MOSCOW, Idaho -- Among the cache of weapons and medications found in the University Inn-Best Western hotel room where Ernesto Bustamante took his own life early Tuesday morning, law enforcement also found a copy of a June sexual harassment complaint filed by his former student, lover and murder victim Katie Benoit.
After nearly a week of speculation following the Monday shooting death of the University of Idaho graduate student, the UI and Moscow Police confirmed Friday that Benoit had taken a course with the former assistant professor of psychology and communication studies. It was from that class that sexual relationship blossomed and later deteriorated following several incidents where Bustamante threatened the 22-year-old with a gun.
Benoit first met Bustamante in fall 2010 while enrolled in his Psychology 218 course at the UI. By the end of the semester, they had entered into a sexual relationship, according to a Friday news release from the city of Moscow.
The release states their relationship ended in May, not March as police reported earlier. Bustamante had threatened Benoit on three occasions prior to the end, according to a sexual harassment complaint the graduate student filed with the UI on June 12.
The first incident occurred in late January, the second after spring break and the third in the second week of May, the release states. Benoit's complaint to the UI states Bustamante threatened her with violence and "held a gun to her head and detailed the manner in which he would use it."
University officials have yet to confirm if he resigned or was terminated effective Aug. 19 following Benoit's June sexual harassment complaint.
University of Idaho president Duane Nellis announced at a press conference in the UI Commons on Friday the university's legal counsel will seek a ruling in Latah County 2nd District Court for the release of Bustamante's personnel information.
"I am committed to full disclosure," he said. "However, I am also constrained by the law."
In his release, Nellis also states he understands through contact with Benoit's family their "desire to have a full accounting of the circumstances that led to Katy's death."
To ensure safety for students in the future, Nellis also announced the UI would be commissioning an independent council to review the university's relevant policies and procedures, saying he didn't have a reason to think they weren't solid, but he wanted to be certain.
Nellis took questions from only two members of the press Friday, saying he felt his live statement and news release were adequate. UI spokeswoman Tania Thompson told the Daily News after the conference Nellis' time was limited Friday and details regarding how the UI will select members for its independent review council have not yet been decided.
Earlier Friday the university released a timeline of some of its actions following Benoit's initial complaint against Bustamante -- details Nellis said were withheld prior to an opinion by the U.S. Department of Education that determined it wouldn't violate Benoit's privacy rights.
The UI was contacted by Benoit on June 10, according to the university's news release, and she was urged to contact Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse and Moscow Police Lt. David Lehmitz to address her safety concerns. Lehmitz said Benoit contacted him for advice regarding safety principles and he told her to keep her windows and doors locked, exterior lights on, cellphone charged and to get to a public location and call 911 in the process if she ever thought she was being followed.
"That is my basic safety talk," he said.
On June 12, the UI received a written complaint from Benoit, and the following day she confirmed with the UI she had made contact with the police. On June 14, she requested the university not serve her complaint to Bustamante before further discussion. Her complaint was sent to Bustamante on July 6, and two days later he filed his own complaint against Benoit accusing her of making unfounded accusations and defamation of character.
The MPD was asked by the UI on July 14 to assist in conducting a threat assessment concerning Bustamante based on Benoit's allegations, which Lehmitz said did not include contact with either party.
"There's not a whole lot of names," he said. "The university has to be very careful when bringing us in because we are not employed with the university, and it is a university matter."
Following the assessment, however, Benoit could not be contacted by police, and the UI informed the MPD that Benoit did not want law enforcement involved, according to the release.
"We discontinued trying to contact her," Lehmitz said.
On July 19, the day university investigators planned to interview Bustamante, the UI requested a welfare check for Benoit when it was unable to contact her, according to the city release, but canceled its request when she was later reached by phone.
Benoit was contacted by the UI on Monday to inform her that Bustamante's employment with the UI had ceased as of Aug. 19, and she was "cautioned to remain vigilant and get assistance from police and others if she had any safety concerns."
According to a police affidavit filed Tuesday, a teaching assistant and "close friend" confirmed Bustamante had been afflicted with multiple personality disorder, two of which he called a "psychopathic killer" and "the beast."
Monday morning Bustamante rented a black 2010 Chrysler Sebring from Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Pullman -- leaving his green Ford Mustang in the Zeppoz parking lot on the other side of the city. About 8:40 p.m., he drove to her house at 112 Lilly St. According to an autopsy report and court documents, he shot her 11 times in the throat and upper chest with a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun while she was smoking a cigarette on the front porch.
An Idaho State Police trooper found the rental car in the University Inn-Best Western parking lot around 1:10 a.m., and a dispatcher confirmed Bustamante had checked into the hotel around 10 p.m.
Attempts by law enforcement to negotiate Bustamante out of his hotel room were unsuccessful, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by Moscow Police Sgt. Bruce Fager.
Latah County Sheriff's Lt. Brannon Jordan said shots fired tear gas were fired through the second-story window of Bustamante's hotel room beginning around 5:50 a.m. When the Latah County Sheriff's entry team entered the hotel room around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, Bustamante was found lifeless on the bed from a self-inflicted .44-caliber gun shot to the head from one of six weapons found in the room.
Found in motel room:
Medications: Clonazepam, an anticonvulsant for epilepsy and sedative for sleep disorders; Lexapro, an antianxiety medication also used for adults with major depressive disorder; Lamotrigine, which is used to treat epilepsy, bipolar disorder and depression; Alprazolam, which is used for severe anxiety disorders.
Weapons: A Smith and Wesson M&P .45-caliber handgun (believed to be the murder weapon); a Smith and Wesson .44-caliber revolver (believed to be the suicide weapon); a .45-caliber Springfield Armory handgun; a .380-caliber Ruger LCP handgun; a Glock 9 mm handgun and a .45-caliber Taurus Judge handgun. Additional ammunition for the weapons was also discovered, the release states.
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