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Two Arrested For Endangering Children With Drugs At Gillette Hotel

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

Two hotel guests were arrested Monday morning at the Days Inn after methamphetamine was found in a room where young children resided, Gillette Police Lt. Brent Wasson said Tuesday.

Police had been dispatched to the hotel shortly after 11 a.m., March 29, amid reports from hotel staff that several hotel guests were acting strangely in a first-floor room.

Staff requested police deploy a K9 on the door to the room. The K9 did not indicate, but officers knocked anyway and contacted a 50-year-old male and a 49-year-old female with two small children, who were not identified.

Officers were granted consent to search the room by the 50-year-old male.

The female requested to go to the bathroom after the K9 indicated on a fishing tacklebox, according to Wasson, and attempted to take a coffee mug with her, but it was confiscated by officers who located approximately 1.5 grams of suspected meth inside.

Both adults were arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and felony drug endangered child. The two children were taken and transferred into the custody of the Department of Family Services.

While police were on scene, the K9 indicated on another door down the hallway rented to a 30-year-old male, who was contacted and gave his consent for officers to search the room.

In the male’s room, police seized approximately nine grams of marijuana. He was cited for possession, Wasson said.

The events at the Days Inn follow a similar call to the National 9 Motel on Highway 14-16, where police were asked by staff to conduct a sweep of the hallway with a K9.

The K9 indicated on the door to a room occupied by two males, 33 and 29, and two females, 28 and 36. No controlled substances were found and no citations were issued, though police did find marijuana and meth paraphernalia, per Wasson.

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Missing People of Wyoming: Part II

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By Jennifer Kocher, County 17

Dave Wolfskill is a guy who lives up to his name. A former policeman/detective turned private investigator, Wolfskill has devoted the latter part of his career to tracking down missing people. Now retired, he does it on his own time.

Old habits die hard, he joked, and now, he continues working with a dedicated group of private investigators, volunteers and bikers at We Help the Missing, a non-profit that he co-founded with Utah detective, Marki Davis.

Sitting at the Red Rock Café in downtown Hulett, Wolfskill sipped his coffee as he squinted  under the brim of his ball cap, talking about the work that drives him. He’s got a real heart for teenagers, particularly the troubled ones in foster care and those who run away from home.

He said he wanted to remain vague about some of these past cases, which involved tracking down teens in California, locating a kidnapped toddler as well as helping bring home a 15-year-old girl who ran away from home and inadvertently found herself caught up in a sex trafficking ring.

And though technically retired, Wolfskill still spends a lot of time on social media both as a volunteer with We Help the Missing and doing whatever he can to connect resources both in Wyoming and throughout the West.

He’s seen far too many teens with trouble at home reach out to strangers on the internet to fill the emotional void. Many of the missing cases seem to start this way, he noted, and many times kids or adults are suffering from substance abuse problems or navigating thorny psychological or emotional problems or suffering abuse at home.

In runaway cases, the first 48 hours are key, Wolfskill said. After which, runaways are likely to be targeted by a predator who is on the lookout for such vulnerability.

Wolfskill has become skilled at locating predators on sight, he said.

“It’s a look in their eye,” he said. “The way they watch or touch someone. It’s pretty easy to spot.”

And for all the cases he has solved, it’s the ones he didn’t that plague him, namely the 16-year-old Moorcroft teen, Shayna Ritthaler, who ran away to be with 17-year-old Michael Gavin Campbell of Sturgis, whom she met on a dating site. Campbell shot her in the basement of his mother’s home on their second day together after the two got into an argument.

It’s that second day that sticks with Wolfskill, who’d been one of the PIs on the case.

They had been close.

“I cried like a baby at her funeral,” he said, along with fellow Moorcroft detective Ed Ray who had also helped on the case. “Several of us did. It was awful. It’s hard on your emotions.”

Every missing person has a story, he said. They’re so much more than just a face on a poster.

Implementing protocol

Contrary to popular belief, there is no 48-hour mandatory waiting period within law enforcement agencies before a person can be declared missing.

Every agency has their own policy, including the Gillette Police Department (GPD), which does not dictate that officers have to wait any set amount of time prior to investigating, according to GPD Police Detective Christine Winterholler.

“Instead, the policy states once the officer determines the child is a runaway, the officer will take action such as completing a report, obtaining a signature from the reporting parent stating the parent agrees to arrange the return of the juvenile if located outside Gillette, and entering the child into the national crime database as a runaway,” Winterholler wrote in an email to County 17. “The policy continues on to state officers [who] will assist in attempting to locate the child.”

Some, like Woifskill, would like to see protocols put into place to create a standardized policy when it comes to runaways and those who go missing.

The lack of continuity with law enforcement and their protocol on missing cases is definitely a stumbling block from his perspective, Wolfskill said.

Feet on the ground

Everyone drawn to this work seems to have their own story. Amanda Waldron is no exception. For the 33-year-old Casper woman, it’s personal. Her younger sister ran away just before her 18th birthday with her then-boyfriend with whom she thought she was in love.

Fortunately, her sister’s story ended happily, Waldron said, with her returning a couple weeks after she left when she found out her family was looking for her.

This is another lesson that Waldron took to heart. After her sister left, the family had no idea where to turn. Once they filed a police report, Waldron and her family and friends unleashed their own search party, including scouring the internet for any traces of her sister as well as plastering missing person flyers all over town and on social media.

It worked. In fact, it was the online attention that ultimately drove her sister home as everywhere she went people started to notice her.

“She hadn’t thought much of it at the time,” Waldron said. “She just thought she was taking a little vacation with him and that nobody would really mind.”

Her sister’s disappearance left a lasting impression on her, and perhaps not surprisingly, Waldron now heads up the middle school expulsion program for Natrona County and also works as a PI with a paralegal certificate and a degree in criminal justice with an emphasis on juvenile delinquents.

Waldron is a volunteer at We Help the Missing where she’s known as the ‘bulldog’ or MAO (Most Awesome One). These are not nicknames she’s earned lightly. Along with a bloodhound’s ability to track down teens who go missing, this winter she also busted a pair of porch pirates attempting to lift Christmas packages and thwarted a robbery at the hotel where her sister works by stabbing the would-be-thief in the thigh with scissors.

She laughed off some of the more chaotic events in her life as all in a day’s work. Or night, depending, which is when most of the teens seem to go missing. One night at 8:30, Waldron processed an intake form for a missing teen right before heading out into the frosty night on foot to try to track him down. By 10 p.m., the teen had been found and she was back in bed.

She’s not above going into known drug houses or prowling dark streets and corners looking for missing kids. Once, she did a 36-hour, around-the-clock surveillance. She also has two blue tick coon hounds who she’s training to help her work missing person cases.

“I find them and bring them back,” she said modestly. “The boots hit the ground, and I go out and get them. You’d be surprised what happens when adrenaline takes over and you do what you have to do to get a kid home safe.”

The rate of missing kids in Casper is extremely high, she said, which she finds frustrating in that she feels law enforcement doesn’t always take cases of runaways seriously, particularly those with records or repeat offenders, who in many cases are running away from abusive homes or youth shelters.

A lot of the teens she tracks down are current or former students, most of whom stay in touch with her.

She also is seeing a disturbing trend among teenage girls connecting with older guys online.

“They think it’s cool to have an older boyfriend,” she said, “and don’t see it as people trying to take advantage of them.”

It’s a problem, she noted. Also, a problem is the number of women and teens caught up in drugs and prostitution between Casper, Gillette, and Sheridan.

Apart from teens, Waldron helps find people of all ages and helps work cold cases.

“There are a lot of people who are still missing,” Waldron said, “and it’s important these people aren’t forgotten.”

The found

Like the others who do this type of work, Marki Davis, who founded and now runs the non-profit We Help the Missing, is tireless in her pursuit and runs the group on top of her full-time job as a private investigator in Salt Lake City.

We Help the Missing is a non-profit run solely by volunteers dedicated to the cause.

We Help the Missing is a non-profit run solely by volunteers dedicated to the cause.

She personally got involved with finding missing persons as an apprentice working under a detective. It was this boss who gave her the hypothetical task of tracking down her husband’s grandmother who had gone missing in 1939.

The task was meant to be a practice run for the cub detective who attacked it like a dog with a sock.

Given the many years that had gone by, finding the missing German woman, who had immigrated to the U.S. during WW II, become a nurse and later left her family, presumably for California, seemed a bit daunting at first.

If finding a missing person in this day in the age of the internet isn’t hard enough, Davis was tasked with the old-school mission of tracking down documents and relatives, which included her going to Germany. After a long roundabout journey, Davis found a newspaper story about a red-headed woman who had been found by mushroom pickers somewhere in West Virginia. The photo of the woman matched her bosses’ grandmother.

Mission complete. From then on, Davis was hooked and continues her passion to track down missing people and cold cases.

It’s a small, dedicated group, many of whom run into each other on the ground such as she and Wolfskill, who met on a case in Utah and became fast friends.

To date, she thinks she’s easily worked around 100 cases, most of which don’t end happily, but like Waldron and Wolfskill, “it gets in your blood and there’s no letting go.”

The trouble is finding people to help them, and she continues to look for more private investigators and volunteers, because given the constraints on law enforcement resources, most of the cases go cold.

Each week, there are an average of four new missing people reported nationwide on We Help the Missing, with volunteers working non-stop to create posters, plaster them in an area or town as well as work the case on the ground.

“There’s not enough help,” Davis said, “but we are doing all we can for these families. The big thing is to let them know that they’re not forgotten, and somebody is still holding out hope they’re found.”

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Meth Party Busted At Gillette Motel

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

Three individuals were arrested for drug use and possession after police reportedly found methamphetamine and marijuana at a local motel Sunday morning, according to Corporal Dan Stroup with the Gillette Police Department (GPD).

Police reportedly found the drugs while investigating a call to the Super 8 Motel March 28, where motel staff reported that some of their guests were acting strange.

Stroup stated the motel staff requested that police deploy a GPD K9 inside the motel around 10:30 a.m. and the K9 indicated on a door to a room occupied by a 40-year-old female, a 29-year-old female and a 33-year-old male.

Upon further investigation, police also located a 44-year-old male hiding in the bathtub behind a shower curtain, according to Stroup.

Police sought and were granted a search warrant. In the room, police allegedly found a combined total of 2.1 grams of suspected methamphetamine.

The K9 was also deployed in the parking lot, Stroup noted, and gave a positive indication on a 2007 Jeep, belonging to the 33-year-old male. Inside the jeep, police reportedly located one gram of suspected marijuana.

The 29-year-old female and the 44-year-old male were both arrested for possession of meth. The 44-year-old male was also charged with using meth and interference, Stroup said.

The 33-year-old male was arrested for possession of marijuana.

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Green River Man Arrested After Going on Two-Hour Crime Spree

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Green River man was arrested in Rock Springs this week, accused of going on an evening crime spree.

Steven Rice, 41, was arrested Monday and charged with felony property destruction and five misdemeanors, including battery, theft of less than $1,000, criminal entry and three counts of unauthorized use of a vehicle.

According to Rock Springs Police Department reports, at around 9 p.m. Monday, Rice was identified driving a vehicle into a parking lot. Witnesses said he jumped out of the car, allowing it to crash into other parked vehicles. He left the scene on foot.

Soon after, two other vehicles were found on Skyline Drive in Rock Springs, both with their doors left open.

