MOSCOW IDAHO MURDER: Police Say Grad Student Was Shot 11 Times
Posted: Aug 26, 2011 2:18 PM CDT Friday, August 26, 2011 3:18 PM EST
KHQ.COM - The Moscow Idaho Police Department is releasing the following supplemental information in reference to the homicide of Kathryn M. Benoit and suicide of Ernesto Bustamante.
Documents seized during the search of hotel room #213 at the University Inn confirm Kathryn M. Benoit and Ernesto Bustamante first met in the fall semester of 2010 when Kathryn M. Benoit was a student taking psychology 218 taught by Professor Ernesto Bustamante.
It was determined that by the end of the semester Kathryn M. Benoit and Professor Bustamante were involved in an active sexual relationship.
Documents seized pursuit to the warrant indicates that Kathryn M. Benoit filed a sexual harassment complaint with the University of Idaho on June 12, 2011.
In the complaint it was alleged that threats of violence occurred on three separate occasions where Professor Bustamante held a gun to her head and detailed the manner in which he would use it.
The first incident occurred the end of January 2011, the second incident occurred the week after spring break 2011, and the third incident occurred the second week of May 2011, which ended the relationship.
Professor Bustamante denied the allegations of violence and sexual harassment. Professor Bustamante filed a formal complaint against Kathryn M. Benoit on July 8, 2011 in reference to making unfounded complaints and potential defamation of character.
Professor Bustamante stated the two had a close personal relationship sharing intimate aspects about their personal lives.
On June 10, 2011 at 3:04 p.m. Lt. Lehmitz received a telephone call from Kathryn M. Benoit. This call was a result of the University of Idaho referring her to address safety concerns. Lt. Lehmitz spoke with her advising her of basic safety principles and to call police if any threatening or suspicious incident(s) were to occur.
On July 14, 2011, the University of Idaho requested the Moscow Police Department participate in a threat assessment concerning the alleged threatening behavior of Professor Ernesto Bustamante relating to Kathryn M. Benoit.
As a result of the information gathered in the threat assessment, the Moscow Police Department attempted several phone contacts with Kathryn M. Benoit, leaving messages to get in touch with the Moscow Police Campus Division, but she did not return the phone calls.
The Moscow Police Department notified the University of Idaho that Kathryn M. Benoit was not returning phone calls.
The University of Idaho indicated Kathryn M. Benoit had been referred to Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse and that a safety plan had been discussed. The Moscow Police Department was then informed by the University of Idaho that Kathryn M. Benoit did not want law enforcement involvement.
On July 19, 2011 the University of Idaho notified the Moscow Police Department they were not able to make contact with Kathryn M. Benoit and requested that police conduct a check of her welfare.
Before the Moscow Police Department was able to make contact with Kathryn M. Benoit, the University of Idaho called the Moscow Police Campus Division and canceled the welfare check request as the University of Idaho had made telephone contact with Kathryn M. Benoit and confirmed her welfare.
The only Moscow Police Department records relating to Kathryn M. Benoit indicate that she had pawned property on three different occasions during 2011.
The search of University Inn hotel room #213 on August 23, 2011 where Ernesto Bustamante was located recovered the following medications and weapons;
Clonazepam: Used as an anticonvulsant for epilepsy and as a sedative for sleep disorders.
Lexapro: Used to treat anxiety in adults and major depressive disorder in adults.
Lamotrigine: Used in the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder. It is also used as an adjunct in treating depression.
Alprazolam: Used to treat moderate to severe anxiety disorders.
The above listed prescription medications were contained in bottles bearing his name.
Smith and Wesson M&P .45 caliber handgun which is believed to be the weapon used to murder Kathryn M. Benoit.
Smith and Wesson .44 caliber revolver which is believed to be the weapon used by Ernesto Bustamante to commit suicide.
Springfield Armory .45 caliber handgun.
Ruger LCP .380 caliber handgun.
Glock 9mm caliber handgun.
Taurus Judge .45 caliber / .410 gauge handgun.
Additional ammunition was also recovered in the hotel room for the weapons listed.
Moscow Police Department records indicate that Ernesto Bustamante had the following contacts:
July 30, 2009 he was issued a citation for failing to obey a blinking red traffic signal light. He plead guilty and paid a fine of $85.00.
March 29, 2010 he was issued a citation for failing to show proof of vehicle insurance. That citation was later dismissed when he provided proof of insurance to the court.
July 4, 2010 he was a complainant in reference to a fireworks call.
October 24, 2010 he was referenced as an ex-boyfriend in a report of a suicide attempt. He was never contacted or found to be involved in this reported incident.
November 2, 2010 he was a victim of a battery and a malicious injury to property. The suspect was cited and released for battery and malicious injury to property. The suspect pled guilty to an amended charge of disturbing the peace. The battery charge was dismissed.
November 30, 2010 as a result of the incident of November 2, 2010 a protection order was issued identifying Ernesto Bustamante as the protected person.
Ernesto Bustamante was issued a concealed weapons permit on March 28, 2011, expiring March 28, 2016 through the Latah County Sheriff's Office.
