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Ex-boyfriend’s phone pings in east Idaho hours after Montana mom disappears


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SPENCER — A cell phone ping in east Idaho may help find the ex-boyfriend of a Montana mother who disappeared Thursday.

After 22-year-old Shaila Thomas vanished Thursday, a man located her phone Friday in a Dillon, Montana, dumpster. Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement Undersheriff George Skuletich tells no one has heard from her since.

Authorities believe Thomas might be with 25-year-old Bryce Baltezar, a man she had previously been in a relationship with. Skuletich said investigators last pinged his phone in Spencer, a small community in Clark County, around 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement said they are unsure if Thomas is in any danger, but Baltezar and Thomas have a history of domestic violence.

“We’re unsure if she’s with him willingly or not,” Skuletich said.

Thomas’ aunt, Carrie Hansen, tells the mother of a 3-year-old boy intended to join the family on a camping trip the night she disappeared. The family planned to celebrate her son’s birthday on the trip to the mountains north of Butte, Montana.

“She was all excited about doing that,” Hansen says. “It just doesn’t seem like she would skip out on that.”

That afternoon, Thomas’ mom texted her to see where she was. Hansen says Thomas replied that she and her brother were driving to Helena so he could sign papers for the National Guard. They then planned to pick up her son’s birthday cake.

But Thomas’ brother says that never happened.

“(Her brother) said there was nothing of that sort,” Hansen says. “He didn’t have to go to Helena.”

Just before picking up the cake, Thomas’ mom got a text saying, “I love you mom.” Hansen is suspicious, as Thomas always texted, “love ya mama”

The texts then stopped. A man found Thomas’ broken phone in a garbage can at a Town Pump convenience store. The man called the father of Thomas’ son, who then contacted her family.

“Why would she throw her phone away? All the pictures of her kid are on there,” Hansen says. “It’s just real suspicious.”

Hansen says family members found text messages on the phone with Baltezar threatening Thomas. They also discovered a Google search “Butte to Las Vegas.”

The family called Baltezar and he said, “I haven’t seen her,” according to Hansen. It is this phone call that placed Baltezar in Spencer. After that call, Baltezar’s phone went silent.

“I just hope she’s safe,” Hansen says. “I just hope he (Baltezar) didn’t do something to her … We know she wouldn’t leave her son. Her son is her world. Her baby wants his mom back.”

Thomas’ son is safe with family.

Investigators are working on leads, including a surveillance video in a Dillon Montana Safeway store on Saturday that may show Thomas.

Thomas drives as blueish gray 2007 Pontiac G6 with Montana license plate 1-55025A. The car has front end damage and a broken headlight. She is approximately 5′ 2″ and weighs 120 pounds. She is last known to have blond hair. Baltezar is 5 feet 6 inches, 140 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair.

Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement asks anyone who has spoken with Thomas or knows her whereabouts to contact dispatch at (406) 497-1120.