Authorities say the motive in the murders of Beverly and Gregory Giannonatti in Deer Lodge, Montana, was not, as many had speculated, a 25-pound bar of gold, the Washington Post reports. Instead, police say the 79-year-old mother and 57-year-old son were killed in October over 1,700 ounces of silver. Prosecutors have charged David Wayne Nelson with two counts of deliberate homicide, according to NBC Montana. Nelson—a handyman with with a criminal record, per the Post—was working in the bathroom of a residence belonging to Beverly's deceased ex-husband. Gregory confronted Nelson with allegations that he stole the silver (valued at $26,000), according to the affidavit. Nelson tells police that Gregory hit him in the face, and then he hit Gregory several times with a hammer. Beverly entered the room and he threw her against the wall and ultimately strangled her with an electrical wire, he says.
Afterward, per the affidavit, Nelson threw the hammer in a river, disposed of the bodies at remote sites, covering them with sticks and logs, and cleaned up the crime scene. He faces life in prison, according to the Post. "This idiot is toast," writes one commenter on a Facebook page set up after the Giannonattis disappeared. "God bless Bev and Greg," writes another. One friend tells the Post Beverly was a devout Catholic, well liked, and "very sweet." An ex-girlfriend of Gregory said the fact that mother and son died together "gives me a little peace of mind." Police zeroed in on Nelson after discovering that he sold the missing silver. As for the 25-pound bar of gold (worth $480,000): Supposedly a housekeeper discovered it in the house the Giannonattis later died in. However, if the bar of gold ever really existed, it has not been found, the Post reports. (Millions of dollars may be out there from this decades-old murder.)