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Off-The-Grid Trapper Kills Himself After Law Enforcement Searches Property For Missing Woman

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A Sublette County man who described himself as a trapper who “lived completely off grid” killed himself while law enforcement authorities were searching his property for a missing woman, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Department office announced on Wednesday.

On June 19, a search warrant was served to Darrell “Pete” Petry which allowed authorities to begin the search for Vanessa “Nessy” Oren, a 61-year-old Labarge woman who has been missing since January, 2017.

During the multi-day search, Petry left his property and was found dead on June 22. An investigation determined that his death was self-inflicted and no foul play is suspected.

Authorities told the Casper Star Tribune that Petry was not under arrest and was “free to come and go.”

Petry described his property on his Facebook page as a “remote area in southwest Wyoming completely off grid.”

The self-described trapper said he was retired but still worked part-time in “predator control.”

He also said he had been raising bobcats since 2012.

“Keeping a pet bobcat in the house has been a teaching experience,” Petry wrote. “I’ve learned more about the cats and what, why and when they are attracted to some scents compared to other scents. An example being rubbing on WD40. Odd uh? And bobcats have a better sense of smell than most trappers.”

Petry appeared to be an active Facebook participant in 2015 and early 2016. His page is full of photos — some gruesome — of coyotes, foxes, and other animals caught in snares and traps.

At the same time, he posted photos of his pet bobcat lounging around his cabin.

“He is loose in the house a lot,” Petry wrote. “Spends most of his time in the house fact is. He use to not mind my girls be’n here.”

The Search warrant was executed with the assistance of multiple agencies including NecroSearch, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Game and Fish, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wyoming Highway Patrol. 

According to The Charley Project, an online clearinghouse of information for missing persons, the missing woman last had contact with her family in late January or early February of 2016. 

“She has never been heard from again,” the site said.

The disappearance of Vanessa “Nessy” Orren is still being actively investigated by the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.  

The Sublette County Sheriff’s requests anyone with any information related to the disappearance of Vanessa Orren to please contact the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division at 307-367-4378.  

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Drunken Man Who Attacked Yellowstone Rangers Pleads Guilty, Banned From Park For 5 Years

in Yellowstone/News/Crime
11799

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man who drunkenly fought park rangers and security guards in Yellowstone National Park earlier this month pleaded guilty to his offenses this week in U.S. District Court.

Kyle F. Campbell, 31, of Fairmont, Indiana pleaded guilty to multiple charges stemming from an incident in the park on June 21. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, a five-year term of unsupervised probation and banned from Yellowstone for five years.

He was also ordered to pay $1,550 in fines and a $50 special assessment fee.

Campbell pleaded guilty to several criminal charges: disorderly conduct; threatening, resisting, and intentionally interfering with a government employee; violating the lawful order of a government employee; being under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance to a degree that may endanger oneself or others; and contempt of court for refusing to comply with Magistrate Judge Mark Carman’s warrant to collect a blood sample.

“We understand that people are eager to get out this summer and enjoy our national parks; however, this type of behavior is unacceptable. Thanks to the quick actions taken by park rangers and the park vendor’s security officers, no one was seriously harmed,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray. “Stay sober, because unruly and intoxicated behavior will only earn you a spot with the jailbirds rather than enjoying the beauty and adventure of Yellowstone.”  

According to court documents, around 5:45 p.m. on June 21, a Yellowstone ranger received a report of disorderly conduct occurring at the Grant Marina. Four people had been denied access to their kayak tour by their tour guide because of intoxication.

Campbell, who was part of the group, allegedly became agitated and hostile, according to an affidavit filed in support of the charges, yelling at the tour guide and making threats.

The group left the scene in a silver minivan towing a trailer. Law enforcement began looking for the group within the park.

A few minutes later, there was a report an incident at the Grant Helispot between Campbell (dressed only in sweatpants and socks) and a security guard. The location of the incident was in an employee RV court in an area clearly marked for employees only.

When a ranger arrived, Campbell put his hands into the air, claiming he did nothing wrong and the security guard was lying. He also kept making threatening gestures toward the security guard, which caused the ranger to detain him, the affidavit said.

Campbell continued to repeat he did nothing wrong, and the ranger noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from the man. Campbell confirmed he had been drinking that day and only could say he “had a lot.”

The security guard said he had seen Campbell driving the silver minivan without the trailer. When he told Campbell to drive slower in the area, Campbell flipped him off.

As they kept talking, Campbell got increasingly agitated, getting within a foot of the security guard and making comments about assaulting him, the affidavit said.

Campbell also refused to comply with the ranger’s requests to stay put and stop moving while the security guard was being interviewed. He was then placed inside the ranger’s vehicle.

