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Utah Man Faces Up To 21 Years in Jail & $210,000 in Fines For Falsely Obtaining Wyo Hunting Licenses

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By Joy Ufford, Pinedale Roundup

SUBLETTE COUNTY – A man who told wildlife investigators he “feels” like a Wyoming resident did not spend enough time in Wyoming to qualify for many years of obtaining resident deer and elk licenses.

Craig L. Hunt, of Morgan, Utah, was charged Sept. 16 with 21 high misdemeanors counts of swearing in false statements for many years to Wyoming Game and Fish that he lived in Cora, court records show. 

Specifically, Hunt is charged with false statements for 13 resident elk licenses from 2008 through 2020 and eight resident deer licenses from 2009 to 2016, court records show.

In his affidavit, Game and Fish Warden Herb Haley said in 2019 he received an anonymous tip that he lived and worked in Morgan, Utah, but used his parents’ post office address to apply for the licenses.

Wildlife investigator Dustin Kirsch assisted Haley by investigating Facebook posts, Google Earth photos and other records, it says. Haley and Kirsch interviewed Hunt on Jan. 27, 2021 in Utah. 

Hunt said he started building a cabin near Cora in 2015 and his camper was his permanent residence, although he had to bring it to Utah for the winters, according to court records.

He said he spent a lot of time in Wyoming and considered himself a Wyoming resident, the affidavit says.

Using cell phone records, Haley determined that he spent 115 days or about one-third of a one-year period year in Wyoming –– or more than 180 days outside Wyoming, thus disqualifying him for residency, it says. 

Hunt also paid taxes as a Utah resident, Haley noted. Hunt’s arraignment is scheduled in Sublette County Circuit Court for Oct. 4 at 11 a.m. Each offense has a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and $10,000 fine with hunting license suspensions.

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September Ends With No Sign Of Laundrie; FBI, Dog The Bounty Hunter Continue Search

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

After two weeks of searching, law enforcement officers still have not found Brian Laundrie, the fiance of Gabby Petito, whose remains were found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest earlier this month.

Laundrie was reported missing from his Florida home by his parents on September 17. Petito’s remains were found two days later in Wyoming, nearly a month after she was last seen. Her death has been ruled a homicide, although Laundrie has not been formally accused of her death, but is considered a person of interest.

Petito and Laundrie had been traveling the country in a van. On Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to his home in Florida with the fan and without Petito. She was reported missing on Sept. 11.

A warrant has been issued for Laundrie’s arrest by the federal court in Cheyenne. The warrant does not accuse Laundrie of any role in Petito’s death, but accuses of him of unlawfully using a credit card in the days following her disappearance.

Police from various departments are searching for Laundrie. The case has also attracted national attention, meaning that the FBI and even reality star Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman have gotten involved in the search for Laundrie.

According to CNN, the extent of Laundrie’s parents’ involvement in his disappearance is still up in the air, but a former FBI special agent said the family would have had 10 days to two weeks to plan out how we would slip away from police.

CNN also reported that the Laundrie family stayed at a Florida campground between Sept. 6 and 8, about 75 miles from their North Port home. He also purchased a new cell phone during this time.

The U.S. Sun reported that Chapman has found personal items he believes may belong to Laundrie while searching in Fort De Soto Park in Florida, which spans more than 1,100 acres. He also claimed on Wednesday that he was “closing in” on Laundrie’s location.

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Information Sought On Uinta County Oilfield Burglaries

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By the Uinta County Herald

The Uinta County Sheriff’s Office is seeking information about a burglary last week and others similar to it that have occurred in surrounding areas.

According to Sgt. Brooke Hale, a suspect or suspects accessed an oilfield/gas location east of Evanston on Monday, Sept. 20, and entered buildings and storage containers and removed a company vehicle from the property. The vehicle was recovered a short time later near the property.

The following day, on Tuesday, Sept. 21, a similar crime was committed, according to the sheriff’s office. … “An oilfield location south of Evanston was accessed,” a post by Uinta County Law Enforcement Services reads, “with vehicles and equipment moved and relocated. Several similar burglaries have occurred north of Evanston, in Sweetwater County, Lincoln County and within Evanston city limits.”

The post indicates that evidence, along with DNA, was collected from both scenes.

Local law enforcement is asking the public to provide any information it might have in these or similar cases. Those with information about the incidents are encouraged to call Sgt. Hale at 307-783-1036 or Deputy Kirby Barker at 307-780-1016. Information can also be reported anonymously for a possible tip through Crimestoppers. Tipsters can send a text to 307-708-2274.

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Rock Springs Police Dept Investigating Vandalism Sparked By TikTok Trend

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By The Rock Springs Rocket Miner

ROCK SPRINGS — The Rock Springs Police Department has been investigating several vandalisms to schools that have been directly related to a recent social media trend from TikTok.

