‘He was loved’: Family shares the story of a Billings man murdered

Paul Hamby

Editor’s note: This is the first of two stories examining the rising homicide rate in Yellowstone County. On Monday, we examine the statistics and what the rising murder rate, and increase in the number of guns, means for law enforcement. 

The last thing Brett Cody Ness told his parents was that he loved them.

The 24-year-old visited Chad and Anita Ness in late April 2020 to pick up an archery target. The avid hunter wanted to plant the target in the yard of a shop where he worked for his father. On April 27, with work done for the day, Brett met his dad to grab the target.

When he was a student at Billings Senior High, he was a good enough wrestler to attract college scholarship offers. Instead, he opted to join his dad working in construction and home restoration. Brett wasn’t a big man, but he was strong and proud, placing several times in the class AA state tournament. Off the mat, he was kind of a klutz. The print of his size 9-and-a-half boot is frozen in cement on the side of a home where he’d been doing masonry work earlier that day.

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