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Sweetwater County Detective to Appear On “20/20” Friday For Dating Game Killer Episode

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

It’s a little short notice, but if you’re a true crime fanatic, you should tune into ABC’s “20/20” on Friday at 7 p.m. to see a Sweetwater County detective.

According to a social media post, Sweetwater County Detective Jeff Sheaman will appear to discuss the 1977 murder of Christine Thornton in Granger.

According to media reports, Thornton left Texas in 1977, heading to Montana with her boyfriend to pan for gold. Her remains were found near Granger in western Sweetwater County in 1982, however, they were not identified until 2015.

Sheaman and other detectives investigating the case ultimately connected Thornton’s murder to the killing of at least seven other women across the country by Rodney Alcala, also known as the “Dating Game Killer.”

Alcala is now charged with first-degree murder in Thornton’s death and has been convicted of seven other murders. However, officials maintain his body count could be much higher. He has been imprisoned since 1979.

He is known as the “Dating Game Killer” due to his appearance on the dating show of the same name in the midst of his crime spree. He actually won his segment.

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Gillette Man To Face 31 Felony Counts Of Aggravated Child Abuse

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By County 17

A Gillette man has been charged with 31 counts of felony aggravated child abuse for allegedly injuring a 3-month-old infant to the point that he was hospitalized with broken bones.

Tyler Martinson, 28, was arraigned on the alleged charges Tuesday, Jan. 5, before Sixth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Paul Phillips.

The investigation regarding Martinson and the infant’s injuries date back to Jan. 2, after Campbell County Memorial Hospital emergency room staff contacted the Gillette Police Department (GPD) to report potential child abuse, according to the affidavit filed in the case.

The infant had been brought to the emergency room by Martinson and a woman, whose identity has been withheld to protect the identity of the infant, after they reportedly noticed the infant’s ribs were popping with every breath and were swollen.

Martinson advised ER staff that the baby was not using his right leg, which was splayed to the side and not moving. Hospital staff informed investigators that the baby was “screaming and inconsolable,” according to the affidavit.

Court documents further allege that Martinson told doctors “I might have been a little rough.”

Examinations revealed the baby had suffered 26 separate fractures to his ribs and five fractures to his legs, all of which were in various stages of healing, according to court documents.

ER staff informed investigators that, given the extent of the injuries, they could only be inflicted by force equivalent to that of a car crash, according to the affidavit.
Martinson allegedly also stated that he did not know how to pick up or handle an infant and had injured the infant several times over the past three months since the baby was born, the affidavit stated.

When asked to explain by investigators what had happened, Martinson allegedly told them “I got so angry, you know, I just have a lot going on and I just lost it, I guess,” according to the affidavit.

The female also allegedly informed investigators that she witnessed Martinson being “too rough” with the infant on several occasions that had resulted in bruising.

Due to the extent of his injuries, the infant was transferred to an out-of-state health care facility for treatment.

Deputy County and Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Reade advised that the state views Martinson as a flight risk, given the length of time Martinson could face in prison should he be convicted.

“He’s young and could run off to anywhere and start over fairly easily. He appears to have the backing of a lot of his family,” Reade stated.

He requested Phillips allow Martinson a $100,000 cash or commercial surety bond on the condition that Martinson have no contact with the victim or any key witnesses.

Martinson’s defense, Attorney Denise Urbin, argued that her client was not a flight risk. She said that bond for her client was appropriate considering his lack of a criminal record and his cooperation with law enforcement during the investigation.

“If he were a flight risk, he would have been gone a long time ago,” Urbin said, adding that Martinson is not a threat to the community and any potential threat he could pose to the infant would be alleviated by the no contact provision requested by the state.

Phillips said that, given the appearance that Martinson posed a significant threat to members of the community, including the victim and key witnesses, he would allow the bond requested by the prosecution.

Phillips added that Martinson, should he post bond, cannot contact the victim or witnesses in the case, must adhere to a strict curfew with work-related exceptions, and cannot leave Campbell County for any reason.

