Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Thomas Montgomery: Bizarre Love Triangle

The Investigation

Around 6:30 a.m. on September 18, 2006, Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Weiss and Detective Charles Tirone stopped Montgomery outside his home as he left for his shift at Dynabrade. They handcuffed him, read him his Miranda rights, and told him he was not under arrest, but that they wanted to question him. He asked to stop at his car to grab some peaches he'd left in there, and then he let Weiss and Tirone take him to the sheriff's office on West Eagle Street in Buffalo.

Thomas Montgomery
Thomas Montgomery

Weiss later described Montgomery's behavior in the fourth-floor interview room as emotional and erratic. Tirone said Montgomery became maudlin and romantic when speaking about "Jessi." He didn't know the truth about her until investigators told him about Sheiler.

Montgomery told Weiss and Tirone that he'd been out to dinner the night of the murder and got home around 10:15 p.m.; his wife, when interviewed, said it was closer to 11:00 when he got in. His cell phone records put him at Dynabrade around the time of the murder, well after his own shift ended.

That September afternoon, Weiss and Tirone brought Montgomery home, but they exercised a search warrant with his and his wife's permission. When the investigators found a handbook for a .38-caliber gun, they asked if he had one. Montgomery told them he didn't, and that he only had the book because he'd long wanted that gun, which he said he couldn't afford. But then the investigators found photo in the house showing its gun cabinet holding a .38-caliber gun, now missing.

Then they brought him to the county garage, along with his car, which they searched. There, Tirone wondered aloud who would shoot a "kid" like Barrett. An irate Montgomery respoded vehemently to Tirone. He only got himself under control when Tirone reminded Montgomery that he was talking about the killer, not about him.

The Sheriff's Department interviewed Montgomery again on September 25. Montgomery's attorney, John Molloy would later point out that the time on Montgomery's signed waiver of his Miranda's rights was several hours after that interview began, claiming that this should make his statement inadmissable; prosecutors would counter that Montgomery had attended that interview voluntarily, and been advised of his Miranda rights already several times in the past.

Investigators searched all three people's computers, compiling thousands of pages of chats, including sexually explicit conversations with what both men thought was a 17-year-old—as well as Montgomery's threats against Barrett.

Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Gregory McCarthy and Undersheriff Richard Donovan arrested Montgomery on Monday, November 27, 2006. They brought him back to West Eagle Street. Donovan later testified that, just as the interview began, Montgomery asked him whether he could get the death penalty if he confessed.

At his arraignment a few days later, Montgomery pleaded not guilty to the charge of second degree murder.


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