Lack of information in Bonner County murder has neighbors worried

Lack of information in Bonner County murder has neighbors worried

The man accused of killing an elderly woman in her home Wednesday evening made his first appearance in court Monday, where it was determined he will be extradited back to Idaho.

Shirley Ramey, 78, was found by her husband in their home. Investigators have since arrested the suspect, Nathan Utt, but neighbors have expressed concerns over how long it took to be notified that a killer was on the loose.

The murder took place Wednesday evening, but surrounding neighborhoods weren’t notified about the killing until Thursday night. That was when the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office identified Nathan Utt, a local transient, as the suspect. But, some wonder why it took 24 hours to be told about the crime.

“What if something terrible had happened in those 24 hours and the sheriff’s department had not released a statement?” asked Mary Franzer, who lives in nearby Clark Fork.

Franzer said she often takes long hikes into Hope, Idaho, where the murder occurred. That has her worried.

“I could have elected to go up there on Thursday. I didn’t go up there that day, but I very well could have. I go all up Trestle Creek, up Lightning Creek,” she said.

But, the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office said it needed to keep the details quiet.

“It was important that that kind of information didn’t get out and we didn’t let those people that may have been suspect in this crime know that we’re on to them,” said Sheriff Daryl Wheeler.

Wheeler adds the sheriff’s office made sure Utt wasn’t a threat to the community before keeping that information to themselves.

“Based on our investigation, we knew there was no one lurking int he neighborhood and that there was no immediate threat to any of the neighbors living there in those neighborhoods,” said Wheeler.

Still, Franzer feels the sheriff’s office should have said something.

“They could have released there’s been even a suspicious death and people should be extra vigilant,” she said.

There is still no known motive in this case. Sheriff Wheeler said it does not appear Utt and Ramey knew each other. Utt lived nearby in a trailer on Trestle Creek Road. This is still a very active investigation.