Martinson has also been ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device.

As of the time of publication, Martinson had not posted bond and was currently being detained at the Campbell County Detention Center.

Martinson faces 31 charges of felony aggravated child abuse. If convicted, Martinson could face a total of 775 years’ imprisonment, a $31,000 fine, or both.

His preliminary hearing will be held Jan. 12.

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Gillette: Teen Arrested For Strangulation, Assault Of Pregnant Woman

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

A 19-year-old man is charged with aggravated assault of a pregnant woman after allegedly choking and pressing a knife to his girlfriend’s neck yesterday morning, Gillette Police Lt. Brent Wasson said Wednesday.

The alleged incident occurred at an apartment in the 100 block of East Walnut Street on Dec. 29 and was reported to police around 10:45 a.m., Wasson said.

The man and his girlfriend, a pregnant 21-year-old female, had been playing around when she accidentally struck him in the face, causing him to become angry, according to the police report.

The man did not recall what had specifically occurred, informing officers that he had blacked out during the incident. When he came to, he had his hands around the woman’s throat. The woman also reported that, during the alleged incident, the man had held a knife to her neck and face, Wasson said.

Officers noted visible signs of injury on the woman’s neck and chest and her shirt was ripped, according to Wasson.

The 19-year-old man was arrested and charged with felony strangulation of a household member and felony aggravated assault on a pregnant woman, according to the police report.

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Alcohol Fuels Fights, Chaos, And Mayhem In Gillette

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

Alcohol-related incidents kept local police on their toes Monday night with officers intervening to stop an alleged drunk driver and two separate fights.

The incidents kicked off at 10:55 p.m., Dec. 28, after concerned citizens contacted the Gillette Police Department (GPD) to report an intoxicated 39-year-old man was about to drive his vehicle from the Old Chicago parking lot on Boxelder Road, according to GPD Lt. Brent Wasson.

The man was contacted in his running vehicle, but officers permitted him to walk to a nearby hotel after the man stated he was only starting his vehicle because it had oil pump issues, Wasson said Tuesday morning.

Approximately 30 minutes later, hotel staff contacted police to report the man had left the hotel and was about to drive his vehicle out of the parking lot. Officers responded, stopped him, and arrested him for driving under the influence of alcohol, per Wasson.

Around the same time, officers were also dispatched to the Fireside Bar on Highway 14-16 for the report of a bar fight in progress. Upon their arrival, several parties were actively fighting with one another.

Officers broke up the fight and a 38-year-old man was identified for his alleged involvement. He was instructed not to leave while officers attempted to deescalate the situation further. The 38-year-old man reportedly slipped out of the bar and hid in his vehicle in the parking lot, where he was subsequently found and arrested, Wasson said.

During the ensuing investigation, witnesses informed officers that the 38-year-old man had reportedly started a fight with another unidentified male, who fled the area before officers arrived.

Several female patrons reportedly attempted to break up the fight, during which the 38-year-old man allegedly struck a 34-year-old woman in the head causing pain and swelling. He was charged with interference and battery, Wasson said.

At 3:30 this morning, police were again dispatched to the report of another fight on Sierra Drive involving two intoxicated male roommates, one 36 and the other 25.

The 36-year-old man claimed the 25-year-old man threatened to shoot him while brandishing a firearm, prompting the 36-year-old to strike the 25-year-old in the face multiple times in self-defense, per Wasson.

However, further investigation revealed the claims about the firearm were unsubstantiated and the 36-year-old man pursued the 25-year-old around the house before the younger man escaped out the back door.

Officers reportedly observed the 36-year-old man continue to cause a disturbance while they were on scene, Wasson said.

The 25-year-old man had a bloody nose and mouth and swelling to his face. The 36-year-old man was arrested and charged with battery as well as intoxication, according to Wasson.

