Murder in the Heartland is investigating the gruesome murders of Jody Fortuna and Phillip Brewer. They were shot dead and hacked to pieces by their childhood friend, Michael Montano, in Gillette, Wyoming.
In late August 2016, 37-year-old Fortuna and 33-year-old Brewer traveled to see Montano, apparently unaware that their former friend no longer considered them to be his buddies. The police later concluded that they had fallen out over money and drugs.
After a few days, the Fortuna and Brewer families reported that they had gone missing. The police began making inquiries and were approached by a witness who said they’d seen Brewer’s body lying in Montano’s pickup truck.
A sheriff’s deputy found the pickup truck at a Gillette intersection and was met with a foul-smelling stench. On investigation, they located a 55-gallon barrel and two plastic totes that contained dismembered body parts and documents belonging to Fortuna and Brewer.
Samson Bears, a friend of Montano’s, admitted that the killer had borrowed the barrel from him, stating, “I gotta get rid of some bodies.” Samson claimed that Montano admitted to shooting Brewer and Fortuna and claimed that one of them had “begged like a b***h.”
The police conducted a search of Montano’s trailer and a storage unit; they found more body parts in the latter location.
Michael Montano finally confessed to being the killer
At first, Montano denied killing his former friends, but at one point in the interview, he suddenly said, “f*** it, I did it. I killed em.” He later changed tact, claiming that he didn’t remember pulling the trigger.Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel
The killer said he had been taking drugs when he ran into his old friends and that they’d gone back to his trailer. He claimed he was later awoken by his girlfriend, Kylee Collins, who found the bodies in the bathtub. Montano had cut up the bodies and was still debating where to bury the remains when the police made their grisly discovery.
In 2018, Montano pleaded guilty to the two murders, and the prosecutors recommended he be sentenced to 51.5 years behind bars. Campbell County District Judge Michael Deegan decided that that sentence was too lenient, so he sentenced the killer to 125 years behind bars.
Montano’s girlfriend, Collins, pleaded guilty to not telling police officers what had happed to the bodies.
More from Murder in the Heartland
Follow the links to read about more murders committed in America’s heartland.
Kevin Holtzer murdered 18-year old freshman Kalee Bruce in the most shocking way imaginable at a condo in Traverse City, Michigan. He then tried to flee across the country, but the FBI picked him up in Chicago.
Thomas Blake had openly spoken and written his journal about having a thirst for killing people, so it’s perhaps no surprise that he brutally strangled his girlfriend, Christina Ross, to death.
Murder in the Heartland airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.