Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Early in the morning of October 19, 2018, this reporter received a call at the KGVO Studios from Missoula Police Sergeant Jerry Odlin, who broke the story of a double homicide that had just occurred at a downtown motel.

Sergeant Jerry Odlin Made a Surprise Call to KGVO News in 2018

“At approximately one o'clock this morning October 19, Missoula Police Officers responded to the report of a disturbance at a hotel in the 400 block of West Broadway,” began Sergeant Odlin. “Upon arrival officers located two individuals that were deceased apparently victims of a homicide. A vehicle was identified as being involved in the incident and that vehicle has been located. We are also looking for three suspects in relation to this incident. At this point we do not have descriptions of the suspects available and the scene is continuing to be investigated.”

A Personal 'Thank You' to Sergeant Odlin for his Trust in KGVO News

This is Peter Christian with KGVO News. This call from Sergeant Odlin was the opening statement of an investigation that resulted in two individuals being arrested, charged and convicted of homicide. KGVO News covered both of their trials.

Ultimately, both Jonathan Whitworth and Preston Rossbach were sentenced to 60 years in the Montana State Prison.

It was unheard of at that time for a Missoula City Police Officer to contact a radio news reporter about such an incident before any official notification of the crime had been released, however, such was the trust and confidence of Sergeant Odlin in KGVO that he knew the facts would be reported accurately.

Sergeant Odlin Recently Passed Away and he will be Sorely Missed by All

That’s just the kind of law enforcement professional Jerry Odlin was. He was a pleasure to work with and returned trust with trust when I was actively involved in reporting on several other crimes since then.

Sergeant Odlin passed away this week, and I will always be grateful for his trust and confidence to use the information he (and all other law enforcement professionals) share with me in a truthful and responsible manner.

I am so grateful to have known Sergeant Odlin and his late father Judge John Odlin and counted them both as friends.

Missoula Police Chief Mike Colyer also reached out to KGVO News to share his thoughts about the passing of his good friend and law enforcement colleague, Sergeant Jerry Odlin. 

“Jerry just made a really big footprint on the department so to speak,” began Chief Colyer. “He started here as a patrol officer and when he became a first line supervisor in both corporal and as a sergeant, he really made quite the impression on his people. So he's well known throughout the department of really being a strong supporter of all of his people. He took care of them individually, he always looked out for their professional development corrected him when they had a misstep, but got them right back on track. So he was really a kind of a beloved first line supervisor.” 

Chief Colyer continued to look back on Sergeant Odlin’s career as he moved forward in the police department. 

“After he transferred out of the patrol work, he moved to our admin division where he was really instrumental in bringing on new employees,” he said. “So when we have new officers come back from the police academy, they go through an additional training with our admin division before they start their field training program in patrol and so he in essence touched every one of their careers as they came through the doors as new employees straight out of the police academy.” 

Chief Colyer then expanded his comments to include other members of the Odlin family, one of whom continues to serve in the Missoula law enforcement community. 

“His father, John, had a full distinguished career at the Montana Highway Patrol and then a number of elected cycles as a Missoula Justice of the Peace,” he said. “His brother Chris, of course, was here for 30 years and retired in November of 2020 as the admin captain, so both were in the criminal justice system, and then of course, his wife, Sherry, as the 9-1-1 Center Manager as part of that first responder and public safety family. So, they just really have impacted the public safety, first responder, and criminal justice scene all kind of collectively throughout Missoula for many decades.” 

There will be a memorial service for Jerry Odlin on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Missoula Alliance Church at the top of Hillview Way.

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