Around 9:30 p.m., officers were dispatched to the scene of an assault and vehicle theft, in which Rice allegedly tried to steal a vehicle. When the owner jumped inside the car and hit the emergency brake, Rice hit the man in the head with the car door and then drove off in the vehicle, hitting a pole, reports said.

He later abandoned the car on Ninth Street in Rock Springs.

While investigating the abandoned car, officers located a a white Toyota passenger vehicle abandoned by Rice in the parking lot. This vehicle was later found to be stolen.

Rice was then accused of going to a convenience and stealing a Kia that was running unlocked and unoccupied in the parking lot. The victim’s cell phone was in the car, which allowed the Rock Springs Police Department to track it.

Officers found the vehicle abandoned and occupied on the north side of town, but Rice had taken the cell phone and other valuable items from the car.

Around 11:20 p.m., deputies found Rice hiding in a Bronco in the parking area at Morcon Specialty. He was taken into custody without incident.

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Cheyenne Man Arrested for Vehicular Homicide, DUI After Killing Woman In Hit and Run

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne man was arrested this week in connection with a hit-and-run crash that claimed the life of a woman.

Kyle Ziemer, 32, was arrested late Wednesday on felony charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and for driving under the influence.

Police responded to a fatal hit-and-run accident Wednesday evening in Cheyenne near the intersection of Nationway and Hot Springs Avenue. The incident occurred as a woman was walking in the median on Nationway, according to reports.

Ziemer, while driving a 2014 Chevy Silverado pickup truck, swerved into the median, struck the woman and fled the scene prior to police arriving, according to police reports.

Ziemer was later located, arrested and booked.

The woman was transported to the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, where she succumbed to her injuries.

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Wyoming Police Send Messages of Love, Support to Family of Slain Boulder Officer

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Various Wyoming law enforcement agencies have sent messages of love and support to the family of the Boulder police officer killed in a shooting Monday.

Officers from all over the state have posted messages to social media expressing sympathy for the death of Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley. Talley was killed in the line of duty Monday during a shooting a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, along with nine other victims.

“The men and women of the Laramie Police Department carry heaviness in our hearts for the death of Officer Eric Talley of the Boulder Police Department,” the Laramie Police Department said Tuesday. “Our thoughts are especially with his seven children, his wife and his family. Our thoughts are also with his extended Public Safety Family, who are will carry on. Please know that you are not alone.”

The victims in Monday’s shooting ranged in age from 20 to 65. The shooter, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, of Arvada, Colorado, was apprehended on Monday, but taken to the hospital due to a wound to his leg, according to NPR.

Alissa has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder.

Talley was the first officer to respond to the shooting Monday afternoon. He was a veteran of more than 10 years with the Boulder Police Department.

“Our thoughts are with the Boulder, CO community as they bravely face an unspeakable tragedy,” the Cheyenne Police Department wrote Monday night. “Many lives were lost during the course of today’s events and we extend our deepest condolences during this difficult time.”

“Our heartfelt prayers go out to our neighbors to the south, and especially to the family of Officer Eric Talley,” the Douglas Police Department said. “Family both blood, and blue…. Our hearts are heavy for you…..God Speed Officer. Thank you for your service and sacrifice, even though those thanks will never mean enough.”

“Our thoughts are with the Boulder, CO community,” the Green River Police Department said. “We extend our deepest condolences during this difficult time.”

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 79 police officers have been killed in the line of duty this year, 13 by gunfire.

Gov. Mark Gordon and President Joe Biden each declared that the Wyoming and U.S. flags, respectively, would be flown at half-staff until March 27 to honor the victims.

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Wyoming One Step Closer to Making Bestiality A Crime

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would make bestiality a crime was sent to the floor of the Senate for debate on Friday by a legislative committee.

Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday morning in support of a bill submitted in response to a Sweetwater County incident and told members Wyoming is only one of only four states in the country that doesn’t have a bestiality law on its books.

“I don’t necessarily consider it a widespread or growing problem but in my county, we did have an incident last year where the matter was investigated, it was actually on video, there was no question about the facts,” Stith said. “Law enforcement investigated it. They were able to prosecute for trespass, but not anything more. The community felt trespass didn’t quite capture the justice in this matter.”

Stith is sponsoring House Bill 46, which has already been approved by the House, which would make bestiality a misdemeanor in the state and a maximum sentence of one year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.

This incident to which he was referring occurred last summer when a man in Sweetwater County was found to have trespassed onto private property to engage in sexual activity with horses.

The property owner told the deputy that they chained and locked the gate a certain way when leaving the corral at night. When they returned to the corral the next day, it was chained differently.

“While shocking, this is actually a very difficult case,” Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jason Mower said at the time of the crime. “Wyoming is only one of a handful of states without a bestiality statute on the books.”

Mower also explained that for an animal cruelty charge to hold up in court, it would have to be proven that the man actually injured the horses.

Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, also testified in support of the bill, but also the committee to consider making bestiality a felony, not just a misdemeanor.

“The good bringer of the bill has taken the first step, but when you look at other states that have similar laws in place … perhaps in this case it would be appropriate with a second or subsequent conviction to make it a felony-level offense,” Zwonitzer said.

Tara Muir, public policy director for the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, also testified in support of the bill, whether the crime is considered a misdemeanor or felony.

However, she said the bill didn’t include any provisions for victims who might be forced into bestiality, so she asked for an amendment consideration for their defense.

“I think [being forced into bestiality] happens more than we know,” Muir said.

Committee members agreed they would consider an amendment during a second reading of the bill.

Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police spokesman Bryon Oedekoven also testified in support of the bill.

“This bill came out of an incident in Sweetwater County but unfortunately, I can tell you this happens all over the state,” Oedekoven said.

The committee unanimously agreed to send the bill to the Senate for consideration on “general file,” when the amendments would be offered. “General file” refers to the consideration by the full Senate of a bill approved by a committee.

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Man Arrested After Standoff With Police at Evanston Hotel

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By Uinta County Herald

A standoff situation with law enforcement on Harrison Drive in Evanston has been resolved. The Evanston Police Department reported that the suspect has been apprehended and transported to the Uinta County Jail.

Harrison Drive and nearby streets were closed earlier this afternoon after officers were dispatched to the Super 8 Motel for a report of a man who had been shot in the head. Responding officers secured the scene and provided security while ambulance crews cared for the victim.

It was initially believed the suspect, who had barricaded himself in a motel room, had some type of long rifle and numerous shots were reported. Officers were able to break out a window to the room and begin face-to-face negotiations. Ultimately, officers gained entry to the room and arrested the suspect.

The victim was transported to Evanston Regional Hospital and, despite social media reports indicating he had perhaps been flown to another hospital, was treated and released. After further investigation and an interview with the victim, officers believe the weapon was actually some type of pellet rifle.

Both Clark Elementary and Davis Middle School were briefly locked down as the situation unfolded; however, the lockdowns were lifted and both schools were released at the normal release time.

The names of the suspect and the victim have not been released.

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Death Row Exoneree Testifies In Support of Wyoming Repealing Death Penalty

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man who once sat on death row for a crime he did not commit recently testified in support of Wyoming repealing its death penalty.

Ray Krone testified before the Senate Revenue Committee last week, telling the story of how he was wrongly accused in 1991 of killing a woman who was found dead in a Phoenix bar he frequented.

“I used to support the death penalty, since it wouldn’t affect me and my family, so what do I care about it?” Krone said in his testimony. “I found out how wrong I was when I was 35 years old and got sentenced to death in Phoenix, Arizona.”

Krone was convicted one year after his arrest due to dental impressions found on the victim’s body that supposedly matched his. Ten years later, Krone was exonerated when it was discovered the woman was actually killed by another man who was also known for being a violent sexual predator.

The Wyoming Legislature is considering Senate File 150 (sponsored by Sen. Brian Boner, R-Douglas), which would repeal the state’s death penalty. The Senate was to debate the bill on Wednesday, but its discussion was held back for a day because of weekend blizzard that halted activity in southeastern Wyoming for two days.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the last person executed in Wyoming was Mark Hopkinson in 1992.

During a Senate Revenue Committee meeting on March 4, Boner explained his reasoning behind the bill.

“It’s during time of fiscal constraint that it’s more important than ever we reassess state government and maybe some things that used to work in the past are no longer relevant,” the senator said.

He described the death penalty as a rusty old tool on the shelf that didn’t work and was expensive.

There is only one person on death row in Wyoming, Dale Eaton, convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a Montana teenager in 1988 and then throwing her body into the North Platte River. His death sentence was overturned by a federal judge in 2014 although prosecutors said they would continue to seek his execution.

Wyoming’s Legislature passed a bill in 2004 banning the death penalty for juveniles.

Krone’s testimony to the committee was part of partnership between his organization of death row exonerees, “Witness to Innocence,” and the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming.

The ACLU of Wyoming has been a major proponent behind repealing the death penalty in the state, arguing it is costly and ineffective.

The ACLU believes the death penalty inherently violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantees of due process of law and of equal protection under the law.

Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne, who is a co-sponsor of the bill (along with 12 other legislators, both Democrat and Republican), shared a video of the March 4 meeting with an impassioned plea.

“Let’s end the death penalty once and for all. Let’s end it now!” he wrote on social media.

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Shooting in Cheyenne Leaves 14-Year-Old Dead and 13-Year-Old Arrested

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Few details are known about a shooting in Cheyenne early Monday morning which left a 14-year-old male dead and a 13-year-old male under arrest.

The Cheyenne Police Department is reporting that upon responding to the 1200 block of East 10th Street at 3:00 a.m., Monday, the 14-year-old was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound.

A 13-year-old was arrested later in the day Monday and booked into the Laramie County Juvenile Detention Center on manslaughter and theft charges.

The case is under investigation by the Cheyenne Police Department.

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Sheriffs Say Gun Rights Bill Will Make Crime Fighting Tougher

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s sheriffs are objecting to a portion of a bill designed to limit the ability of the federal government to regulate firearms.

The Wyoming Sheriff’s Association, in a letter to legislators, said as it is currently written, the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” could leave its members in an “impossible dilemma” as they try to enforce the law.

“The … Act, while well intentioned to prohibit firearms confiscation by federal entities to unknown future laws, could actually inhibit Wyoming peace officers from enforcing certain Wyoming statutes, conducting complete investigations and ensuring successful prosecution,” said the letter, signed by all 23 of Wyoming’s sheriffs.

Two bills have been filed for consideration during the Legislature’s general session, Senate File 81 and House Bill 124, that would declare federal laws they identify as “infringements on the people’s right to keep and bear arms” as invalid.

The bill would also declare invalid any federal law “ordering the confiscation of firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition from law abiding citizens.”

The bills would also bar any Wyoming law enforcement officers from enforcing any federal laws ruled an infringement on the Second Amendment.

However, the letter said the law would leave law enforcement unable to seize weapons from people accused of serious crimes.

“For example, we could normally seize a firearm as part of a local case and turn the firearm over to federal entities for prosecution,” he wrote. “These cases run the gamut of aggravated robbery, child pornography and various dangerous drug investigations.”

Another section of the bill would allow people whose weapons have been seized to sue the officer involved, who would have no immunity from damages, even if acting within the scope of his duties.

“To punish and hold liable a peace officer who seizes a weapon which is later returned, is wrong,” the letter said. “It is already difficult to recruit and retain quality peace officers.”

The letter stressed the association and its members are supporters of the Second Amendment, but that they cannot support the current version of the bill.

