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Kim Nees, Barry Beach: ID’s ‘Suspicion’ On Unsolved Murder Of Poplar, Montana, Teen Found Dead In River

The death of Kim Nees is still the talk of the town in Poplar, Montana, and tonight her death is the subject of the Investigation Discovery crime series, Suspicion. The 17-year-old teen was found dead more than 30 years ago, but her murder is still unsolved. Barry Beach was ultimately convicted in the case, but he was given clemency, leaving many believing that he was an innocent man who was wrongly convicted. With Barry Beach off the hook, the case still raises many questions about a group of jealous girls’ who were rumored to be the real killers, according to the Wolf Point Herald. On tonight’s Suspicion episode, “Murder In Montana,” viewers will see a re-enactment of the crime and hear commentary from law enforcement detectives.

Suspicion: “Murder In Montana” on Investigation Discovery

When a local teen, who was named valedictorian of her class, is found bludgeoned to death in the Poplar River, a whole town falls under suspicion. But that suspicion is lifted with the arrest of a classmate who might actually be innocent of the crime.

Former Valedictorian Kimberly Ann Neese Found Dead

The body of Kim Nees was found in the Poplar River in June 1979. Her body was discovered after police found an abandoned truck with a bloody handprint on it. A bloody trail leading from the truck led detectives to the gruesome discovery.

An autopsy report performed on the victim concluded that she had been struck over 30 times with a blunt object. A crescent wrench was said to be the possible weapon used in the murder. Kim Ann Nees was last known to be driving her father’s truck. From there, no one knew where she was headed or who else might have been in the vehicle.

Police were sure that she was attacked inside the truck before she was removed and beaten again on the ground. Then, the killers dragged her body to the river’s edge and dumped her in.

Small Town With Big Secrets

Who had done this to Kim Nees? One man said he received an early morning phone call even before police found the truck. In the documentary Poplar…Who Killed Kim?, Dunn O’Connor said Sissy Atkinson called him at 5:00 a.m., stating that someone had killed Kim Nees. The police didn’t find the truck until 7 A.M. the following morning.

The evidence at the scene suggested from the beginning that there was more than one attacker since several footprints were found, along with several different fingerprints. Also, chunks of Kim Nees’ hair were found at the scene.

  • Hair-pulling is a characteristic of murder committed by females.

Despite this evidence, police zeroed in on Kim Nees’ classmate and neighbor, Barry Beach. According to Beach’s supporters, he was tricked into making a hypothetical confession and later imprisoned with a 100-year sentence.

Barry Beach had always denied killing Kim Nees. After receiving clemency, he was released from prison. Since his release, several producers and journalists have looked into the case, including Dateline NBC.

One witness stated that he knew who had killed the Poplar student. He named Sissy Atkinson, Maude Greyhawk, Joanne Jackson, and Jordis Ferguson. According to the witness, the group of girls killed her over a dispute about a man one of them was dating, according to Dateline NBC’s coverage of the case.

“Rumors were already around town that this was not a man who committed the murder, or a woman even, but a group of girls — Kim’s contemporaries. Their supposed motive? Jealousy. Kim was attractive, she was successful, she was class valedictorian, boys loved her and she was about to leave Poplar behind for good.”

However, none of these leads, theories, or rumors have ended in an arrest of anyone else other than Barry Beach. Recently, Barry Beach was arrested and sent back to jail for violating an order of protection, according to Bozeman Daily Chronicle. You’ll want to see Suspicion’s dramatic re-creation of events by tuning in tonight to Investigation Discovery.

[Featured Image by Matthew Brown/AP Images]