Preliminary review of cell phone data dating back to July 24, 2011 indicate Kathryn M. Benoit and Ernesto Bustamante did not have any phone or texting contact.
Records seized during the course of this investigation reveal that Ernesto Bustamante had secured employment in the State of New Jersey and was in the process of relocating. He had made arrangements to move his personal property and vehicle on August 24, 2011.
An autopsy of Kathryn M. Benoit conducted on August 23, 2011 revealed that she had been struck eleven (11) times with .45 caliber bullets.
The investigation is still continuing with the execution of search warrants to obtain records from the University of Idaho and his personal vehicle that was impounded at Zeppos in Pullman, Washington.
Nellis Seeks Court Ruling to Release Records, Commissions Independent Review
MOSCOW, Idaho – On Friday University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis directed the university legal counsel to seek a ruling from the courts to allow the release of personnel information related to former professor Ernesto Bustamante.
At the same time, Nellis has ordered an independent review of the institution's policies and procedures in the aftermath of this week's homicide-suicide in Moscow to ensure that the university maintains the highest safety and security standards. The university also today released a detailed chronology of its interaction with graduate student Katy Benoit.
"This tragic situation has brought a profound sadness to our entire community," said Nellis. "And while incidents of violence like this are very rare in Moscow, even one tragedy is too many. We must continue to do everything we can to protect our students and our campus community; for that reason, I am asking for an independent review of the university's policies and procedures to ensure that we are doing the very best job we possibly can."
Nellis also has reaffirmed that the university is committed to full public disclosure of all related documents, as it gains authority to release them.
A review of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act has found that the confidentiality of student records does not extend beyond the life of a student.
However, Idaho's public records law concerning employee records do seem to extend after death. To clarify how the public records statutes should be applied to this situation, the university will ask for a legal determination from the courts regarding what records it could release related to Bustamante.
Nellis and Bruce Pitman, dean of students, have spoken directly with the family of Katy Benoit, who was killed off campus Monday evening, to share their personal condolences and those of the university community. They have made university resources available to the family. Details of a Moscow campus memorial are still pending. A memorial service and funeral for Benoit will take place in Boise on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 4 p.m., at Boise High School, 1010 W. Washington.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Katy Benoit," said Nellis. "We understand their desire to have a full accounting of the circumstances that led to Katy's death. I intend to do everything I can to answer their questions. A tragedy has occurred and we all want answers."
The university will outline the independent review process in the coming days.
The university maintains its crime statistics online and last year, it ranked as the 36th safest campus in the nation.
The University of Idaho continues to cooperate fully with the Moscow Police Department. It is providing documents with possible relevance to the case to the police as part of MPD's ongoing investigation of the case.
Here is a timeline for the university's interactions with Katy Benoit. This does not include any information from the perspective of Bustamante's personnel record.
• June 10, 2011: University's first contact with Benoit to discuss a complaint. Based on allegations, the university urged Benoit take safety precautions and that she contact Moscow Police Department (MPD). University provided Benoit with personal contact information for MPD and Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse (ATVP) for assistance beyond those the university could provide. University also contacted Moscow Police Department directly.
• June 12, 2011: University received details of Benoit's complaint in writing.
• June 13, 2011: Benoit sends e-mail indicating she had contacted MPD.
• June 13, 2011: University replied to Benoit again urging her to also contact ATVP.
• June 14, 2011: Benoit sends e-mail to university saying she does not want Bustamante served with her complaint at this time before discussing it further. She indicates she will come in the next day.
• June 16, 2011: When Benoit did not come in on June 15, the university sent an e-mail to her to encourage the follow-up meeting.
• June 30, 2011: University receives e-mail from Benoit apologizing for being out of touch. Benoit writes she had been out of town and would be gone again the next week.
• July 6, 2011: University informed Benoit by e-mail that her complaint had been sent to Bustamante along with a letter detailing the possible university policy violations. It had been held until this date at her request. The university reiterated the importance of seeking more help, including calling police if Benoit ever felt the need. She was also told that Bustamante had been directed by the university to have no contact with her. Benoit was told to inform the university immediately if Bustamante did attempt to contact her.
• July 9, 2011: Benoit e-mails university to say she is out of town until July 13.
• July 14, 2011: University Threat Assessment Team, including Moscow Police Department representative, meets to assess the level of the safety risk for Benoit and others involved in the investigation.
• July 14, 2011: University investigators met with Benoit to review Bustamante's response and notify her that university investigators would interview Bustamante on July 19. This was considered a high-risk point so recommendation was made she stay somewhere other than her apartment to avoid contact.
• July 22, 2011: University called Benoit to ask where she would be until the start of school. She said she would be in Moscow. University encouraged her to continue to take safety precautions, including contacting MPD.
• August 22, 2011: University met with Benoit to inform her that Bustamante's last day of employment was August 19. She was cautioned to remain vigilant and get assistance from the police and others if she had any safety concerns. University also encouraged Benoit to remain in contact with university representatives and to take advantage of university support services.