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Casper Man Threatens Police, ‘Suicide By Cop’ During Stand-Off

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper man has been arrested after a standoff with Casper police that came after he allegedly threatening to shoot police officers and said he would commit suicide by forcing police to shoot him.

Jackie Carbajal was arrested early Tuesday morning after the standoff that began Monday afternoon.

According to a post from the Casper Police Department, officers responded to a report of a family fight at an apartment complex in Casper on Monday afternoon. They learned Carabajal reportedly broke into his ex-wife’s apartment, physically assaulted her and took her cell phone before leaving.

The victim’s daughter, who was also in the apartment, called 911. Upon arrival at the scene, officers observed the door to the apartment to be completely destroyed, signs of a forced entry.

While on the scene, officers observed a phone call between the victim and Carabajal, who had already fled. Officers attempted to speak with the Carabajal during the call, but he proceeded to tell officers that if he saw any cops he would “shoot them immediately.”

He also told officers he had firearms and other weapons and would “shoot any cop who looked at him.” The suspect was also threatening to commit “suicide by cop,” a reference to a person acting in such a way as to force police to shoot him.

Upon further investigation, officers discovered that Carabajal had an outstanding felony warrant for his arrest for aggravated assault in which he was accused of physically assaulting his ex-wife.

A short time later, officers received a call from an anonymous person with Carabajal’s location.

Multiple officers responded to the residents where Carbajal was later found to set up a perimeter.

Not long after, officers conducted a traffic stop with a vehicle seen leaving the residence and the driver told officers that Carabajal was inside the home and might have access to firearms.

During this interaction, officers observed an additional phone call between this individual and Carabajal, in which the latter was again threatening to kill himself.

At this point, officers requested the assistance of the Natrona County Special Response Team, highly-trained crisis negotiators who talked with Carabajal for several hours.

Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, Carabajal surrendered. Following his arrest, officers recovered a firearm from inside the residence.

Carabajal was taken into custody and arrested on his felony warrant and has also been recommended for one felony charge of burglary, one misdemeanor charge of unlawful entry, and one felony charge of domestic battery.

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Christmas Eve Stabbing Leaves One Dead in Fremont County

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The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office on Monday announced they are investigating a homicide that occurred on Christmas Eve near Pavillion.

The sheriff’s office said that they received a 911 call at 8:46pm on December 24 from an individual who said a man had sustained a significant injury to the chest.  

When deputies arrived they found a 41-year old man with an apparent stab wound to the chest.  

“Deputies and ambulance crews attempted to render aid but the man did not survive,” the office said in a release.  

After a preliminary investigation, a 39-year old Pavillion area female, Bennilee Strock, was arrested in connection with the man’s death.  

Authorities have identified the deceased man as Jeffery Stock.

Bennilee Strock is currently being held at the Fremont County Detention Center on the charge of Murder in the Second Degree.

“There is no evidence to suggest that anyone other than the 39-year old female was involved in the man’s death and there is no danger to the community,” the office said.  “The investigation is active and additional details will be released at a later time.”

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Broken Down Vehicle In Rock Springs Leads To Discovery Of Missing Idaho Child

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A check on a disabled vehicle south of Rock Springs led the rescue of a missing Idaho child last weekend by the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

An “Amber Alert,” was issued Friday after a 10-year-old was abducted from the Idaho Falls area. The suspect vehicle was potentially headed for Pueblo, Colorado, so Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers were on alert.

According to WHP reports, on Saturday morning, a trooper was notified of a broken down vehicle in the road on Wyoming Highway 430 south of Rock Springs. The trooper found the car and realized it was similar to the one described in the Amber Alert.

The trooper spoke with the driver, who provided inconsistent and vague responses to questions, including telling the trooper he was alone in the vehicle. The trooper detained the driver and asked if the female suspect from the Amber Alert was also inside the car. The dcriver admitted the woman and child were both in the vehicle.

All occupants were asked to exit, and the child from the Amber Alert was found unharmed. The trooper later discovered small amounts of marijuana and methamphetamine inside the vehicle.