While the ranger asked the security guard if Campbell could have been driving under the influence, Campbell began to bang his head against the law enforcement vehicle. He was told to stop, which he did momentarily, but then resumed.

After being removed from the car and placed on the ground, Campbell began to refer to the ranger and security guard using racist and homophobic slurs, according to the affidavit.

Campbell attempted to scoot and roll toward the security guard, and the ranger ultimately placed him under arrest for disorderly conduct.

In a search of the silver minivan, officers found empty alcohol and marijuana containers.

He also banged his head against the pavement, injuring his nose and causing it to bleed. He continued to resist detainment and paramedics taking him to the hospital in Livingston, Montana, ultimately leading to him being sedated.

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Bandits Rip ATM From Cheyenne Bank; Abandoned Truck Found With Obliterated ATM Attached

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11722

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Perhaps the bandit or bandits didn’t watch the episode of Breaking Bad when two meth-heads stole an ATM and tried to open it up. It’s really hard.

Last Friday night in Cheyenne, whoever tried to steal an ATM found that out.

The Cheyenne Police Department is reporting that they were called to the Platte Valley Bank in northern Cheyenne early Friday morning because of a report of an attempted ATM theft.

The tip turned out to be correct.

The police found the ATM but it was no longer in the bank. Instead the mangled machine was attached to a blue 2004 Ford F250 pickup truck.

No one was in the truck. And unlike the episode of Breaking Bad, no one’s head was crushed under the weight of the machine.

“Officers believe the abandoned vehicle had been stolen from a nearby residence a few hours prior to the incident at the bank,” a police statement said.

The big question is were the thieves able to break-open the ATM and get the cash?

It’s impossible to tell from the photo of the obliterated ATM, the Cheyenne Police isn’t saying, and no video has been released of the incident.

Authorities say no arrests have been made and the case remains under investigation.

If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the Cheyenne Police Detective Bureau at (307) 637-6521 or the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (303) 629-7171.

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Casper Animal Shelter Employee Charged With Felony Theft

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11713

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An employee of the City of Casper’s Metro Animal Shelter has been charged with theft following an investigation that indicated he stole almost $6,000 from the shelter over six years, the Casper Police Department announced on Monday.

Michael Gaylord, a kennel technician and six-year employee of Metro Animal Shelter, has been charged with two felony counts of theft.

“The citizens of Casper deserve honest, hard-working public servants,” said Casper Chief of Police Keith McPheeters. “When one of our own falls short of the high standards we set for ourselves, we feel it necessary to inform the community and make the changes necessary to prevent this type of behavior from taking place again. Our community can trust that the Department has no tolerance for employees who do not uphold the highest levels of professionalism, a standard our citizens expect and deserve.”

An internal investigation was launched in April, following a citizen complaint concerning an unissued receipt from a transaction at the animal shelter. The investigation uncovered numerous receipts that were unaccounted for and discrepancies in financial reports at the shelter.

Because the Casper Police Department took over the shelter in 2019, it turned its findings over to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation for further investigation.

Ultimately, investigators determined that over the course of six years, Gaylord stole at least $5,970 from Metro Animal Shelter, the department said.

The investigation confirmed that the theft consistently occurred through the misappropriation of small cash transactions, generally $5 or $10 at a time, occurring over time, and occurred during customer transactions for purchases of small items such as licenses, fees or other products when the customer didn’t want a receipt for the purchase.

“Over the last two years, the Casper Police Department has worked diligently and invested heavily to organize and restructure the business operations of the shelter,” the department’s Facebook post said. “This initial finding was made, in part, due to the attentiveness of the newly appointed Superintendent of Metro Animal Shelter.”

Immediately upon receipt of the citizen complaint that launched the investigation, the Casper Police Department leadership implemented new policies and procedures surrounding how monetary transactions are conducted and recorded at the Metro Animal Shelter, including increased checks and balances, oversight and accountability to ensure theft like this doesn’t happen again.

“The team at Metro Animal Shelter continues to be a dedicated group of professionals who work tirelessly to protect and serve the citizens and animals of Casper,” the post said.

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Shootout Leaves Suspect Killed, Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Injured

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11669

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By Jimmy Orr and Bill Sniffin

A shootout in Lander during a traffic stop on Friday left a 24-year-old man dead and a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper injured.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol said the shooting occurred around 3:30 p.m. on Sinks Canyon Road in Lander. 

“The trooper conducted a traffic stop and moments into the stop, the trooper and the suspect exchanged gunfire,” a spokesman for the patrol said.

According to reports, the suspect was declared dead at the scene while the trooper was taken to a local hospital for treatment of his wounds.

The mayor of Lander, Monte Richardson, was directing traffic near the incident. He told Cowboy State Daily he heard a man was killed and an officer was down.

