Bruce Marchant, the man whom police believe murdered 18-year-old Boise State freshman Sierra Bush, lived in a rental property owned by Bush’s father, Phil Bush, in West Boise earlier this year.
While at the multi-tenant house on Maple Grove Court in February, the 61-year-old’s behavior toward his psychosocial rehabilitation worker led her to contact police. The woman alleged Marchant was sexually aggressive toward her — an account that echoes what two people who lived with Marchant in a different house told the Statesman about his behavior there.
It is one of at least three cases where Marchant was investigated for alleged or suspected criminal misconduct, but charges were dropped or never pursued.
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He was evicted from a house on Orchard Street sometime after battery charges were filed in 2014, according to two residents of the house. The charges in that case were later dropped after a negotiated deal, court records show.
It’s unclear exactly when or why Marchant left the Maple Grove Court house. Phil Bush has declined to talk the Statesman. But he did tell the New York Daily News that Marchant hadn’t lived at that house — just a half mile from where Sierra was living with her dad — for about six months before Sierra’s disappearance in late September.
(Some people knew Sierra Bush as Simon, but it appears she had no one true preference. The Statesman is using the name most consistently given to us in interviews and documents.)
Marchant was arrested in New York City on Dec. 8. He was charged with murder, rape and kidnapping in connection with Sierra Bush’s death. Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts declined Wednesday to discuss if investigators have identified a motive for the crime.
“I understand the community wants answers but those answers will come through the court proceedings in this case,” Bennetts said. “It is important that I preserve the integrity of this case and let the court process take its course to ensure Mr. Marchant receives a fair trial.”
Marchant is scheduled to appear in New York Criminal Court Jan. 5 to announce if he will challenge his extradition to Idaho. If he does so, it will trigger a formal hearing process starting with an extradition request from Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, a process prosecutors and the governor’s office are already preparing for.
In the Feb. 19 incident, the behaviorial health worker told police she was eating lunch at the Maple Grove Court house when Marchant threw her food over the couch. While she was bending down to pick it up, he began making sexually suggestive and degrading comments to her.
“[She] stated even though she repeatedly ‘warned’ him about the appropriateness and disrespectfulness of such comments, he continued to say things like ‘Are you wearing a bra’” and suggestive comments about sexual acts, says a report compiled by Boise Police Sgt. Sara Hill.
The health worker told police that Marchant then grabbed her shirt in an attempt to get a look at her breast, as he continued making inappropriate comments.
She contacted her supervisor about the incident. The supervisor advised her to report it to police.
Hill said in the police report that she spoke to someone from the agency that employs the health worker. That person told her that the health worker had only worked with Marchant for three weeks and “a different care worker had left prior because of similar things.”
Hill asked about Marchant’s mental capacity, and the woman told her Marchant could answer basic questions. She was told he did not have a phone number. Hill wrote she elected not to make contact with Marchant and requested that her report be routed to the prosecutor for review.
No charges were filed, the Boise City Prosecutor’s Office confirmed, but the reason why wasn’t immediately available Wednesday.
Marchant has a violent history. He served 20 years in Idaho prisons for a North Idaho armed robbery and assault on a police officer. He committed several earlier offenses, including arson and an armed robbery for which he was still on parole when the 1986 robbery and assault happened, court documents show.
In 2000, Marchant told a correction officer that he killed his cellmate, Joseph Edmund Chastain, according to parole board notes. Before he died, Chastain told officials that he had fallen down stairs. But Ada County sheriff’s investigators said he had suspicious bruises on his abdomen that weren’t likely caused by a fall, and an autopsy found that he died of abdominal bleeding.
Marchant told sheriff’s investigators that he and Chastain had been in a fight. The Ada County Prosecutor’s Office reviewed the case and opted not to file criminal charges.
In 1989, addressing an appeal of his sentence for the 1986 robbery, the Idaho Court of Appeals said his “behavior resulted from debilitating psychological disorders” and that he stopped using prescribed medication and resorted instead to heavy alcohol use.