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'He was beat until he was dead': Family calls for arrest in Billings homicide case

It's been one month since Denis Osborne was killed in an altercation with a teen, but police have yet to make an arrest. Now, his family demands answers.
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Posted at 1:28 PM, Jul 04, 2024

BILLINGS - This past Father’s Day, Nicole Bookheimer didn’t call her dad.

 “I didn’t think it was going to hit me the way that it did,” she said.

She didn’t call him because just one month ago, he was killed.

“It was just one of those days, where I was like, I can’t call him, I can’t talk to him,” she said.

As she copes with the grief of losing her father, she also can’t comprehend why the person responsible for his death is not behind bars, even though police are actively investigating the case as a homicide.

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Denis Osborne, 55, died in what Billings police called a road rage altercation with a 17-year-old boy in Billings Heights on June 4.

Bookheimer and her family say it was not a road rage incident. Instead, she says her father was ruthlessly beaten and left to die on the road.

MTN News reached out to Billings police this week for an update on the case to ask why no one has been charged. MTN News is also choosing not to identify the 17-year-old accused in the attack.

Sgt. Jeff Stovall says the case is still under investigation with the detectives’ division.

“To protect the integrity of the investigation we won’t have a statement at this time other than it’s an open investigation,” Stovall said in an email.

The lack of communication from police is another frustration for the Osborne family.

“He is out there enjoying his life every day,” said Bookheimer. "You took away a husband, you took away a father."

She says, at this point, her family is tired of patiently waiting for details and instead has decided to take back control of the narrative of what happened the night her father was killed.

“It’s just this feeling of, how this fair is this?” said Bookheimer.

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The family says at first, they assumed Osborne was struck by a car after the altercation with the teen, because of the extent of injuries to his body.

Turns out, he was brutally beaten, she said.

Osborne was found on the street on Radford Square in Billings Heights, where his elderly mother lives. Bookheimer says her dad was with her grandmother that evening watching the baseball game outside on her back deck.

The 17-year-old was coming from the same baseball game when Bookheimer says the teen came tearing through the neighborhood, going way too fast and driving erratically.

She says that’s what prompted her father to act.

“Words were said,” she said. “I am going to tell you; my dad probably called him everything under the sun because he was like, you need to slow down you can’t drive 80 in a neighborhood with young kids across the street.”

According to the family’s account from police, the teen got out of his car and struck Osborne to the ground.

But Bookheimer says it didn’t end there.

“And he hit him, and he fell over, and they continued to beat him until he was dead,” she said.

She says so severely that his body was too beaten to have a viewing at his funeral.

“This was your fist, your feet. You were stomping on his face. This was terrible and evil,” said Bookheimer.

When asked about the criminal case being locked up in a possible self-defense claim from the teen, Bookheimer says there’s no way that’s probable because of the health of her father.

Osborne’s wife, Jaymie Osborne, recalls the amount of time she spent in the hospital with her husband, helping him regain control of his legs after a stroke in May of 2023.

“If you knocked him down once, he wasn’t getting up, there was no way unless you helped him up,” said Jaymie Osborne.

She says, her husband moved delicately because, in addition to his stroke, he also had two recent hip replacements.

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Bookheimer says, knowing all of this, she just can’t comprehend why police have not arrested the teen.

"I want to have compassion and I want to have gracious space in my heart for that family," she said. “But I want that family to understand that they have turned our lives upside down."