Killer in Montana quadruple murder-suicide had Taos ties, prior disputes in New Mexico - Albuquerque Journal

Killer in Montana quadruple murder-suicide had Taos ties, prior disputes in New Mexico

ANACONDA, Mont. — A former Taos-area resident who once had a run-in with a magistrate judge near Red River that his ex-wife now says “turned him sour against the government” has been identified as the man who killed four members of his family and himself on Sunday in southwestern Montana.

The shooter, Michael Augustine Bournes, 59, told an acquaintance that he shot his family and planned to kill himself because his wife had been “mocking him and riding him all day,” law enforcement officers said.

Anaconda-Deer Lodge Police Chief Tim Barkell on Tuesday released the names of those killed in the quadruple murder-suicide Sunday morning in a log cabin miles from any neighbors in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.MichaelBournes

Michael Augustine Bournes
Michael Augustine Bournes


Bournes previously lived near Taos and in 1995, he was charged in a dispute with former Taos Magistrate Judge Erminio Martinez over property access. Montana authorities now are contacting law enforcement agencies in New Mexico about that case.

Court records also appear to show connections by Bournes to Raton and to the Farmington area. His divorce case in New Mexico was filed in 2007 was not resolved until 2011 or 2012..

His current wife was Arie Arlynn Lee, 37. The slain children were identified as two boys — 5-year-old Augustine and 4-year-old Woodrow — and a 1-year-old girl, also named Arie.

Police believe Bournes first shot his wife in the kitchen and his young daughter in her crib before he walked outside and shot the two other children about 20 feet from the cabin, Barkell said.

All five died of single gunshot wounds to the head.

Bournes carried the boys’ bodies inside and laid them on a bed, placing their young sister’s body in between the brothers, Barkell said.

Bournes called an acquaintance to tell him he shot his family and was going to kill himself. He set fire to a chair or a sofa, then laid down next to the children’s bodies and shot himself in the head with the .45 caliber handgun.

The acquaintance called 911 and told officers that Bournes “said his wife had been mocking and riding him all day. That’s all he said,” Barkell said.

Officers didn’t find any evidence in the cabin that revealed why Bournes shot his entire family, and Barkell said he planned to close the case after tying up “a few loose ends,” including contacting law enforcement authorities in New Mexico.

A New Mexico jury acquitted Bournes of false imprisonment and aggravated assault charges in 1997. His ex-wife of 33 years, Darla Schuppan said the charges were filed after Bournes used a bulldozer to block a person driving across his property from exiting.

According to a Taos News posting Tuesday night, Bournes was charged in1995 in that case after an altercation over grazing rights near Red River with a then-magistrate judge Martinez.

The charges stem from an incident in which an armed Bournes allegedly blocked an easement road near Bobcat Pass with a tractor to keep Judge Martinez, his son and two other passengers from passing, according to a Taos News report from the time. A jury acquitted Bournes on all counts, the News said.

Ex-wife Schuppan described the encounter as a misunderstanding, but said it changed her ex-husband.

“The incident on the mountain really turned him sour against the government,” she said, adding after that they moved to a more remote location with no electricity. “He felt like things were unfair.”

On-line New Mexico court records show a civil court case filed in 1996 in Taos where Bournes was the plaintiff and Judge Martinez and others are listed as defendants.

Also in court records are the divorce proceedings between Bournes and then-Darla Bournes in Farmington-Aztec state District Court; a 1995 charge in Taos District Court for “data conversion” that went to trial and resulted in a not guilty verdict; a 2000 complaint for “reformation money judgment on promissory note for foreclosure” filed by Mike and Darla Bournes in Raton District Court against The Sawmill, Inc. and several individuals; and a 1999 complaint by the couple against an individual for debt and money owed. 

Barkell said Bournes had constitutionalist and anti-government literature in his pickup truck outside the Montana cabin, and the police chief described him as someone who didn’t want anything to do with government.

Schuppan, said Bournes’ given name was Augustine, after his father, but his mother called him Mike. She said Bournes was a Navy veteran who was very handy and taught her how to build a house from scratch.

They were married for 33 years, and over time he became more and more controlling, Schuppan said. She finally left him in 2007 when he punched her in the face in front of her grandson, she said.

“Not that I had a bad life but near the near the end it got to the point where I had to leave and it looks like now that was the best decision,” she said.

It is not clear when Bournes met Lee, but they moved to Montana with their children less than three years ago, Barkell said.

Bournes bought the 20 acres of land between five and seven years ago, said Steve Kamps, who sold the remote mountain property. Bournes built the cabin himself in 2013.

Anaconda-Deer Lodge officials said Bournes was virtually unknown to county and law-enforcement officials. He never filed the deed from the purchase of the land and he did not apply for the permits required for the cabin, county planning director Doug Clark said.

Bournes earned money by performing odd jobs for people such as plumbing and logging, Barkell said.

Lee seemed to be making an effort to become part of the community, said Muriah Buck, owner of the Muriah’s of Montana restaurant where the family ate a few times a month.

Lee liked to talk about her children, and was cheerful and outgoing when her husband left the table, as he often did to avoid conversation, but she grew quiet and pensive when he returned, Buck said.

Lee was cast in the town’s upcoming production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” as the maid Calpurnia when the theater owners spotted her in the audience of “Mary Poppins.”

“We needed a lot of African Americans in ‘Mockingbird,’ so we asked her and she said yes,” said owner Kelly Cutler.

Lee made the 45-minute drive to town for four or five rehearsals, but never showed up for one on Sunday afternoon. Cutler and the cast learned what happened later that day.

“It just kind of blew (us) out of the water,” he said.

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