Home Scandal and Gossip Convicted killer arrested mile from Idaho murders

Convicted killer arrested mile from Idaho murders

James Curtis Leonard, Moscow, Idaho
James Curtis Leonard convicted killer eyed as Idaho college killer following domestic violence arrest in Moscow.
James Curtis Leonard, Moscow, Idaho
James Curtis Leonard convicted killer eyed as Idaho college killer following domestic violence arrest in Moscow.

James Curtis Leonard, Moscow, Idaho man and previous convicted murderer eyed as possible killer of 4 slain Idaho of University college students as internet sleuths connect dots following man’s domestic violence arrest earlier this week.

Speculation has run rampant following the arrest of an ex-con killer this week just over a mile from the scene of an unsolved quadruple stabbing that left four University of Idaho students dead after they were stabbed in their sleep last month.

James Curtis Leonard, 39, of Moscow, Idaho, allegedly beat his wife and her daughter late Tuesday evening and slashed himself with a knife, according to court documents. Police said his arrest on Wednesday was not related to the Nov. 13 home invasion murders nearby. 

That nevertheless hasn’t stopped internet sleuths pouring over the man’s prior criminal history and connecting any possible dots that may tie the man at the November 13 murder scene as the community remains rattled by the unsolved case – with Moscow police warning the community that the killer may strike over the weekend amid commencements at the college. 

James Leonard had previously pleaded guilty to a fatal 2007 shooting but barely served any prison time. Of intrigue, the man’s defense attorney at the time was Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt who ruled that the murdered college students were victims of homicide. 

‘Dispatch advised an intoxicated husband punched his wife in the head and struck his daughter,’ according to a criminal complaint

Domestic violence arrest including suspect found with knife

Police arrived at their Palouse River Drive home and found Leonard’s wife with blood on her nose and mouth, according to court documents. Leonard had holed up in a bedroom and when police ordered him to come out, they saw blood on his hands and face and a large cut on his forearm.

An officer frisked him and found two knives and a marijuana joint, according to the complaint. His wife told officers he had drank ‘half a bottle of gin’ and became heavily intoxicated. He came inside from working on his truck and allegedly saw her on the phone and accused of her cheating on him. He allegedly yelled at her in front of her two kids, ages 20 and 15, her daughter’s 21-year-old boyfriend and a 1-year-old grandchild.

Then, according to the complaint, he went in his room and started cutting himself.

When his wife went to check on him, he allegedly attacked her with his fist and grabbed her throat. In the fracas, the older daughter, her boyfriend and the 1-year-old went to a neighbor’s house. However, at some point, Leonard also allegedly punched and kicked the 15-year-old, pulled her hair and threw her into a dresser. Police later found her hiding under a chair in another room with symptoms of a concussion.

While his wife was on the phone with 911, Leonard allegedly slashed his arm, yelled out that she had cut him and that he needed help. He was accused of stalking her around the house with a knife. Police found a trail of blood inside and asked the wife if she was ever afraid that Leonard would attack her with the knife, according to the affidavit. She told them she did not know what he would do.

The arrest comes amid an investigation into the deaths of Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, about 1.3 miles downhill off of the next crossroad. Police found all four dead at a house just yards off campus around noon on Nov. 13.

Leonard’s defense attorney is also the county coroner who said that all four college students were victims of homicide by stabbing, and that their wounds had likely been inflicted in their sleep.

Prior criminal history

Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt was elected to office in 2006, shortly before Leonard’s murder case, and is both an attorney and a nurse according to FOX NEWS.

On the morning of June 19, 2007, Leonard shot and killed Tyler Lee outside his house in Genesee, according to an affidavit obtained by Fox News Digital.

‘I’m the one who shot him,’ Leonard told a responding deputy, according to the filing. He claimed it was in self-defense after the victim came to his house, punched him in the face, knocked him down and climbed on top of him in a fight.

Leonard told police Lee had previously threatened him with ‘bats, machetes and other things,’ and said the man showed up at his house around 2:30 a.m, accusing him of sleeping with his girlfriend.

According to Leonard’s version of events, he denied the affair and Lee attacked him, threatening to slit his throat and harm Leonard’s son.

Leonard had a .38-caliber revolver in his pocket, pulled it out and fired at Lee. A few moments later, witnesses reported hearing two more gunshots.

Seeking occupants of Hyundai vehicle

The first shot struck Lee in the heart and was determined to be the fatal blow. A  second and third shot was found to have been inflicted to the man’s leg and face postmortem.

Leonard in February 2009 took a plea deal, admitting to involuntary manslaughter in exchange for a five- to 15-year sentence, according to court documents.

By May 2009, a court suspended his sentence and placed him on 15 years of probation. The terms required him to avoid drugs and alcohol, hold a steady job and obey the law, among other things.

Leonard’s current charges include domestic violence battery with traumatic injury, aggravated assault, attempted strangulation and injury to a child.

Police revealed Wednesday they were seeking the occupant or occupants of a white 2011 to 2013 Hyundai Elantra seen near the victims’ home around the time of the crime. Police are asking anyone who knows anything to come forward, even with minor details.

‘Your information, whether you believe it is significant or not, might be the piece of the puzzle that helps investigators solve these murders,’ police said in a statement.