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Man accused of murdering mother, concealing her body

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POLSON — A Polson man is accused of stabbing his 86-year-old mother to death and then attempting to conceal her body in her home where her body remained for several days.

Garrett Edward Vaska, 46, has been charged with deliberate homicide committed with a dangerous weapon and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, both felonies. He is currently being held in Lake County Jail with bond set at $250,000.

According to charging documents, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal law enforcement officers discovered the body of St. John on Sept. 6 while conducting a welfare check requested by Tribal Health workers. St. John, who was regularly assisted by Tribal Health workers in her home for dementia and diabetes-related health issues, hadn’t been seen in over a week. 

Locked doors that were normally left unlocked, unusual “rude” behavior from Vaska, who lived in an outbuilding on St. John’s property, and a story that didn’t add up prompted Tribal Health personnel to request a welfare check. 

According to court documents, Vaska told visiting health workers that St. John had been picked up by her brother who was going to take her back to her tribe in South Dakota. When workers asked how to get in touch with St. John’s brother, Vaska allegedly said “f--- you guys,” and slammed the door.

No contact was made with either St. John or Vaska during an Aug. 31 welfare check performed by Polson police. When Tribal Health workers learned from St. John’s sister that she had no living brothers who could have taken her to South Dakota, a second welfare check was requested. Vaska allegedly told officers that he had found his mother deceased four days prior and that he was planning to take her back to South Dakota where their tribe would assist with funeral expenses. Vaska was then placed under arrest for an unrelated outstanding warrant from the CSKT Court and has since been transferred to the Lake County Jail.

St. John’s body was found by a Tribal police officer and a responding Montana Highway Patrol officer in plastic bags and under blankets in a room at her home where it appeared to have been for “some time.”

Preliminary autopsy reports indicate St. John’s cause of death to be multiple stab wounds to the head and chest and that the manner of death was homicide.

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