Barry Beach’s Actions on the Day of the Murder
Not one person in the twenty-five plus years since the murder, including the over 200 persons Centurion Ministries has interviewed, has ever come forward to say they saw Barry Beach at any time during the evening of Kim Nees’ murder out and about in Poplar.
On the afternoon prior to Kim Nees’ murder, Barry Beach accompanied his then close friend, Caleb Gorneau and Gorneau’s girlfriend, Shannon O’Brien, to the swimming hole known as Sandy Beach, which is on the Poplar River just a mile or two northeast of town.
While there were conflicting accounts of how long they remained there, as they were departing, Beach got the wheels of his car stuck in the sand and destroyed the transmission in his attempts to free the vehicle. When he was unable to dislodge the vehicle, Barry left Caleb Gorneau and Shannon O’Brien with his car and set out to walk to town.
Barry maintained that he walked to the Tastee Freeze on the West side of Poplar, and then received a ride in a pickup by friends Larry Rowe and Dorrance Steele the rest of the way to his home. These are the last two people who saw Barry out that night.
Barry stated that no one was home when he arrived and that after eating a snack, he went upstairs, flopped onto his bed and quickly fell asleep. Barry claimed he didn’t wake until dawn and he didn’t learn about Kim Nees’ murder until late that morning when his sister, Barbara Beach, delivered the news to him at their grandparents’ ranch, about 15 miles southeast of Poplar where Barry had gone to help with the branding.
Within a few hours of the discovery of Kim Nees’ body, Deputy Sheriff Errol “Red” Wilson was knocking on the doors on the west side of town looking for witnesses who might have observed anything suspicious the previous night. One of the residents he spoke with was Barry Beach’s mother, Bobbie Clincher. Bobbie had been to Williston, ND the day before and returned home late in the evening. Upon returning home, Bobbie did not see Barry’s car as it was still stuck at Sandy Beach, and concluded that Barry was still out. Bobbie told the deputy of what she thought were Barry’s whereabouts the previous night. Bobbie said she also informed Wilson that Barry was still sleeping when she looked into his bedroom early that morning and that her son hadn’t even taken off the shorts and shirt he had been wearing the previous day.
The morning after the murder, Barry Beach went to his grandparents’ ranch outside of Brockton, Montana and helped out with the calf branding. Two weeks after Kim Nees’ murder, Barry Beach left the state on a long-planned trip to spend the summer with his father in Monroe, Louisiana. While police logically might have been curious about the timing of Beach’s departure, the investigators hadn’t bothered to talk with him before he left, nor did they attempt to contact him after he left the state.
After returning to Poplar in the fall of 1979, Barry Beach was picked up by the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department and questioned about Kim Nees’ murder for the first time.
He also voluntarily provided fingerprints and submitted to a polygraph. According to the examiner, Barry appeared to have knowledge of the murder, (everyone in Poplar did) but was cleared by the examiner as having any involvement in the crime. In June 1980, Sheriff Mahlum summoned Barry Beach to his office and again questioned him. Nothing came of this and Barry left town soon thereafter to return to Louisiana.