Crime

Man found dead in Foothills was drugged, suffocated, tied to slide, prosecutor says

Mark Irwin of Boise enjoyed hanging out with friends at the many film festivals he worked at. This photo was taken at the closing night party for the Dubai International Film Festival in 2007.
Mark Irwin of Boise enjoyed hanging out with friends at the many film festivals he worked at. This photo was taken at the closing night party for the Dubai International Film Festival in 2007.

Mark Irwin was drugged, suffocated with a plastic bag, hogtied, strapped to a plastic slide and then taken to the Boise Foothills, where his body and his stolen van were recovered several weeks later, Ada County prosecutors say.

And Francis Marie March, 45, recounted similar details of the killing to other inmates in the Ada County Jail while she was jailed for reportedly pawning various items stolen from Irwin, Deputy Prosecutor Robert Bleazard said in describing the newest charge against March — first-degree murder.

Prosecutors allege March intended to destroy the body with lye and bury the remains in a hole found near Irwin’s van in the Foothills in late August. A bottle of lye and a shovel matching marks on that hole were found in the car March was riding in when she was arrested on burglary and theft charges the day before Irwin’s body was discovered, Bleazard said during March’s murder arraignment Monday.

Irwin, 61, was a film projectionist and longtime Boise resident who lived on Gage Street. Bleazard said March was a friend of Irwin’s who “even lived at or outside his house.”

“The defendant has stated to multiple witnesses that she planned to kill Irwin, steal his belongings and escape to California,” Bleazard said.

Judge Michael Oths set March’s bond at $1 million, and her next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 9. Anthony Barclay, the 19-year-old Boise man who was arrested with March in August, also faces burglary and grand theft charges in connection with items of Irwin’s that were pawned.

Investigators believe Irwin was killed around Aug. 4. During the next few weeks, Bleazard said, March and Barclay pawned numerous items of Irwin’s at various pawn shops. On Aug. 25, police were notified the pair were in a pawn shop in Garden City, attempting to pawn a rifle, Bleazard said. Officers attempted to pull the pair over after they left the pawn shop, he said, but they fled from police.

March “jumped out of the vehicle and jumped into the Boise River in an attempt to elude the police,” Bleazard said, but both she and Barclay were apprehended.

On Aug. 26, witness tips led police to Irwin’s van along Rocky Canyon Road in the Foothills. In the back of the van, “under multiple household items and garbage items,” they found a body wrapped in a tarp, Bleazard said.

“The body was hogtied, with binding around the wrists, knees and feet, and tied to a playground slide,” the prosecutor said. A plastic bag around the man’s head was taped tightly around his neck, he said.

The body was later identified as Irwin. According to Bleazard, inmates in the Ada County Jail told investigators that March said she killed Irwin, giving details including the bag over the head and the plastic playground slide. She reportedly planned to dispose of the body and told witnesses she dug a hole in the Foothills and bought some lye, Bleazard said.

Investigators also found evidence that Barclay obtained two pills used for a mood disorder that have a sedative effect. That drug was found in Irwin’s system during postmortem testing, Bleazard said.

Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447

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