“The Wyoming Sheriff’s Association, collectively and individually, hold the United States and Wyoming Constitutions in the highest regard,” it said. “We, the Wyoming Sheriffs, respectfully request that the Wyoming Legislature seek laws that allow us to perform our duties while still protecting the law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms, which we hold as an absolute.”

The federal actions the two bills identify as infringements on the Second Amendment include any tax or fee imposed on firearms and accessories “that might reasonably be expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items,” the registration or tracking of firearms or ammunition and any act forbidding the possession, ownership or transfer of a firearm.

The law would apply to federal rules and laws already in place as well as any passed in the future.

The Senate verision of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, is awaiting a review in the House Judiciary Committee, where it as referred in February. The House version, sponsored by Rep. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, is awaiting introduction in the House.

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Rock Springs Man Arrested By SWAT After Allegedly Attacking Girlfriend

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Rock Springs man was in custody Friday afternoon after a tactical team was sent to his home to respond to a report of a domestic disturbance.

Richard Gamble, 41, was arrested by SWAT officers without incident on Friday on suspicion of multiple charges in connection with a domestic disturbance that occurred overnight, according to the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office.

At around 5 a.m. Friday, sheriff’s deputies responded to Gamble’s residence after his girlfriend, Cindy Liston, 38, also of Rock Springs, called to report that she awoke in the early morning to Gamble allegedly spitting in her face and screaming obscenities at her. 

Gamble then retreated to his bedroom, where he retrieved a handgun before returning to the living room. He allegedly pinned Liston to the ground with his knees on her chest, cutting off her airway so she couldn’t breathe.

After Liston broke free, Gamble then retreated to the bedroom again and began grabbing Liston’s clothes, putting them into bags and throwing them around the room, according to reports. He then demanded she leave the home.

According to reports, Gamble also shattered his girlfriend’s cell phone and then went back into the bedroom again with a rubber mat.

He swung the mat toward Liston, hitting a picture on the wall, reports said. The picture frame broke, shattering the glass and peppering Liston with shards.

Gamble then grabbed a piece of glass and began cutting himself.

Liston escaped to the bathroom and locked the door. Gamble then broke into the bathroom by knocking a hole in the door, according to police reports.

While in the bathroom, Gamble allegedly threw blood on Liston from his self-inflicted wound. 

After throwing Liston outside of the house and onto the porch, Gamble inadvertently locked both of them out of the  house. He then broke through the locked door, armed himself with the handgun and came back outside with the handgun, pointing it at Liston and threatening to kill her if she came back onto the property, reports said.

The woman ran to a neighbor’s house to call police. 

On deputies’ arrival, Liston was transported to the hospital where she was treated for the injuries she sustained. Deputies were unable to make contact with Gamble.

Given the severity of  the allegations and the involvement of a firearm, the Sweetwater County Joint Tactical Response Team was mobilized in an effort to safely apprehend Gamble at his home.

Gamble has been booked into the Sweetwater County Detention Center where he awaits formal charges and his initial appearance in court. 

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Man Arrested in Cody For Stealing Four Cars & Leading Police on Multiple High Speed Chases

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming law enforcement officers got a hand from Mother Nature in apprehending a car thief.

Ending a multi-state crime spree, a young man from Montana was finally captured when his stolen vehicle (suspected to be the fourth that he had swiped in a two-week period) was disabled by spike strips after a high-speed chase with law enforcement officers in Park County.

Wyoming authorities first became aware that a car thief was on the loose when an abandoned 2004 Ford Ranger with New Mexico plates was found stuck in a drift by the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

They and other first responders had been helping motorists dig out from the snow that had been piled up by high winds on Monday, February 22.

According to affidavits filed by  Wyoming Highway Patrol Troopers, the pickup had been reported missing in Harding County, New Mexico.

The alleged culprit, 27 year old Garret Bailey of Butte, Montana, led Highway Patrol troopers and Park County Sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase Tuesday night, the 23rd, before he was apprehended in yet another stolen vehicle.

Court documents allege that Bailey had lifted an SUV that was left running in the Blair’s parking lot in Powell; then he attempted to elude the police in the stolen Ford Edge at speeds of up to 122 miles per hour. The chase only ended after Sheriff’s Deputies deployed spike strips which flattened the vehicle’s tires south of Cody.

Bailey’s crime spree actually began, according to Highway Patrol Lieutenant Lee Pence, in Montana – he drove a stolen vehicle from that state to New Mexico, where he was initially apprehended.

However, the vehicle’s owner decided not to press charges, and Bailey walked free. But another vehicle was loaned to him, which he ran off with and wrecked; and then decided that his next hot ride would be in a government vehicle from Harding County.

He headed north in that Ford pickup, and was home free – until that Wyoming blizzard stopped him in his tracks.

After his arrest, Bailey told Powell Police Investigator Chris Wallace that a “friend of a friend” in New Mexico let him “borrow” the truck to go see his kids in Butte, Montana (later admitting that he stole the pickup, which had the keys in it, from outside a building) – but he was forced to abandon the vehicle when he hit the snowbank on February 21st.

He was given a ride – and a room at the Cody Legacy Inn – by a concerned citizen, who picked him up the next day and gave him a ride to Powell, where he acquired lodging at the Super 8. Bailey said he needed a ride to Cody, and when he saw the Ford Edge idling in the parking lot at Blair’s, he took it.

After being tipped off about the stolen Ford Edge, an officer from the Cody Police Department, several Park County Sheriff’s Deputies, and two Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers caught up with Bailey just northeast of Cody.

Law Enforcement vehicles boxed him in just outside the Cody city limits, but Bailey charged forward, almost hitting Deputy Ethan Robinson head-on before swerving, and leading multiple units on a high speed chase (at one point clocking 122 miles per hour) into and out of the Oregon Basin oil field. The chase finally ended when deputies laid out spike strips to flatten the tires of the stolen vehicle. 

Deputy Robinson says when they finally apprehended him, Bailey at first told authorities that another person was driving, but ran away – but he couldn’t provide a description of the fictitious driver, and no sign of another suspect was found.

Bailey did try to alter his physical appearance by stripping down to his long johns and taking off the sweatshirt and coat that he had been wearing when security cameras caught him driving off in the Ford Edge, but those items were found in the stolen car.

Bailey’s blood alcohol content was over three times the legal limit at the time of his arrest – it was recorded at .27 when he was booked into the Park County Detention Center.

As of Monday, March 1st, Bailey is being held in the Park County Detention Center in Cody on a $75,000 cash-only bond, on five different charges: two counts of theft ($1000 in value or more); one count of property destruction; one count of fleeing or eluding police; one count of reckless endangering; and one count of driving while under the influence of alcohol and controlled substances. He was seen by Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters on Friday, February 26, and will have his preliminary hearing on Friday, March 5th.

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Cheyenne Police: Autopsy Report Not Completed In Toddler’s Death Investigation

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Cheyenne Police Department is clarifying the status of its investigation into a toddler’s death after an error made during a phone interview.

Lt. Rob Dafoe of the department’s detective bureau, in a Facebook post, corrected a statement made earlier that an autopsy of Athian Rivera, a Cheyenne toddler whose body was found in a dumpster in later February, revealed nothing conclusive about his cause of death.

Dafoe’s posting said the department has not yet received the autopsy report on Rivera, 2.

“An error was made during a phone interview, as we have not received the full autopsy report. We maintain good working relations with our partner agencies and our focus is where it should be, on investigating this case,” Dafoe said.

Cheyenne radio station KGAB reported this week that there wasn’t a conclusive cause of death in Rivera’s case. The report was based on an interview with a department spokeswoman who said the autopsy results had been delivered to the department.

Wyatt Lamb, the boyfriend of Rivera’s mother, was arrested on unrelated charges but investigators are recommending he be charged with murder and aggravated child abuse. However, he has yet to be officially charged and it was unclear if he is still being held in custody.

“As the mother of this missing boy … I have alot to say … especially about all the horrible things people are saying but I wont … cause deep down I know my baby was happy here and never abused,” Kassy Orona, Rivera’s mother, said on the Cheyenne Police Department’s Facebook page the weekend after her son’s death.

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Cheyenne Man Leads Police On Crazy Car Chase; Heads Wrong Direction on I-25

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne man is in custody after leading police on a chase early Monday morning that included driving against traffic on Interstate 25 near Cheyenne.

Nickolas David Jones, 33, faces charges of with fleeing to elude, interference with a peace officer, careless driving, driving without lighted lamps, driving a vehicle with metal rims in contact with the roadway, driving without a seatbelt and driving the wrong way on the interstate in connection with the chase.

According to Wyoming Highway Patrol reports, around 12:04 a.m. Monday, troopers were notified of a vehicle driving erratically on Interstate 25, with and the driver turning the car’s headlights on and off.

Around 12:18 a.m., a trooper attempted to stop the vehicle, a 2014 Subaru, south of the port of entry on Interstate 25 in Laramie County, but the driver didn’t stop.

Jones initially fled south before crossing the interstate and driving northbound. He displayed reckless behavior by driving with the vehicle’s headlights off, leaving the driver’s seat and crawling into the backseat while the car was still moving and driving the wrong way on the interstate.

Jones continued to elude officers even after they made several attempts to use spike strips and perform tactical vehicle intervention maneuvers.

The pursuit changed travel directions multiple times on the interstate, with Jones continuing to exhibit erratic behavior and causing imminent danger to the public, according to patrol reports.

Outside of Cheyenne on the interstate, pursuing law enforcement units were able to use their patrol vehicles to pin the Subaru to the side of the road as Jones started driving south in highway’s northbound lanes toward stopped traffic.

Jones failed to comply with orders from the troopers, but the officers were able to use less-than-lethal force to take him into custody.

Once Jones was detained, officers observed he had self-inflicted cuts on his arm. Troopers administered first aid to control the bleeding and he was transported to the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.

The Cheyenne Police Department and Laramie County Sheriff’s Office helped in apprehending Jones.

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Laramie Murder: Ramirez’s Mother Seeks To Make Grand Jury Proceeding Public

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By Andrew Graham, WyoFile

Attorneys for the mother of a Laramie man slain by an Albany County Sheriff’s deputy opened a new front in their legal battle this week, asking a judge to release records from a grand jury investigation of the shooting.

The lawyers suggest in the newest filing that Albany County officials, worried about a future lawsuit, presented biased experts to the grand jury that cleared deputy Derek Colling for the killing of Robbie Ramirez. Colling shot and killed Ramirez during a November 2018 confrontation. 

Ramirez’s mother, Debra Hinkel, seeks as much as $20 million in damages for what she alleges was the wrongful death of her son and a miscarriage of justice. The newest motion was filed Feb. 19 in Albany County District Court and paired with a series of new filings in the federal court where Hinkel brought her lawsuit. 

Albany County officials have pointed to the grand jury proceedings as evidence the shooting was justified. Hinkel’s lawyers now suggest the grand jury was engineered to protect the county government from liability. The county attorney selected biased witnesses to make a case for clearing Colling, the lawyers wrote, and jury members as well as the public therefore deserve a chance to review the secret proceedings.

“The defendants in the federal action are defending that case under assumed regularity of the grand jury proceedings,” lawyers wrote in the county court filing, “when it appears in all likelihood the use of the grand jury was anything but regular.”

The Spence Law Firm, out of Jackson, is representing Hinkel.

