The victim in a Moscow murder has been identified as 22-year-old University of Idaho graduate student Katy Benoit. Benoit was found outside her home with multiple gunshots wounds from a .45 caliber hand gun.
The Moscow Police Department responded to multiple shots made on South Lilly Street at 8:40 p.m. Monday. Officers found the body of Benoit, and the suspect driving away from the scene of the crime in a rental car. The car had been registered to the suspect, Ernesto A. Bustamante, former assistant professor with the Department of Psychology and Communication Studies at UI.
“The male (Bustamante) had been rapidly leaving the scene of the assault in a black 2010 Chrysler Sebring with Washington plates,” said Lieutenant Dave Lehmitz of the Moscow PD in a press conference.
Police found the car Tuesday morning outside the Best Western Plus University Inn in Moscow. Lehmitz said the suspect had checked in at 9:30 p.m. the previous night. After acquiring an arrest warrant, officers attempted to contact Bustamante in his room.
“Moscow Police Department officers first tried to contact the suspect via telephone, but without success, then by calling through the closed door, again, with no response,” Lehmitz said.
The officers then teargased the room, but broke in when there was no response from Bustamante. The suspect was found dead in the bed, apparently due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Lehmitz said during the press conference that the Moscow PD is investigating the nature of the relationship between the victim and Bustamante and has informed Benoit’s family and friends of the incident.
UI has removed Bustamante’s biography from their website. The Department of Psychology and Communication Studies at UI refused to comment on why Bustamante resigned earlier this year.
During the press conference, Dean of Students Bruce Pitman said the university’s heartfelt sympathy goes to the victim’s family and friends. UI has postponed Convocation and is hosting grief intervention activities.
“This is a tragedy, and it is a tragedy at many levels,” Pitman said. “This is a tragedy for a number of students who lost a friend and also a tragedy for employees who lost a faculty member."