Bigfork youth accused of killing father

1998-05-20T00:00:00Z Bigfork youth accused of killing fatherBy MICHAEL JAMISON/of the Missoulian
May 20, 1998 12:00 am  • 

BIGFORK - The youngest son of a man found shot to death in his home Wednesday morning has been arrested in the killing.

Edwin John Olson, 43, apparently was shot to death in his bedroom. His body was discovered about 10:30 a.m. by authorities.

Terry Olson, 14, will be charged as an adult on one count of deliberate homicide, according to Flathead County prosecutors. The boy is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Flathead County Justice Court on Thursday.

He is the cousin of Ted and Jesse Ernst, who were arrested Monday and charged in the Christmas night killing of Larry Streeter.

Despite the family ties, there is no known connection between Wednesday's murder and the Streeter slaying, Flathead County Undersheriff Chuck Curry said Wednesday.

According to police, officials at Bigfork Junior High School reported Terry Olson and another juvenile leaving the school without permission at about 8:15 Wednesday. The youths, too young to drive, were seen leaving in a black Nissan pickup truck.

Kalispell police later spotted the boys at the Kalispell Center Mall and detained them for questioning. The youth traveling with Terry Olson was later released.

During the interview with Terry Olson, police learned that a murder may have been committed at the Olson residence, about five miles southeast of Bigfork.

Sheriff's deputies later found the body of Edwin John Olson at his home along Highway 209. He apparently died from a single gunshot wound to the head, said Flathead County Sheriff Jim Dupont.

Olson is the brother of Debby Ernst, who is the mother of Ted and Jesse Ernst. She and her husband, Ed, appeared at the crime scene late Wednesday morning, and were visibly shaken as they stood outside the rural home and talked with deputies.

Authorities offered no possible motive for the murder. However, neighbors said Olson - a single father - reportedly was having problems with his two boys. The other son is not implicated in the crime.

''I just saw Terry and his dad out splitting wood together yesterday," said neighbor Dennis Kelleher. ''With all the surprises this week in the Streeter case, this is going to have a devastating effect on our community.

''The one bright spot is that the sheriff's department has done a tremendous job. It's a comfort to us to know that local law enforcement is so professional. We're glad to know they're there for us."

County Attorney Tom Esch also had high praise for investigators, saying the smooth collaboration between Kalispell police and Flathead County deputies helped piece together the case within a matter of a couple hours.

Dupont believes the shooting occurred early Wednesday, before Terry Olson left for school.

Several guns were found in the home, he said, but deputies have yet to identify a murder weapon. The investigation was helped, Dupont said, by the presence of Dr. Gary Dale of the state Crime Lab in Missoula. Dale was in Kalispell on Wednesday to deliver a lecture, and went to the crime scene to offer his assistance.

Olson's body will be taken Thursday to Missoula, where Crime Lab personnel will perform an autopsy.

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