With the new filings, the lawyers continue their argument that county officials covered for Colling after the shooting in order to avoid accountability for hiring the controversial deputy. Albany county has denied those charges. 

Investigation Integrity Questioned

Colling had previously shot and killed a 15-year-old boy while working as a police officer in Las Vegas, a shooting that led to a lengthy lawsuit. He was later fired from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for an alleged assault of a videographer trying to film police work. 

Former Sheriff Dave O’Malley hired Colling — a Laramie native whose father is a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper — when other law enforcement agencies wouldn’t, Hinkel’s lawyers have alleged. They accused O’Malley of being “unduly influenced by his friendship with Defendant Colling’s father” in the original legal complaint. Laramie Police Chief Dale Stalder chose not to hire Colling, he told WyoFile last summer.

Albany County prosecutor Peggy Trent (

In the months after Ramirez’s death, Albany County prosecutor Peggy Trent convened a grand jury to establish whether there was probable cause to charge Colling with a crime. Trent presented evidence to jurors for three days, after which the grand jury decided there was not probable cause, Trent said at a press conference in January 2019.

At that conference, Trent described the grand jury deliberation as a more thorough process than is typical of most Wyoming officer-involved shooting investigations. 

While Wyoming lacks clear statutory procedures for how such incidents are investigated, Wyoming’s statewide law enforcement agency, the Division of Criminal Investigation, has investigated in all apparent recent cases. The county attorney in the relevant county receives DCI’s report and then decides whether the shooting was justified or not. 

In Laramie, the group Albany County for Proper Policing, which sprung up in the wake of Ramirez’s death, called on Trent to recuse herself from the case. Trent did not. 

Prosecutors have broad control over a grand jury. They pick the evidence and set the arguments, all in secret. There was no opposing attorney making a case against Trent. 

Trent knew both Colling and Ramirez and their families, she said at the press conference. But with a grand jury, “I thought we could do it better” than other counties had done with police shootings, she said. Trent argued the grand jury created a more thorough and independent review of the evidence in the shooting. 

“I secured two experts to come into our community in order to provide insight as to national standards and how it should be done in the use of deadly force,” she said at the press conference. 

“It was more raw, more direct towards those witnesses than you would ever have in a courtroom with a jury present with a judge,” Trent said.

A Shield For Justice?

In the new filings, Hinkel’s attorneys allege the grand jury was a shield for justice, not a step toward it. Trent selected witnesses and presented evidence in a manner aimed at clearing Colling, aware that the county government she works for would likely end up in civil court, they allege. 

Trent called two expert witnesses during the grand jury, according to both her press conference and the latest filings from the Spence lawyers. One was Dave Dubay, a Casper-based consultant who previously worked for the company that manufactured the taser and body camera Colling used. The other was Connecticut-based attorney Eric Daigle.

Daigle “exclusively defends law enforcement officers in civil rights litigation,” the new filing alleges, implying he is not suitable as an impartial witness in the grand jury. Hinkel’s lawyers aren’t the first to accuse Daigle — whose website describes him as a law enforcement consultant and former police officer, still certified in Connecticut — of bias. 

Officials in Aurora, Colorado hired Daigle in June 2020 to investigate the high-profile death of Elijah McClain while the young Black man was in police custody. Daigle’s contract was cancelled after one day when a city councilmen raised concerns that the attorney was dedicated to defending police officers and their employers from civil liabilities. 

At the press conference, Trent said the grand jury’s purpose was to establish whether criminal charges should be filed. But the “county now admits – contrary to the statements of Attorney Trent – that these experts were also hired in anticipation of the forthcoming civil litigation,” the lawyers wrote.  

Their statement appears to refer to the county’s attorney’s resistance to subpoenas issued for the materials Daigle and Dubay used to prepare their testimony. The county’s attorney, John Bowers of the Bowers Law Firm in Rawlins, argues such materials, as well as communications between the expert witnesses and county officials, are protected under attorney-client privilege. 

“This admission may establish a preordained decision by the County to defend and condone Colling’s actions in the criminal investigation which it oversaw to affect the civil litigation,” Hinkel’s lawyers wrote. 

Bowers, the county’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment left with his office. 

“All of the material in both expert witness’s files was prepared for the Grand Jury and certainly it was not unexpected that civil litigation might result from the matter,” Bowers wrote in a Feb. 5 filing where he argued against releasing Daigle and Dubay’s investigative materials and communications with the county. “The impressions and opinions by the attorneys involved in the Grand Jury proceeding would be the same in the current civil litigation.”

Shooting Still Reverberates In Small Town

Colling and Ramirez were once high school classmates in Laramie. While Colling went on to a checkered career in law enforcement, Ramirez battled mental illness, alternating paranoid episodes with periods of stability, skateboarding and making music.

On the fatal day, Colling pulled Ramirez over after observing Ramirez drive slowly and fail to use his turn signal. A brief vehicle chase ended in front of Ramirez’s apartment, where the two men struggled before Colling shot Ramirez three times — once in the chest and twice in the back.

A protester carries a sign calling for “Justice for Robbie and George” — referring to Robbie Ramirez, who was killed by an Albany County sheriff’s deputy, and George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police — at a June 4, 2020 protest in Laramie. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

O’Malley has defended Colling’s use of force, and his hiring of the deputy. Ramirez’s mother has said the officer did “zero” to deescalate a situation that could have ended without tragedy. 

In Jan. 2019, the Laramie Boomerang reported O’Malley — now retired — was “currently working” with Daigle on a review of his department’s use-of-force policies. That review never occurred, according to emails included in the latest filings from The Spence Law Firm. 

“It is my understanding and belief from my clients that Sheriff O’Malley never followed through with having Mr. Daigle perform the review after the grand jury proceeding,” Bowers wrote in a Feb. 4 email to Hinkel’s lawyers. 

Colling continues to serve on the force, and O’Malley’s replacement has declined to comment on the case in two recent national news reports.

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Campbell County Judge Dismisses Felony Charge for Mother of Abused Infant

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

A Campbell County judge ruled Friday afternoon to dismiss a felony charge for Keasha Bullinger, 28, the mother of an allegedly abused 4-month-old infant that suffered 31 broken bones.  

Circuit Court Judge Wendy Bartlett, of the Sixth Judicial District, said, as part of her ruling, that the State of Wyoming had not satisfied its burden of proof for an allegation claiming that Bullinger had taken steps to disrupt the pursuit of justice in a felony child abuse investigation into the alleged actions of Tyler Martinson, 28 (County 17, Jan. 5). 

Campbell County Attorney Mitch Damsky argued that Bullinger had coached her oldest son in preparation of a forensic interview in Rapid City, South Dakota, instructing him on what to say and how to respond to questions that could be asked regarding the potential abuse of her then 3-month-old son.  

Gillette Police Department (GPD) Detective Eric Small, lead investigator in the case against Martinson, told the court that Bullinger’s son was withdrawn and guarded during the forensic interview, informing investigators that his mother had told him that Martinson didn’t hurt the infant “that bad” and that babies’ bones break easy.  

Those statements are clear indications that Bullinger had prepared her 8-year-old son for the interview, according to Damsky.  

“Those were not the words of an 8-year-old child,” Damsky said about video footage of the forensic interview.  

Attorney Christina Williams, representing Bullinger, argued that the prosecution’s arguments lacked clear evidence that the alleged offense occurred and were based largely on speculation.   

“You’re just guessing that this happened, you can’t say for sure,” Williams told Small, dismissing the detective’s assertions that video evidence clearly showed Bullinger’s son was prepped for the interview.  

She noted that Bullinger’s son had given no indication that he had been specifically prepared for questions that could be asked during the interview.  

Williams further stated that the prosecution’s arguments against Bullinger didn’t match the definitions of the state statute she was charged under.  

Wyoming Statute § 6-5-202 states that a person is an accessory after the fact if, with intent to hinder, delay or prevent the discovery, detection, apprehension, prosecution, detention, conviction, or punishment of another for the commission of a crime, he renders assistance to the person.   

Bullinger did not force her son, intimidate her son, or deceive her son into doing anything, Williams said, further noting the state’s inability to point out specific questions that Bullinger’s son had been prepared for.  

“It’s just speculation, your honor, it’s not supported by evidence or probable cause,” Williams said.  

Bartlett agreed with the defense and dismissed the felony charge against Bullinger but added that other misdemeanor charges related to the child abuse case still need to be addressed.  

Bullinger remains charged with seven counts of child endangerment for allegedly knowing about, and failing to act, on a string of abuse allegedly inflicted on her infant son by Martinson, who was arrested on 31 counts of felony aggravated child abuse Jan. 4 (County 17, Jan. 26). 

Affidavits of probable cause filed in the case state that Bullinger, accompanied by Martinson, took her infant son to the emergency room at Campbell County Memorial Hospital on Jan. 2.  

The infant was screaming, inconsolable, and his ribs popped and cracked with each breath, court documents say, which also note that his right leg was splayed to the side and not moving.  

Medical examinations revealed the infant had suffered 26 separate fractures to his ribs and five fractures to his legs, the worst of which was a fracture to his right femur.  

Small added during Bullinger’s preliminary hearing Feb. 26 that the baby also had three compression fractures, one in his neck and two in his back, according to additional medical examinations carried out in Denver, Colorado.  

“I might have been a little rough,” Martinson allegedly informed investigators Jan. 2, according to court documents, saying that he did not know how to pick up or handle an infant and believed he had injured the infant several times in the last three months.  

Bullinger is believed to have known about Martinson’s actions; on one occasion she walked in a room while Martinson had been changing the infant’s diaper to find her infant son bleeding from his nose and mouth, according to court documents.  

On other occasions, Bullinger noted that Martinson had allegedly been showing signs of resentment towards his son and had been picking him up so abruptly that the infant would scream in pain, according to court documents.   

Williams stated Feb. 26 that Bullinger had not been idle regarding the abuse; she had sought medical attention for the infant on several occasions and had collaborated with Martinson’s parents to put their son in counseling.  

Several times, she told investigators, Bullinger would “get up in Martinson’s face about it,” court documents state.  

But despite knowing of the danger Martinson posed to her infant son, court documents say, Bullinger repeatedly left the baby in his charge.  

When asked what it would have taken for her to do something about the abuse, Bullinger allegedly told investigators that the baby would have to be screaming in pain, according to the affidavit.  

Bullinger was arrested on the charges Jan. 25 but has since posted bail and has been released from the Campbell County Detention Center.  

Bartlett ordered that a criminal case be scheduled for a ruling on the child endangerment charges against Bullinger.  

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Casper Man Arrested for Murder Told Church About Crime

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper man arrested for second-degree murder on Friday allegedly announced to his church that he had committed the crime, according to authorities.

Casper police arrested Olinza Headd, 53, without incident Friday following a suspicious death investigation that began on Jan. 13.

The investigation began after police were called to an apartment complex in Casper on a report of a suicide attempt. The reporting party heard a gunshot from her apartment and her boyfriend, Eugene Hogan III, was inside of the apartment alone.

Upon arrival on the scene, first responders found Hogan from with several apparent gunshot wounds.

During what was Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters called a very complex investigation, officers began to develop theories on what happened.

McPheeters said a witness account of Headd publicly announcing at his church on Jan. 17 that he had shot another man “greatly assisted” in the investigation.

Armed with that information and evidence they had gathered themselves, investigators determined Headd, a member of Hogan’s family, entered Hogan’s apartment on the evening of Jan. 13 with a firearm and shot the victim multiple times before leaving the scene.

