Kathryn Laird’s story will be on Dateline NBC tonight. Kathryn Laird was a Montana wife who was found dead in a river in 1999. The case went cold for many years until her husband, Brian Laird, was finally brought to justice for her death. The episode of Dateline tonight, titled “The Reckoning,” will show interviews with Montana law enforcement detectives, a former co-worker of Kathryn Laird, and family members who’ll give their take on the case.
If you try to go back and do some research on the case, you won’t find many articles online from 1999. That’s the year Kathryn Little Laird went missing from her home in Fort Smith, Montana. She wasn’t missing for long before her dead body was found floating in the Big Horn River creek, near the Yellow Trail Dam and After Bay area. It was a mysterious end for a woman who looked forward to living in Montana with her husband. Instead, court records show that all they did was argue, and just five months after marriage, Kathryn was telling friends and family members that she was ready to file for a legal separation from Brian Laird.
— Matt Hudson (@mhudsonBG) July 25, 2016
Some Notable Situations About Their Relationship
- Neighbors noticed them arguing constantly.
- Most of the time, Brian Laird could be heard yelling and screaming at Kathryn.
- Just before her murder, another neighbor saw Kathryn running outside of her trailer, where she was being chased around her truck by a screaming Brian Laird.
- Court records show that neighbors heard Brian Laird yell, “You F**king B***h! You burned my cookies!”
Kathryn Is Missing: The Investigation
When she disappeared, her husband, Brian Laird, told detectives that he discovered that his wife was missing after her boss called the home that morning looking for her. He also stated that he had last seen Kathryn in the early morning hours after they argued and she stormed out.
While Brian Laird was supposedly looking for his wife, a woman who knew the couple told the police and Brian that she thought she had seen the body floating in the river. They all sped to the scene and pulled the body out of the water. According to court records, Brian Laird made the following statement.
“So I get in my car and I drive over there and I look down and there’s my wife in the water. And I run down, I drag her out — and I try pushing her chest and — so anyway, she wasn’t alive.”
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) July 29, 2016
Detectives knew that something was off with Brian Laird’s story but had no idea that it would take more than a decade to get justice for Kathryn.
Kathryn Laird’s family members also knew that something was terribly wrong after they arrived in Montana and were told that she had drowned. First, Kathryn was a good swimmer. Second, it seemed that Brian Laird was trying to indicate that Kathryn had either committed suicide or had fallen into the water after consuming pills and Tequila, which he claimed were found in her white truck.
The 1999 autopsy report found no evidence of alcohol. It also stated that she had died from asphyxiation by drowning. Bruises were also found on the body.
Even more strange, Brian Laird tried desperately to have his wife’s body cremated before her family members could stake their claim. However, the family secured a restraining order and had Kathryn buried in her hometown of Texas.
Case Cold Until 2012
From there, the case went cold, and it stayed cold until FBI Agent John Teeling took a second look at the case in 2012. Buried in the police file was a note that pointed to the neighbors who lived by Kathryn and Brian Laird in 1999 at the Fort Smith Trailer Park in Fort Smith, Montana.
After speaking with them, police learned that in the middle of the night, they heard the couple arguing inside the trailer. Brian was yelling and screaming obscenities at Kathryn before it went eerily quiet, according to the New York Daily News. After the argument, they noticed a man driving a white truck away from the home, then heard their dog barking ferociously a short time later.
Police believed that Brian Laird had driven Kathryn’s truck away from the scene and had walked back to the house on foot. Then went about setting up the scene to make it look as if Kathryn had left on her own.
Former attorney Brian David Laird was arrested in Colorado in 2014 for the murder of Kathryn Little Laird. He was sentenced to 100 years in prison, reported the Flathead Beacon.
You can watch the Kathryn Laird story on Dateline NBC tonight at 10/9 p.m. Central. A previous Dateline NBC episode covered the case of Marie Singleton.
[Photo by Jason Hunt/File/AP Images]