Sanders County investigators make two arrests in separate homicides

| October 14, 2020 12:00 AM

By SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER

Valley Press

Sanders County law enforcement officers have made two arrests in separate homicide cases this week.

In the first case, a Hot Springs man has been charged with deliberate homicide in the beating death of another man on Wednesday.

According to Hot Springs Police Chief Erik Pfleger, 39-year-old Aaron Eugene McLaughlin was taken into custody after officers were called to a residence Wednesday afternoon.

Pfleger said McLaughlin made his initial appearance in Sanders County District Court Friday afternoon where he was charged with deliberate homicide.

McLaughlin is currently lodged in the Sanders County Jail. According to Sanders County Attorney Naomi Leisz, McLaughlin made his initial appearance in Justice Court Friday afternoon. He is being held on $1 million bail. McLaughlin’s arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 19.

Pfleger said the victim, who he wasn’t able to identify, was a Hot Springs resident in his late 50s.

Pfleger said the victim was struck several times with an object and died of massive brain hemorrhaging due to blunt force trauma.

Pfleger said there apparently was an argument before the incident. He also said both men were known to Hot Springs officers in the last year.

Hot Springs Police were assisted by the Montana Department of Criminal Investigation and Sanders County Sheriff’s Office.

In the second case, a Lakeside woman was charged with deliberate homicide in the alleged shooting death of her ex-husband in Paradise Thursday evening.

According to Leisz, Rachel Ann Bellesen is accused of shooting Jacob Angelo Glace in the Paradise area.

She made her initial appearance in Sanders County Justice Court Friday afternoon and her preliminary hearing was scheduled for Oct. 19.

Bellesen is lodged in the Sanders County Jail on $500,000 bond.

According to information on Bellesen's LinkedIn page, she is from Lakeside and a shelter coordinator and victim advocate for Abbie Shelter in Kalispell.

Bellesen is listed as the shelter coordinator on the shelter's website at abbieshelter.org.

Abbie Shelter executive director Hilary Shaw believes the shooting was in self defense.

"We are taking the position the charges should be dropped against Rachel and she killed him in self defense," Shaw said.

Abbie Shelter is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization which provides domestic and sexual violence services.

Glace's LinkedIn page described him as the owner of Angelo's Carpet Cleaning Service and a Plains volunteer firefighter.