Montana Man Accused Of Torturing Lander Woman For Six Hellish Weeks

Adolfo Vargas Lepe faces a possible life sentence if convicted on federal allegations that he kidnapped a Lander woman from her mother's home, took her to Montana and tortured her with power tools, cords, guns and his own hands for about six weeks. 

Clair McFarland

June 15, 20235 min read

The James F. Battin Federal Courthouse in Billings, Montana.
The James F. Battin Federal Courthouse in Billings, Montana. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Federal authorities this month accused a Montana man of kidnapping and torturing a Lander, Wyoming, woman for several hellish weeks.  

Adolfo Vargas Lepe, of Montana, may face up to life in prison or the death penalty if convicted on the kidnapping charge he now faces in U.S. District Court for Montana.  

The court found probable cause Thursday to let Lepe's prosecution continue after a preliminary hearing earlier in the day.  

Lepe commanded his ex-girlfriend in April to leave her mother’s Lander home, saying if she didn’t come out peacefully he’d get her himself, according to a slew of allegations FBI Special Agent Wyatt Garber listed in an evidentiary affidavit filed June 5.  

The woman did not want to go with Lepe. She’d come to Lander to get away from him because he physically and mentally abused her while they were together, the affidavit alleges, adding that Lepe had been treating her like a “punching bag.”  

The affidavit says the woman figured if she didn’t go with Lepe and the mystery man who drove him to Lander and back to Montana, he’d either kill her or take her by force — and she couldn’t go anywhere to escape him. 

“Lepe had also made statements to (her) that he could utilize his connections with the Mexican cartel to have her and her family ‘taken care of,’” wrote Garber in the affidavit.  

No Phone, No Freedom 

Within one or two days of returning to Montana, Lepe started physically and mentally abusing his victim, the affidavit claims. She didn’t have a cellphone and she wasn’t free to leave Lepe’s home, allegedly, at any time unless he was with her.  

Lepe bought her a new cellphone at some point, the affidavit says, but he took it away that same day after getting angry with her. She was allowed to use his phone May 21 to call her adult son, and Lepe was on the call the whole time and controlled the conversation, according to the affidavit.  

In mid-May, Lepe allegedly pointed a black 9 mm semiautomatic handgun at the woman and threatened to shoot her.  

The affidavit claims he then smacked her on the top of the head with the bottom of the handgun grip, breaking the flesh of her skull so she bled. He also allegedly hit her on the back with the gun.  

He put down the pistol.  

Holes In Both Legs 

Then he picked up a black .22-caliber rifle, pointed at the woman and threatened to shoot her, the affidavit says. It claims that he poked her with the end of the rifle barrel and held it against her head, then fired three rounds in rapid succession.  

One of those rounds, the document claims, went through the woman’s right thigh, the second went through her left thigh, and the third hit the wall after just missing her head.  

“Lepe became angry because she bled on the floor,” wrote Garber.  

The affidavit says the woman looked down at her thighs and saw entry and exit wounds in both legs. 

Hellish Allegations 

During the weeks in Lepe’s home, Lepe allegedly beat the woman with an electric drill and an electric grinder, whipped her legs with long USB charging cables, stuck a tuning fork-like object into her nostrils, smacked and broke her nose, blackened her eyes, stabbed her in the belly and gut with nails and screws, poked her with a metal stake, bashed her with a heavy wooden lamp, tried to gouge her eyes out with his hands, choked her, hit her with a knife and punched her while she was sleeping, according to the affidavit.  

Hunkering In The Bushes 

Lepe’s daughter and son-in-law came to the home to borrow something May 29, says the affidavit.  

While the three stood outside talking, the document continues, the woman stepped outside and announced she’d been shot and needed medical attention.  

Lepe’s daughter yelled at Lepe to take the woman to the doctor. Lepe then allegedly got angry and threw a rock at his daughter, telling her to mind her own business.  

The son-in-law charged Lepe and the pair got into a fight, the affidavit claims.  

The woman used this chance to run from the home. She crawled under a chain-link fence and ran toward Cooney Reservoir; she hid in the bushes for two hours until she could no longer hear Lepe’s vehicle driving around the area, or see Lepe looking for her, says the affidavit.  

Then she walked to the Cooney Bar, where she called her mother and 911.  

Checks Out, FBI Says 

Garber wrote that the woman’s injuries corroborate her story.  

A judge issued a June 1 search warrant and the (Montana) Carbon County Sheriff’s Office and FBI searched Lepe’s home.  

The windows and doors were screwed shut, as the woman had reported, the affidavit says. There were bullet holes and bullet fragments in the walls, and clothes and carpet stained with blood.  

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter