RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Eight months after a Rapid City woman was found shot dead in a hotel room on New Years Day, her death has been ruled a homicide and a man is charged with murdering her.
“I’m overwhelmed with emotions. I feel like justice is finally being served for my sister,” Paulina Ghost said about Jeanette Jumping Eagle. “At least now her soul can rest at peace,” Ghost said through tears.
“It took a long eight months but she finally got her justice,” said Ashley Bagola, another one of Jumping Eagle’s sisters. “It’s something we’ve all been wanting. It’s not going to bring her back, but he’s going to prison for a long time.”
Dion Bordeaux, a 25-year-old from Rapid City, was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder for killing 22-year-old Jumping Eagle, according to a news release from the police department. If convicted, Bordeaux would be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
Jumping Eagle, a mother of three boys with a long-term partner, was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the head inside a room at the Microtel Inn and Suites at 3:50 a.m. on Jan. 1.
But police weren’t sure whether the shooting was a suicide or homicide.
“It was originally staged to appear as a suicide but through forensic evidence we were able to prove otherwise,” police spokesman Brendyn Medina told the Rapid City Journal.
When police found Jumping Eagle they learned that Bordeaux and one other man had been in the room at the time of the shooting, the news release says. Police found Bordeaux and arrested him for an existing assault warrant.
Bordeaux was convicted of an aggravated assault charge out of Lincoln County and sentenced to 10 years in prison with seven suspended, according to the Department of Corrections’ website. He’s currently detained at Rapid City Community Work Center, a minimum-security prison. An arrest warrant has been issued in the murder case, court records show.
“During the course of the investigation, police recovered evidence to suggest the shooting scene had been staged to appear as a suicide,” the news release says. “By exploring multiple forensic avenues, it was determined that Dion Bordeaux was responsible for the shooting.”
Medina said he can’t comment on how the scene was staged since it may interfere with the prosecution. He said he also couldn’t comment on what forensic evidence helped determine the shooting was a homicide and that Bordeaux was the suspect.
Mark Vargo, Pennington County State’s Attorney, said he also can’t comment on the evidence. But he said when his office received the police evidence they decided to present it to a grand jury which decided to indict Bordeaux.
He said his office will ask a judge to order Bordeaux to be transferred to the Pennington County Jail so he can attend his initial appearance.
Ghost said she always believed her sister was murdered, that she didn’t kill herself. She also said her aunt told her that police said they suspected Bordeaux was the killer but needed to process evidence before bringing charges.
“I knew my sister would not do that to herself. She loved life, she loved her babies,” Ghost said.
Jumping Eagle had three young boys with Brent Waters, who she had been dating since she was 14, Ghost said. Waters and his mother are now raising the children with the help of other relatives.
Ghost said Jumping Eagle and Waters broke up and Jumping Eagle met and began dating Bordeaux soon before her death. She said Jumping Eagle texted Waters and others about how she was thinking about going back to dating Waters.
Ghost said she thinks Bordeaux killed her sister after seeing those texts.
“I honestly think that he just became so jealous because there were text messages that she was telling Brent that she was missing him,” Ghost said. “He killed her because he couldn’t stand losing her.”
Bagola said she also thinks Bordeaux killed Jumping Eagle because her sister told her close friends that he had been physically abusing her when she was thinking about going back to Waters.
“He seems like a jealous person,” Bagola said. “She was trying to leave him before and he got really abusive with her.”
Jumping Eagle had three sisters and two brothers, Ghost said. Their mother died a month before Jumping Eagle was killed.
“It still kind of feels unreal but I’m happy about it,” Ghost said about Bordeaux being charged. “I’m happy for my family because this has been a very hard blow in our lives.”
Jumping Eagle’s killing is the 10th criminal homicide in Rapid City this year, according to the Rapid City Police Department. That’s the most homicides since 2012; there were nine in 2015.
At least one more 2020 Rapid City death — the Aug. 19 shooting death of 22-year-old Brandon Wounded Arrow — is being investigated as a possible homicide. Rapid City saw six homicides last year and yearly homicides ranged from two to nine between 2012 and 2018.