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Bonner County man held on murder, kidnapping charges

by KEITH KINNAIRD
Hagadone News Network | August 25, 2020 1:00 AM

PRIEST RIVER — A Bonner County man has been arrested for allegedly bludgeoning and strangling a woman to death and forcing another man at gunpoint to help him dispose of her remains.

Bradley Michael Leader is charged with second-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Leader made an initial appearance in Bonner County Magistrate Court on Monday via videoconferencing with the Bonner County Jail.

Leader, 67, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Leader is accused of murdering Eveline Ursula Pederson on Monday, Aug. 17.

Pederson was reported missing from their Gunsmoke Road residence northeast of Priest River on Wednesday by her boyfriend, according to court documents. On Friday, a Bonner County man flagged down a sheriff’s deputy in Priest River and said he was kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to assist Leader in disposing of Pederson’s body. The man said he was at his home when Leader, a person he has known for 20 years, ordered him to help dispose of Pederson’s body. Leader allegedly enforced the demand with a .45-caliber revolver.

“When (the witness) objected, Brad cocked the hammer back on the revolver while pointing it at (the witness) and warned that he would be shot and killed if he did not comply,” a deputy said in a probable cause affidavit.

The witness told investigators that he accompanied Leader to a remote portion of the Gunsmoke property, where he was taken to a Chrysler minivan registered to Pederson’s boyfriend that was stuck in loose soil and mud. The vehicle was freed and the witness was ordered to follow Leader to a woodpile, which was used to conceal Pederson’s body, the affidavit said. The woodpile smelled of decomposing flesh and had bits of Pederson’s hair in it.

The witness refused to touch Pederson’s body, prompting Leader to load it into the minivan. The witness told investigators he was ordered to drive the minivan to U.S. Forest Service Road No. 334, where Pederson’s body was dumped on the side of the road, according to the affidavit. The minivan was concealed by trees and shrubs and the witness said he was ordered into the Toyota sport utility vehicle Leader was driving. The affidavit alleges they drove around for several hours before arriving back at Pederson’s home.

The witness told investigators Leader remained armed and kept close watch over him. The witness said he believed Leader was going to kill him. The witness said he fled the home when Leader became distracted and ran to the Priest River Police Department, which was unoccupied at the time. It was then that the witness flagged down a deputy, the affidavit said.

The witness led investigators to the vicinity of Pederson’s body approximately 19 miles north of the city. Pederson’s remains were located with the assistance of a Bonner County Sheriff’s Volunteer Search & Rescue unit’s cadaver dog, sheriff’s officials said in a news release.

Leader was read his rights and agreed to speak to investigators, court records indicate. Leader said he became involved in an argument with Pederson and punched her in the face. While prostrate on the ground, Leader said he strangled her with a piece of bailing twine and bashed her head in with a piece of concrete in order to hasten her demise, the affidavit said.

“Brad said he only stopped when he knew she was dead,” the affidavit said.

Leader said he placed her body in the minivan and then a wheelbarrow when the vehicle became stuck, according to court documents. Leader allegedly told a sheriff’s detective that he had no remorse over Pederson’s slaying and that she deserved to die, the affidavit alleges.

The motive for Leader’s actions was not specified in court documents.

Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall said on Monday there was no clear logical motive for the killing.

A criminal complaint said Pederson died of the cumulative results of being beaten and strangled. The complaint alleges Pederson was killed with malice aforethought but without premeditation.

Leader described himself as an artist and muralist in an application for publicly funded defense counsel.

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Sept. 2.

Leader has no prior criminal record in the state of Idaho, according to the state’s iCourt database.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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Pederson