Murder Transparency Group Says 35% Of Fremont County Murders Not Reported To The Public

Law enforcement agencies haven’t been telling the public about a sizable amount of Wyoming homicides they handle, which a murder watchdog group says is troubling.  

Clair McFarland

April 28, 20237 min read

Fremont County 4 28 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect that while there have been three possible homicides on the Wind River Indian Reservation this year, the Fremont County Coroner has only confirmed two as homicides while a determination on the third, a hit-and-run fatality, is pending.

Law enforcement agencies haven’t been telling the public about every Wyoming homicide they handle, according to a murder watchdog group.  

“The bad news about Wyoming is we’re not sure we’re seeing the whole picture,” said Thomas Hargrove, founder of the Murder Accountability Project, in a presentation this week to the Wyoming legislative Joint Judiciary Committee in Sheridan.  

There were 193 homicides in Wyoming from 2010-2019, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, which is sourced from death certificates.  

Wyoming law enforcement agencies during that same timespan reported 46 fewer murders to the public Uniform Crime Report, for a total of 147.  

“That means that nearly 24% of your murders appear to be missing as reported,” said Hargrove.  

Federal Agency 

In a series of follow-up interviews with Cowboy State Daily, Hargrove said the data indicates that some murders not reported to the federal database happened on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Fremont County, which falls under federal jurisdiction.  

Fremont County law enforcement agencies reported about 65% of the county’s homicides to the public database, the Uniform Crime Report, from 1999-2020, according to the Murder Accountability Project’s count of Uniform Crime Report numbers.   

The CDC showed 83 homicides while law enforcement agencies logged 57. 

“That’s terrible, in my opinion,” Hargrove said, pointing to the 26 missing murders from the timespan.  

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, Riverton Police Department, Lander Police Department and the federal Wind River Police Department — which is an outpost of the Bureau of Indian Affairs — all reported to the federal database in that decade, the data shows.  

The Shoshoni Police Department does not appear in the database, according to the Murder Accountability Project. But the town of Shoshoni accounts for about 1% of Fremont County and very few murders generally. A failure to report homicides in Shoshoni would not be enough to explain a 35% gap in the data.  

FBI, Any Numbers? 

The FBI also responds to homicides on the Wind River Indian Reservation, alongside the BIA. 

The FBI did not report to the UCR prior to 2020, said Hargrove, referring to his website’s data compiled from multiple FBI inquiries.  

But the agency did start reporting in 2020 after the Murder Accountability Project sued it in 2019, he said. The FBI counted three homicides in 2020.  

“We informed the court that three is a ridiculous number,” Hargrove told the legislative committee. “The next year they reported 33 homicides.”  

That’s closer but, Hargrove later told Cowboy State Daily, still underreporting in light of his experience with the data.  

The FBI did not respond by Friday afternoon to a Wednesday Cowboy State Daily email requesting comment.  

Required By Law 

State and local law enforcement agencies generally reported to the Uniform Crime Report from 2010-2019, even though doing so is voluntary, said Hargrove.  

He characterized that as an irony, since the FBI is required to report to the UCR under the 1988 Federal Crime Reporting Act while most local and state agencies are not.  

“We believe police agencies that have volunteered do a much better reporting job than the FBI, which is required by law to report (publicly),” he said.  

Other Counties Too 

Fremont County wasn’t the only Wyoming county with a noteworthy percentage of unreported homicides.  

Natrona County law enforcement agencies from 1999-2020 reported 50 homicides while the CDC documented 73, for a 68.4% reporting rate.  

Carbon County had a 70% reporting rate during that time, and Sheridan County reported at about 72%.  

But those counties do not have a large swath of federal jurisdiction as Fremont does, and their local agencies are not required to report to the Uniform Crime Report, though the FBI is under the law.   

Another zone of federal jurisdiction, Yellowstone National Park, spans both Park and Teton counties.  

Park County law enforcement agencies from 1999-2020 reported 10 homicides compared to 12 logged by the CDC, for an 83% reporting rate.  

CDC data for Teton County alone was not available for the timespan, presumably due to a low quantity.  

CDC only will grant larger datasets to avoid distributing data by which individuals can be identified.   

Different Definitions 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which reported 12 homicides from its Wind River agency over the 2010-2019 period, noted a difference in definitions that could explain a variation between CDC and law enforcement data.

Federal law considers only non-accidental, non-vehicular homicides as “homicides,” whereas CDC data features a broader range, including vehicular homicides.  

Hargrove said that discrepancy likely doesn’t explain all of Fremont County’s 26 unreported homicides from the 1999-2020 span.  

“Our experience is that, whenever there’s a large variance between the number of homicides reported by the CDC and the number reported by the FBI that reason has more to do with a failure to report,” said Hargrove. “And we’re confident that that’s the case here.”  


Hargrove said local police agencies are more likely to keep track of crimes than federal agencies because local police account to the public.  

“You’re counting the number of crimes in your jurisdiction. That’s a useful thing to know,” said Hargrove.

For example, he added, if a county is accusing a sheriff facing reelection of allowing a crime wave, the sheriff can fact-check that allegation against his crime data.  

“And the sheriff comes back and says, ‘Look at the Uniform Crime Report, we’ve had the same amount (of crime) as always,’” Hargrove continued. “So (having data) kind of protects everybody.” 

Federal police agencies are not run by local elected officials.  

Hargrove declined to offer a policy solution for federal agencies’ lesser accountability to local communities. 

He noted, however, that the Uniform Crime Reporting Act does not have “teeth.” That is, federal agencies don’t face legal punishment for failing to report, though they’re required to do so.   


So far this year there have been at least two confirmed homicides on the Wind River Indian Reservation and a possible third.

Two men were stabbed and shot, respectively, in the third week of March. Another died of a hit-and-run in mid-April.  

Federal authorities charged one homicide suspect in the shooting death but have not yet charged anyone in connection with the stabbing or the hit-and-run.  

The hit-and-run likely will not show up in federal Uniform Crime Report data since the federal government doesn’t include vehicular homicides in its definition of homicide.  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter