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Montana man denies killing former SL resident

By The Billings (Mont.) Gazette • Mar 2, 2018 at 7:00 PM

RED LODGE, Montana — A man accused of fatally shooting a homeless, former Spring Lake, Michigan, man who’d been living with him in Red Lodge, Montana, has denied the charges.

Thomas Joseph Schifferns, 33, pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide in Carbon County District Court on Feb. 28. Judge Blair Jones maintained bond at $1 million.

Schifferns shot and killed James McGregor, 63, near Highway 212, south of Red Lodge, on Feb. 19, according to the charges. McGregor’s body was found in a creek-side depression 100 yards from McGregor’s truck, which was stuck in the snow.

McGregor was last been seen at 1 p.m. Feb. 19 at a residence on the southern end of Red Lodge.

In court this week, Carbon County Attorney Alex Nixon called the killing a “cold-blooded execution,” and said Schifferns had been taking advantage of McGregor financially for an extended period of time.

Nixon said it was possible he'd file an additional charge of conspiracy in the case.

McGregor had been staying with Schifferns and his common-law spouse, who reported McGregor’s disappearance to law enforcement and said a safe where McGregor stored cash had been left open and empty.

After Schifferns killed McGregor, charges allege, he sought help from his ex-girlfriend to escape to Texas or Mexico.

On Feb. 19, Schifferns told his ex-girlfriend that he shot a person in the head and that he was angry with the person he killed "because he was homeless and disrespectful," the charges state.

Schifferns is being held at the Gallatin County Detention Facility. A trial date has not yet been set.

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