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Authorities seek Eureka man accused of killing father

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
The Western News | June 29, 2022 2:10 PM

Law enforcement officials are seeking a man from Eureka who is accused of killing his father in the Thirsty Lake Road area on Monday, May 30.

Joshua Joseph Sauls, 23, has been charged with deliberate homicide in the shooting death of John Lewis Sauls.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed on June 21 in Lincoln County Justice Court, efforts by law enforcement to locate and interview Joshua Sauls have been unsuccessful. Law officers wrote in the charging document that “he appears to have left the area shortly after the shooting and according to family members may be hiding with friends in a neighboring county.”

In the charging document, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office received a report on Tuesday, May 31, of a dead man, later identified as John Lewis Sauls, on Thirsty Lake Road, about 7.5 miles up Meadow Creek Road.

Deputies Bobbie (Noel) Aston and Clint Heintz found John Lewis Sauls with three apparent gunshot wounds to the head. Later, an autopsy at the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula determined the man had died of three gunshot wounds to the back of his head.

After Aston and Heintz secured the scene, county Detectives Duane Rhodes and Dan Holskey began to investigate. They found three cigarette butts with two gold-colored rings around the filter at the scene as well as three fired shell casings from a Winchester .45 caliber automatic and two bullets.

On Wednesday, June 1, Detective Rhodes spoke to John Sauls’ wife, the mother of Joshua Sauls. She said the last time she saw her husband was on Monday, May 30. She said Joshua Sauls was also living in the home and was angry at John due to a “family crisis” that had been going on.

On Monday, May 30, Joshua and John left the home in a black Chevy Monte Carlo. John’s wife said the car was now parked behind the house. On Tuesday morning, the wife noticed John’s door was shut, which was normal, and she assumed he was sleeping, according to the court document.

Later, according to Joshua’s mother, Joshua told her that while they were out for a drive, they got into an argument and John grabbed the steering wheel. Joshua allegedly said he kicked John out of the car and left him in the Dog Creek area on U.S. 93. Joshua also said he was headed to the Dog Creek area to look for his dad.

During the interview, Det. Rhodes saw cigarette butts and multiple spent .45 caliber casings at the residence. He returned with a search warrant, collected the butts and casings. Rhodes said the items matched the ones found at the crime scene.

Also, family members told Rhodes that John Sauls didn’t smoke and that he owned, and typically carried, a .45 caliber firearm. The gun was not found at the scene or during a search of the home and car, according to court documents.

Rhodes also spoke to a Meadow Creek Road resident who told the investigator he saw the black car driving up the road at about noon on Tuesday, May 31. The witness said the car caught his attention because it was a “low” car and he didn’t see that type of vehicle on that dirt road very often.

Sauls has had other run-ins with law enforcement in the past.

According to court documents, he was accused of fleeing from police after an attempted traffic stop in the Eureka area in November 2017. Police said he ditched the car. Officers later found baggies with a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine. Officers also reported finding two guns, several knives, two hatchets, a leather club and four boxes of ammunition.

In the charging document in the 2017 case, filed by Heintz, a police officer in Eureka at the time, he reported assisting Lincoln County Detective Nate Scofield with a traffic stop in 2014 involving Joshua Sauls. Scofield said he found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle which Sauls allegedly said belonged to him.

Conviction for deliberate homicide is punishable by life, death or imprisonment in the Montana State Prison for a term of not less than 10 years or more than life.