By Cameron Rasmusson
A case of suspicious death last week resulted in the arrest of a person of interest, followed swiftly by his release.
Nathan Utt was freed from custody this week after the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office confirmed his alibi at the time of the death of Shirley Ann Ramey, the 78-year-old former city clerk of Hope.
According to the sheriff’s office, Utt was identified as a person of interest due to crime scene evidence and local eyewitness testimony. Detectives obtained an arrest warrant due to the severity of the crime.
According to the Spokesman-Review, Ramey’s husband found her shot to death on April 5, with Det. Gary Johnston telling a judge that she was killed “execution style.” The seriousness of the crime likely aided in speeding an arrest warrant for Utt.
Once Utt was taken into custody, however, he provided details placing him in Eugene, Ore., at the time of the death. Authorities were later able to verify the information. As a result, Utt was released, and Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall dropped the charges against him without prejudice.
As details of the case became public during the weekend, residents expressed alarm that they hadn’t been notified earlier about a possible murder suspect being at large in the area.
However, after Utt was released, others had harsh words about the quickness to judge him. In an interview with KHQ, Nathan Utt’s brother, Nick Utt, said that people treated him unfairly because of transient lifestyle.
“I hope everyone from the Bonner County or Sandpoint area realizes that before you talk, figure things out,” he told KHQ.
Nick Utt also told KHQ his brother’s demeanor may have worked against him.
“He’s a little off, but he’s not that kind of person,” he said. “He does scare people because he … [paces] back and forth, but he’s not that kind of person.”
The investigation into Ramey’s death is ongoing. Anyone with information should call Bonner County Dispatch at 265-5525 or report anonymous tips to 255-COPS (2677).