“This investigation yielded the highest level of professionalism in police services out of our extremely skilled team here at the Casper Police Department,” McPheeters said. “Many areas of the Department were used as integral resources in gathering information and evidence to reach a conclusion in this case. This investigation highlights the importance of our community’s role in helping to solve and prevent crimes. It is all of our responsibility to do our part to keep Casper the safe community we know and love.

“We commend the brave individuals who came forward to assist us with this case and thank the hard-working men and women of the Casper Police Department who put in countless hours – working all day and all night – to ensure those responsible would be brought to justice,” McPheeters continued. “Any loss of life in our community is tragic and our condolences are with the family of the deceased.”

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Wyoming Couple Killed By Nebraska Police Also Stole Propane Tanks In Mills

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper woman and Evansville man who died as a result of a shootout with Nebraska law enforcement last weekend also stole more than $800 worth of propane tanks in Mills in the days leading up to their deaths, according to authorities.

According to the Mills Police Department, a theft occurred at the Salt Creek Homax in Mills on Feb. 17. When employees reported the theft later that day, they provided officers with surveillance camera footage.

The footage showed an adult male (later determined to be Christian Alexander) and an adult female (later determined to be Hailey Stainbrook) taking 14 Blue Rhino propane tanks, which were valued at $837.75.

The couple was seen arriving in a black GMC Yukon, loading the tanks into the vehicle and then leaving.

The Mills and Casper police departments collaborated together on this investigation, and the owner of the stolen GMC Yukon identified the vehicle after seeing stills of the footage on social media.

The vehicle owner also helped identify Alexander and Stainbrook.

The couple was killed while fleeing from officers in Lincoln, Nebraska, after allegedly stealing a man’s wallet at a hotel. Stainbrook apparently met the man via a social media app on Friday evening and spent some time with him at his hotel.

As the two were fleeing, an officer crashed his vehicle into theirs, stopping them. The officer then began exchanging gunfire with Alexander, according to police reports.

After Alexander was disabled, officers negotiated with Stainbrook for around seven minutes before she pointed a gun at law enforcement, prompting officers to shoot at her, reports said.

Stainbrook died at a hospital after surgery over the weekend and Alexander died Tuesday of his injuries. Officer Jesse Hilger, who shot the couple, will be placed on administrative leave until an internal investigation is completed.

The police have found to be justified in their shooting of Alexander and Stainbrook, however.

According to the Mills Police Department, a small portion of the stolen propane tanks have been located and the Yukon was returned to its owner after being found in Cheyenne.

No charges have been filed in the theft case, due to the investigation being in its preliminary stages.

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Green River Man Changes Plea In Terroristic Threats Case

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By Rock Springs Rocket Miner, Cowboy State Daily

GREEN RIVER — A Green River man changed his plea to guilty Wednesday afternoon for calling the Rock Springs Community Health Center and making death threats in January.

Wade Marin Prehn, 46, of Green River originally pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Sweetwater County Third District Court on Feb. 3 to the felony charge of terroristic threats.

As part of a plea agreement, Prehn changed his plea to guilty during a video hearing before Judge Suzannah Robinson on Feb. 24. He will be sentenced after a pre-sentence investigation is completed. Prehn also faces a misdemeanor charge in a separate case.

Under the agreement, Prehn would receive a suspended two- to three-year prison sentence and be placed on three years of supervised probation. The maximum penalty for terroristic threats is three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Prehn agreed with information read to him by Judge Robinson from court documents about a call he made around 6 p.m. on Jan. 20 to the Community Health Center on Commercial Way in Rock Springs. He admitted that the call was made by him.

The employee who answered said the caller refused to identify himself and at one point threatened to slaughter those at the clinic. She said the man was rude, hostile and cursing during the call.

He wanted Medicaid information and said that they had better have it, and that he was getting ready to come there and “take them all down.” He then said, “I’m about to slaughter all of you.” When asked if that was a threat, the caller replied that it was a promise, and he was on his way over.

There were nine employees and two patients in the clinic at the time. A call was made to the Rock Springs Police Department. When officers arrived, they stood by while everyone left the clinic. Prehn agreed that the statements he made in the call terrified people at the clinic and caused a serious public inconvenience by requiring an evacuation.

He admitted to the charge of “threatening to commit a violent felony in reckless disregard of the risk of causing serious public inconvenience.” He said that the call was made from Green River.

Prehn said he had moved to Green River from Cheyenne in December to live with his girlfriend.

On the day he made the threatening call, Prehn said he had just found out that his teenage son had committed suicide.

He said that after talking to Saratoga police about his son’s suicide, he made other calls to the numbers of physicians and medical providers given to him during an emergency room visit.

He said that he was very “frazzled” and “nasty on the phone” with all those he talked to. He apologized.

The defense said that even though Prehn’s behavior was spurred by tragic circumstances, Prehn knows that what he did was wrong, and he wants to take responsibility for his actions.

Judge Robinson agreed to release Prehn from the Sweetwater County Detention Center with bond lowered to “his own recognizance” in the case, based on the plea agreement, while he awaits sentencing.

The judge warned Prehn that if he doesn’t follow his bond conditions, his situation will be “precarious.”

His bond could be forfeited, and he would likely remain in jail until his sentencing. In addition, the plea agreement could be rejected and the maximum sentence imposed.

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Another Gillette Resident Falls Victim To Phone Scam

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By County 17, Cowboy State Daily

A 69-year-old Gillette man is out $1000, after falling prey to an international scammer claiming to be tech support.

This is the second such incident reported to the Gillette Police Department (GPD) this week.

The man reported that he’d received a call from someone claiming to be an Apple support person calling about disputed iTune charges, GPD Sgt. Eric Dearcorn said Thursday.

The man had been asked to purchase two eBay gift cards at Walgreens and an additional three gift cards from Smith’s Food and Drug for a total of $1,000.

After reading off the gift card numbers to the caller following his purchasing, the caller hung up at which point the man reported the scam to GPD.

This scam is part of a growing trend with 270% more Americans falling victim to phone scams in 2020 over the prior year, according to a December survey by First Orion, a communication solutions company.

in 2020, Americans reported paying out nearly $19.7 billion to scammers, per an online survey conducted by The Harris Poll.

According to the same poll, the amount of money lost by Americans last year increased by $9.2 billion from 2019.

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Green River Man Arrested For Cashing in Fake Gambling Tickets

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Green River man was apprehended earlier this week after he was caught cashing in multiple fraudulent gambling tickets.

According to the Rock Springs Police Department, officers were sent to the Flying J Travel Plaza on the morning of Feb, 13 in response to a report of a man cashing multiple fake tickets.

Through further investigation, the suspect was identified as 31-year-old Nicholas Anderson.

On Sunday, Flying J staff called police to report Anderson returned to the store, but he left before officers managed to make it onto the scene.

Anderson’s vehicle was located and a traffic stop was conducted. He was subsequently placed under arrest and charged with two counts of possession of forged writings.

However, during the course of the traffic stop, a K-9 unit was deployed around the vehicle and alerted to something inside the car.

Officers found what was suspected to be methamphetamine and heroin inside the vehicle. In addition to Anderson, Jessica Lewis, 34, of Rock Springs was arrested for unlawful possession of less than three grams of a powder or crystalline substance.

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Wyoming’s Missing People: Part I

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By Jennifer Kocher, County 17

Imagine if your son left one day and never came home. Disappeared into thin air, never to be seen or heard from again. 

This is exactly what happened to Dawn Englebert. Her son Chance, who was 25 at the time, disappeared during a weekend trip to Nebraska with his wife Baylee and their infant son. It was July 6, 2019. The couple had driven from their home in Moorcroft to spend the 4th of July weekend with Baylee’s family in Gering.

It’s unclear exactly what transpired, but according to Chance’s friends, there was some type of misunderstanding or fight with his in-laws after a day of golfing and drinking, resulting in Chance telling Baylee he wanted to go home, and ultimately, walking away.

He called several friends and family to get a ride but wasn’t able to secure one immediately given the distance from home. Calls and texts to Chance’s phone went unanswered. The last correspondence sent from his phone was a text at 9:08 p.m. The text made no sense: just a bunch of numbers and emojis.

Chance never used emojis, Dawn said, so likely someone else had it.

He was last seen walking down the street a couple miles from his in-law’s house about 8 p.m.

His disappearance prompted multiple searches across 17 agencies and hundreds of volunteers, including divers searching the North Platte River as well as cadaver dogs, drones and searchers on horseback. Hundreds of tips turned up nothing, including a rumor that Baylee’s family might have been involved after it was reported they’d just poured fresh concrete.

“That was quickly debunked,” said Gering Police Department Investigator Brian Eads, who was with the Nebraska State Patrol at the time of Englebert’s disappearance but who has since joined the police department and has taken over the case.

As of Feb. 16, there have been no updates in the case, Eads said, though tips are still regularly coming in. On average, he and Gering Police officer Jordan McBride spend about 10-20 hours per week tracking down leads and tips.

“We don’t like to have unsolved cases,” Eads said, noting that he couldn’t comment about any current tips or speculations given that it’s an open case. “We’re still receiving calls about sightings and are looking into everything.”

He regularly consults with the FBI and continues to stay on the case, he said.

Dawn said appreciates their work as well as the cards and updates she receives from Eads and others involved, but it doesn’t make it any easier for the mom of three boys, who believes in her heart that somebody out there saw or heard something that could help locate her son.

No way he would have left on his own, Dawn said, a sentiment echoed by wife Baylee when interviewed by County 17 in the days following his disappearance.

Dawn believes her son walked into something, but doesn’t believe that Chance, who was an avid swimmer and bareback rodeo rider good enough to land a college scholarship to Laramie Community College as a teen, would have fallen into the river or injured himself enroute.

“He’s an athlete and cattleman,” she said, who grew up working on the family’s ranch in Burdock, South Dakota. “He’s a man who loves his family and son.”

Englebert’s disappearance has fueled heated debate and speculation by many on social media, which has worked to divide both families, including Dawn’s communication with Baylee and her grandson, which has since broken down in the ensuing months since he’s been gone.

Likewise, Baylee has stopped talking to reporters and told the Rapid City Journal that she no longer grants interviews because she and her family get death threats.

Friends like Matt Miller and Dustin Easton and other advocates have devoted FaceBook pages to help locate Chance, including Help Find Chance Englebert, Chance Englebert, Daddy where are you?, Chances Are…? The truth will come out as well as several other private pages. Others still, have picked up his case in podcasts and various missing person crime programs, but thus far, nothing has panned out or led to any arrests.

Despite all the help from law enforcement and others, Dawn can’t help thinking that there would be a lot more urgency to find a young woman or a child who had gone missing and that 25-year-old guys like Chance, particularly because he’d been drinking, don’t raise the same alarms.

There are others, too, who went missing within the same approximate timeframe and area as her son, Dawn noted.

In both cases, they were men in their 20s with a history of drinking or drug use and slight skirmishes with the law.

Similar cases

In February 2019, a Colorado-area man also vanished after crashing his pickup into a guardrail on Highway 285 in Indian Hills, outside Denver. Jacob Paddock-Weeks, now 27, was seen running from the accident after leaving both his cell phone and wallet in the car. Drug paraphernalia had been found in his vehicle, but the crash was thought to be the result of a mechanical problem with a tie rod, according to reporting by Fox 31/2 News Denver.

