News and Press Releases

Final Man Sentenced for Defacing Red Elk Rock Shelter

June 18, 2012

COEUR D’ALENE – U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson announced today that the third person involved in defacing the Red Elk Rock Shelter has been sentenced. The site, located south of Lewiston’s Hells Gate State Park, is within the area traditionally occupied by ancestors of the Nez Perce Indian Tribe, and continues to be of cultural and spiritual significance to tribal members today.

Jarad Bovencamp, 25, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge to five months in prison, five months home detention, and 200 hours of community service for willful injury or depredation of property of the United States. In October 2011, a federal jury convicted co-defendant Freddie Michael Bernal for defacing the rock shelter and giving false statements to an FBI agent about the incident. Tyler James Carlson and Bovencamp pleaded guilty to the defacement charge prior to trial. In February 2012, Judge Lodge sentenced Bernal to 36 months in prison. Carlson received four months in prison for the defacement charge. Following their prison terms, Bovencamp, Bernal and Carlson will serve three years of supervised release and each must pay restitution of $33,333.33.

According to court documents, on February 7, 2010, Bernal, Carlson, and Bovencamp hiked to the Red Elk Rock Shelter and used spray paint to deface the rock face of the shelter. The site’s basalt wall has red pigmented pictographs—or rock art—including animal figurines and geometric shapes that may date back as far as 2,500 years. By their actions, the defendants caused approximately $100,000 damage. Repairs to the shelter will require the services of a rock art conservator.

“The vandalism of these priceless artifacts caused thousands of dollars of damage,” said Olson. “While attempts will be made to restore the pictographs, they will never be the pristine emblem of tribal history that they were before these senseless acts.”

The Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee released the following statement in February: “The Nez Perce Tribe is pleased with the outcome and appreciates the United States taking affirmative action under federal law in response to the damage done to the Nez Perce pictographs on the rock face. The pictographs and the location itself has immeasurable cultural and historical value. The importance of protecting and preserving such sites cannot be overstated, and such vandalism should not be tolerated.”

The case was investigated by the Nez Perce Tribal Police, Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Idaho Parks Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.