BILLINGS — A Hardin woman today admitted charges accusing her of burning down a house that was being renovated on the Crow Indian Reservation, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said.
Vanessa Faith Prettyontop, also known as Vanessa Faith Gunshows, 34, pleaded guilty to arson as charged in an indictment. Prettyontop faces a maximum of life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release.
U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. Prettyontop was released pending further proceedings. Sentencing has been set for Aug. 19.
In court documents filed in the case, the government alleged that on Oct. 3, 2020, Prettyontop started a fire in a house owned by the victim, identified as John Doe. When the fire occurred, Doe had nearly finished repairs and renovations and was planning to move back in. Prettyontop tried unsuccessfully to break into the residence through the front door, then entered through an open back door. Prettyontop intentionally lit a mattress on fire with a lighter. The fire spread to the rest of the house and Prettyontop walked out the front door. Prettyontop called 911 to turn herself in, confessed and said she was tired of people fighting over the house.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanne Torske is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.