Reservation Murder Suspect Charged For Shooting Neighbor In The Back Of The Head

Francis James Acebo is accused of shooting Derek Redstar Pappan in the back of the head while Pappan searched for a cellphone charger early Saturday, then telling his children goodbye and turning himself in.

Clair McFarland

March 31, 20232 min read

Oilfield road crime scene e1680292921405
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The suspect in a murder on the Wind River Indian Reservation turned himself in to law enforcement this week and now faces a mandatory life sentence in federal court, according to documents released Thursday.   

Francis James Acebo, 32, is accused of first-degree murder in the gunshot death of Derek Redstar Pappan, 44, in a single-wide trailer south of Riverton on the reservation.   

He faces another felony punishable by between 10 years in prison and life, for using a gun while committing a violent crime.  

Acebo is accused of walking into a home where Pappan had just emerged from his bedroom Saturday morning, shooting Pappan in the back of the head, then leaving, says an evidentiary affidavit that the federal government made public on Thursday.   

According to the statements of anonymous people referenced in the affidavit, Pappan was in his home Saturday morning. At least four other people also were there.  

Pappan and a female with whom he shared his bedroom drifted from their room to the living room at about 5:30 that morning, looking for a cellphone charger, the affidavit says.  

As Pappan bent over a mattress to search, the witness watched as Acebo entered the home, “immediately” approached Pappan from behind and shot him in the back of his head, the affidavit alleges.

Acebo then fled the home, the document adds.   

Another person, whose name is redacted, heard that Acebo had shot someone, so he or she picked Acebo up from his home – which was near the crime scene – and took Acebo to his children’s home so he could tell them goodbye, the affidavit says.   

The driver then dropped Acebo off at a home on Airport Road, which runs near and through portions of the reservation.  

The next day an anonymous person drove to Airport Road trying to visit Acebo but no one answered the door. Later that day, the mother of Acebo’s children called the person and said that Acebo was OK, the affidavit says.

Pappan died from the gunshot wound to the back of his head.   

Acebo turned himself in to law enforcement on Tuesday, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office confirmed. The federal government has jurisdiction over the case, however, because it’s a felony charge based on the reservation and involving a tribal member.   

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter