The Ravalli County Sheriff's Office has cleared the Missoula Police department of any wrongdoing in the suicide of a murder suspect that occurred on July 23.

Sheriff Steve Holton said the investigation received input from several law enforcement agencies, as well as eyewitness testimony.

The suspect was under surveillance as a suspect in the homicide of a woman in Jefferson County.

"With help from the Missoula Police department, the Montana Department of Criminal Investigation, The Missoula County Sheriff and the Jefferson County Sheriff, we were able to put a very accurate case together," Sheriff Holton said.

Holton laid out the details of the incident.

"Missoula PD tried to stop a car and 32 year-old Christopher Ray Phillips was an occupant of that vehicle," he said. "As the police officers made the stop and were calling for backup, giving verbal commands to the individuals in the car, a police backup vehicle pulled onto the scene, and they heard a gunshot. In our investigation and interviewing the eyewitnesses, it's very clear, and we can conclude without a doubt that Phillips killed himself by a gunshot wound to the head while he was still in the vehicle."

In addition, the Jefferson County Sheriff and the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation released initial findings from an autopsy of 45-year-old Cassandra Dean Morrison of Butte. Morrison was found deceased on July 23, on the side of the road near Jefferson City.

The autopsy has confirmed that Morrison’s death was a homicide, resulting from multiple gunshot wounds.

The investigation into the Jefferson County homicide is still ongoing. Following the conclusion of the investigation, the case will be turned over to the Jefferson County Attorney’s office.


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