Searchers Recover Missing Gillette Woman’s Cellphone, But No Sign Of Her

Tami Lynn Sturgeon, 55, has been missing in the rugged Yellow Hammer Buttes near Gillette since Saturday afternoon, reportedly looking for her lost cellphone. Searchers recovered the phone Tuesday, but Sturgeon remains missing.

Andrew Rossi

March 26, 20244 min read

Tami Sturgeon
Tami Sturgeon (Via Facebook)

After three days of a massive multi-agency search, there is still no sign of Tami Lynn Sturgeon, the 55-year-old Gillette, Wyoming, woman who went missing Saturday afternoon in rugged terrain after a day of shed hunting with her husband.

All that’s been recovered so far is Sturgeon’s missing phone, the very thing that led to her disappearance. According to her husband, Sturgeon believed her phone was missing, so they split up and searched in the Yellow Hammer Buttes area where they were shed hunting to find it, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office reports.

Sturgeon’s husband reported her missing around 7 p.m. Saturday, saying he hadn’t seen or heard from her for several hours, so he left the area to find a place to contact Campbell County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch.

Campbell County Undersheriff Quenton Reynolds said Sturgeon’s phone was discovered Tuesday on the side-by-side she and her husband had been using that day.

“It’s not uncommon for individuals to misplace their phones,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “They think it's in one place, and come to find out it’s probably the last place they thought they'd look. And there are a lot of nooks and crannies on a side-by-side.”

Unfortunately, Reynolds said the phone’s discovery hasn’t assisted the ongoing search effort, which after three nights of cold and snow is nearing the threshold of being a recovery effort rather than search and rescue.

“It just shows that the phone was missing, and it was located,” he said.

Land And Air

Around a dozen volunteers spent Tuesday afternoon doing a grid search of the area around Yellow Hammer Buttes. A grid search is when searchers line up in a row and slowly, but meticulously, cover a small area at a time, generally less than a mile.

Reynolds said multiple methods have been used in the search for Sturgeon.

“The first and third searches were trying to do a broader, bigger circumference, up to a mile away, to see if we get the direction to travel,” he said. “It’s pretty rough terrain, and we have radio contact with everyone for their safety.”

On Monday afternoon, five people boarded a Blackhawk helicopter from Rapid City, South Dakota, to do an aerial search of the area. Even with technology like thermal spotters, the helicopter search yielded no tangible clues to Sturgeon’s location.

“They felt like they canvassed the area pretty well,” he said. “So today, we're back out there with our search and rescue and deputies trying to do a smaller grid search to get the direction of travel.”

Search and Rescue volunteers from Sheridan and Johnson counties are assisting the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office in the search. Reynolds said their experience continues to be invaluable.

“The search and rescue people from Sheridan and Johnson counties are the subject matter experts on these due to the terrain,” he said. “They conduct a lot more searches than we do, so we've utilized their knowledge and expertise.”

Safe Searching

At roughly 7 p.m. Monday, the search for Sturgeon was called off until Tuesday morning. After sunset, the darkness could be a safety hazard for anyone searching on foot.

Reynolds said if Sturgeon is not located Tuesday afternoon, the search would be suspended around sunset and resume Wednesday morning.

“It's just for the safety and security of our individuals,” he said. “We don't want somebody injured or lost. So, we protect our people and suspend the search in the dark.”

Meanwhile, volunteers who would like to assist in the search “wouldn’t be turned away,” but the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office isn’t seeking any additional help. According to Reynolds, their primary concern is the safety of anyone searching in the rugged terrain.

“We’d hate to have volunteers out there and get injured or lost,” he said. “It’s not that we would turn them down, but we’re just utilizing our search and rescue teams and the deputies in our posse right now.”

Andrew Rossi can be reached at

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Andrew Rossi

Features Reporter