The vandalisms incited by the trend caused several thousands of dollars worth of damage to the Sweetwater School District No. 1 buildings and greatly disrupted the learning environment for students.

RSPD has also learned there are several more trends through July 2022 called TikTok Challenges, which have different challenges every month that appear to be targeted at schools, staff, and students.

RSPD would like to inform parents a majority of the challenges are crimes and the RSPD will thoroughly investigate all incidents and those responsible will be held responsible in the court of law. Incidents on school campuses may also lead to school disciplinary action against students responsible and students associated with the crimes.

It appears many students are aware of the challenge and RPSD would like parents to speak with their children about these social media trends, the criminal nature of the trends, and the repercussions if they participate in these trends.

The Rock Springs Police Department appreciates the parents, students, and communities help and involvement with the challenges we face.

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Arrest Warrant Issued For Brian Laundrie As Search Continues in 25,000-Acre Swamp

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

An arrest warrant has been issued for Brian Laundrie, the fiancé of Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old who was found dead in the Bridger Teton National Forest on Sunday.

The FBI announced on Thursday afternoon that the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued the arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie “pursuant to a Federal Grand Jury indictment related to Mr. Laundrie’s activities following the death of Gabrielle Petito.”

“While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr. Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito’s homicide,” FBI Special Agent Michael Schneider said.

The warrant does not seek Laundrie’s arrest in connection with Petito’s death. Instead, he is being arrested for the unlawful use of a credit card after Petito was killed.

The single-count indictment alleges that from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1, Laundrie “knowingly and with intent to defraud, used one or more unauthorized access devices, namely a Capital One Bank debit card […] and a personal identification number for Capital One Bank accounts.” Through that illegal conduct, the indictment alleges, Laundrie “obtained things of value aggregating to $1,000 or more.” 

Laundrie’s lawyer made sure to bring this bit of detail to the press.

“The arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie is related to activities  occurring after the death of Gabby Petito and not related to her actual demise,” Steven Bertolino said.

However, the search for Laundrie continues.

Although he made it home to his parents’ house in Florida two weeks ago, he was reported missing late last week.

Adam Walsh, host of the television show “America’s Most Wanted” and a longtime victims’ rights advocate, told USA Today that law enforcement in Florida erred, stating that the police should have kept an eye on the house and followed Laundrie if he left.

“”All these mistakes were made on my son Adam’s case, and similar mistakes were made in this case,” said Walsh, whose son Adam was abducted and found murdered in 1981. “It’s pretty damn sad.”

Authorities think Laundrie may be located in the Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre swamp he told his parents he was headed to.

“We’ve deployed numerous resources and we are trying to cover every acre in this preserve,” Joe Fussell said, a police commander in Florida.

Besides the hundreds of searchers, drones, dogs, and dive teams are looking for the 23-year-old.

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Online Predators On The Rise in Wyoming, Authorities Say

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

If anyone has any doubt about the dangers lurking for children and teens on the internet, Chris McDonald can clear up any uncertainty. There are dangers. And they only continue to get worse. 

As the head of Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) unit, he and his crew of nine agents and forensic investigators see it firsthand on a daily basis. 

“I yell it from the rooftops to anyone who will listen to me,” McDonald told Cowboy Sate Daily in a telephone call from his office in Cheyenne, where he has the stats to back up the warning.

In 2019, he and his crew received and investigated 263 cyber tips about child pornography and other hazards. 

That number nearly doubled during the pandemic, with 521 cyber tips received in 2020. This year the office has already received 425 tips to date. 

The tips come in from a number of different organizations, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, TikTok and Google, as well as internet service providers. These tips mostly are based on algorithms of images suspected to be child pornography, user activity and nefarious communication in chat groups and other online platforms.

In recent years, ICAC, funded by a federal grant under the DCI, has investigated everything from production and distribution of child exploitation images, which McDonald refuses to label as pornography, as well as child sexploitation cases which, in his estimation, seem to be on the rise. 

Incidents of child sexploitation occur after a child or teen links up with a predator online through any number of forums. 

The predator then obtains a picture from the minor’s social media page and doctors the image. He or she then uses the doctored image to blackmail the child to get more explicit images or videos. The new images or videos are then shared online.

It’s a lucrative business for some, McDonald said, though many get caught. 

In the past year, for example, the ICAC busted a Sheridan mom sharing images of her child with a prisoner in Mississippi she met online. 

The inmate, who was already serving a multi-decade sentence for abusing a child, was receiving images from the mother through a child messenger app on Facebook. 

