Rock Springs Hostage Fought Husband For Gun While Taking A Beating

A woman held hostage at gunpoint by her estranged husband fought him for the weapon while taking a beating, court documents say. The man eventually gave up, but not before terrorizing his wife and repeatedly telling her they both would die.

Clair McFarland

July 11, 20245 min read

Cody Birdwell
Cody Birdwell (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

A Rock Springs woman who was reportedly taken hostage at gunpoint Monday evening fought her husband for his pistol even while taking a beating, court documents say.

Cody Birdwell Jr., 49, now faces up to 32.5 years in prison if convicted of kidnapping, aggravated assault and various misdemeanor charges filed against him Tuesday in Rock Springs Circuit Court.

Birdwell’s wife asked for a protection order against him Monday morning based on domestic abuse claims, according to an evidentiary affidavit filed alongside Birdwell’s charges.

A Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office deputy served Birdwell with the temporary protection order at about 5:30 that evening, then the deputy met Birdwell’s wife at a McDonald’s to let her know Birdwell had been allowed to shower and gather his things but was expected to be gone from her apartment soon, the document says.

She waited until 8 p.m. to go home, but her visit was to be temporary, the affidavit indicates. She locked her children in the car and told them she’d be just a moment getting blankets for them and pajamas for herself, reportedly.

Not Alone

The affidavit says that when she opened the door, a bell fell to the floor and the lights were on, which she found odd since no one was supposed to be there.

As she approached the bedroom, Birdwell allegedly opened the bedroom door and pointed a pistol at her face.

She told him he wasn’t supposed to be there, the affidavit says.

He reportedly countered, saying she wasn’t supposed to be there.

“All she could think about was her kids in the car,” the affidavit relates from the woman’s later interview.

Birdwell allegedly told his estranged wife she wasn’t leaving alive, and neither was she. He walked around her to lock the front door, and later barricaded it with tote containers that had never been unpacked, says the document.

The couple had moved to Rock Springs in March after previously living in Nevada together, the affidavit says.

The document says Birdwell ordered his wife to call 911 to have someone retrieve the kids since neither of them would be leaving the home.

She reportedly pleaded with him to let her go.

With the gun still trained on her, she called 911, says the affidavit. She turned down her phone volume so Birdwell couldn’t hear what the operator was saying.

Threats To Kill Her

He allegedly directed her, by gunpoint, to move into the master bedroom and told her to hang up on 911 and put the phone down, which she did.

She rushed to the bedroom door to try to shut it on him, but he blocked her, says the document. She grabbed Birdwell’s arm and they fought over the gun.

He reportedly hit her twice on the head, but she couldn’t tell if he smacked her with a fist or an open hand, she later told police.

While being hit she clung to the gun, though a hit to her right ear made the ear pop and made her disoriented, reportedly. She weathered another hit to her right face and eye, the document says.

Somehow her hand had shifted so that it was directly over the muzzle of the pistol.

Birdwell told her to let go of the gun or he’d shoot her hand off, allegedly.

Terrified, she let go of the gun, the affidavit says.

Birdwell reportedly pointed the gun at her again and said if she tried that again she’d get a bullet straight to her head.

The affidavit says she then curled up on the floor, waiting for him to shoot her.

Birdwell allegedly grabbed her phone and sent a text to a friend of hers, telling him he’d not see her again and he was going to kill her. He then made the woman call her mother to inform the mother she was going to die, then hang up, the document says.

The Negotiation

Police were evacuating the apartment building by then.

Birdwell allegedly coached his wife to tell police that the situation was all her fault.

A hostage negotiator spoke with Birdwell for some time, while he sat next to his wife on the floor with the gun on the floor, and his hand hovering over it, the affidavit says. It also says Birdwell was looking up jail sentences for what he was doing and verbally berating the woman.

After several minutes of the negotiator speaking with Birdwell, Birdwell allowed his wife to leave the apartment.

She stood, moved the totes away from the door and walked out at 9:29 p.m., says the affidavit.

At 9:41 p.m., Birdwell left the apartment as well and was arrested without incident.

Investigators reportedly found a black pistol on the floor in the hallway. It had no magazine and was not loaded. Police noted that they found a safe in the apartment they couldn’t open, and added that they found no ammunition anywhere in the apartment, the affidavit relates.

Prosecutors in Wyoming can apply the charge of aggravated assault to anyone who points a deadly weapon at another, even if the weapon is not loaded.

During the wife’s interview, an investigator reportedly noticed that her right ear and the right side of her face were red and swollen, and bruises were darkening on her nose.

She was taken to the hospital to be evaluated.

Birdwell is being held in the Sweetwater County Detention Center on a cash or surety bond of $150,000.

His preliminary hearing is set for July 17.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter