- Associated Press - Friday, June 20, 2014

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Well-known landscape, outdoors and wildlife photographer Michael S. Sample was stabbed to death near his office in downtown Billings. Police have a suspect in custody.

Lt. Jeremy House says Sample, 66, was stabbed about 1:30 p.m. Thursday and died a short time later at the hospital.

Yellowstone County Coroner Chad Fehr identified the victim on Friday and said an autopsy was planned on Monday.

Officers took 23-year-old Zachariah James Wiseman into custody shortly after the stabbing. He was being held on suspicion of deliberate homicide. County Attorney Scott Twito said Wiseman likely will make his first court appearance next week.

Sample’s images of Montana have appeared in calendars and in books, including “Montana: The Last Best Place” published in 1992 and in “Montana on My Mind,” a collaboration with Billings Gazette photographer Larry Mayer that was published in 1987.

He also was vice president of the Sample Foundation Inc., a family foundation with offices located in the same building as Sample’s photography business.

Sample’s father, Joseph S. Sample, a philanthropist and chairman of the foundation, told The Billings Gazette (https://bit.ly/UoAW7h ) on Friday that he and Michael had gone out for lunch together Thursday and had returned to their offices. Sample said he went to the foundation’s office on the second floor.

“I heard yelling down below and didn’t pay much attention,” he said, because the area gets so many drunks and panhandlers.

When things got quiet, Sample said he went downstairs and called to his son. There was no answer.

“By that time, the police had arrived,” Sample said.

Joseph Sample said doctors told the family the stab wound hadn’t affected any organs and that his son’s vital signs were fine. Twenty minutes later, his heart stopped, Joseph Sample said.


Information from: The Billings Gazette, https://www.billingsgazette.com

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