Other busts include two Casper men, Ray Farley (aka Ray Lucero) and Conner Farley, for recording themselves sexually abusing three small children in multiple images and videos.

Another Casper man, Liam Van Damme, was sentenced for uploading child pornography using a Google account and a Smug-Flickr account.

After 20 years as a law enforcement officer, including as an undercover narcotics agent, McDonald thought he could no longer be surprised by the types of crimes he’s seen. 

He was wrong. It’s much worse than he imagined 

And while he and his crew work on a daily basis to stamp out online predators, he encourages parents to do their part by carefully monitoring their children’s online activities and knowing the apps they use, as well as the mechanics of their child’s particular smartphone. 

Technology is not going anywhere, McDonald noted, so parents need to arm themselves with knowledge of the dangers that are out there. 

What investigators are currently seeing a lot of, McDonald said, is increased activity on Snapchat, with predators targeting children and teens on TikTok through their embedded Snapchat identities, which makes searching easy. 

Predators then contact those users on Snapchat, acting like peers in an attempt to groom them online.  This might lead to them doctoring an image of the teen or even just soliciting a nude image or video, which the predator then trades online with other predators in social media chat groups such as Facebook, Discord, Kik and others. 

“It’s a form of currency,” McDonald said. “Most offenders have a specific age range they are interested in and trade those images accordingly.”

Another trend they are seeing right now is the targeting of even younger kids between 8 and 10 years old. 

The good news is that Google, various app developers and other internet platforms are getting much savvier about identifying these images and sharing them with law enforcement. 

McDonald himself sifts through about 99% of all submitted cyber tips before assigning them to an ICAC investigator or one of their six partner agencies throughout the state in counties including Sweetwater, Teton, Uinta, Natrona and Johnson.

These partnerships in tandem with the advanced skills of his crew are proving to be effective, McDonald said. 

He estimated the ICAC has identified and rescued 14 victims this year alone and 15 the year prior.

McDonald is a parent himself, and if he has any advice for other parents, it’s talk to your children and know what they are up to online. 

“Communication is so critical,” McDonald said, “including talking to your kid about what to do if an adult tries to approach them online. No adult should ever have a romantic interest in a child.”

Predators try to blame their victims, he added, but they know what they’re doing.

For more information about protecting children online, see NCMEC’s NetSmatz for resources for parents and children. 

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Remains Confirmed As Petito’s; Officials Say She Was Murdered

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily
The remains of a body found in Bridger-Teton National Forest have been identified as those of the 22-year-old Florida woman who disappeared in western Wyoming in late August, officials said Tuesday.

Teton County Coroner Brent Blue also said officials made an official determination that Gabby Petito murdered, however, officials are waiting for the results of an autopsy before announcing the cause of death.

In the meantime, authorities in Florida continued searching Sunday for Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie, who still has not been identified as a suspect, only a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance.  

Law enforcement officers from several different agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Forest Service and Teton County Sheriff’s Office, closed a campground on the forest’s eastern edge over the weekend while searching for Petito, who was reported missing on Sept. 11.

Petito and Laundrie had been traveling together in a van converted so they could live in it. The two had an encounter with police in Moab, Utah, on Aug. 12, where officers described them as having “engaged in some sort of altercation.”

Petito spoke with her mother by video on Aug. 24 and her family did not hear from her after that. Laundrie returned to his home in Florida on Sept. 1 in the couple’s van and without Petito.

Laundrie has not cooperated with authorities in their investigation into Petito’s disappearance. He was reported missing on Friday by members of his family, who said they had last seen him on the previous Tuesday.

On Monday morning, FBI investigators surrounded and entered Laundrie’s parents’ home in North Port, Florida as part of a “court-authorized search warrant,” according to CNN. His parents were escorted out of the house during the search, but later brought back inside for questioning.

Laundrie has not been identified as a suspect, only a person of interest, in Petito’s disappearance.

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Gillette: Man On Drugs Arrested After Causing Disturbance At Elementary School

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

A Gillette man was arrested on Wednesday morning for using drugs after he was reported for “erratic behavior” at Sunflower Elementary School, local law enforcement officials said.

Campbell County Sheriff’s school resource officers responded to the school at 8:19 a.m., where staff reported a 34-year-old male was acting erratically on school property, Sheriff Scott Matheny said.

The suspect had come to the school prior to the report and staff allowed him to use the restroom and a phone, Matheny said, adding that they contacted law enforcement after the man began behaving erratically and was told to leave.

The male then reportedly left the office and began wandering in front of the school as students began arriving, per Matheny.

Deputies and Gillette police officers located the male walking nearby on Dogwood Avenue. He displayed several signs of recent meth use including being fidgety, too hot, and had recent needle marks on his arms, Matheny said.

