The bone fragments from a 2013 double homicide in Frenchtown are old and likely burned past recognition, but Missoula prosecutors hope a Texas lab will be able to identify whom they belonged to before trial early next year.
Caressa Hardy, the 51-year-old arrested last year on suspicion of the killings, is currently set to stand trial in February. On Wednesday, Deputy Missoula County Attorney Brian Lowney asked the judge to move the trial date back to May to allow the lab at the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification to link the bones to the suspected victims, Thomas Korjack and Robert Orozco.
In court documents, Hardy's name is accompanied by "aka Glenn Lee Dibley."
Court filings suggest the remains were recovered from a fire pit and dump site at a Frenchtown property in two extraction efforts; one between July and August in 2017, and another in April 2018. Sets found in both extractions were initially sent to the University of Montana's Department of Anthropology, where they were confirmed to be human bones from two different people.
The Texas lab already completed tests on one set of bones, but the DNA analysis was unable to identify the victims. The second set of bone fragments is yet to be tested, according to the Wednesday court filing.
Hardy's defense attorneys have since sought to suppress the bones as evidence from the trial, arguing they don't have time to independently test the bones for identification. Hardy, who denies killing Orozco or Korjack, has also floated the idea to law enforcement that the two men may have simply left the area in 2013 and have been hiding from authorities ever since.
The Missoula County Sheriff's Office, assisted by Missoula Police and the FBI, took up the case in 2016 after a woman, identified in court documents as "Witness A" came into the sheriff's office to report she had witnessed the killings in 2013. She told law enforcement she, Korjack and Orozco were discussing moving the Frenchtown property title from Hardy's name to theirs when Hardy produced a gun and fatally shot both men.
She said she saw Hardy burning items from the home, including the beds, carpet and curtains, but never saw what happened to the men's bodies. Following their deaths, multiple transactions were made on Korjack's financial accounts, investigators alleged.
After Hardy was charged, jailhouse informants alerted law enforcement to Hardy's alleged attempts to have Witness A killed — one inmate reported being offered $20,000 for the deed; another said Hardy offered to kill the inmate's girlfriend if he killed the witness in Hardy's case.
Hardy's defense also seeks to block any evidence produced from these informants, alleging Hardy's admissions obtained through the informants violate their attorney-client privileges because Hardy had invoked the right to remain silent in speaking with law enforcement.
Additionally, the defense team has tried to block prosecutors from bringing to trial any mention of Hardy's past convictions, which include elder abuse, petty theft, unlawful possession of an assault weapon, false imprisonment with violence, assault with a machine gun, solicitation of murder and a handful of probation and parole violations.
Judge James Wheelis is yet to rule on the motions.
In total, Hardy is charged with two counts of deliberate homicide and two counts of solicitation to commit deliberate homicide.