Laramie Child Molester Who Disemboweled Himself Gets 6-8 Years In Prison

An 80-year-old Laramie man who partially disemboweled himself when police came to interview him about molesting an 8-year-old girl was sentenced Wednesday to between six and eight years in prison. 

Clair McFarland

May 01, 20246 min read

John Silva
John Silva (Albany Count Sheriff's Office)

An 80-year-old Laramie man who slashed his own neck and partially disemboweled himself while police tried to arrest him for molesting an 8-year-old was sentenced Wednesday to between six and eight years in prison.

A deputy wheeled John Silva, 80, into the Albany County District Court room Wednesday and tucked his wheelchair and legs under the defense table. There Silva sat motionless, wearing a green button-up shirt, a long graying goatee and low ponytail.

His public defense attorney, David Korman, arrived and helped Silva attach a hearing aid device to his ear so he could understand court proceedings.

Albany County District Court Judge Misha Westby had Silva promise to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, and she asked if he had any disabilities that would prevent him from understanding what was happening in court.

“I’ve been having a lot of dizziness, and I can’t really understand what’s being said to me,” said Silva.

It’s an echo of a letter Silva sent to Westby filed April 1 in which he asked for a lighter sentence than the six to eight years his plea agreement references, in light of his health problems and alleged rough treatment by others at the jail.

Westby asked Silva questions to ascertain whether he understood the purpose of the hearing, and he indicated he did. She said he was well enough to handle court since he was seated and had a hearing device.


Albany County Deputy Attorney Becky Farley argued first, offering the six- to eight-year sentence with credit for the 272 days Silva has already spent in jail since his Aug. 2 arrest for second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

He had originally faced three more sex abuse charges, but those were dismissed in exchange for his earlier guilty plea.

Farley asked the judge to ban Silva from contacting his young victim, and she urged the judge against giving Silva probation for such an “egregious” crime.

“The victim needs more time to heal. Society needs more time to heal as well,” said Farley, adding that Silva “should have been protecting her and keeping her safe, not causing harm.”

Farley, and later Westby, both referenced a letter the victim wrote ahead of sentencing, in which she reportedly described Silva finding ways to isolate her from her siblings and take advantage of her, how she struggled to rationalize why this had to happen to her, and in which she said she felt guilty and confused.

“She’s now going to have to deal with trust issues her whole life,” said Farley, adding that the girl has received counseling and good support from her family. “I know she’s going to have to work through a lot, but she’s very bright and I believe she still will be a successful young lady, and she will get through this.”

But He Pleaded Guilty

Farley said Silva’s statements to a probation officer in charge of evaluating his character and history before sentencing are troubling, because he blamed the victim and dodged accountability.

Korman countered, saying Silva did not fail to take accountability for the crime because he confessed to the court when he pled guilty.  

“He’s not here at a jury trial. He didn’t put the victims through that. He didn’t put the community through that — he said ‘guilty,’” said Korman. “I’m a little bit confused by the state’s framing of that issue when he’s come before this court and entered guilty pleas.”

Silva turns 81 in July, Korman noted, adding that scientists have found that prison reduces one’s life expectancy.

He urged Westby to accept the plea agreement. The judge could have disregarded the plea agreement if she’d wished, leaving Silva still to face the potential 20-year sentence allowable under the second-degree sexual abuse charge.

Korman also drew attention to Silva’s health problems, which in addition to difficulty walking and hearing, includes blindness in one eye. The defender said Silva dropped out of school in eighth grade and had a hard life.

‘Incredibly Moving And Sad’

Westby said Korman argued well, but she agreed with Farley on the key points.

It’s “horrible” that the little girl should struggle with guilt while Silva dodges accountability to his evaluator, said the judge.

The girl’s letter was “incredibly moving and sad.”

Westby accepted the plea agreement, saying she considered Silva’s advanced age and other case factors, and that the prosecutor and defender worked well together to craft an appropriate sentence.

The victim’s family did not ask for a restitution payment, so Westby didn’t order one. She assessed other minor fees and court costs.

When everyone else left the courtroom, the deputy — with a series of gentle statements about what he was doing — re-cuffed Silva’s right hand to his wheelchair and wheeled the man out of the room.

Originally …

The original affidavit says social workers referred the little girl June 2, 2023, to the Laramie Police Department because of allegations an older man had sexually abused her from about 2021 to 2022.

The girl reportedly told her forensic interviewer of the man engaging in inappropriate touching and oral sexual contact with her.

All she wanted was for Silva to be in jail until she could move away, she said.

In one instance the girl reportedly tried to kick Silva away and he pushed her knees down so she couldn’t.

Into The Bathroom

Police arrived at Silva’s home to request an interview June 15. A woman answered the door while Silva retreated into the bathroom, for the next 33 minutes at least, says the affidavit.

Finally, a woman went into the bathroom to intervene, and when she did, she yelled for someone to call an ambulance. Then she took a large bloody knife from Silva and dropped it on the washing machine, says the document.

“Let me die, let me die,” Silva reportedly said.

He lay in the bathtub still clothed, bleeding from the left side of his neck and the front of his stomach. A small portion of his intestines protruded through his stomach wall, the affidavit says.

Police deemed these wounds to be self inflicted.

“You think I wanna, you think of what they done to me in prison,” he said, adding, “F*** no. I ain’t gonna live.”

He was raped and sodomized in prison, Silva said, referencing a previous incarceration stint.

Back In Idaho

Silva was convicted after a July 29, 2005, incident in Idaho, in which he exposed his genitalia to a 7-year-old child and grabbed other children on their buttocks.

The children said Silva had exposed himself to them before when they’d walk by his home.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter