Boyfriend Of Missing Wyoming Woman Subject Of New Investigation

The boyfriend of a Wyoming woman missing for more than two years remains a “person of interest” in her disappearance. Meanwhile, Nathan Hightman is in prison for unrelated crimes and is the subject of a new investigation.

Jen Kocher

April 03, 20244 min read

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The live-in boyfriend of a missing Gillette woman is already in prison on unrelated crimes, but may potentially face new charges following a new investigation by the Torrington Police Department.

Nathan Hightman, 40, who is considered by police to be a “person of interest” in the disappearance of his girlfriend and Kenyan nursing student Irene Gakwa, is the subject of a new investigation during his time in 2023 while incarcerated at Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington.

Though Hightman is not charged with any crimes related to Gakwa’s disappearance, he is serving a three-to-six-year sentence after pleading guilty last March to three felonies related to stealing her money, maxing out her credit card in excess of $6,000 as well as deleting her email account.

The Torrington Police will not comment on the completed investigation for an unknown incident, only to say that it has been referred to the Goshen County Attorney’s Office for review, according to Chief Matt Johnson.

“Pending the county attorney's final decision, I am not able to provide additional detail at this time,” Johnson said in a Wednesday email to Cowboy State Daily.

Goshen County Attorney Eric Boyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

More Trouble For Hightman?

Hightman also has been transferred back to the medium-security facility in Torrington from the maximum-security prison in Rawlins. He had been initially sent to Torrington following his sentencing in June 2023, but months later was transferred to the Rawlins facility for undisclosed reasons.

The Wyoming Department of Corrections declined to comment on the reason for the most recent transfer. Likewise, WDOC had no comment on whether Hightman was facing any infractions that might have accounted for the move.

“Information surrounding disciplinary actions cannot be released at this time,” Stephanie Kiger, records and communication lead and public information officer for WDOC, stated in an email to Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday afternoon.

Johnson, likewise, was unaware that Hightman had been transferred back to Torrington.

“To my knowledge, the move was not related to our investigation,” he said.

As it stands, Hightman will be eligible for parole in March 2025, according to the WDOC offender locator.

  • Where is Irene Gakwa 4 2 17 24
  • Nathan Hightman was the live-in boyfriend of a woman from Gillette missing for two years. Although he's serving time in prison for stealing her credit cards and money and remaining a suspect in her disappearance, he hasn't been charged with it.
    Nathan Hightman was the live-in boyfriend of a woman from Gillette missing for two years. Although he's serving time in prison for stealing her credit cards and money and remaining a suspect in her disappearance, he hasn't been charged with it. (Campbell County Sheriff's Office)

Where Is Irene?

Gakwa, now 34, disappeared in late February 2022 from the home she shared with Hightman in Gillette. She was last seen on a video call with her parents in Kenya on Feb. 24, 2022, and was reported missing in March 2022 by her family.

The mortgage on the house, which was held by Hightman, was scheduled to be sold in a foreclosure sale at the Campbell County Courthouse on Wednesday morning, but was canceled for unknown reasons.

Hightman, for his part, denied having anything to do with Gakwa’s disappearance and maintains his innocence.

He told police that Gakwa came home one evening in late February and announced she was moving, before getting into a dark-colored SUV with her belongings packed into two plastic bags, according to court records.

The couple had met in Meridian, Idaho, in 2019 after Gakwa had moved from Kenya to be closer to her two brothers and their families and to attend nursing school. She met Hightman on Craigslist, and the two dated for more than a year before they moved to Gillette in July 2021.

When questioned by police following her disappearance, Hightman admitted that he had illegally used her credit card and accessed her checking account in an attempt to coerce Gakwa into contacting him, court records state.

To date, there have been no sightings of Gakwa nor has she contacted her family.

In October 2023, the FBI and Gillette Police Department searched the couple’s house for more than eight hours. All warrants and court documents in the case have since been sealed.

The GPD continues to investigate her disappearance with no new updates to report, said Deputy Chief Brent Wasson.

Jen Kocher can be reached at

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Jen Kocher

Features, Investigative Reporter