A former Baker City man who has been charged with kidnapping and murdering his former wife and murdering a Vale man in connection with a Monday incident in Malheur County, was involved in a hostage situation and standoff with police in Baker City 25 years ago.
Anthony Wayne Montwheeler, 49, of Nampa, Idaho, pleaded guilty except for insanity in the April 1996 Baker County case. He was convicted on Sept. 3, 1997, in Baker County Circuit Court on two counts of first-degree kidnapping with intent to terrorize, three counts of unlawful use of a firearm, and three counts of unlawful use of a weapon with a firearm.
On Sept. 23, 1997, Montwheeler was placed under the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Revenue Board (PSRB) for a period of time not to exceed 70 years, said District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff.
Montwheeler most recently was released from the PSRB on Dec. 14, 2016, according to court records.
According to the state’s 2016 PSRB Conditional Release Placement Guide, “while under PSRB jurisdiction, an individual can be housed in the Oregon State Hospital or in a variety of residential treatment settings, ranging from Secure Residential Treatment Facilities to independent living. The PSRB determines what kind of facility is appropriate based on the level of treatment, care and supervision required. ”
A Malheur County grand jury on Thursday indicted Montwheeler, who is hospitalized in Boise, on four counts of aggravated murder, three counts of murder, one count of first-degree kidnapping and one count of first-degree assault.
He is accused of kidnapping and murdering his former wife, Annita S. Harmon, 40, of Weiser, Idaho, and then driving his 2014 Dodge pickup truck head-on into a 2001 Ford Excursion driven by David Joseph Bates, 38, of Vale. Bates died at the crash scene.
Bates’wife, Jessica Sara Bates, 35, of Vale, was taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. She later was transferred to St. Alphonsus Medical Center in Boise. She was listed in stable condition on Tuesday, police said.
Montwheeler, who grew up in the Halfway area, was 28 when the Baker County crimes took place and lived at 2249 Virginia St.
According to a report of the incident that appeared in the April 26, 1996, edition of the Baker City Herald, Montwheeler forced his wife, Rosa Montwheeler, and his 3-year-old son, Amellia Montwheeler, into his pickup truck on the evening of April 25.
Rosa Montwheeler told police that her husband threatened to kill her brother, Javier Carrasco, because Rosa was planning to take the couple’s son and leave for Texas with her brother. Rosa also was pursuing assault charges against Montwheeler for an alleged domestic violence incident that took place in North Powder several weeks earlier.
Montwheeler drove around south Baker City before returning to his Virginia Street home. About 6:45 p.m. that Thursday night, Montwheeler released his wife, but kept the boy with him and left the area.
Police said Montwheeler returned to his house where he threatened to kill himself and his son.
Douglas Humphress, police chief at the time, called Montwheeler on the telephone and negotiated for the release of the boy, the newspaper reported.
A mental health worker and Montwheeler’s attorney also were at the scene along with city, state and county law enforcement officers and then-district attorney Greg Baxter and Shirtcliff, who was a deputy district attorney at the time. All worked to calm Montwheeler and to try to persuade him to surrender.
See more in the Jan. 13, 2017 issue of the Baker City Herald.