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Bryan Groehler

Bryan Groehler

Police believe a 27-year-old Missoula man now in custody severely beat a woman who cooperated with a federal drug investigation into her ex-boyfriend.

Bryan Charles Groehler is being held on a felony charge of assault with a weapon. Prosecutors allege in charging documents filed Oct. 23 that he repeatedly struck a woman with a 16-inch wooden dowel and fought off a man who came to her defense in September.

"I thought I was going to die," the woman later told authorities.

The affidavit in the case states the two victims were attacked early in the morning on Sept. 10. The woman had stepped outside and saw a man in a blue hoodie approach, with a red bandanna covering the lower part of his face. The man, later identified as Groehle, reportedly struck her twice in the head and six more times after she fell, according to court documents. 

The woman's injuries included a laceration to the back of her head, a cut that split her hand down to her wrist, and a broken arm.

A man then confronted Groehler in a physical altercation, but was unsuccessful. He tried again to stop Groehler, this time pulling off Groehler's hoodie and hat as the alleged assailant ran away. 

Police responded to the area and collected the articles of clothing, as well as a 16-inch wooden dowel the victims had described as possibly made of metal. 

The woman spoke with police again two days later after she reportedly received a Facebook message from someone with information that Groehler had carried out the assault. Crime analysts with Missoula Police Department tracked the lead to Groehler. The man who tried to fight Groehler off positively identified him in a photo lineup, according to charging documents. 

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On Oct. 11, charging documents state, a friend told the woman that Steven Simpkins, the woman's ex-boyfriend, had directed Groehler to attack her for cooperating with the FBI against Simpkins.

According to federal court documents, Simpkins is facing several charges related to methamphetamine distribution and firearms violations.

Groehler was booked into Missoula County jail around 6 a.m. Friday. He is  being held on $250,000 bond.

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Criminal justice