Two former housemates of Bruce Allen Marchant, who is accused of kidnapping, raping and killing a Boise teenager, say he had a “nasty disposition” and physically assaulted both of them in separate incidents at an Orchard Street house several years ago.
“If he doesn’t get his way, he will get violent,” said one of two women whom Marchant was accused of hitting in an October 2014 misdemeanor battery case that was later dismissed. Court records state Marchant “did intentionally and unlawfully touch or strike” the women, but prosecutors later dropped those charges “pursuant to (a) negotiated deal.”
One of those women told the Statesman that Marchant had been groping her, and when she said “no” and walked away, he punched her two times in the back. A male roommate also recalled run-ins with Marchant.
Taryl Hall said Marchant — a large man who often lifted weights at home — once slammed him against a wall.
“There was no provocation whatsoever,” Hall said. Both former housemates said Marchant frequently talked about sexual things and was rude to women. They said he was evicted from the Orchard Street house some time after the 2014 battery case, but the property owner could not be reached Friday to confirm that.
The 61-year-old faces felony charges of murder, rape and kidnapping in the death of Sierra Bush, an 18-year-old from Boise who went missing in late September. Bush was known to some as Simon.
Marchant was arrested on the Idaho charges in New York City on Thursday and is scheduled to appear for an extradition hearing Jan. 5 in New York Criminal Court. It’s unclear how quickly he would be returned to Idaho if a judge grants the extradition request in January: New York court officials said Marchant’s return could be immediate or may require additional steps if he decides to fight the extradition. In the latter case, said Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts, Idaho officials would issue a governor’s warrant and work with New York officials and the Idaho attorney general to bring Marchant to Idaho.
According to New York court officials, Marchant — currently in jail at Rikers Island — has not yet waived his right to an extradition hearing.
“If he waives extradition, it’s a much faster process,” Bennetts said. “I don’t know (if he’s likely to). It’s his right to exercise whether he would waive or not waive that.”
New York court officials said Marchant will be held in jail until the January appearance. His records do not indicate a bail option, and bail is generally not available in this type of case.
According to Boise and New York City police, Marchant was arrested Thursday afternoon in Manhattan at an address that corresponds to a Veterans Affairs hospital.
In court documents after his 2014 battery arrest in Ada County, Marchant said he is a disabled, retired Navy sailor. The Statesman has not yet been able to confirm his military service, nor why he happened to be in the New York hospital this week.
Marchant has a long criminal history, including 20 years spent in Idaho and federal prisons for an armed robbery and assault on a police officer in North Idaho and for other, unspecified, federal charges.
He was released from prison in 2008. At one point in recent years, he rented part of a house in a cul-de-sac along Maple Grove Road from Bush’s father, Phil Bush. Neighbors there remember him as quiet and kind to their children.
“He definitely wasn’t all there,” said neighbor Justin Griggs. “I don’t know if it was from mental illness or drugs.”
Griggs recalled seeing Sierra Bush at the house before.
Reached by phone Friday, Phil Bush declined comment to the Statesman. But he told the New York Daily News on Friday that he believed Marchant was in a downward spiral caused by untreated mental illness. Bush called Marchant “horrific” and said Marchant had not lived in the home off Maple Grove for the six months before Sierra’s disappearance.
“As time went by he just kind of changed,” Phil Bush told the paper. “He got more and more cynical.”
NYPD cited Marchant’s most recent address as a home on North Allumbaugh Street. Two men at the home Friday said he no longer lives there.
Boise police have given few details on Marchant’s arrest and the investigation leading up to his identification as a suspect. A warrant was issued for his arrest Tuesday, and Boise police said they learned Wednesday that Marchant was at the New York hospital, prompting them to fly BPD detectives to the city to help New York police arrest him.
Ada County deputy prosecutor Brian Naugle, who is handling the case, told the New York Daily News law enforcement “had been keeping an eye on” Marchant. “They were following his whereabouts throughout the investigation,” Naugle told the paper.
An NYPD official familiar with the case said the detectives who helped arrest Marchant are part of a citywide task force, though he declined to elaborate on the focus of that task force. It is unclear how long Marchant had been in New York before his arrest.
A number of agencies were involved in the investigation, including the FBI. BPD credited the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office as helping, but its role remains unclear; dispatchers there declined comment Thursday evening and Friday morning. The Ada County Prosecutor’s Office also declined to comment on the agencies involved.
Audrey Dutton contributed.