Whidbey Island murder suspect surrenders to Montana police

The Oak Harbor man is accused of killing a former neighbor and burying his body parts in the woods.

By Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

An Oak Harbor man accused of committing a 2011 murder in Montana posted a $500,000 bail bond last week and was released from Island County Jail, where he was being held for possible extradition.

However, Leon Ford turned himself into police in Helena, Montana, where he appeared in court Monday.

Prosecutors in Montana charged Ford Aug. 14 with deliberate homicide and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence

Ford is accused of murdering John M. Crites and burying his body parts at two wooded locations. Ford and Crites owned adjacent properties in Montana and had allegedly been fighting for years over an access road, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Investigators from Montana previously interviewed Ford about the case. It was unclear from court documents why he was charged at this point.

Investigators wrote that game cameras showed Ford had driven to Crites’ property on the day in June 2011 that the murder allegedly occurred.

Crites’ headless remains were found three months later inside plastic garbage bags that were partially buried in a forested area. A year later, his head was also found in a different forested area many miles away.

Investigators found cable ties at both of the burial sites that allegedly came from a company in Oak Harbor where both Ford and his wife had worked, the affidavit of probable cause alleges.

The medical examiner determined that Crites died from gunshot wounds to the head.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.

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