On Saturday, the Highway Patrol announced the trooper was released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Jill Hunter, who lives in the house across from the incident, said she saw a man lying the ground and officials trying to resuscitate him.  She said the road was closed for a long period of time.

A Rock Springs resident who was visiting Lander said “the streets were screaming with sirens from every direction.”

“I thought I was in New York City for a minute,” DA Jereb said. “I didn’t realize that Lander had so many law enforcement ready to respond so quickly. I was impressed and at the time, I knew it had to be something serious.”

Andy Gramlich, a retired pilot who lives nearby, said he counted 17 various law enforcement vehicles and sirens sounded for more than an hour.

Names of those involved and details about the traffic stop have not been released.  

The matter has been turned over to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

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Former Casper Businessman Sued Over Sex Assault Allegations

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A woman who accused a former Casper businessman of sexually assaulting her in 2017 has filed a federal lawsuit in the incident.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, the woman is asking for a jury trial in her complaint against Tony Cercy, now a Texas resident, which alleges he sexually assaulted her and threatened to have her killed if she told anyone about the incident.

Cercy was acquitted on two charges stemming from the incident in 2018 and convicted on a charge of third-degree sexual assault in a second trial in 2018. However, the conviction was overturned by the Wyoming Supreme Court on the grounds the jury in Cercy’s trial was given improper instructions.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling, prosecutors declined to seek a third trial.

According to the lawsuit, the woman, who lives in South Carolina, was at Alcova Reservoir in June 2017 with friends and after dinner, she went with a group of friends to a party at Cercy’s lake house.

The lawsuit said the woman was was intoxicated and fell asleep on a couch in Cercy’s home fully dressed.

The woman awoke in the early morning hours to find that most of her clothes had been removed and that Cercy was performing oral sex on her, the lawsuit said.

The woman tried to get in contact with her friends to obtain help and tried to flee Cercy’s house, the lawsuit said. It added that as she walked down the driveway from the house, Cercy pulled up next to her in a “side-by-side” recreational vehicle and told her he would take her where she wanted to go.

The woman asked Cercy to take her to a trailer where she believed some of her friends were staying. He did so in a ride the lawsuit described as “frightening” due to Cercy’s “reckless and dangerous” driving.

“When plaintiff climbed out of the ‘side-by-side,’ (Cercy) told plaintiff that if she told anyone what she had just woken up to (Cercy) would have plaintiff killed,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleged Cercy called the woman’s cell phone number three days later “to get on the same page as to what had happened at the lake.” 

The woman reported the assault to law enforcement agencies that day.

In the lawsuit, the woman accused Cercy of sexual battery by having sexual contact with her without her consent or knowledge, and of assault by threatening to have her killed if she spoke of the encounter.

The lawsuit does not request a specific amount in damages.

(Editor’s note: It is the practice of Cowboy State Daily not to identify possible victims of sexual assault.)

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Man Gets Drunk In Yellowstone, Fights Rangers, Gets Charged

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man faces multiple charges in federal court after allegedly getting drunk and fighting with rangers and security guards at Yellowstone National Park this week.

Kyle F. Campbell was charged with eight misdemeanors, including two counts of disorderly conduct, in U.S. District Court. In total, he faces up to four years in prison, $40,000 in fines and up to five years of probation.

According to court documents, around 5:45 p.m. on Monday, a Yellowstone ranger received a report of disorderly conduct occurring at the Grant Marina. Four people had been denied access to their kayak tour by their tour guide because of intoxication.

Campbell, who was part of the group, allegedly became agitated and hostile, according to an affidavit filed in support of the charges, yelling at the tour guide and making threats.

The group left the scene in a silver minivan towing a trailer. Law enforcement began looking for the group within the park.

A few minutes later, there was a report an incident at the Grant Helispot between Campbell (dressed only in sweatpants and socks) and a security guard. The location of the incident was in an employee RV court in an area clearly marked for employees only.

When a ranger arrived, Campbell put his hands into the air, claiming he did nothing wrong and the security guard was lying. He also kept making threatening gestures toward the security guard, which caused the ranger to detain him, the affidavit said.

Campbell continued to repeat he did nothing wrong, and the ranger noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from the man. Campbell confirmed he had been drinking that day and only could say he “had a lot.”

The security guard said he had seen Campbell driving the silver minivan without the trailer. When he told Campbell to drive slower in the area, Campbell flipped him off.

As they kept talking, Campbell got increasingly agitated, getting within a foot of the security guard and making comments about assaulting him, the affidavit said.

Campbell also refused to comply with the ranger’s requests to stay put and stop moving while the security guard was being interviewed. He was then placed inside the ranger’s vehicle.

