Charges, details added in Missoula motel double homicide case

SEABORN LARSON seaborn.larson@missoulian.com | Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 2:30 pm

New documents filed in October's double homicide case have added new detail — and charges — illustrating the alleged motive for two men to shoot and stab three people in a downtown Missoula motel and threaten their cohorts if they talked. 

Missoula County prosecutors on Tuesday filed new documents against Jonathan Whitworth, 27, and Preston Rossbach, 18, adding felony intimidation charges, assault with a weapon and attempted homicide to their list of charges stemming from the Oct. 19 attacks. 

According to the new documents, LaBenza Charlo had previously supplied Whitworth with methamphetamine but he returned to her home on Oct. 19, wanting to meet the "the plug," or drug dealer. The drugs Whitworth had reportedly received had put Rossbach's brother in the hospital and they "wanted to make it right," according to court records. 

Charlo took Whitworth and Rossbach to the Mountain Valley Inn, where she believed the dealer would be. But when they knocked on the door, the dealer wasn't there.

Megan McLaughlin opened the door. Kaleb Williams was asleep on the bed and Jason Flink was sitting in the room on a chair, according to court documents. Charlo asked if they had any drugs to buy. When the room's occupants said they did not, the visitors left, according to reports.

Charlo told authorities she remembers Whitworth asking her to take them back to the room. Once inside, one of the occupants offered them a vape pen. Whitworth declined, and Charlo said the next thing she remembers is seeing Whitworth holding a gun and shooting all three occupants in succession. She then heard more shots, according to court documents, and then Whitworth turned and said, "let's go."

Charlo told investigators Rossbach stayed behind in the room while she and Whitworth ran to the pickup they arrived in. They were about to leave, she said, when Rossbach came running to the truck and said "no witnesses" once he hopped in.

Rossbach and Whitworth reportedly had trouble deciding if they could trust Charlo and another man who went with them to the hotel. At one point, she said Rossbach put a knife in their faces and said, "You didn't see anything."

Once alone with Charlo, she claims Whitworth told her, "Nothin' funny better happen, otherwise next bullet's gonna be for you."

The autopsy conducted on each victim found Flink had been shot three times, and had been cut on the right side of his face, neck, chin and right hand; McLaughlin was shot four times; Williams suffered from one gunshot wound and other wounds reportedly consistent with stab wounds.

Williams survived his injuries. 

The Montana Kaimin has reported Flink was a University of Montana student set to graduate in 2020. Friends and family held a memorial for him last month.

The Great Falls Tribune reports McLaughlin was from Cut Bank and Great Falls. She was a mother of four.

Charlo is charged with attempted criminal possession of dangerous drugs. She is set to be arraigned on that charge Jan. 10.