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‘If it was me’ ... Owyhee County murder suspect appears to discuss crime on Facebook

A Facebook post tied to Nicholas B. Vandenberg, who was arrested Thursday on a charge of first-degree murder, is “one of many leads” in the investigation into an Owyhee County killing, Prosecutor Douglas Emery said Friday.

Hunters found a man’s body in Owyhee County on Oct. 21, and the man apparently died from a gunshot wound, police said.

Vandenberg, 27, of Melba, is also being charged with use of a firearm while committing a felony and destruction or concealment of evidence, Emery said.

Based on a missing-persons report and the investigation to this point, Emery said they are “operating on probability” that the victim is 18-year-old Hunter Smith, of Junction City, Ore. The identity of the remains has not been officially confirmed.

Vandenberg, Nicholas
Nicholas Vandenberg

Vandenberg was initially held in the Elmore County Jail but is now in Owyhee County, where he will be arraigned in magistrate court Monday, Emery said.

In an Oct. 23 post on what apparently is Vandenberg’s Facebook page, a reference is made to the discovery of the body. “This is close to where I live,” the post reads. The conversation continued in the comments section.

image1
Captured on Facebook

“Being the bruneau desert [sic] area (very open and vast) with 2 state highways running through it, the body could have come from anywhere at any time unfortunately,” it said.

The author also described what he would have done with the body.

image2
Captured on Facebook

“If it was me, [I wouldn’t] have left him in the desert ... too much risk of ‘hunters stumbling on dead body,’ ” he wrote.

Emery said he could not confirm whether the Facebook post was indeed written by Vandenberg.

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz

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