While the ranger asked the security guard if Campbell could have been driving under the influence, Campbell began to bang his head against the law enforcement vehicle. He was told to stop, which he did momentarily, but then resumed.

After being removed from the car and placed on the ground, Campbell began to refer to the ranger and security guard using racist and homophobic slurs, according to the affidavit.

Campbell attempted to scoot and roll toward the security guard, and the ranger ultimately placed him under arrest for disorderly conduct.

In a search of the silver minivan, officers found empty alcohol and marijuana containers.

He also banged his head against the pavement, injuring his nose and causing it to bleed. He continued to resist detainment and paramedics taking him to the hospital in Livingston, Montana, ultimately leading to him being sedated.

Campbell faces charges in U.S. District Court in Wyoming of disorderly conduct, inference with federal agency functions, being under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, driving while under the influence and trespass.

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Wyomingites Featured On TV Show About Solved Cold Case Uden Murders

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

The famous unsolved murder case involving Virginia Uden and her two sons is the topic of a TV show on the Oxygen Cable TV Network Monday night at 6 p.m..

Called “Killer Couples,” the series is about gruesome murders by couples over the years.  The Uden case was a murder case that was unsolved for 33 years.  It was finally solved in 2013. It occurred in Lander and Fremont County.

I owned the Lander newspaper at the time and am interviewed on the show. Virginia Uden was a part-time employee of our newspaper. 

Other Wyomingites including former Fremont County Sheriffs Larry Mathews and Tim McKinney were interviewed.  Former DCI investigator Andy Hanson is featured along with Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Ann Manlove. 

One of Wyoming’s most famous native son authors, Ron Franscell, is prominent. He wrote a terrific book about the case called “Gerald and Alice, A Homicidal Love Story.”

This is the second time a cable channel has done a show on this murder case. The channel Investigative Discovery did one about 10 years ago and it pops up once in a while.  I was on that one, too, and occasionally get emails or phone calls from friends saying they had just seen me in on TV.

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Eastern Wyoming College Still Disabled Following Cyberattack

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11617

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington was still operating at a limited capacity on Wednesday after being hit by a cybersecurity attack earlier this week.

Unknown persons attacked the school’s administrative network, disabling its computer, phone and email system sometime early Tuesday morning. All three systems were still down as of Wednesday afternoon and there was no estimate as to when they might be restored.

“We are still investigating and digging through things,” Tami Afdahl, EWC director of college relations, told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “We’re honestly just trying to process what happened.”

All EWC employees at both of the college’s campuses in Torrington and Douglas have been affected by this cyberattack, with no one able to access their email or use their phones or computers.

Officials are continuing to investigate the incident and are working to restore service to the campus.

People can visit either the Torrington or Douglas campuses or leave a message at the college’s general voicemail at 307-532-8200 if they are trying to get in touch with the school. Afdahl said employees are still working, albeit without access to certain critical equipment.

She was unable to share any information about how the attacked happened.

“We’re still looking for concrete information, so it would be premature to share anything,” she said.

This is the second time a higher educational institution in Wyoming has been hit by a cyberattack this year. In February, the University of Wyoming was hosting a virtual Black History Month event when people began sending racist and pornographic messages to disrupt the event.

Apparently, the UW was one of many schools across the country to have Black History Month events disrupted by such attacks. Institutions including the University of Southern California, Washington’s Gonzaga University and Rutgers University in New Jersey were “Zoom bombed” with similar hateful, violent words and images.

Cybersecurity attacks have been popping up across the United States this year.

In one incident, hackers shut down an East Coast pipeline in May.

Earlier this month, the Greeley, Colorado, meat processing plant JBS was attacked and its servers in North America and Australia were targeted.

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Eastern Wyoming College In Torrington Hit With Cyberattack

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11598

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Eastern Wyoming College’s computer, phone and email systems were disabled Tuesday by a cybersecurity attack, the Torrington college announced.

Investigations are currently underway to fully determine the extent of the attack. College officials are working with local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security and local and state IT professionals.

No further information about the cyberattack had been released as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.

This is the second time a higher educational institution in Wyoming has been hit by a cyberattack this year. In February, the University of Wyoming was hosting a virtual Black History Month event when people began sending racist and pornographic messages to disrupt the event.

Apparently, the UW was one of many schools across the country to have Black History Month events disrupted by such attacks. Institutions including the University of Southern California, Washington’s Gonzaga University and Rutgers University in New Jersey were “Zoom bombed” with similar hateful, violent words and images.

Cybersecurity attacks have been popping up across the United States this year.

In one incident, hackers shut down an East Coast pipeline in May.

Earlier this month, the Greeley, Colorado, meat processing plant JBS was attacked and its servers in North America and Australia were targeted.

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