04-26-2016, 11:37 PM #1
MT - Jeannette 'Charlie' Atwater, 34, Billings, 16 Jan 2000
Jeannette "Charlie" Atwater was killed on January 16, 2000 in Billings, Montana. She was a 34 year-old divorced mother of 3 children.
Case Summary from the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office Cold Case Unit profile:
"Shortly after 3:30am on the morning of January 16, 2000, firefighters were called to the scene of a car fire near a pull-off area on Bench Blvd. in Billings Heights. When firefighters opened the trunk of the burning car they discovered a body, later identified as Jeannette Atwater. The previous evening, this attractive young Billings woman, and the mother of three small children had attended an office party with several co-workers from the NAPA store where she worked. The major clue in this case is video from the Cenex Convenience Store located near the crime scene. The store's video monitoring system recorded a male, approximately 5'8" in height, wearing dark coat and pants. The suspect got into an older model compact car... possibly brown in color with an orange stripe on the side. Drawings of the suspect and vehicle were made and circulated. To-date, no arrests have been made."
Photo of Atwater, source: YCSO
Atwater often went by her nickname, "Charlie".
Events of that night:
Atwater attended an office party, after that she went to a bar & met up with former colleagues. She then left that bar and joined some of her current co-workers (from the office party) at the Player's Club bar which was then located on 231 Main Street in Billings. The bar is no longer there, has been replaced by a Country Inn.
Just before 2 a.m. the bar announced closing time. Police have found no witnesses nor any conclusive security footage from the bar showing how Atwater left. According to the co-workers, she did not leave with the group. By 2:15 a.m. the bar's parking lot was empty. "Bar employees monitored the parking lot... and no one recalls any kind of disturbance or problem."
There is a period of time in which no one knows what happened to Atwater. How she left the bar, as well as her whereabouts between the last time she was seen and when her car was found engulfed in flames remains unknown.
The Unidentified Man:
Security footage from the Cenex Station time stamped 3:09 a.m. showed an unidentified man. According to the store clerk, the man bought $1's worth of gas (paid in coins) and took a packet of matches with him. Both a gas container AND similar matches as the ones given out by Cenex were found near Atwater's burning car.
Below are security camera images from the Cenex store of the unidentified man plus a composite of the vehicle he may have been driving:
The store clerk could not give a good description of the man, but said he smelled strongly of aftershave or cologne. He has been described as either 5'8" or 5'10" white man with brown hair wearing pants and jacket warm-up or jogging suit. He also had slight acne scaring on his face. The clerk described the vehicle that he was driving as, "possibly an 80's vintage model... a small, brown hatchback with an orange stripe."
At 3:30 a.m. a couple driving on Bench Boulevard saw the car in flames in the pull-off graveled area & called police/fire dept.
From the Dec 27, 2009 Billings Gazette article:
Police have not disclosed whether Atwater was sexually assaulted nor what toxicology says about her blood-alcohol level. They also have not discussed "how or where they believe Atwater was placed in the trunk."
Police did say say that she "died of smoke inhalation, so she was most likely alive when she was put in the trunk. An autopsy showed no other obvious signs of fatal injury, such as bullet wounds or head trauma... she did not appear to have been gagged or bound."
There is a possibility that this may have been a random crime b/c police have described finding no motives or reasons why Atwater may have been targeted. She was described as well-liked, with no addictions & no financial problems.
There was a monster truck show and a semi-professional basketball game in Billings that night, police have wondered if the unidentified man was passing through & attended one of those events.
The 3 locations (Player's Club bar, Cenex station & where her car was found) were all close to MetraPark, a multi-purpose arena.
Please read this article which is very detailed on the case:
There's also a 24-minute youtube video on the case made with YCSO Cold Case Unit with interviews with investigators:
Last edited by Dark Sleuth; 04-27-2016 at 12:33 AM.
05-08-2016, 08:14 PM #2
05-10-2016, 09:41 PM #3
Wow. I have to read the articles but a couple of things popped into my head right away.
He probably wasn't at the party with her. His clothes are pretty casual, almost like something you'd travel in for comfort so it would make sense that the unidentified man was just passing through.
Whose car was Jeannette found in? Hers? It wasn't this man's since he was seen leaving in a different car.
I think it would be a fantastically unfortunate coincidence if this man isn't her killer considering his purchases.
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Everything I write here is just my opinion.
In 2001 Sarah Kinslow vanished after being dropped off at school. Thirteen years have passed...where is she?
05-10-2016, 11:55 PM #4
Jeannette was found in her own car.
I also think that there's a lot of info on the crime that police haven't disclosed. The Doe Network says, "Other evidence found at the scene indicates this man may have some knowledge of the crime." But this has never been publicly released.
Such a sad & terrible case.
12-27-2016, 02:12 PM #5
Bumping for Jeannette "Charlie" Atwater
Will be the 17th year anniversary soon of her unsolved death. Still no answers.
01-09-2017, 03:06 AM #6
bumping for Jeannette Atwater
17th year anniversary coming up
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