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Police continue investigation into three Flathead murders

Police continue investigation into three Flathead murders

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KALISPELL - Investigators found more than two dozen guns and rifles and a dozen marijuana plants at a Ferndale residence where two men were shot to death earlier in the week, Flathead County officials said Friday.

In a separate murder in the Flathead Valley, a body exhumed from a shallow grave at a campground Friday had been burned, said Sheriff Jim Dupont.

In the first case, the victims were shot several times, probably on Monday or Tuesday, said Undersheriff Chuck Curry. Ferndale is south of Bigfork.

No murder weapon was found Friday, Curry said.

The body of the property owner, Clifford Charles Grant, 37, was found in the yard, and the body of Norman L. Nelson, 44, was in a vehicle. Nelson apparently had been staying at the residence about six weeks, but investigators did not know the relationship between the men, Curry said.

The bodies were sent to the state crime lab in Missoula on Friday.

"We are treating the scene as a double homicide," Curry said.

There were no suspects, but Detective Pat Walsh said investigators had some leads.

Curry said a relative of Grant's went to the home on Montana 209 on Thursday and discovered Nelson's body in the front seat of a car parked in the driveway.

Detective Rod Meyers said one victim had been shot in the face, and the other had two gunshot wounds that may have been caused by the same bullet.

Inside a trailer on the property, officers found more than 25 guns and rifles, including a Chinese military assault weapon. Meyers said gun safes containing mostly shotguns and rifles were standing open and handguns were on a loveseat.

Twelve marijuana plants were confiscated from an indoor garden, authorities said.

Grant raised pit bulls, and about 40 of the dogs on the property hampered investigators until animal control officers corralled them.

Flathead County animal wardens spent several hours Friday removing the pit bulls from four kennels on the five-acre property. Officers found three dogs dead on the property and euthanized one because it was severely injured, possibly by a gunshot wound.

A county animal control officer said the dogs were thin and appeared to have gone without food for several days. They were taken to a local animal shelter, where a spokeswoman said they likely would be euthanized.

Officials did not reveal the name of the person found in a shallow grave at a remote Forest Service campground near Red Meadow Lake, about 20 miles west of Polebridge. Curry said the body apparently was buried within the past 15 days.

Dupont said two Kalispell residents who may have been involved were arrested Tuesday in Sanders County on unrelated charges, and later were placed in the Flathead County jail. They were driving a truck registered to Randall Bravo, 36, most recently of New Mexico. Curry said they also had his credit card.

Bravo was reported missing a few days ago.

He had been living in Albuquerque, but planned to attend graduate school in Colorado after vacationing in Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, said Maxine Lamb, commander of the sheriff's detectives division. He was last heard from on June 27 when he called a friend in Albuquerque.

"We have not identified the body that's in this gravesite," Dupont said. "We're assuming that this person more than likely was the owner of the truck that they were driving. However, we don't know that."

The Bigfork Eagle contributed to this story.

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