Accused of giving marijuana to young children in Riverton’s City Park, a Thayne, Wyoming, man faces up to 11 years in prison.
Christian Kenny Heap, who is 49 this year, faces one charge of felony marijuana delivery punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines, plus a misdemeanor child endangerment charge punishable by up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.
Witnesses said Heap was in the Riverton City Park on Monday evening showing young kids how to use a tightrope, and also passing marijuana to them.
“Something was really off about this older guy hanging out with young children,” wrote Sarah Lucas in a Tuesday Facebook post. Lucas runs a Christian ministry for children on the Wind River Indian Reservation and organizes numerous philanthropic efforts.
“So our group approached the man, and when we were walking up we saw young kids as young (as) 6 or 7 smoking a pipe,” Lucas continued. “This guy was giving the kids drugs and this drink in a mug.”
Lucas and other people in her ministry group approached the man, she said, and asked what he was giving the kids.
“He said it is a drug to help get kids off of drugs and that he was trained to do that,” Lucas wrote.
She called police.
Riverton Police Department Officer Don Nethicumara responded to the scene, according to the evidentiary affidavit in Heap’s case.
Heap told Nethicumara that children approached him, but they were already smoking. Heap sat down and served them what he called “teas” and spent some time with the kids who were smoking. He also handed one kid his pipe.
In the pipe was what Heap said was “very, very, very low-grade cannabis,” the affidavit relates from the talk in the park.
Nethicumara found a green leafy substance in the pipe that smelled of raw marijuana, the affidavit alleges. It fielded tested positive for the drug.
Nethicumara arrested Heap.
During the handcuffed walk to Nethicumara’s car, Heap admitted his actions were “very, very on the edge.” It was new to him to encounter a kid smoking and if he crossed the line, he apologizes, the affidavit relates.
These Littles Are High
Nethicumara went back to talk to Lucas, and she said some little kids were high after smoking and drinking with Heap. She said she also saw Heap showing children how to roll joints.
Another witness, who was there handing food to the homeless or wandering people who frequent that park, told the officer Heap was surrounded by several kids.
Both women helped Nethicumara track down some of the children.
One child said Heap wanted them to help him with his tightrope, the affidavit says.
Three children said the girl and boy seen smoking with Heap looked to be about 7 and 10, and that “a lot of people” were smoking joints.
Other children had left the park.
Heap appeared virtually in Riverton Circuit Court from the Fremont County Detention Center for his initial appearance Wednesday afternoon.
He had a long grey-white beard and a tattoo on his right forearm. He wore handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit.
When Fremont County deputy prosecutor Jane Juve read aloud from Heap’s criminal history – some from California and some in Utah – she recited two felony convictions, but Heap disputed and said he only had one, for carrying a concealed weapon in California.
Riverton Circuit Court Judge Dan Stebner said Heap’s criminal history was a factor but not his main focus in setting a $20,000 cash-only bond.
The apparent danger to the community was what concerned Stebner, he said. If Heap does get out on bond, he’s not to be around minors without their parents and he’s not allowed to be at City Park, Stebner added.
Juve had argued that Heap’s alleged conduct is “incredibly serious,” especially given how young the children were, reportedly.
‘Connection To The Indians’
Stebner asked Heap why he, a Thayne man with repeated criminal history in California, was in Fremont County in the first place.
Heap said he has a “connection to the Indians” and was acquainting himself with the local tribes and doing a religious sweat with tribal members.
“I practice a lot of Native American religion and stuff,” said Heap, adding that he does not have a home.
Stebner asked Heap if he lives with a family member.
“Mm-hmm,” Heap answered.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.