On Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023, Patricia Batts will be sentenced for the murder of her grandson, James Alexander Hurley.
West Yellowstone Police Chief Mike Gavagan reflects on the sadness and anger that was felt throughout the town of "West" back in February of 2020, and even today.
“You go through the normal emotions of, 'Could I have done something? Am I somehow responsible? I’m angry, I’m mad! I’m in tears' because of how horrific and sad,” Chief Gavagan said.
At the time, Gavagan was working as a sheriff’s deputy in West Yellowstone and worked on the Alexander Hurley case as a coroner. Gavagan has spoken with the officer and deputy that arrived on the scene first, and he noted that the two immediately knew this went beyond a medical event, which they were originally called to the house for.
“I quite honestly, have never seen a situation like this anywhere. I’ve never seen a situation, certainly, like this in West Yellowstone, I’ve never seen a situation like this in Bozeman, I haven’t seen a situation like this in a made-for-TV Movie,” Gavagan said.
The feeling of remorse or regret over what could have been done is felt by many people in the community; however, the chief reminds people that there is no way to know what is going on behind closed doors.
“There’s no way they could know what was happening, there’s just no way. I mean, you couldn’t in your wildest imaginations, and in your darkest imaginations—and your darkest thoughts—could you imagine what was going on behind closed doors,” Chief Gavagan said.
Since Alex’s death, the Youth and Family Outreach Program, operated out of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, has been created with the hope to intervene in child abuse and to help youth toward success.