Professor in Idaho murder-suicide had threatened another woman

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A former University of Idaho professor who last week killed a student with whom he’d been involved, then fatally shot himself, had reportedly threatened to kill another woman as well. That threat was made nearly a year before he showed up outside 22-year-old Katy Benoit’s house in Moscow, Idaho, and shot her 11 times, new court documents reveal.

Ernesto Bustamante, 31, had apparently been the subject of several complaints from students that University of Idaho officials have said they acted upon but cannot discuss, pending their court petition to release his personnel records.

Benoit had been involved in a romantic relationship with Bustamante, but broke it off after Bustamante allegedly threatened her with a gun on several occasions, the Lewiston Tribune has reported.

A new affidavit filed in the case reveals that Benoit wasn’t the only woman Bustamante had threatened, however. One of Bustamante’s close friends, Rowdy Hope, told police that the former psychology professor talked of having multiple personalities, including ‘psychopathic killer’; “baby,” which was ‘quiet, cuddly and soft’; ‘Ernie,” a worried child; ‘E,’ which was normal and caring; and “Ernesto,” an angry, suave “diviner,” the Tribune reported Wednesday.


Moscow police Det. Rodney Wolverton said in his affidavit that Bustamante had had sexual relations with at least one other University of Idaho student and had also once threatened to kill a woman other than Benoit while he was a professor there.

That case apparently was related to a November 2010 incident in which Bustamante obtained a protection order against a woman accused of committing battery and malicious mischief against him, police told the Tribune. The woman pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disturbing the peace.

University officials said Benoit first contacted them about Bustamante in June, and they advised her immediately to go to the police and take precautions. They held several meetings with her and notified her that Bustamante’s employment was terminated on Aug. 19, they said, while continuing to advise her to get help from the police.

‘This tragic situation has brought a profound sadness to our entire community,” university President M. Duane Nellis said in a statement. “And while incidents of violence like this are very rare in Moscow, even one tragedy is too many. We must continue to do everything we can to protect our students and our campus community; for that reason, I am asking for an independent review of the university’s policies and procedures to ensure that we are doing the very best job we possibly can.”

Bustamante was tracked down to a Moscow motel room after reportedly shooting Benoit on Aug. 23. Police talked to him briefly on the telephone but by the time they entered the room, he had shot himself to death.

Six guns were found in the room, police disclosed, and a search warrant return filed in court this week revealed that three additional handguns, a .22 rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun were found in his rented car outside.

University officials are scheduled to go to court Sept. 9 on their petition to release full records documenting complaints against Bustamante and how the university dealt with them.


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-- Kim Murphy in Idaho