Wyoming Man Charged Two Years After Teen Girl Escaped Attack, Kidnap Attempt

Two years after someone attacked and tried to stuff a Riverton teen girl into her own car, a local man has been charged and could get up to life in prison.

Clair McFarland

March 28, 20246 min read

Terrence Jenkins and Gem Theaters 3 28 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Two years after a parent in Fremont County posted an alert that a man had attacked her teenage ward and stolen her car, a man is charged with several state felonies and sitting in a county jail.

Terrence Paul Jenkins, who turns 40 this year, was in federal custody during the intervening two years for failing to register as a sex offender. He’s now charged with attempted rape, attempted kidnapping, arson, aggravated burglary and aggravated assault, and could get a possible sentence of life in prison if convicted.

His case ascended Wednesday to the felony-level Fremont County District Court, at which point it became public for the first time.

‘I’m On My Way Home’

The girl was at the Gem Theaters in Riverton the evening of May 28, 2022, according to a post made two days later by her guardian.

She would have been 15 or 16 at the time.

“I’m on my way home auntie,” the girl texted, according to the guardian's alert post.

“Drive safe babe,” the aunt texted back.

The aunt watched the girl’s Life360 tracking app on her phone, and she wasn’t moving. Then her car sped the wrong direction, the post says.

“We knew something was wrong,” the post says, adding that then a call came in from the movie theater: It was the girl, calling to say someone had robbed her.

The girl’s guardians arrived to find her covered in blood from head to waist, says the post, adding that the girl had fought for her life. They later found her car, singed as if someone had tried to light it on fire. But the guardians weren’t as concerned over the car — a replaceable object — as they were over the girl.

“I’m so proud of her and her strength,” says the aunt's post. “She didn’t let him win. She was smart and used what she had. I couldn’t be any prouder of her.”

The girl's aunt encouraged people to watch their daughters and to use the Life360 tracking application, and to be aware of their surroundings.

The post also offered a description of the suspect.

Terrence Jenkins 3 28 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

But First, A Reported Stabbing

The evening didn’t start with the kidnapping report; it started with a reported stabbing.

Riverton Police Department Officer Taggart Harmelink responded to a Riverton liquor store on Federal Boulevard at 9:37 p.m., May 28, 2022, for a call about a knifepoint robbery.

The alleged victim, who was about 53 at the time, had a laceration to her lower left abdomen, according to an evidentiary affidavit filed in the case.

The woman said a Native American male had approached her driver’s side door and stabbed her.

A male bystander, who was about 16, yelled at the man to stop, the affidavit says.

The stabber then grabbed some of the alcohol the woman had just bought and ran west away from the scene toward the heart of town, reportedly.

RPD officers collected evidence, including cigarette butts discarded in front of the liquor store, and DNA swabs from the woman’s vehicle.

The affidavit says video surveillance at the shop showed the man, later identified as Jenkins, standing outside the store smoking cigarettes just before the incident. The woman left the store, and Jenkins followed her in a way “which appeared to be an attempt to close the distance,” the affidavit relates.

She reached her vehicle. The footage reportedly showed the teen confronting Jenkins, and Jenkins running off.

The document says the footage showed the woman running into the liquor store, pressing her belly with her left hand.

Ten days later, the woman reportedly identified Jenkins from a six-photo lineup.

Then-RPD Detective Billy Whiteplume called in a witness he’d spotted on the surveillance to pick out the suspect from a photo lineup. The witness also identified Jenkins from a six-photo lineup, the affidavit alleges.

One Hour Later

One hour after the stabbing, RPD Officer Brandon Brookover went to the Gem Theater in Riverton for a report of a robbery and knife assault.

Brookover found a girl, age 15 or 16, “bloodied,” says the affidavit.

The girl said she did not know the man who attacked her.

Brookover noticed that the girl’s description of the male matched the earlier reported description of the suspected liquor-store stabber.

The girl said the man pressed a knife to her throat, punched her in the face, beat her, strangled her and pulled her hair. She escaped his grasp by slipping out from her jacket and shirt, says the affidavit.

He tried to get her into the passenger seat, but she fought him; he then tried to stuff her into the back seat, tried to pull her pants down, but she kept fighting, the document alleges.

The attacker reportedly fled in the girl’s car and took her cellphone.

Tracking …

Law enforcement agents were able to track the fleeing car with the girl’s 360 tracking app, the affidavit says.

They found the car in the 400 block of Washington Avenue in Riverton. It was unoccupied, but a partially burned rag stuck out from the gas tank. The vehicle’s exterior bore scorch marks, says the affidavit.

Her phone was found at a stairwell at the Rodeway Inn, reportedly.

The document says that three days later, the girl picked Jenkins out from a six-photo lineup.

Whiteplume interviewed Jenkins on June 8, 2022. Jenkins reportedly confirmed he’d been staying at the Rodeway Inn.

Whiteplume also gathered a cheek swab from Jenkins and, pursuant to a warrant, sent the swab to the Wyoming Crime Lab.

Around Sept. 8, 2022, DNA match results started coming from the lab. Investigators rated Jenkins’ DNA “highly consistent” with the DNA from the cigarette butts collected around the liquor store, the DNA found on the girl’s cellphone and in the girl’s car.

The Tally

Jenkins faces two charges of aggravated robbery, each punishable by between five and 25 years in prison.

He’s also charged with attempted kidnapping (between 20 years and life in prison), attempted first-degree sexual assault (between five and 50 years), third-degree arson (up to five years) and aggravated assault (up to 10 years in prison).

Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun, who charged the case March 19, is also seeking sentencing enhancement against Jenkins, since Jenkins is a “habitual” offender. The enhancement could bring an extra 10-50 years to Jenkins’ sentence.

LeBrun’s charging document cites Jenkins’ 2009 federal conviction for sexual abuse and his 2004 state conviction for taking indecent liberties with a minor.

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

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter