St. Francis Man Sentenced To Two Life Sentences For First Degree Murder
United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a St. Francis, South Dakota, man convicted of two counts of First Degree Murder was sentenced on October 27, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange.
BillyRay McCloskey, age 23, was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment, and a $200 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.
BillyRay McCloskey was indicted for First Degree Murder, Kidnapping, Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, Interstate Transportation of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, and Larceny by a federal grand jury on February 12, 2014. He pled guilty to two counts of First Degree Murder on July 28, 2014.
Co-Defendant Riley McCloskey, who was convicted of two counts of Second Degree Murder, was also sentenced on October 27, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange.
Riley McCloskey, age 21 from St. Francis, was sentenced to 210 months in custody, 5 years of supervised release, and a $200 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.
Riley McCloskey was indicted for First Degree Murder, Kidnapping, Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, Interstate Transportation of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, and Larceny by a federal grand jury on February 12, 2014. He pled guilty to two counts of Second Degree Murder on July 29, 2014.
Co-Defendant Crystal Red Hawk, age 37, also appeared before U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange on October 27, 2014, and pled guilty to two counts of Second Degree Murder. The maximum penalty for each charge carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, and a period of supervised release of up to 5 years. Red Hawk’s sentencing is scheduled for January 20, 2015, at 1:00 pm.
In the late evening hours of December 23, 2013, Defendant BillyRay McCloskey and Calvin Kills In Water physically fought each other at a home in St. Francis. The Defendant knocked Kills In Water to the kitchen floor and kicked him repeatedly in the head, face, and body until Kills In Water lost consciousness. A co-Defendant, Crystal Red Hawk, was present during the assault on Kills In Water. An additional co-Defendant, Riley McCloskey, arrived at the residence after the assault, while Kills In Water was lying on the floor unconscious and bleeding. Seventy-six year old Benjamin Clifford was asleep in the living room.
The Defendant, along with co-Defendant’s Crystal Red Hawk and Riley McCloskey, decided to remove Kills In Water from the residence. The plan was to wrap a shower curtain or blanket around Kills In Water to keep the blood from dripping on the upholstery in the car in which they intended to transport him. The car belonged to Benjamin Clifford.
The Defendant and co-Defendant Riley McCloskey supported Kills In Water between them and “walked” him out to Clifford’s car. They loaded him in to the rear passenger seat of the vehicle. As they were doing so, Clifford, the owner of the vehicle, ran outside and said he would drive his own car.
Clifford drove the vehicle as they left the residence, with Crystal Red Hawk in the front passenger seat, Riley McCloskey in the driver side rear passenger seat, and BillyRay McCloskey in the center of the rear passenger seat. The plan devised by the Defendant and co-Defendants was to drive to the community of St. Francis to a trailer house located behind a store where they could drop off Kills In Water with someone who knew him. Clifford suggested that they take Kills In Water to the hospital, but BillyRay McCloskey said no. Clifford then drove the vehicle behind the trailer house according to the original plan and honked the car horn in an effort to get someone’s attention within the trailer. As he did so, BillyRay McCloskey reached over the back of the front seat and placed his forearm around Clifford’s neck in a sleeper hold until he lost consciousness. The vehicle was driven away from the scene and down a highway south of St. Francis, where the vehicle stopped and BillyRay McCloskey searched the front of the car until he found a screw driver. BillyRay McCloskey then turned around to face the back seat, got on his knees, and stabbed Kills In Water in the chest several times with the screw driver.
The Defendant and co-Defendants then proceeded into Nebraska, stopping in front of a gate into a pasture in rural Cherry County. BillyRay McCloskey opened the gate and Crystal Red Hawk continued to drive the vehicle into the pasture, coming to a stop near a grove of trees. BillyRay McCloskey and the others removed both Clifford, who was unconscious but alive, and Kills In Water from the vehicle and drug their bodies from the car to the grove of trees.
After leaving the location where the bodies were dumped, BillyRay McCloskey threw the screw driver out of the front passenger side window. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ultimately recovered a Phillips screw driver, and DNA testing of the screw driver indicated the presence of blood from both Clifford and Kills In Water.
The bodies of both Clifford and Kills In Water were located and recovered in the early morning hours of December 30, 2013. Kills In Water was found with his hands bound behind his back with a pair of pants.
An autopsy was performed on the bodies of Clifford and Kills In Water. The autopsy report of Benjamin Clifford concluded that the cause of death was stab wounds to the left chest, with neck compression “asphyxia” as a probable contributing factor. The autopsy noted seven puncture wounds in the upper chest region.
The autopsy report of Calvin Kills In Water indicated that the cause of death was stab wound type injuries involving the head and neck area, with a likely contributing force of blunt force trauma to the head.
Several days later, law enforcement authorities apprehended Defendant BillyRay McCloskey, who admitted he strangled Clifford until he was unconscious and also admitted to stabbing him in the chest at least 5 times with a screw driver. He also admitted that he stabbed Kills In Water at least seven times in the throat and had dumped the bodies in a remote area.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Maher prosecuted the case.
BillyRay McCloskey, Riley McCloskey, and Crystal Red Hawk were immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.