CHALLIS — Benjamin J. Savage, the Challis man who shot, killed, burned and buried Charles “Charlie” McBride, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Monday.
This came as part of a plea agreement made with Custer County Prosecutor Justin Oleson to recommend a shorter prison sentence. Savage was charged with first-degree murder in March after the 36-year-old called Custer County Sheriff Stu Lumpkin and told him he knew where McBride’s body was.
In the plea agreement obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, Savage agreed to plead guilty and provide the gun used to kill McBride. The agreement stipulates Savage give a full confession of the Feb. 25 murder and pass a “confirming” polygraph for the state to recommend a shorter prison sentence.
The agreement also obligates the state not file any additional charges, including using a firearm to commit the murder of McBride. The non-binding agreement says Oleson will recommend Savage spend 20 years to life in prison. If Savage provides a truthful disclosure of the murder, then Oleson will recommend 17 years to life in prison.
Savage cannot withdraw his guilty plea if the court decides to reject the plea agreement and its obligations for both the defense and prosecution.
Although Savage told District Judge Stevan Thompson he shot and killed Savage, he had denied any involvement in the disappearance of McBride earlier.
“He was high on meth,” Savage said in a phone call with EastIdahoNews.com. “That’s all I can tell you right now. I’m working with the police right now. It’ll come out soon.”
Police arrested Savage on March 30 at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport after finding McBride’s body buried and burned near the location Savage told Lumpkin to look. McBride, 23, had been working with Savage in the Morgan Creek area northwest of Challis about a month before the body was found.
Savage is scheduled to be sentenced in Custer County on Nov. 18 following a pre-sentencing investigation and mental health evaluation.
The Custer County Prosecutor’s Office had no comment due to the ongoing investigation in the case.