Crime

Man Allegedly Pushed To His Death From A Bridge

| by Denise Recalde

A man allegedly pushed off a bridge by another has fallen to his death. Both the accused and his girlfriend have been arrested. 

Police in Kalispell, Montana, charged Cecil Thomas Rice, 26, with intentional homicide for the April 26 death of Anthony Walthers, 34, who was last seen struggling with the strong current of the Flathead River.

The body of Walthers has not been found, but he is believed dead as it is unlikely he could have survived the currents and the cold river water.

Walthers reportedly had an exchange earlier that day with Rice's girlfriend, 25-year-old Heather Joy Meeker, at a church that distributes meals to the homeless. He said something inappropriate about the young woman, reports the Flathead Beacon.

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Both the accused couple and Walthers were transients, say police.

Around 7 p.m., on the day of the incident, a fisherwoman near the Old Steel Bridge said she heard a splash and saw a man, which police say was likely Walthers. He was reportedly floundering in the water and calling for help.

Another witness told police he saw a man floating several hundred yards down the river before his head disappeared under the surface, Daily Mail reports. 

The part of the Flathead River Walthers fell into was near the Old Steel Bridge in Kalispell, Montana. 

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Other people in the area saw a man and woman on the bridge, subsequently identified as Rice and Meeker, as well as a third man who has been cleared of suspicion by police. 

According to the onlookers, the trio quickly bolted from the scene, leaving the area in a maroon van. Police say Meeker tossed a backpack, which belonged to Walthers, out of the van's window.

As a result, Meeker has been charged with evidence tampering by the investigating police.

A person on the bridge who witnessed the altercation as it happened told police Rice pushed Walthers into the river.

Police say Meeker confirmed that Rice pushed Walthers off the bridge.

Rice and Meeker are being held in jail in lieu of $500,000 and $50,000 bail, respectively. 

Police had previously indicated they would charge Meeker with accountability to deliberate homicide, but in the end they only let the charge of evidence tampering stand. 

According to the Flathead Beacon, Meeker said Rice had been upset over Walthers' inappropriate comment made earlier in the day.

Meeker said Rice are scheduled to appear at an arraignment on May 25 in Flathead County District Court. 

Sources: Daily Mail, Flathead Beacon / Photo credit: K_r_craft/Pixabay

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