Smell Of 'Putrefied Blood' In Car Of Missing Wyoming Woman's Ex-Boyfriend

Katie Ferguson was in her ex-boyfriend’s Dodge Durango when they left Alabama to drive back to their home in Cody. She never made it home, and when investigators found the Durango it had a bullet hole in the door and reeked of “putrefied blood.”

Clair McFarland

November 14, 20236 min read

Adam Aviles Jr.
Adam Aviles Jr. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

When investigators found the abandoned Dodge Durango of a missing Cody woman’s ex-boyfriend, the vehicle smelled of putrefied blood and had a bullet hole in the door, according to a federal charging document filed late Monday.  

FBI Special Agent Luke Williamson filed a criminal complaint in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming, accusing Adam Aviles Jr., 26, of being a felon in possession of firearm ammunition. But the complaint also presents haunting evidence of possible bloodshed in the Dodge Durango in which Aviles Jr. set out to drive his on-and-off girlfriend Katie Ferguson home to Cody.  

Ferguson was staying in Alabama, where her mother lives, and was “clean” from drug use for a while, according to a statement Ferguson’s mother gave to investigators.  

Aviles Jr., who’s also from Cody, came to Alabama to get her sometime in late summer or early autumn, says the complaint. He stayed in Alabama with her for “several weeks,” but then the pair set out along with their two young daughters, ages 1 and 4, to return to Wyoming.  

Putrefied Blood  

Ferguson’s mother contacted the Cody Police Department to report her daughter missing Nov. 2, the complaint says. A police sergeant confronted Aviles Jr., who had made it back to Cody with the children, but he said Ferguson wasn’t missing — she just didn’t want contact with her mother.  

On Nov. 4, someone reported an abandoned vehicle to the Park County Sheriff’s Office. It was a black 1999 Dodge Durango, parked in the Oregon Basin of rural Park County, says the affidavit.  

It came back registered to Aviles Jr.  

Given Aviles Jr.’s connection with Ferguson’s disappearance and “the suspicious location of the vehicle,” deputies broke a window to make sure no one was inside the vehicle and needed medical attention.  

Sheriff Darrell Steward related to his investigator, Clayton Creel, that he could smell “putrefied blood” coming from the vehicle, the affidavit says.  

The front passenger seat was missing. There were multiple Clorox wipes inside the vehicle, and a Glock pistol magazine loaded to capacity near the vehicle’s center console, the document alleges.

Investigators are still waiting for results of DNA testing on the blood found in the vehicle, which hasn’t yet been confirmed to be Ferguson's. Officials and family also haven't stopped searching for her.

Katie Ferguson of Cody has been missing since Oct. 10
Katie Ferguson of Cody has been missing since Oct. 10 (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Bullet Hole, Passenger Side 

Steward saw a trash bag inside the Durango with what appeared to be a tan piece of interior body molding protruding from it. The tan piece “appeared to have a dried streak of blood on it,” says the affidavit.  

The front passenger door was allegedly pierced with “a projectile hole” that had duct tape over its exit and entrance, but the protruding metal still showed.  

Deputies were still investigating the Durango when a man walked up to them with a gas canister.  

Later identified as Aviles Jr., the man said he was there to fill the Durango up because it had run out of gas and was inoperable, says the affidavit.  

There She Isn’t 

Creel asked dispatch to search the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for hits on Aviles Jr. during his travels back from Alabama.  

Creel also reached out to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation about freezing letters and cellphone data.  

Creel and a DCI special agent reviewed the NCIC search “and were able to construct a probable timeline” of Ferguson’s disappearance.  

A police camera in Trumann, Arkansas, captured Aviles Jr.’s vehicle Oct. 5. There was no projectile hole in the passenger side door on that video, says the affidavit.  

A Texas State Patrol camera captured the vehicle four days later, Oct. 9. This time, the camera showed the projectile hole in the passenger door concealed with tape. Ferguson wasn’t in the vehicle, and a clothing heap covered the passenger seat, the document says.  

A Colorado State Patrol trooper contacted Aviles Jr. on Oct. 11, and Ferguson was not in the vehicle, the affidavit alleges.  

Cadaver Dogs 

When search and rescue personnel aided in the Nov. 4 investigation of the abandoned Durango, two cadaver recovery dogs participated.

The affidavit says one K-9 alerted near a tire track where the vehicle was sitting when found. The other K-9 allegedly alerted by the front passenger door of the Durango, which was in the law enforcement center garage by that time.  

Creel searched the vehicle himself Nov. 6, with a warrant. He found “a large quantity of what appeared to be dried blood,” says the affidavit.  

The Wyoming State Crime Laboratory later confirmed that it was blood.  

Creel also recovered three fired projectiles, apparently .45-caliber bullets, the affidavit says. One was reportedly inside the passenger side “B pillar” of the vehicle and two were inside the front passenger door.  

Creel confirmed the front passenger seat also was missing. A large portion of the vehicle trim had been removed and was in trash bags in the back of the vehicle. Creel saw cleaning supplies and various tools, and clothes and other items that were blood-stained, the document says.  

Creel allegedly found the loaded magazine, but no pistol. The magazine was consistent with magazines matching a Glock 21 pistol, which is a .45-caliber handgun.  

Dad Accidentally Hurt Mom 

On Nov. 8, Aviles Jr.’s father, Adam Aviles Sr., told Sheriff Steward that he’d seen his son with a handgun in the recent past.  

Park County Sheriff’s personnel reportedly found packaging for a large-caliber pistol’s holster in the father’s home, where Aviles Jr. had been living, on Nov. 8.  

Also Nov. 8, an FBI forensic interviewer in Billings, Montana, interviewed Aviles Jr. and Ferguson’s 4-year-old daughter, who rode home from Alabama to Cody with Aviles Jr.  

The little girl made a statement about her father accidentally hurting her mother, says the affidavit.  

Investigators couldn’t uncover what timeline the preschooler was referencing, however.  

For Now … 

Aviles Jr. was convicted of felony heroin possession in 2017 in Park County, which disqualifies him from having firearm ammunition.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney for Wyoming Paige Hammer is charging Aviles Jr. with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.  

At this time, Aviles Jr. remains in police custody and has not been charged with an act of violence against Ferguson, his court file indicates.   

Katie Ferguson of Cody, right, has been missing since Oct. 10. Her ex-boyfriend Adam Aviles Jr., left, now faces federal charges.
Katie Ferguson of Cody, right, has been missing since Oct. 10. Her ex-boyfriend Adam Aviles Jr., left, now faces federal charges. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter