Blackfoot neighborhood remembers 1984 murder

Credit: Paul Boehlke/ KTVB

Blackfoot neighborhood remembers 1984 murder

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 10:44 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 3:41 PM

BLACKFOOT -- At approximately 10 a.m on Tuesday, June 12, convicted murderer Richard Leavitt is scheduled to be executed via lethal injection by the state of Idaho.

Leavitt was tried and convicted of the cruel and violent stabbing death of Danette Elg in Blackfoot, Idaho, almost 30 years ago. However, many in this small community remember the crime as though it were yesterday.

"It was the ugliest crime scene I've ever seen," said Tom Moss, who was the Bingham County Prosecutor in 1984.

Throughout his career, Moss had a hand in the jury trials of four Idahoans who received the death penalty for committing brutal murders. Those cases included criminals Joseph Duncan and Paul Ezra Rhodes.  Moss says what Richard Leavitt did to Danette Elg is an image that will never escape him.

"She put up a valiant fight, and she eventually got stabbed in the head, and then multiple stabs in her chest. I think there were four stabs in her chest, anyone of which would have been enough to kill her," said Moss.

Lieutenant Scott Gay was a jailer in 1984. He watched over Leavitt in the old Bingham County Jail, which now serves as a storage room for the fire department.

Although Gay didn't work the case, he did see the crime scene. "There's a lot of things you forget, but that's not one of them," said Gay.

He also remembers the impact this case had on the community. Gay says before Leavitt was charged with the murder, this was a case of '"who done it," with police hunting for a suspect for months.

It is something this small community rarely sees.

"Community-wise, it was a lot of fear: a single woman, living alone is murdered in her own home -- that obviously wreaks fear on the community," said Gay.

"It did cause a lot of concern for people," said Joyce Brown, who was one of Elg's neighbors.

Fear is something Joyce Brown remembers. She lived just two doors down from where Elg lived and died. Like in most small towns, Brown knew both Leavitt and Elg. "That's a tragic situation anywhere, and something that violent -- that was really, really -- I couldn't believe it in this area," said Brown.

Brown also says that type of violence -- a type that consumed the community in the mid-80s -- is once again the center of discussion for the community. "I think the people that have been right here, around it all the time will definitely remember it forever," said Brown.

"There's somethings that will happen to you in your life, everybody's life, that they'll never forget and this was one I will never forget it," said Moss.

Even though many in Blackfoot will never forget Elg's murder, many here hope that Leavitt's execution will provide more closure for those affected by its consequences.

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