A Facebook page for Paddock-Weeks indicates he is still missing.

Prior to that, a Nebraska man, 28-year-old Christopher A. Loupin, also went missing under mysterious circumstances in mid-November 2019 from 4 Seasons Campground north of the Elm Creek interchange near Kearney. He, too, seemingly vanished into thin air after last being seen at the campground in shorts and a T-shirt.

According to Nebraska TV News, Loupin and his father Eddie were spending the night at the campground where they’d been contracted to work on a project.

Loupin had reportedly been acting erratic that night, his father told investigators, and he finally came out around 1 a.m. the morning of Nov. 17 and told his son he needed to get inside and get some sleep after he saw him outside smoking. In the morning, his son was gone.

Loupin, like Paddock-Weeks, was not dressed for the weather and disappeared without a cell phone or coat.

The list goes on, and some, like PJ Chavez, has taken an interest in these missing person stories in his podcast and Facebook page. Despite the attention on their behalf, the three men still remain missing.

Wyoming in top 10 states with missing people

According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) database, there are more than 600,000 individuals who go missing in the United States each year with an estimated 4,400 unidentified bodies recovered. Tens of thousands of those missing individuals remain gone for more than one year, at which point many agencies consider them “cold cases.”

Of the people currently missing in the U.S., approximately 60% are male and 40% are female, per NAMUS data, with the average age being 34 at the time of their disappearence. As of January 2019, there were 106 children missing who were younger than a year when they disappeared.

A 2019 Vivint Source survey determined that Wyoming is the seventh state with the most missing people behind Alaska, which tops the list with a whopping 41.8 missing people per every 100,000. California, meanwhile, reported the largest number of missing people overall at 2,133. Conversely, Maine reported the fewest missing people at 1.8 per every 100,000.

Arizona ranked second with 13.0 missing people per every 100,000, followed by Oregon at 10.4 and Washington 8.7.

The more rural states seem to have this in common.

Currently, in Wyoming there are more than 50 open missing person cases, according to NAMUS datal, four of which include three men and one woman from Campbell County.  Given its wide-open spaces and relative low population, perhaps it’s not surprising that so many people go missing in Wyoming.

Finding the missing

For Casper resident Desiree Tinoco, it was the number of missing people that caught her attention, particularly men who she thinks don’t garner the same level of attention as children or women, especially those with substance abuse issues or criminal histories.

She remembers seeing a story about a missing man from Washington, D.C., who disappeared in Big Horn County this summer.

“How does that happen?” she said. “How do people just disappear?”

The question stuck with her, and despite having no experience in the field or any missing people in her own life, Tinoco took it upon herself to do something to help. After discovering that Wyoming doesn’t have a missing persons database, unlike many other states, Tinoco decided to start a page on Facebook called Missing People of Wyoming, which has been active for just about 18 months.

Her main motivation for starting the group was to spread awareness about missing people by sharing their flyers, she said, as well as drawing attention to the cases that don’t garner as much urgency, such as men with criminal pasts or addiction problems.

“Those people are someone’s son, father or brother,” Tinoco said. “Someone is worried about them.”

Now, in the nearly 18 months since starting the group, it’s grown to almost 8,600 members, and Tinoco is feeling a little bit out of her league. On average, the site has about 50 missing people they are tracing. As such, she spends a lot of time trying to follow each case and provide continual updates as well as take down the posters in cases where the missing individual has been found.

She said she’d also like to see the state step in and create its own database to help locate the missing.

“I find myself trying to give advice that I’m clearly not qualified to give,” she said, noting the clear need for such a resource in Wyoming.

In December, Tinoco was asked to give a presentation to the Casper City Council, which was her first public speaking appearance and admittedly a little daunting. Nonetheless, Tinoco held her own as she explained that the lack of a state-wide missing persons database leaves it up to private citizens such as herself.

“As private citizens, we are underqualified and underfunded in overseeing such a task,” she explained, noting her belief that it’s an issue chronically overlooked by both the general public as well as local and state government. The task shouldn’t fall on the hands of people like her, she said, though she felt extremely blessed to be able to do her part to help.

Nonetheless, she’s only one person.

There are others, too, who have devoted their lives to tracking down the missing. Stay tuned to Part II of the series on Sunday to read about how law enforcement and a cadre of private detectives are working to locate the missing in Wyoming as well as the protocols regarding runaways.

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International Scamming Operation Rips Off Gillette Woman

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

A remote access application scam surfaced in Campbell County Monday with one resident losing nearly $1,600, Gillette Police Department officials said Tuesday.

The resident, a 61-year-old female, received a phone call shortly before 9:45 p.m. Feb. 22 and was told her identity had been compromised and that she needed to take several steps to prevent any further fraudulent activity, GPD Detective Sgt. Eric Dearcorn said Tuesday.

The caller, who remains unknown and used a text subscriber phone number, convinced the 61-year-old female to install AnyDesk, a remote desktop access application, on her home computer, Dearcorn said.

Once the app was installed, the caller was able to access the 61-year-old female’s bank account and PayPal information and removed the funds.

The 61-year-old female’s daughter, a 42-year-old female who initially reported the incident, said that she intended to freeze all her mother’s bank accounts to prevent further loss, but the 61-year-old female is still out nearly $1,600, according to Dearcorn.

As of Feb. 23, there are no suspects and no leads, Dearcorn said.

The AnyDesk application can be installed on any computer and can enable access to that device from anywhere in the world. Normally, the application is utilized by IT specialists in companies to remotely fix computer problems, according to the AnyDesk website.

The Economic Times reports that the application is used by millions of people, in thousands of companies, in hundreds of countries.

The creators of AnyDesk, however, recognize the potential for their application to be used for illicit purposes and have a standing warning on their website urging users not to grant device access to unfamiliar people.

The AnyDesk scam is a worldwide phenomenon where scammers reach out to their victims and, through various means, convince them to download and install the AnyDesk software.

The AnyDesk website warns of several past incidents and attempts including false emails from Microsoft impersonators offering to clean devices of malicious software as well as other “cold call” help offers.

Once the application is installed, the scammers can search their victims’ computers for sensitive documents, passwords, and personal details, according to a Sept. 2020 report by Bleeping Computer.

Scammers can then use the stolen information to access victim bank accounts and steal any available funds. Recently, a similar scam was used to deprive several citizens of Budapest of $350,000, according to the report.

According to Gadgets Now, scams involving remote access applications are so effective due to a general technological illiteracy among citizens worldwide. Most citizens don’t understand how AnyDesk, or similar applications like TeamViewer, work.

The most effective defense against remote access scam operations is to ensure users are informed and educated about the potentials of fraud, The Economic Times reports, which includes treating digital access the same as in-person access to confidential information.

Citizens are encouraged to carefully consider who the person asking for the information is, and, if it is a stranger, avoid granting access, according to the report.

Generally, specialists with mainstream service credentials will not cold call or reach out seeking access to confidential information by phone, according to the AnyDesk website.

The same goes for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) who have a longstanding memo on their federal website stating they will never request personal or financial information by email, text, or social media.

The IRS also states that they never contact taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests.

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Nebraska Police Justified In Shooting, Killing of Casper Woman, Evansville Man

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Nebraska police officers were justified in the shootings of a Casper woman and Evansville man who later died from their injuries, a preliminary investigation has determined.

Hailey Stainbrook, 30, of Casper, and Christian Alexander, 26, of Evansville, were fleeing from officers in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday morning after allegedly stealing a man’s wallet at a hotel.

As the two were fleeing, an officer crashed his vehicle into theirs, stopping them. The officer then began exchanging gunfire with Alexander.

“The suspect pointing a weapon out the window at a trooper and at the officers when the vehicle came to rest is justifiable for use of deadly force,” Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner said Wednesday during a news conference.

Officers negotiated with Stainbrook for around seven minutes before she pointed a gun at law enforcement, prompting them to shoot at her, the report said.

Stainbrook died at a hospital after surgery over the weekend and Alexander died Tuesday of his injuries. Officer Jesse Hilger, who shot the couple, will be placed on administrative leave until an internal investigation is completed.

“Our preliminary investigation has determined that the officers were justified in using deadly force against both suspects,” Wagner said.

Stainbrook apparently met the man via a social media app on Friday evening and spent some time with him at his hotel.

“With regard to the proceeding days and weeks of the shooting, our condolences go out to both families over the tragic outcome of this event,” Wagner said.

Acting Lincoln Police Chief Brian Jackson said that a grand jury would also look into the officers’ actions during the confrontation with the couple.

“We are fortunate that no law enforcement officers or other members of the public were seriously injured and we’re profoundly grateful for the outpouring of community support,” Jackson said.

Stainbrook and Alexander were suspected in various crimes in the days leading up to their deaths, including stealing vehicles in both Cheyenne and Casper.

An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday for the pair to determine the cause of death.

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Mother of Murdered Toddler Defends Herself on Social Media

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The mother of a murdered Cheyenne toddler spoke out over the weekend on social media about her grief and denied rumors she may have played a role in the crime.

“As the mother of this missing boy … I have alot to say … especially about all the horrible things people are saying but I wont … cause deep down I know my baby was happy here and never abused,” Kassy Orona said on the Cheyenne Police Department’s Facebook page on Sunday.

Orona’s 2-year-old son, Athian Rivera, was found dead in a dumpster on Friday afternoon after being reported missing. Her boyfriend, Wyatt Lamb, was arrested on unrelated charges, but detectives have since submitted an affidavit recommending he be charged with murder and aggravated child abuse.

CPD is continuing its investigation into the boy’s death, but many people on social media have questioned if Orona might have played a role in her son’s death.

“All you people prove that the world only tears people down when their hurting the most,” Orona said. “I know there’s plenty of people out there that say how do you not know that your kids in danger? How did u not see signs? You wanna know how I didnt know? Here’s an example! There’s been people sending me messages saying how they mourn for me and mourn my loss and tell me they wanna do all this stuff to help … but when I look on here … they are some of the ones commenting that my child was neglected, that I should be punished … that’s why I couldnt tell.”

Orona lashed back at those who criticized her.

“Now I know why our community is the way it doesn’t even seem as though u guys actually care about my son..but only about spewing hate,” Orona concluded. “Maybe turn that hate into positive thoughts and prayers for my son…u people should be ashamed.”

She added no one would know how much she blamed herself for her son’s horrible death and that she wished it was her who died instead.

Orona’s Facebook page is now set to private, but her “about me” section at the top of her profile addresses her son’s death.


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Cheyenne Man Held in Connection With Toddler’s Death

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne man is being held in connection with the death of a 2-year-old boy whose body was found in a dumpster last week, the Cheyenne Police Department announced Tuesday.

The department announced that an affidavit supporting charges of murder and aggravated child abuse has been filed against Wyatt Lamb, 27.

The body of Athian Rivera was found Friday in a dumpster several hours after officers responded to a report that the boy was missing.

Lamb was contacted at Rivera’s home Friday evening and taken into custody on an unrelated felony warrant for failure to appear for a court hearing and a misdemeanor warrant for parole violation.

Police said on Tuesday, detectives filed an affidavit of probable cause with Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove supporting the filing of murder and aggravated child abuse charges against Lamb.

Manlove was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.

The department said it is still investigating the case.

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Noem Calls For South Dakota AG to Resign After Fatal Crash

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has asked state attorney general Jason Ravnsborg to resign after he killed a man in an accident last fall.

