Proposal To Give $150,000 To Help Solve 150 Wyoming Cold Cases Advances

A bill that would allocate $150,000 to develop and maintain a Wyoming database for the estimated 150 unsolved cold cases dating back to 1972 has advanced to committee.

JK
Jen Kocher

February 13, 20243 min read

State Rep. Art Washut has introduced a bill that would create a cold case database to aid in helping close the 150 Wyoming cold cases still unsolved since 1972.
State Rep. Art Washut has introduced a bill that would create a cold case database to aid in helping close the 150 Wyoming cold cases still unsolved since 1972. (Matt Idler; DCI)

A draft bill that would provide funding to help the Wyoming Division of Criminal solve cold cases took another step forward Monday when the state House voted by a large margin to introduce it to committee.

If passed into law, House Bill 29 will provide the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation $150,000 from the general fund to develop and maintain a statewide cold case database for all unsolved homicides or felony sexual offenses three years or older dating back to 1972.

Law enforcement agencies across the state would be required to report any unsolved cold case fitting that description.

The database will be available to the public and law enforcement agencies. 

The sharing of information is key to helping solve these cold cases, Rep. Art Washut, R-Casper, explained as he introduced the bill.

“When it comes to solving these cold cases, information is the key,” Washut said. “Putting possible links and connections between cases here and elsewhere is how we solve many of these cases.”

He further argued that the database would help get justice for the families of victims, who he said are often forgotten over time as investigators retire.

“Some of these victims have been forgotten,” he said. “And some of these victims are family members of people in your district. I would guess that every district in Wyoming has some of these unsolved cases, but we really don't know because there is no central repository of this information in our state.”

150 Cold Cases

During a committee meeting last fall, Ryan Cox, a commander with DCI who oversees cold cases for the agency, estimated there are around 150 active cold cases in Wyoming dating back to 1965, but DCI only has 51 in its database.

I would guess that every district in Wyoming has some of these unsolved cases, but we really don't know because there is no central repository of this information in our state.

The proposed legislation is one of two bills advanced by the Joint Judiciary committee last fall. A bill that would allow DCI to hire two fulltime retired police officers to exclusively work on cold cases was folded into the existing draft bill that will allow DCI to use any unspent money on investigating unsolved cases.

The draft bill passed with a vote of 51-9, with two representatives excused.

The nine dissenters were John Bear, R-Gillette; Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland; Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan; Ken Pendergraft, R-Sheridan; Allen Slagle, R-Newcastle; Scott Smith, R-Lingle; Tomi Strock, R-Douglas; Clarence Styvar, R-Cheyenne; and Jeanette Ward, R-Casper.

The bill will be discussed in the House Judiciary Committee later this week.

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JK

Jen Kocher

Features, Investigative Reporter