This morning August 19, 2020 just before 10:00 am Leon Michael Ford was arrested for the murder of Mike.
John Michael Crites was born in Weisbaden, Germany, on July 29, 1962, to Else Marie and Billy Joe Crites. Raised as an Air Force Brat, Mike and family settled in Aurora, Colorado in the mid 70’s.
Mike Crites moved from Aurora, Colorado to Helena, MT in 1992. Mike was taught by my Father to love the outdoors, respect nature and wildlife and to hone his hunting skills. After falling in love with Montana during several hunting trips, he worked hard, saved his money, and fulfilled his dream of purchasing his perfect piece of paradise outside of Helena. This beautiful piece of land would have been paradise, had people just obeyed no trespassing signs, and respected the land, as he did. Unfortunately, after a very long battle with trespassers, criminals, the county, and a few crazy people, Mike was murdered in paradise. A bit about Mike:
Mike had one of those personalities that did not allow him to bow down to people when they were wrong, simply for the sake of getting along. He could be a “crusty mountain man”, as one of his friends described him. He was more intelligent than most people, which sometimes made him seem arrogant, intolerant, and stubborn. Those things are true. However, he cared deeply about many things, including his family, his friends, nature, wildlife, and just doing things the right way. For example, he would never derive satisfaction from getting one of his many trophy animals illegally –that would not be a challenge because it would be cheating. He respected other people’s rights to privacy, tried to obey their no trespassing signs, and expected that same respect. Although many people thought him a loner, he spent many hours on the phone, with friends in several states. Mike was brutally and blatantly honest. He was simply too self righteous to lie. His unfailing need to tell the truth, no matter the cost, is the reason that we who knew him can firmly stand on everything he told us while he was alive. He did not fabricate nor embellish to make himself look better, nor make others look worse; he simply told it like it was.
That was Mike Crites, as a person. Mike Crites was also my little brother. He was 13 months younger than me, and we shared the basement growing up. His room was right next to mine. His was 70’s lime green and mine 70’s yellow. We spent many years listening to new music that he had discovered and played on his state of the art stereo system, going dancing together (he was my favorite dance partner) discussing why guys were such jerks and girls were so dumb. He would take me out on his boat and I would tan while he fished, just spending time together. He absolutely could be a jerk at times, as all brothers can, but we had a special bond.
In 2006, I became deeply involved in Mike’s Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks nightmare, and watched his personality change. He was literally wronged at every turn, and he became bitter. Then, in 2008, someone moved down the hill from him and decided that Mike’s land was his to play on. Add this trespassing and harassment on top of years spent fighting false hunting violations, and I grew to understand why the man who was murdered last year was not quite the same one that I grew up with.
There is much that happened prior to the day that Mike Crites went missing, but the chronology section of this site simply has events, from my perspective, from the day my Mother was told that my brother was missing, until August 2011. I have many questions and could pontificate on many of the things mentioned in this chronology, but will expand on those things separately, in the interest of keeping this as concise as possible.
Connie L Crites