Cold Case: Hunter's fatal shooting in 2004 is a mystery

2011-01-19T00:00:00Z Cold Case: Hunter's fatal shooting in 2004 is a mysteryKimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 19, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Chances are Estevan "Steve" Millan Montaño, 44, was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was shot to death on Aug. 29, 2004.

The avid outdoorsman took annual hunting trips and even had a favorite campsite on the western slopes of the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson. When he didn't return home from a trip, his wife and one of his five children drove to the mountains to look for him. They found Montaño's body not far from his campsite.

Detectives initially thought Montaño had been killed at his favorite campsite, but they later learned he was at another spot a little bit to the west. His favorite site showed evidence of other campers who had quickly abandoned the campsite, and Pima County Sheriff's Department investigators said at the time that it was linked to the killing.

The second site had a new tent that had been purchased in Tucson, a broken lawn chair, rifle ammunition, food, coolers and personal items, including clothing and boots, according to the Star's archives.

Three people likely were camping at the site.

Investigators found ballistic evidence in the area indicating a shootout in which Montaño was able to defend himself for some time, even wounding one of the suspects.

STATUS

The area in which Montaño was killed is known to law-enforcement officers as a route used by narcotics traffickers.

"The victim, most likely, was in the area as a load came through," said Deputy Jason Ogan, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department.

Blood from the wounded suspect provided detectives with a full DNA profile that was entered into CODIS - the Combined DNA Index System - a software program linked to a national database of DNA profiles from convicted offenders, evidence from the scenes of unsolved crimes and missing persons. However, there has been no evidence in the database that would identify a suspect.

Montaño's case is considered dormant, Ogan said. It was last reviewed in 2005.

ABOUT THE SERIES

The Star will feature some of the Tucson area's violent crimes that remain unsolved - sometimes many years later.

Anyone with information is urged to call 88-CRIME. Tips also can be submitted online at www.88crime.org; or by text message at 274637, then enter tip259 plus your text message.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at kmatas@azstarnet.com or at 573-4191 if you have been a victim of an unsolved crime or if you are related to a victim.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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