A Sublette County man who described himself as a trapper who “lived completely off grid” killed himself while law enforcement authorities were searching his property for a missing woman, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Department office announced on Wednesday.
On June 19, a search warrant was served to Darrell “Pete” Petry which allowed authorities to begin the search for Vanessa “Nessy” Oren, a 61-year-old Labarge woman who has been missing since January, 2017.
During the multi-day search, Petry left his property and was found dead on June 22. An investigation determined that his death was self-inflicted and no foul play is suspected.
Authorities told the Casper Star Tribune that Petry was not under arrest and was “free to come and go.”
Petry described his property on his Facebook page as a “remote area in southwest Wyoming completely off grid.”
The self-described trapper said he was retired but still worked part-time in “predator control.”
He also said he had been raising bobcats since 2012.
“Keeping a pet bobcat in the house has been a teaching experience,” Petry wrote. “I’ve learned more about the cats and what, why and when they are attracted to some scents compared to other scents. An example being rubbing on WD40. Odd uh? And bobcats have a better sense of smell than most trappers.”
Petry appeared to be an active Facebook participant in 2015 and early 2016. His page is full of photos — some gruesome — of coyotes, foxes, and other animals caught in snares and traps.
At the same time, he posted photos of his pet bobcat lounging around his cabin.
“He is loose in the house a lot,” Petry wrote. “Spends most of his time in the house fact is. He use to not mind my girls be’n here.”
The Search warrant was executed with the assistance of multiple agencies including NecroSearch, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Game and Fish, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
According to The Charley Project, an online clearinghouse of information for missing persons, the missing woman last had contact with her family in late January or early February of 2016.
“She has never been heard from again,” the site said.
The disappearance of Vanessa “Nessy” Orren is still being actively investigated by the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sublette County Sheriff’s requests anyone with any information related to the disappearance of Vanessa Orren to please contact the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division at 307-367-4378.