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Police have arrested a man who they say shot his estranged wife to death in a Belgrade home over the weekend.

Joseph Paul DeWise, 47, is charged with one count of deliberate homicide for the shooting death of his estranged wife, 35-year-old Lauren Walder DeWise.

An arrest warrant was issued Thursday afternoon. Paul was arrested without incident during a traffic stop near the intersection of 19th Avenue and College Street. He was booked in the Gallatin County jail by the Belgrade Police Department shortly before 4 p.m., Thursday and is being held on $1 million bail.

Police say that the investigation is still active and more charges are likely.

According to charging documents, filed by Gallatin County Chief Deputy Attorney Eric Kitzmiller:

On Sunday at 9 a.m., a woman reported that her roommates at 1306 Idaho St., in Belgrade had been shot.

The woman said she had returned home Sunday morning and noticed the rear entrance of her home had been damaged and that there were large footprints in the snow outside the door.

The woman said she immediately suspected Paul had done something to Lauren. She went upstairs to check and found Lauren dead and 32-year-old Ashley Van Hemert injured and asking for help.

Van Hemert, who was found barricaded behind her bedroom door, was unable to tell a responding officer what happened to her or who hurt her. She was transported to the hospital.

Lauren was shot three times, while Van Hemert had multiple gunshot wounds to her head and shoulder. There were spent .22-caliber shell casings in the home. And a bullet was found in the siding of neighboring house to the north.

The roommate told investigators that Lauren had recently ended an abusive relationship with Paul. In November, Lauren moved in with the woman, saying she had asked for a divorce from Paul.

The morning after Lauren moved in, the woman said Paul texted Lauren more than 30 times, the roommate said. He was told he wasn’t allowed at the Idaho Street home.

Paul also messaged the roommate on Facebook Messenger, accusing her of being a bad influence on Lauren and pleading with her to stay away from Lauren.

Earlier this month, Lauren reportedly went to their 4-year-old child’s birthday party at Paul’s house and things were “really tense,” the roommate told investigators. Paul reportedly repeatedly asked Lauren when she was going to move back in but Lauren declined.

Investigators spoke with numerous people who knew Lauren and they reported that she had said Paul was physically abusing her.

One of Lauren’s coworkers reported that Paul had told Lauren that if she ever left him, he would kill her. Lauren also suspected that Paul was tracking her through her cellphone, the coworker said.

Others told investigators they had seen bruising on Lauren on multiple occasions.

On Sunday, law enforcement detained Paul after a traffic stop near his home on Silver Maple Drive in Bozeman.

Paul said “weird stuff” had been happening to him since he moved to Bozeman, saying he had three instances where he had to use a weapon in self-defense or was accused of brandishing a weapon. One of those incidents involved an altercation where he stabbed his alleged attacker with a knife, and another involved brandishing a firearm during a road-rage incident.

Paul asked investigators why he was being interviewed and he was advised that someone broke into Lauren’s home and killed her. Investigators say he then started rubbing his hands on his thighs and reported he was having a panic attack.

Paul quickly regained his composure and then told investigators that he had spent Saturday watching TV with his kids — ages 17, 15 and 4 — until about midnight.

At midnight, he said he and his oldest son went to a nearby gas station to buy a six-pack of beer. He said they then went back home and he drank three of the beers before the three kids went to bed at about 2 a.m.

The next morning, Paul said he took his kids to church and that he was returning home when he was stopped by law enforcement.

Confronted several times about his involvement in Lauren’s death, Paul repeatedly said he was not involved in any way.

Paul said he had sent Lauren several text messages throughout the day Saturday, and that she had responded to some.

Paul described a tumultuous relationship between the two, saying it had deteriorated over the summer. He said he lost his temper with her in the past and was mean to her, but said he had never physically injured her. Although, he did tell investigators she had gotten physical with him in the past.

Following the interview, Paul was released from police custody.

In a search of his cellphone, which Paul consented to, investigators found numerous text messages sent to Lauren on Saturday evening in which he tried getting her to go to church with him the next morning.

Location services on Paul’s phone were turned off between Dec. 28 and Jan. 7. They were turned back on at about 9:15 a.m. Sunday.

Lauren responded once at about 11 p.m., saying she was not interested. There were messages between the two around 1 a.m., when Paul sent two messages begging her to see him. She did not respond.

At about 3 a.m., Paul sent a message saying he couldn’t sleep and that he was thinking about her. That message was sent about an hour after he had told investigators he went to sleep.

In the backyard of the home, investigators found footprints that were consistent with footprints found at Paul’s Bozeman home. The prints were also similar to a pair of boots at Wal-Mart, where Paul’s coworker told investigators he had taken Paul to buy work boots recently.

At Paul’s home, investigators also found .22-caliber ammunition that was consistent to the shell casings found at the shooting scene.

Investigators also interviewed Paul’s three children.

The older children gave a similar account to Paul’s, saying they had been with their dad Saturday night into early Sunday morning. They said they spent the night watching movies at Paul’s home, and that one of them went with Paul to a gas station to get Paul beer. They returned home and continued to watch TV until about 2 a.m.

Van Hemert underwent surgery Tuesday, according to her family. She remains in critical condition in an out-of-town hospital.

The investigation into the case has been led by the Belgrade Police Department with assistance from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman and Montana State University police department as well as federal agencies.

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Whitney Bermes can be reached at or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.

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