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Nearly 37 years after Randy Church's murder in Bozeman, family welcomes new look at unsolved case

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Posted at 8:24 AM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 10:24:43-04

BOZEMAN — Early this year the Bozeman Police Department announced it was putting new energy into the Randy Church murder case. Since then, multiple agencies at the local, state, and federal level have gotten involved to help solve the case of the 23-year-old MSU engineering student who was murdered while working at a Pizza Hut in Bozeman in 1985.

MTN's Holly Brantley spoke with his brothers and sister about the case and the new developments.

“We live this every day and have been since February of 1985,” said Ruby Burney, Randy’s sister. “It's there, it's a part of our life and it sucks.”

After nearly 37 years, the family of Randy Church says they feel they might get answers to their brother's unsolved murder.

“If they find something new, that's great because that'd be a miracle in my book,” said brother, Bob Church.

We first spoke to the family earlier this year when they heard the Bozeman Police had fresh eyes on the case. Just a few months later, they are encouraged to learn detectives have joined forces with multiple agencies at the state and federal level, pulling resources to fast-track solving the case.

“I’m frustrated,” said Burney. “I'm not going to lie. I am so glad they are getting technology involved and they are getting more resources and they are getting things out there.”

“It has got to be an effort that's supported by the upper levels and so far up until now, that support has not been there,” said Rick Church, Randy’s brother.

“I was very surprised they never found the killer up to now,” said Bob. “I was surprised this happens often. They don't find the killer, are you kidding me?”

Randy was closing down the Pizza Hut in Bozeman when someone shot him in February of 1985. It was a Saturday night. Randy was alone. According to police reports, his body was discovered at 9:30 the next morning when a manager was called to unlock the door. Randy was supposed to meet another employee at 9 a.m. but he never showed.

Richard and Darlene Church, Randy’s parents, died never knowing what happened to their son. At the time of the murder, he was excelling as an engineering student at MSU. The semester prior he held a 3.4 GPA. He loved motorcycles, rafting, and electronics. Family and friends describe him as someone with a heart of gold, and his siblings say he had a real zest for life.

“If he wanted to go somewhere he was going to make it happen; he wanted to learn everything there was to learn,” recalls Ruby.

Police say they can’t release specifics about the current developments in the investigation or the avenues they are pursuing but say recent attention to the case has brought new momentum, new hope.

“That is the only thing we have is hope at this point,” said Ruby.

Now police, along with the family, call on anyone with information to come forward, anyone who might know something about what happened on that cold February night more than 36 years ago.

“Literally that'd be a miracle,” said Bob. “Taking someone else’s life is the worst that mankind can ever do. I just hate to see someone do something bad and get away with it, especially to someone I know and loved."

There is still up to an $11,000 reward for information leading to an offender. The tip line is 406-582-2025, or you can email coldcasetips@bozeman.net

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