The child was released to the Wyoming Department of Family Services.

The driver and passenger were arrested and have been identified as Eugene A. Trujillo and Gabriella A. Rodriguez.

Trujillo has been charged with kidnapping, interference with custody, accessory before the fact, and child endangerment with methamphetamine.

Rodriguez has been charged with kidnapping, interference with custody, child endangerment with methamphetamine, and two counts of third-offense possession of a controlled substance.

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Casper Man Convicted Of Attempting To Prey On Teenage Girl During Sturgis Rally

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper man has been sentenced to prison for attempting to entice a minor over the internet during the 2019 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Japher Rajab, 43, was one of 11 men arrested and federally indicted as a result of an undercover sex trafficking operation targeting internet predators conducted during the 2019 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. 

Rajab was sentenced on Nov. 20 in U.S. District Court to 10 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release. Upon his release, he will be required to register as a sex offender. He was also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

The conviction stemmed from Rajab communicating with someone he believed to be a 15 year-old girl, but who was in fact an undercover agent.  According to court records, following multiple chats and text messages, Rajab proceeded to negotiate a time and place he would meet the minor to engage in unlawful sex acts.

The undercover operation and arrests were a joint effort between the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rapid City Police Department, and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

Rajab was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Lander Woman Attacked And Blinded At Hospital Dies

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A 72-year-old Lander area woman who was attacked and blinded Thanksgiving morning at Sage West Hospital in Lander has died.  

Elaine Tillman had been life-flighted to Salt Lake City shortly after the brutal attack and died there Wednesday morning.  

A 53-year-old Dubois man, Patrick Rose, remains in the Fremont County jail on a $250,000 cash-only bond. He is being held on aggravated assault charges.

An autopsy was performed in Salt Lake City on Thursday. 

The Fremont County Attorney’s Office on Friday acknowledged in a statement it was aware of Tillman’s death.

“We are currently in contact with medical professionals in Utah and are reviewing more serious charging. As soon as we receive the out of state medical reports we will make a final charging determination,” the statement read.

According to media reports, a nurse was outside of Rose’s room when “he ran out of the room, rushed into the next room, and jumped on the elderly female patient before (the nurse) could react.”

Reasons for the attack are unknown but the Associated Press reported that Rose may have stopped taking medication

“People who take psychotropic medications and suffer from mental illness have a tendency to believe they don’t need to take the medication and then quit taking them, and then things go wrong from them,” Lander Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt said.

Rose told the judge he had a traumatic brain injury.

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Man Who Looks Like Grimace From McDonald’s Robs Cheyenne Stores

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The Cheyenne Police Department is looking for a man who looks surprisingly similar to Grimace, the popular McDonald’s character from the 70s and 80s, for committing a string of burglaries in the Cheyenne area.

Our friends at KGAB radio report that Grimace the individual is suspected of burglarizing Starbucks, Panera Bread, and Chipotle back in early November.

Whether this individual actually looks like Grimace is unknown because he is — per the Wyoming Health Department — wearing a mask.

The alleged perpetrator’s body, however, is a perfect match for that of Grimace.

It is unlikely that if arrested he would receive a reduced charge because he’s following the mask mandate but authorities can cross that bridge if and when they come to it.

If there is any good news to report, it’s that the individual could have lucrative employment possibilities if he decides to forego a life of crime.

There have been persistent rumors that McDonald’s might be bringing back the Grimace character. He was officially retired — along with the Hamburglar — back in 2003.

The Hamburglar was reintroduced in 2015 and, according to media reports, was a complete disaster.

Perhaps, if Grimace is brought back, our Cheyenne burglar is the likely replacement as he wouldn’t have to go to the gym or anything.  He’s perfect.

Also, the Wyoming Department of Health could use his image, perhaps, as an example of mask-wearing. He could contract with the State of Wyoming and start a whole new life.

In the meantime, if you know who this Grimace-like individual is, contact Crime Stoppers at 307.638.TIPS.

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