In the episode titled ‘The Reckoning’ of ‘Dateline NBC,’ we get a detailed glimpse into the tragic murder case of Kathryn Laird, whose remains were found in the Bighorn River in 1999. Even after the autopsy, the authorities couldn’t come to a definite conclusion regarding the cause of her death. This is why the case was left unsolved for decades despite her husband, Brian Laird, being under heavy suspicion. However, the cold case was opened again when an FBI agent found some new pieces of evidence against the husband. If you are interested in finding out if Brian Laird is the actual perpetrator or not and learning about his current whereabouts, we have got you covered!
Who is Brian Laird?
Brian Laird crossed paths with Kathryn Laird seemingly back in the late 1990s at the Southern Methodist University in Texas, soon after which they both fell in love with each other. In February 1999, the pair decided to take the next step in their relationship and got married. Following their marriage, the couple moved to a trailer park house in Fort Smith, Montana, where they were accompanied by Kathryn’s dog named Ralphie. While Kathryn worked multiple jobs to play her part in running the household, Brian worked as a lawyer in Billings and a fishing guide in Fort Smith as well.
Just about five months into the marriage, Kathryn was found dead in the water near their trailer park house on July 31, 1999. Given the suspicious circumstances surrounding her death, her husband, Brian, became the prime suspect in the case. He claimed that he didn’t have anything to do with it, and he was devastated to learn about the death of his wife. In fact, he explained his side of the story and specified the events on the previous night of her death, that is, on July 30, 1999, to the Missouri Board of Law Examiners.
Brian stated that he had gotten into an argument with Kathryn regarding her morning job, for which she had to wake up around 4:30 or 5 am and did not even pay that much. After indulging in loud arguments, he claimed that he left the trailer and drove to the area near the afterbay to sleep as he had to travel to Billings the next morning due to work. Brian alleged that Kathryn followed him there and woke him up, and then the couple went back to their trailer. According to Brian, she went out of the house again and told him to take care of Ralphie. After that, Brian added, he slept and expected her to cool off and come back to sleep.
The next day, Kathryn’s body was found floating in a bay along Montana’s Bighorn River near Fort Smith. But despite strong suspicions and circumstantial proof against Brian, the authorities were unable to charge him for the homicide due to a lack of evidence. However, some developments were made in the case in 2012 when an FBI agent discovered new pieces of evidence that could prove Brian’s involvement in Kathryn’s case.
Where is Brian Laird Now?
In 2014, two years after the authorities gathered enough evidence against Brian Laird, he got arrested in Colorado for the deliberate homicide of his wife, Kathryn. During his trial in 2016, a couple of neighbors from his Fort Smith trailer park days where Kathryn was found dead testified against him. They claimed that they overheard the Lairds in a loud argument that stopped suddenly after a while. Several witnesses also testified that he did not seem too concerned about his wife’s disappearance and had to be convinced to dial 911.
Taking into account all the testimonies and evidence, Brian was sentenced to 100 years in prison after he got convicted of the deliberate homicide of the 1999 death of Kathryn. But, in 2019, aged 51, Brian appealed his conviction and saw a split Montana Supreme Court rescind the sentence, setting the bail at $250,000 while he was held at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge in the meantime. During the retrial of Brian Laird in April 2023, Judge Randal Spaulding reportedly found him not guilty of the 1999 death of Kathryn and lifted all the related charges against him. Ever since his sentence got reversed, he has kept his private life under wraps and is seemingly leading a life of freedom.