The male allegedly admitted to using a controlled substance approximately 4 days earlier and was taken into custody, Gillette Police Lt. Brent Wasson said.

He was also found to be on probation and his probation officer was contacted. Two shooter bottles of vodka were reportedly found in his pocket, Matheny said.

Deputies went into the school and inspected the restroom, but they did not find anything suspicious or out of place.

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Drugs, Guns, Assault, Fleeing Police: Gillette Man Charged With Crime Grand Slam

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

A Gillette man suspected of distributing narcotics, who fled and evaded capture last week, has been arrested, Gillette Police Lt. Brent Wasson confirmed Tuesday.

Kenneth Powers, 56, is charged with multiple felonies, including possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and aggravated assault, for an incident that occurred on Sept. 2 where he reportedly fled from Probation & Parole staff, Wasson said on Sept. 3.

Staff, who had received information about a potential drug and firearm stash at Powers’ residence, confronted him around 11:12 a.m. at their office on Commercial Drive, Wasson said.

Powers initially fled from the office in a gold 2003 Nissan Maxima, but he later abandoned the vehicle on West Warlow Drive, Wasson said, adding that the suspect fled the area on foot and officers were not able to locate him at the time.

The vehicle was located and secured by Campbell County Sheriff’s deputies while Gillette Police officers responded to the male’s residence, Wasson continued, for which they were granted a search warrant.

The investigation was impeded momentarily by Powers’ roommate, a 53-year-old male, who initially refused to come to the door when officers arrived and later refused to grant them entry, Wasson said, adding that the roommate was arrested for interference.

In the residence, officers located several ounces of marijuana packaged for sale, 50 LSD tabs, various amounts of suspected cocaine, heroin, and multiple firearms, per Wasson.

Powers was located and arrested on Sept. 5 around 3:40 p.m., according to Campbell County Detention Center records, and was arraigned before Circuit Court Judge Wendy Bartlett on Sept. 7.  

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Gillette Man Arrested For Kidnapping Woman, Threatening To Kill Her

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

A Gillette man is accused of kidnapping and threatening to kill a woman over a relationship dispute, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

Quain Trice, 41, was arraigned before Circuit Court Judge Paul S. Phillips on Sept. 2 on charges consisting of felony kidnapping and domestic battery relating to a Sept. 1 incident during which he reportedly “saw red” because he believed the woman was cheating on him, per the affidavit.

The woman and Trice had been reportedly living together for the past week, but she reportedly moved out after witnessing Quain throw another resident through a wall at an apartment, the affidavit states.

She was reportedly dating another individual and went with him on Sept. 1 to her storage unit at a facility located on Commercial Drive. Another individual accompanied them and allegedly told Trice where the woman was.

The woman’s partner left at her request to avoid any potential problems with Trice.

The woman, when interviewed by police, recalled hearing Trice’s vehicle arrive and heard him approach her from behind.

The affidavit states that Trice allegedly grabbed her by the hair and threw her into the wall of the garage twice before throwing her into his vehicle.

Once she was inside, Trice made several statements that he was going to “F—- kill her,” according to the affidavit, which states that Trice was angrily pacing and ignored the woman’s request for him to close her storage unit.

She exited the vehicle to close the unit herself, which is when Trice reportedly approached her from behind again and punched the side of her face twice, per the affidavit.

The woman told investigators that Trice then told her to get back in the car or he would kill her, a threat he repeated multiple times as he drove them back to his residence, the affidavit states.

As soon as Trice parked the vehicle, she jumped out and fled on foot with the suspect in hot pursuit.

The woman recalled running up to several vehicles that were driving past on 7th Street, banging on their windows and pleading for help, but “the cars kept driving away,” per the affidavit.

She reported to investigators that she feared for her life, so much so that she lost control of her bladder, according to the affidavit, which adds that Trice has been known to carry a black semi-automatic handgun with him.

Once Trice stopped chasing her, the woman went and hid under a porch on Warren Avenue. When the homeowners went out to check on her, she was crying and said “he’s trying to kill me,” the affidavit states.

During his interview, Trice denied any physical altercation, though he did admit to “escorting” the woman into his vehicle, per the affidavit.

He also allegedly believed that he and the woman had been in a relationship for the week leading up to the incident and became angry when he found out about her new boyfriend.

He also admitted to threatening that he would kill her and burn her van down, the affidavit states.

During Trice’s arraignment, Deputy County and Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Reade stated that the state viewed the defendant as a significant threat to the community, evidenced by previous violent crimes and the fact that the woman had been so terrified of him that she wet her pants.

Phillips agreed and set bond for Trice at $250,000 cash only.

He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 8 to determine if there is sufficient probable cause to advance the case onto District Court.

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