“Now that the investigation has closed and charges have been filed, I believe the Attorney General should resign,” Noem said in a statement. “I have reviewed the material we are releasing, starting today, and I encourage others to review it as well.”

Some South Dakota lawmakers are looking into impeachment proceedings, should Ravnsborg decide to not resign. It would be the first formal impeachment proceedings in the state’s history.

“Rep. Will Mortenson is bringing the impeachment articles with support of House Majority Leader Kent Peterson and Minority Leader Jamie Smith. They’ll make themselves available to the press following the close of floor session today,” tweeted Argus Leader political reporter Joe Sneve.

Ravnsborg has been charged with three misdemeanor offenses in the September death of Joseph Boever, who was walking along the shoulder of Highway 14 west of Highmore when authorities say Ravnsborg’s vehicle veered onto the shoulder and struck Boever.

Ravnsborg was charged with operating a vehicle while using a mobile electronic device, illegal lane change and careless driving. Each carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and fines of $500 each.

In a 911 call made by Ravnsborg the night of the incident, the dispatcher asked him if he might have struck a deer and he responded that he did not know, later adding that it could have been a deer and that it was right in the roadway.

The Hyde County Sheriff arrived on scene to assess the damage to the AG’s vehicle and look for the “deer.”

Neither the sheriff nor Ravnsborg saw Boever’s body in the ditch, even though Ravnsborg used his cell phone flashlight to search the area.

Ravnsborg borrowed the sheriff’s personal vehicle to drive back to Pierre that night.

He returned to the scene of the crash the following morning on his way to return the sheriff’s vehicle. He and an employee stopped to look for the animal again, but instead found Boever’s body nearby.

Ravnsborg’s spokesman told the newspaper on Monday that the attorney general had no plans of resigning.

“The investigators have presented their findings and recommended misdemeanor infractions in a wholistic process they described as going ‘above and beyond,’ and we look forward to the continued due process of the law,” Mike Deaver said.

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Campbell County Man Charged With Attempted Murder After Stabbing Friend

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

Campbell County resident Roger Gilmore, 59, has been charged with attempted murder and could face life imprisonment or death if convicted of stabbing a friend in the neck with a knife, officials said Friday.  

Gilmore was arraigned before Campbell County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Bartlett Feb. 12 on charges stemming from an incident in which he which occurred near Quincy Road north of Gillette, where he allegedly stabbed a 33-year-old male during an altercation Feb. 11, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.  

“This crime is about as serious as it gets without somebody actually having to die,” said Daniel Reade, deputy county and prosecuting attorney for Campbell County.  

The affidavit stated that Gilmore was intoxicated and argued with the victim, a 33-year-old male, regarding an ongoing relationship between the victim and an unidentified female.  

Gilmore allegedly stabbed the victim in the left side of his neck with a four-inch folding knife while the two were sitting in Gilmore’s vehicle in the driveway of a residence near Quincy Road. After stabbing the man, Gilmore reportedly went to a neighbor’s house to report the incident to law enforcement, according to the affidavit.  

When he arrived at the residence, Gilmore was in tears and asked over and over if the victim was okay, per the affidavit. 

Gilmore surrendered to Campbell County Sheriff Office (CCSO) deputies without incident at 5:15 p.m., the affidavit stated, though Gilmore became increasingly agitated when the unidentified female came out of the residence, saying “That’s why I did it” and calling the 33-year-old male a “child molester” that needed to go to prison for the rest of his life.  

Gilmore reportedly made several threats to stab the victim in the heart next time and would kill him when he got out of jail while seated in the back of a deputy’s patrol vehicle, according to the affidavit.  

During this tirade, Gilmore also attempted to shatter the rear window of the patrol car and destroyed a rear facing camera while demanding the deputy “shoot him in the head,” according to the affidavit.  

Witnesses at the scene informed deputies that the victim had gone to the hospital after witnesses declined to “stitch him up,” though they did assist with stopping the bleeding, court documents state. 

The 33-year-old male was later contacted but was not cooperative with the investigation. Witness statements allege the victim intended to attribute his neck injury to a grinder wheel and not to being stabbed when he got to the hospital, according to the affidavit.  

Gilmore was originally charged with attempted manslaughter following his arrest, but the charges were revised to reflect first degree attempted murder, given the fact that Gilmore showed premeditated malice and took substantial steps toward that end, according to charges read by Bartlett.  

As such, Bartlett said, attempted murder carries the same penalty as murder itself, meaning that Gilmore could face the death penalty, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and could be ordered to pay a $10,000 fine if convicted.  

Gilmore is also charged with misdemeanor destruction of property, punishable by six months in prison, a $750 fine, or both, and could be required to pay restitution, Bartlett said.  

Bond was set at the prosecution’s recommendation of $150,000 cash only given the seriousness of the offense and Gilmore’s criminal history stemming back to 1981 to include violating parole, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, forgery, among several others.   

Gilmore’s preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 18. 

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Rock Springs: Men Charged With Manufacturing Pipe Bombs, Possession Of Meth, Etc.

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Officers of the Rock Springs Police Department on Sunday initiated a traffic stop in the 1000 block of Walnut Street.

The driver of the vehicle, Spencer Cottrell attempted to elude officers but his vehicle became stuck in the snow and Cottrell fled on foot.  

Officers were able to catch Cottrell who was found to be in possession of 10 grams of methamphetamine. 

In addition to the methamphetamine, Cottrell’s vehicle contained a pipe bomb in the front passenger area.  

The Sweetwater County Bomb Squad was called to the scene and safely disarmed the pipe bomb.  

Cottrell was placed under arrest and charged with Driving While License Suspended, Failure to Maintain Insurance, Fleeing or Attempting to Elude, Interference with a Peace Officer, and Unlawful Possession of Methamphetamine.   

After several search warrants were executed officers located an additional pipe bomb that was safely disarmed by the Sweetwater County Bomb Squad. 

Spencer Cottrell and Bryan Foster have been charged with felony Possession, manufacture, transportation, sale of explosives-intent to unlawfully endanger per Wyoming State Statute 6-3-111(b).

This case still remains under investigation.

The Rock Springs Police Department reminds the community that all suspects are presumed innocent until their case has been adjudicated in a court of law.

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Indigenous People Make Up Almost 25% Of Wyoming Murder Victims

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

While making up only 3% of Wyoming’s population, the murders of indigenous people in the state accounted for almost one-quarter of the state’s murders over a 20-year period, according to a new report.

The report “Missing and Murdered Indigenous People,” prepared by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center, said the murders of indigenous people made up 21% of the total seen between 2000 and 2019.

“Based on death certificate data listing homicide as the cause of death, indigenous people have a homicide rate higher than any other race/ethnicity in Wyoming,” said the report, which is to be the subject of a meeting Wednesday. “The current indigenous homicide rate in Wyoming is higher than the national indigenous homicide rate.”

The study was commissioned by the attorney general’s Division of Victim Services on behalf of Gov. Mark Gordon’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force, which is to meet Wednesday to review the document.

The study said that of the 498 murders recorded in Wyoming between 2000 and 2019, 105, 21% of the victims, were indigenous people of Wyoming. Of those, 34 were women and 71 were men.

The homicide rate among indigenous people is eight times higher than it is for white people in the state, the report said.

“The report demonstrates what leadership and members of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes have long known — that tribal members are disproportionately targeted as victims of violent crime,” said state Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, chair of the Legislature’s Select Committee on Tribal Relations.

When indigenous people were killed, they were subject to less media coverage than white people, the report said, and were portrayed differently from white murder victims, with more frequent use of violent language and negative descriptions of the victim’s character.

“The content analysis of the media coverage of murdered and missing people revealed strong racial and gender bias,” the report said. “This bias in media coverage contributes to systemic oppression and implicit bias in Wyoming.”

The report made three recommendations for addressing the issue, including the creation of an indigenous advocacy position or response team to help families with the reporting and investigation process.

“The advocate can serve as a communication point-person, helping to reduce the emotional burden for families of repeating incident details to multiple agencies,” it said.

The study noted that researchers had a difficult time obtaining data for their report, due in part to the misclassification of victims as white, Hispanic or Asian rather than indigenous. In addition, the study said, many agencies do not keep track of race or tribal affiliation in their reports on deaths.

As a result, the state needs to develop consistent protocols and data systems for murdered and missing indigenous people, the study said.

It also recommended raising community awareness about murdered and missing indigenous people.

“Altogether, the findings in this report convey a need for increased recognition and understanding of the MMIP epidemic by law enforcement, the government, the media and the public,” it said. 

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Alleged Kidnapping in Casper Shuts Down Portion of I-25

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A misunderstanding between family members caused a portion of Interstate 25 in Casper to be shut down for a portion of Wednesday afternoon.

The incident was not a kidnapping as was originally reported to police, according to a spokesman with the Natrona County Sheriff’s office.

“The incident that occurred actually was no kidnapping, as it is defined in the state statute,” Natrona County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Taylor Courtney told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “There are potential for criminal charges as this investigation moves forward, though.”

The incident began Wednesday afternoon, when sheriff’s dispatchers received a report from a family member of a woman who was in a vehicle with a man and a baby. The family member believed that the woman had been taken against her will, although she went with the man willingly, taking the baby along.

The man was making verbal threats, which also concerned the woman’s family, according to initial reports.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol found the couple and baby parked in their vehicle on Interstate 25. Natrona County sheriff’s deputies arrived shortly after and managed to get the woman out of the car safely, although the man and baby were still inside.

“Over the course of 40 to 45 minutes, contact was made with the male inside of the car,” Courtney said. “Law enforcement officers retrieved the child, and the baby and mother were able to get away from the scene safely.”

Not much longer afterward, the man surrendered to law enforcement. He was transported to a medical facility due to a superficial puncture wound that police believed was self-inflicted.

Courtney believed that drugs and mental health issues were contributing factors in this case.

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Torrington Corrections Officer Receives Medal for Stopping Stabbing

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Torrington corrections officer received the Medal of Valor from the American Correctional Association for stopping the stabbing of a prison inmate in 2019.

In September 2019, Officer Cullen Calderon at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution risked his own personal safety in order to prevent the loss of life, according to the Wyoming Department of Corrections.

“Officer Calderon exhibited extraordinary bravery and valor in the line of duty, as evidenced by his actions, and he deserves recognition for the courage he demonstrated,” the Wyoming Department of Corrections said in a statement.

Calderon was working as the facility recreation officer on Sept. 10, 2019. When staff began to serve the afternoon meal, Calderon went to assist and saw an inmate begin to stab another from behind.

Calderon began to wrestle the attacker to the ground. Calderon restrained the attacker’s hand to stop the attack and then disarmed the attacker.

His actions prevented any further injury from being inflicted by the attacker and his weapon to the other inmate and potentially staff, the Corrections Department said. 

In this selfless act of bravery, with his undaunted courage and unwavering devotion to duty and the Wyoming Department of Corrections mission, Calderon prevented the attacker from taking the life of another inmate and protected fellow staff from serious injury or death. 

“Calderon’s actions demonstrated the qualities of a leader and reflect his own high standards, which serve to uphold the highest traditions of the Wyoming Department of Corrections,” the DOC said.

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Gillette Police Officer Cleared in Fatal Shooting

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Ryan Lewallen, County 17

Jeffery Sanders, the Gillette police officer involved in a fatal shooting last November, will not face criminal charges and is expected to return to full duty, Gillette Police Department (GPD) officials announced Tuesday.  

