Arrest made in 2017 murder of elderly Hope woman

A 57-year-old Coeur d’Alene woman was arrested on first-degree murder charges following a two-year investigation into the death of an elderly woman in Hope, Idaho.

Authorities believe Judith Carpenter is responsible for Shirley Ramey’s death in 2017. Ramey was 79 when she died and was found shot and killed in her home on Trestle Creek Road off Highway 200 in Hope.

Arrest made in 2017 murder of elderly Hope woman

At a press conference Friday, Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler said Carpenter was identified as a suspect by spent shell casings left at the scene.

Shortly after the shooting, Carpenter was arrested in Libby, Montana during a road rage incident. She was taken into custody for that before Ramey’s death was reported to police.

Deputies from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office confiscated a handgun and rifle from Carpenter. That rifle was not used in a crime, but was identified as being stolen from Ramey’s bedroom.

Bonner County deputies found 9mm shell casings at Ramey’s home on the day of the crime. Two years later, when a detective with ATF asked if any local agencies had spent 9mm shell casings, authorities were able to link those found at Ramey’s home to Carpenter’s handgun. Ballistic testing through NIBIN helped make the link.

Shortly after the murder, Bonner County Sheriff’s Office deputies took Nathan Utt, a local transient, into custody as a suspect.

Utt was later released and charges were dropped. The murder charge was dismissed “on motion of the prosecutor,” according to documents.

Several local eyewitnesses placed Utt in the area of the homicide during the correct time frame.

However, when interviewed, Utt provided legitimate and verifiable information placing him in Eugene, Oregon at the time of the Ramey’s death.

At Friday’s press conference, Wheeler said it appears Ramey’s murder was random. They have not been able to identify a motive.

“Based on the totality of all evidence, we have no doubt that we have the right person responsible for the Shirley Ramey murder,” said Wheeler.

4 News Now’s Kyle Simchuk took to Carpenter’s neighborhood to see what some of the people who lived closest to her had to say.

Neighbors of Carpenter were shocked to learn the woman who lived down the street from them is charged with murdering an elderly woman two years ago.

“She was very nice… just a good person,” said Rod Graybel, who’s known Carpenter for about ten years.

Graybel said he knew Carpenter as someone who liked to hike and spend time with her grandkids.

According to one neighbor, Carpenter was paranoid about the government and allegedly talked about conspiracies long before Ramey’s body was found.

Carpenter made her first appearance on Friday and is being held in the Bonner County Jail on $1 million bond. She was also forced to turn over her passport and cannot leave the state of Idaho.

RELATED: Murder suspect released, charges dropped

RELATED: Lack of information in Bonner County murder has neighbors worried