Who Killed Kim? Part Eight: The Secret - KULR8.com | Montana's News Leader | Billings, MT

Who Killed Kim? Part Eight: The Secret

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POPLAR, Mont. -

Fear and mistrust can cause people to do things they otherwise would never do.
     
Such may be the case for one woman in Poplar, Montana when it comes to the decades Barry Beach has spent behind bars, and a secret she says she has held on to since childhood.

Rumors and small towns.

They go together like that, don't they?

And when Kim Nees was killed and no one was immediately arrested there was hushed talk around Poplar.

Most of those whispers suggested three girls were responsible for killing Kim.

Was it jealously?

Kim had been on a date the night before her murder with a boy who was the father of the child of one of one of those three girls.

Authorities said they investigated and no one was arrested."

But decades later during a 2011 hearing ordered by the state supreme court to determine if the man convicted of killing Kim Nees deserved a new trial, something seemingly extraordinary happened.

This woman, Steffie Eagle Boy, told judge E. Wayne Phillips -- she had spent a lifetime holding tightly onto a secret from the time she was ten years old.

Steffie says the night Kim Nees was murdered  she and her cousin were sitting near this rock on the hill that overlooks the area where Kim breathed her last breath.

I asked her what she heard that night.

"Screaming, yelling around."

What kind of screaming, I asked.

"I don't know, like somebody getting beat up or fighting or just somebody chasing and then girls chasing another girl telling them to get her and I mean you know the other girl running, crying saying help me and it's just something you can't forget."

I asked Steffie what she saw?

"Well, after we heard everything we sat here and then we seen a cop car coming down from the road right here and how I knew it was a cop car is cause it had its lights on top,  had the lights on top then it came down the road and when it got to the two vehicles parked over this way it shut its lights off."

Steffie says she came to believe it was that group of girls who killed Kim Nees.

So, why didn't she tell anyone?

"Cause I didn't trust anybody."

"Everybody keeps asking me that, why didn't you say anything?"

"Cause I don't trust anybody, I trust nobody. I didn't trust law enforcement then."

I pointed out, if her version of what happened is true, an innocent man may have been sent to prison.

"Yes, there is and it is true."

Those girls are the ones that did it, not Barry and I know that cause I heard it."

"Barry didn't do it, those girls did it."

A tightly held secret out of fear of law enforcement and she says a fear of those girls.

Does she feel a burden has now been lifted?

"Yeah, I felt a relief, big relief but it's not over yet till he gets out then I'll feel a lot more better and when they get the girls that did it then I'll feel even better."

Judge Philip's cited Steffie's testimony as a major reason for his decision to order a new trial for Barry Beach.

He also freed Beach on his own recognizance.

Beach came to Billings -- where he lived and worked in construction for 18 months.

But the state supreme court -- the same court that appointed judge Philips  -- overturned his decision following an appeal by the attorney general's office and Beach was returned to prison where he sits today.

Tomorrow, on the kULR-8 news at 10, unlikely allies for Beach's effort to get his sentence commuted including well known Montanans and a close relative of Kimberly Ann Nees.

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