We believe people who are familiar with the circumstances surrounding this case remain in our community. Law enforcement is aware that there is information that has not been shared,” Sheriff McDermott stated on Thursday.

“We recognize that relationships change over time as do people and their perspectives. It is not too late to come forward. We are asking for your cooperation,” Sheriff McDermott said.

“Please contact us with any information you have regarding the van or the deaths of LaRue and Kenneth even if you have previously provided information,” he added.

Anyone who may have information about the deaths is asked to contact the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office through FacebookTwitter, or by calling (406) 258-3302.

McDermott added that “if you are worried about the circumstances in which you obtained this information your identity can remain anonymous.”