Cat Still Missing From Sheridan Home Destroyed In Police Standoff

A week after Sheridan woman's home was destroyed in a 32-hour standoff with a man who reportedly shot and killed a Sheridan police officer, her cat is still missing.

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Clair McFarland

February 21, 20245 min read

Standoff house and cat 2 21 24

When the timid sun comes out each day, a Sheridan woman loads humane traps with tuna and sets them near a heap of rubble. Then she waits for a silver-haired cat.

Elaine Kristiansen, an experienced humane cat-trapper in Sheridan, is helping the family of Karo Hamilton search for Hamilton’s lost cat, Cersei.

Cersei went missing when Hamilton’s home became the scene of a multi-agency police standoff with an armed suspected cop-killer last week. The home was ripped open and flooded during the standoff.

The suspect, William Lowery, was shot Feb. 14 while fleeing the house with a weapon, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation reported, though the agency did not identify Lowery by name.

Lowery reportedly shot Sheridan Police Sgt. Nevada Krinkee the morning before the standoff, Feb. 13. He was identified in an earlier police announcement and in megaphone calls at the standoff.

Two Dogs Found, Kitty Still Missing

Karo Hamilton did not know Lowery, her daughter, Brookelynn Hamilton, told Cowboy State Daily.

Karo’s two dogs got caught in the standoff.

A city worker found the larger dog, Mia, whimpering and shivering on a pile of debris in the flooded basement after the standoff ended. Another responder found the smaller dog, Willie, alive in the rubble several hours later.  

Hamilton’s 10-year-old longhair cat, Cersei, remains missing a week later. She’s been an indoor cat and is sweet but shy, Brookelynn said.

Cersei has been missing for a week.
Cersei has been missing for a week. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The Search

Kristiansen said she did not know Karo Hamilton before last week. But Kristiansen has a passion for animal care and some time on her hands while her shoulder is healing from a surgery, so she decided to help with the search.

Kristiansen was the director of Second Chance Sheridan Cat Rescue from 2009 to 2021, and offered spay/neuter clinics to Sheridan and Johnson counties, she said.

The rescue service drove down both intake and euthanasia rates for cats at the local shelter, according to a 2017 report the group compiled.

Now she’s hoping her skillset can help bring Cersei home.

“I just really wanted to offer my help. This family has gone through a tremendous nightmare,” said Kristiansen. “And to be able to find their kitty would just make it so much better for them.”

Brookelynn told Cowboy State Daily last week that she and Karo regard the pets as part of the family.

Another cat is near a live trap set to catch Cersei.
Another cat is near a live trap set to catch Cersei. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Could Still Be In There

Kristiansen said she hasn’t been leaving the traps out overnight. She sets them in the day as soon as it’s warm enough for a sustained stakeout.

Then she alternates between watching the traps from her car and walking around the neighborhood listening for meows, calling for Cersei, and questioning passersby about whether they’ve seen the cat.

Brookelynn and other family members also search with her, Kristiansen said.

The search seemed easier last week after multiple snowstorms blanketed the town.

“It was really nice when we had a little bit of snow so we could track kitty prints,” said Hamilton. “But now we have mud – it’s a little harder.”

Kristiansen is hopeful that authorities will soon lift the security fence around the home so the searchers can scour the rubble, she said.

Cersei could have hunkered down in the house when police started lobbing gas grenades and shooting gas projectiles into the home, and she may still be in there, traumatized. Or she may have fled. Either is possible, said Kristiansen.

But having been an indoor cat all her life, Cersei may be too shy to approach people outside, and may be hiding in another location, terrified, she added.

Karo Hamilton did not immediately respond to a Cowboy State Daily request for comment Wednesday. Her brother Jerry Jones said Hamilton has been in the process of relocating their mother, who requires long-term care, to Grand Junction, Colorado.

Jones said he’s grateful for the Sheridan residents “who went way above and beyond for all … involved in this tragic loss of life.”

Wanted: Night Vision Goggles

Kristiansen hopes to extend her searches into the night, and is seeking to borrow night-vision goggles, she said.

She said Sheridan Animal Control is aware of her efforts, but the agency itself doesn’t have the manpower to sit and monitor the traps all day.

“I think this comm has come together in this crisis,” said Kristiansen. “There’s a lot of healing that needs to take place. And I’m just hoping we can find the kitty and get the kitty back to mom and family – so they can also have more healing.”

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter