Schifferns pleads not guilty to deliberate homicide charge

By: 
Alastair Baker
News Editor

Thomas J. Schifferns, Red Lodge, pled not guilty to the charge of deliberate homicide before Judge Blair Jones at Carbon County District Court Wednesday morning.

Schifferns is charged in the shooting death of James 'Jimmy' McGregor. Bond has been set at $1 million and the case will be set for Omnibus hearing and trial.

Carbon County Attorney Alex Nixon called the death of McGregor a “a prolonged financial exploitation that culminated in the cold-blooded execution.”

Nixon said this is “very much an investigation in progress” and he “does anticipate further charges.”

He also said that “drugs and alcohol were involved.”

Nixon went on to say that “law enforcement has received an admission saying he (Schifferns) was in fact the person who pulled the trigger killing this alleged victim. Further, we received an account from the friend of the defendant who provided a brutal detail of the cold blooded execution of the alleged victim.”  

Schifferns is being represented by Billings attorney Gregory Paskell.

According to court papers Schifferns carried out the shooting because McGregor “was homeless and disrespectful.”

McGregor had been living with Shiloh Moncada and her common law spouse, Schifferns, and “they had fixed him meals and helped him with errands” claims Schifferns according to court papers.

Court papers state that McGregor’s truck was found, Feb. 21, at Bear Track, a trailhead south at Red Lodge. Police observed blood on the passenger side fender. McGregor was found shot in the head approximately 100 yards from the truck and had appeared to have been dragged down a depression towards a creek.

McGregor had been reported missing by Moncada, Feb. 19. Red Lodge Acting Chief Scott Cope followed up on the report, concerned about McGregor’s welfare, as the missing man was known to have diminished mental capacity and chemical dependency issues according to court papers.

Moncada also reported that a safe belonging to McGregor was open and was empty. She also indicated that McGregor kept large quantities of money in the safe, say court papers.

Cope, concerned about McGregor’s whereabouts, upgraded the search to “Missing or Endangered Person” and turned his attention to Schifferns who agreed to come to Red Lodge and answer questions. Schifferns was in Roberts at the time.

Schifferns told Cope that he and McGregor tried to go fishing but it was too cold and claimed they returned home and he had seen McGregor leaving with other men court papers say.

Schifferns reportedly told Cope he hadn’t done any thing wrong to which Cope became suspicious since he had not discussed charging him with a crime, said court papers.

Carbon County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Schmalz and DCI Agent Tony Poppler then interviewed Kristen Garcia who, state court documents, had known Schifferns since high school and had a previous relationship.

According to court papers Garcia had seen Schifferns on Feb. 19 after receiving a call from him. He told Garcia he was in Red Lodge and needed a ride.

While driving to Laurel Schifferns told Garcia he had “ruined his life” and started crying. He offered Garcia $1,000 cash for a bus ticket to Mexico or Texas and then tried to convince Garcia to drive him to Texas said court papers.

The pair went to Wal-Mart where Schifferns purchased outdoor and camping equipment and a cell phone according to court papers and then headed to Columbus.

Court papers state that Schifferns told Garcia he had been with McGregor that day and had “killed someone earlier.”

He told Garcia that afterwards he had to walk 6 miles down the road and threw the handgun into a snowbank along Highway 212 according to court documents.

The next day Garcia received a text from Schifferns ex-wife, Heather Davis, who said that Moncada had reported McGregor missing according to court records.

Court papers state that before this Garcia did not believe that Schifferns had killed anyone but she later found approximately $1,500 cash in a tackle box.

Schifferns made his initial appearance at Carbon County District court Feb.

28.

In a statement issued by Carbon County Sheriff McQuillan and Red Lodge Acting Police Chief Cope, they explained why the Roosevelt Middle School and Mountainview Elementary had been closed and how the operation had been organized.

The authorities said McQuillan had identified a possible suspect and had his whereabouts under surveillance through the night. He said the decision was made to ultilize the Yellowstone County SWAT team and that first thing in the morning would be the best time to proceed as far as community safety was concerned.

“There were others in the residence and we needed to get them out of the house safely which we did this morning. We verified with these people that our suspect was in the house and was the only one in the house. At that time the SWAT team made contact with him through a loud speaker and he came out in a few minutes and was taken into custody without incident,” said McQuillan.

McQuillan added the decision to close Red Lodge schools was first made in conjunction with school officials and done so because of the situations close proximity to the schools and not knowing how long this operation was going to take.

Assisting in this case were Montana Department of Criminal Investigation, Red Lodge Police, Carbon County Sheriff’s Department, Forest Service and other surrounding law enforcement agencies.

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The Carbon County News

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11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

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P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

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