Alex Hurley

James Alex Hurley

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West Yellowstone residents will hold a candlelight vigil on Sunday for a boy who was allegedly tortured and beat to death by his grandparents and a 14-year-old uncle.

James Alex Hurley, who went by Alex, was found dead in his home on Buffalo Drive near Hebgen Lake on Feb. 3. Police said in charging documents that videos found on cellphones showed his family tortured and beat him in the months leading up to his death.

Organizers wrote in a Facebook post that the vigil will start at 5 p.m. at the West Yellowstone City Park. Attendees are being asked to bring their own candles and wear blue ribbons for child abuse awareness. People will be given an opportunity to talk at the event, but organizers asked that comments be respectful and about Alex.

“This is about celebrating Alex and showing him he was loved by so many,” the organizer wrote in the post.

Donations made to Community Health Partners will also be accepted by the organizer or can be dropped off at the Community Health Partners office in West Yellowstone. That money will be used for mental health services in West Yellowstone.

Grandparents James Sasser Jr, 47, and Patricia Batts, 48, and 14-year-old uncle James Sasser III are each charged with felony deliberate homicide in connection to the boy’s death. Gage Roush, 18, is also charged with felony assault on a minor after prosecutors said they saw him on video beating the boy with a wooden paddle.

Bail was set at $500,000 for Sasser Jr and Sasser III, and $750,000 for Batts. Roush’s bail was set at $50,000.

Earlier this month, deputies found suspicious circumstances surrounding Alex’s death and began investigating, according to charging documents. A doctor who performed Alex’s autopsy initially said the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the back of the head.

After an investigation, deputies found videos of family members and Roush torturing Alex at the family’s home, court documents say.

The family told detectives that Hurley heard voices in his head that told him to kill people, but prosecutors have said they later admitted exaggerating Hurley’s mental health issues.

Detectives were unable to find any record of the family reporting Hurley’s behavior to law enforcement or any attempts to get Hurley medical or psychiatric help.

Hurley was taken out of school in West Yellowstone in September 2019. Police said Hurley did not have contact with people outside the family for several months.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at or at 406-582-2630.

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