Crime

Boise police seek public help in decades-old murder case

Oney Leiby, 62, of Boise, was killed in 1977 by an unknown suspect
Oney Leiby, 62, of Boise, was killed in 1977 by an unknown suspect

Todd Leiby wonders what would have happened if he had gone with his grandfather to work, as he sometimes did, the day Oney Leiby was killed almost 40 years ago.

“He stopped by my house that day and asked if I could come but I couldn’t,” Todd Leiby said. “Maybe things would have been different.”

Todd Leiby, a gun inspector at Cabela’s, was 14 when his grandfather died April 20, 1977. Oney Leiby was beaten to death while working his shift as a night watchman at Thriftway Lumber in Boise, according to an Idaho Statesman story printed two days later.

Todd Leiby said his grandfather taught him to hunt and fish and gave him his first gun at 12.

“We were very close,” Todd Leiby said. “He was like my best friend.”

Oney Leiby’s suspected killer has never been identified, according to a Boise Police Department release. The department hopes to change that and is seeking help from the public.

“This case is almost 40 years old, and we were thinking more people might come into the light,” said Det. Monte Iverson, who’s working on the case.

If you have information about this case: Call Crime Stoppers: 208-343-COPS(2677) Leave a tip on the Crime Stoppers website at 343COPS.com Use the free Crime Stoppers app in Google Play or iTunes, by searching “P3 tips”

Oney Leiby left behind a wife and two adult sons. Todd Leiby, now 54, is working with a Boise police detective to find new leads on the 39-year-old cold case.

“Our family wants closure and justice,” he said.

After his grandfather’s death, Leiby moved in with his grandmother, Eleanor, who he said was scared someone would come for her. He stayed with her throughout high school.

He approached BPD in the fall of 2015, and now the murder investigation unit has an opportunity to focus on this cold case, Iverson said.

“We have a window right now — knock on wood — to at least get this out to the public and (get) leads from Crime Stoppers that we can then follow up on,” Iverson said.

The police department is not releasing many details on the case itself because it’s an open investigation. Leiby was found at 3 a.m. by his relief security man, Charles Etlinger, wrote the Idaho Statesman shortly after the crime was reported. Police had no idea how many people were involved or what the motive might have been.

After an autopsy, deputy coroner Michael Johnson said the cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Anyone who knows about the killing, or who has “struggled with their own silence for the past four decades,” is asked to come forward with information, according to the police news release.

You can reach out to Crime Stoppers with an anonymous tip by calling 208-343-COPS or by using their website: 343COPS.com.

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