Bonners Ferry man charged for killing driver before crash

Victor Claus

A Bonners Ferry man is in Kootenai County Jail facing a charge of first degree murder after investigation of a multiple-vehicle collision near Athol Tuesday indicates he shot the driver of the vehicle in which he was riding.

Victor Ardell Claus, 55, is being held on $1-million bond as Kootenai County Sheriff’s investigators believe he shot and killed Melyssa L. Schloe, 45, Sandpoint, April 13 as she was driving the Toyota Tundra he was a passenger in as they traveled north on Highway 95.

The Toyota then crossed into the southbound lane, side-swiping a motorcycle and another vehicle. The motorcycle rider escaped injury, but the second vehicle rolled, injuring driver Colleen K. Watkins, 64, Hayden.

She and Claus were transported to Kootenai Health for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries; Schloe was pronounced dead at the scene.

Claus was taken into custody at about 1 p.m. Thursday after his release from the hospital.