RAPID CITY, S.D. – A South Dakota man has been accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend inside a hotel room on New Year’s Day and, for eight months, attempting to pass it off as suicide.
A Pennington County grand jury on Wednesday indicted Dion Bordeaux, 25, of Rapid City, on a charge of first-degree murder in the killing of 22-year-old Jeanette Jumping Eagle.
Jumping Eagle was slain about a month after she and her five siblings lost their mother. She was herself the mother of three young sons, ages 5 years to 4 months.
Her obituary described her as strong and independent from a young age.
“Jeanette provided everything for her children,” the obituary said. “She worked very hard to provide a good life for them.”
Rapid City police officials said officers were called around 3:50 a.m. on Jan. 1 to a Microtel Inn & Suites, where they found Jumping Eagle dead of a gunshot wound to the head. Two men, including Bordeaux, had been in the hotel room with the victim at the time of the shooting but were gone when police arrived.
Investigators found a handgun, alcohol and cocaine inside the room, which was registered in Jumping Eagle’s name, the Rapid City Journal reported in January.
Bordeaux, who had begun dating the victim shortly before her death, was tracked down and taken into custody on an existing warrant for aggravated assault, authorities said. South Dakota Department of Corrections records show Bordeaux was sentenced Aug. 3 to 10 years in prison on that charge, with all but three years of the sentence suspended.
He has been serving his sentence at the Rapid City Community Work Center, the records show.
Police initially believed that Jumping Eagle may have shot herself, but her family told the Journal that they knew the young mother would not leave her children behind.
“I knew my sister would not do that to herself. She loved life; she loved her babies,” her sister, Paulina Ghost, told the Journal.
Investigators suspected Bordeaux but initially did not have the evidence to prove it, Ghost said.
That has changed, according to authorities.
“During the course of the investigation, police recovered evidence to suggest the shooting scene had been staged to appear as a suicide,” a news release from the Rapid City Police Department said. “By exploring multiple forensic avenues, it was determined that Dion Bordeaux was responsible for the shooting.”
Police spokesman Brendyn Medina told the Journal he could not elaborate on how the scene was staged. Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo also declined to discuss the evidence.
Ghost said her sister had begun dating Bordeaux after breaking up with Brent Waters, her longtime boyfriend who she had been with since the age of 14. Waters is the father of Jumping Eagle’s children.
Jumping Eagle had texted Waters and other friends and family indicating she was thinking about getting back together with Waters. Ghost told the Journal she believes Bordeaux killed her sister after finding those texts.
“I honestly think that he just became so jealous because there were text messages that she was telling Brent that she was missing him,” Ghost said. “He killed her because he couldn’t stand losing her.”
Another sister, Ashley Bagola, told the newspaper that Jumping Eagle had also confided in friends that Bordeaux had been physically abusive.
“She was trying to leave him before, and he got really abusive with her,” Bagola said.
Ghost said she was overwhelmed with emotions following Bordeaux’s arrest.
“I feel like justice is finally being served for my sister,” Ghost said. “At least now her soul can rest at peace.”
“It’s not going to bring her back, but he’s going to prison for a long time,” she said.
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