The fatal shooting occurred on Nov. 13, 2020, after 31-year-old Cody Amman pulled a handgun from a vehicle and fired shots at Sanders during a traffic stop on Boxelder Road, near the Chara Hills subdivision, according to a GPD statement issued after the incident.  

Amman had been operating a vehicle believed to have fled another scene outside city limits where a vehicle had been shot several times. Sanders located Amman in his vehicle, after receiving direction from his supervisor who instructed him to initiate a felony traffic stop with the intent of holding the vehicle at gun point until backup arrived.  

Sanders reportedly had no intention of approaching Amman’s vehicle without backup, due to the high probability that its occupants were armed. Instead, he stopped Amman away from residential areas in the event there was gunfire, according to a special prosecutor report from Crook County Attorney Joseph Baron. 

Body cam footage of the incident released by GPD on Jan. 26 during a press conference at Gillette City Hall shows Amman emerging from his vehicle before Sanders is fully stopped.  

Footage further shows Sanders quickly parking his patrol car, drawing his firearm, and ordering Amman to get back into his vehicle. When Amman begins shooting, Sanders returns fire while seeking shelter behind his patrol car.  

Sanders fired a total of six shots as bullets whirled around him, some of them slamming into his patrol car. Amman then fled while continuing to point his gun at Sanders and firing another shot, according to witness accounts recorded in the special prosecutor report.  

Two of Sanders’ last shots struck Amman in the chest, and he later died of acute blood loss and respiratory failure despite life saving measures attempted by responding law enforcement who arrived within minutes of the shooting.  

Sanders was not injured in the exchange.  

Gillette Police Chief Jim Hloucal, who spoke to reporters Tuesday, stated the body cam footage had been cut to remove the attempted life saving measures and Amman’s wounds out of respect for the family.  

Nine seconds passed from the moment Amman stepped out of his vehicle to the point when he hit the ground, according to Hloucal, who said Sanders’ response to the situation was exceptional and reflected the level of training that all GPD officers undertake.  

Training for situations like the one Sanders endured is continuous, Hloucal noted. 

“While these (situations) are very infrequent, they’re the ones that unfold the quickest, so that training has to be second nature, so that reaction is instantaneous,” Hloucal said. “You train frequently for the infrequent, high-risk life encounter.” 

Baron was brought in to investigate the incident after Campbell County Attorney Mitch Damsky announced late last year that he could not investigate due to a conflict of interest as Amman had been a former client of his when he was serving as a public defender.  

Baron’s report was based on findings from the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), who are tasked with investigating officer involved shootings in Campbell County.  

Baron concluded in his report that Sanders’ actions aligned with those that any reasonable officer would be expected to make given the circumstances.  

“I find no reason whatsoever to charge the officer with any type of criminal offense based upon the evidence presented to me as the officer’s shooting of Cody Amman was a justified use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer acting within the scope of his duties,” Baron wrote in his report.  

An internal GPD investigation of the shooting came to the same conclusion, Hloucal said.  

Sanders is expected to return to full duty in the coming days. 

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Mother of Abused Infant Charged with Felony Abuse, Misdemeanor Endangerment

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

The mother of a 3-month-old child who allegedly suffered 31 broken bones at the hands of his father now faces criminal charges for knowingly endangering the infant and failing to act on the abuse, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

Keasha Bullinger, 28, has been charged with one count of felony aggravated child abuse for allegedly failing to act on multiple incidents of abuse inflicted on her 3-month-old son by 28-year-old Tyler Martinson (County 17, Jan. 5), court documents state.

She is also charged with seven misdemeanor counts of child endangerment after reportedly leaving her son in the care of Martinson several times over the course of three months, while allegedly knowing of and witnessing the abuse, according to the affidavit.

Bullinger was arraigned on the charges before Sixth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Wendy Bartlett on Jan. 25.

Court documents state that the alleged abuse began shortly after the infant was born, with Martinson slipping into anxiety and depression as he struggled with feelings of ineptitude.

Bullinger reportedly witnessed Martinson showing signs of resentment towards the infant and picking him up “too fast or too rough,” causing the infant to scream in pain, according to the affidavit.

She allegedly spoke with Martinson on several occasions about his rough handling of the infant, the physical bruising the handling caused and would “get up in (Martinson’s) face about it,” court documents state.

On one occasion while Martinson was changing the 3-month-old’s diaper, Bullinger reportedly walked into the room to find the infant making a “gurgling sound” from blood in his mouth after he defecated on Martinson and himself.

According to court documents, Bullinger questioned Martinson about the blood, but she didn’t take any other action after he denied knowing anything about it.

Following another incident between Dec. 29 and Dec. 31, 2020, Bullinger reportedly told Martinson that he needed to work on his relationship with the 3-month-old.

“You need to understand that at this point, he’s so used to you hurting him he feels like he’s about to get hurt. He’s not dumb, they can’t do a whole lot, but I think he’d be able to recognize that,” Bullinger allegedly told Martinson, according to the affidavit.

Despite witnessing multiple abuse incidents by Martinson, to the point the infant would scream every time he saw him, Bullinger reportedly returned to work and left the infant in Martinson’s unsupervised care, according to the affidavit.

Court documents further allege that the 3-month-old infant was taken to the emergency room at Campbell County Memorial Hospital on Jan. 2 after Martinson and Bullinger noticed the infant’s ribs were swollen, popping and cracking each time he took a breath.

The infant also wasn’t using his right leg, the affidavit states.

A bedside examination by hospital staff revealed the infant had multiple broken bones including his ribs, legs, and ankles.

A follow up examination by a hospital in Colorado, where the infant was transferred due to the extent of his injuries, revealed the infant had 26 rib and five leg fractures, the worst of which was a fracture to the infant’s right upper femur, according to court documents.

Physicians concluded the injuries could only be caused by high-speed, brute-force trauma such as extreme squeezing or shaking of the infant’s torso, per the affidavit. The physician likened the force necessary to inflict the injuries on the infant to that of a vehicle accident.

During the ensuing investigation, Martinson allegedly told investigators, “I might have been a little rough,” on several occasions, the most recent of which involved him aggressively cycling the infant’s legs to help him pass gas, court documents state.

When asked what happened in a follow up interview by police detectives, Martinson told them “I got angry, you know, I just have a lot going on and I just lost it, I guess,” according to statements made in the affidavit.

When detectives asked Bullinger what it would have taken for her to do something about Martinson’s behavior, she reportedly stated the infant would have to be “screaming in pain,” the affidavit stated, adding that she would have done something more about the blood in the infant’s mouth if she thought it was caused by Martinson.

A warrant for Bullinger’s arrest was filed in Campbell County Circuit Court on Jan. 22 and Gillette police arrested Bullinger early Friday evening, Jan. 25, on four counts of felony child abuse, two counts of misdemeanor child endangerment, and accessory after the fact.

Police Sgt. Eric Dearcorn advised Jan. 26 that the charges against Bullinger have since been revised to reflect one count of felony aggravated child abuse and seven counts of misdemeanor child endangerment.

If convicted, Bullinger could face up to 25 years of imprisonment for aggravated child abuse. She could also face up to one year of imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, or both for each count of child endangerment.

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Wyoming Worst In The Nation For Drunk Driving in 2020

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According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Census Bureau, and the FBI, and compiled by The Zebra insurance company, Wyoming was the worst state in the nation for drunk driving in 2020.

Although last year was the safest on record nationwide since reporting became standard in 1982, Wyoming ranked the worst overall for drunk driving problems and had more fatalities per 100,000 people than any other state.

“Critics blast the state’s lenient drunk driving laws and absence of sobriety checkpoints,” the study reads. “Alcohol-impaired driving incidents killed 36 people in Wyoming in 2019 — that number is six times greater than the total fatalities recorded in the District of Columbia, despite Wyoming’s smaller population and larger size.”

Wyoming recorded 6.2 fatalities per 100,000 people and 550 DUI arrests in 2020.

Neighboring states Montana and Idaho also ranked in the top five.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving cite Montana as one of the most dangerously tolerant states for drunk driving offenders, and the state’s 66 fatalities last year were enough to give it the second-highest fatality rate in the entire country,” the report reads.

Idaho passed new laws in 2020 that required first-time drunk driving offenders to drive with ignition interlocks but that wasn’t enough to keep the state out of the top five.

Idaho jumped to a fourth-place ranking, thanks in part to it’s high DUI arrest rate of 442 per 100,000 people.

“The most dangerous territory in the U.S. for drunk driving incidents is a vast stretch of land from the Midwest to the Rocky Mountains, encompassing North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho,” the study said.

“We found that each of these states appears repeatedly atop annual lists totaling per capita DUI arrests and fatalities, and faces repeated criticism from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others on lenient drunk driving laws that encourage the behavior to continue,” it continued.

As for the safest states in the country, the District of Columbia topped that list followed by New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Utah.

Wyoming did not rank in the top five for alcohol consumption. Tops in that category went to New Hampshire which was rated the  “drunkest state in the nation” consuming alcohol at a rate 34% higher than the runner-up.

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Park County Officials Warn Citizens That Stealing Road Signs Could Have Serious Repercussions

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Park County officials are warning citizens that theft of road signs could result in charges far more serious than theft.

When announcing the theft of another road sign in the area, the sheriff’s office said if accidents occur because of a stolen sign, the individual responsible could be subject to “very serious” legal consequences.

“If someone were injured or killed due to the hazard of the signs being removed the perpetrators could potentially face other charges,” Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric said.

Those charges, he said, include:  manslaughter, negligent homicide, and reckless endangering.

“It may seem like a harmless prank, but the consequences of these actions can be far reaching,” Sheriff Scott Steward said, “[But] traffic signs are there for a reason, to help protect the drivers on the road.”

The department listed three legal cases where death and serious injuries resulted from areas where road signs were stolen, including a case in Florida where three teenagers died when a semi-truck hit a vehicle.

In that case, the people who stole the sign were charged with manslaughter.

“While Wyoming Law does differ from other states’ laws the possibility of a more severe charge than theft is still conceivable,” Skoric said.

Steward said the theft of road signs may seem like a “harmless prank but the consequences of these actions can be far reaching.”

The Powell Tribune reported that 22 traffic cones and two signs disappeared last December and the cost of replacing signs is more than $500 each and that doesn’t include the cost of having workers reinstall them.

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Wyoming Crime: 127 Mph Pursuit Ends In One Arrest, One Escape

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

One suspect is in custody following an early morning pursuit, while another who reportedly stole a pickup and fled to Casper continues to elude capture, Campbell County officials said.

Both suspects, an unidentified 33-year-old male and 32-year-old Trevor Brinkerhoff, were found in a black 2006 Audi A6 near Blakeman Propane on Highway 14-16.

The Audi bore license plates registered to a Ford Explorer in Casper, according to Gary Sams, a sergeant with the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).

The deputy initiated a traffic stop, and the Audi pulled over momentarily before taking off around 3:15 a.m. The resulting pursuit ran for 16 miles south, continuing onto Highway 50 with speeds ranging between 100 to 127 miles per hour, according to Sams.

At one point during the pursuit, Brinkerhoff allegedly attempted to blind the deputy with an “extremely bright flashlight,” Sams said. Ten minutes after the pursuit began, the vehicle was stopped with spike strips near Saunders Road and both suspects fled on foot.

Brinkerhoff was run down and arrested in minutes, but the 33-year-old male successfully evaded capture, Sams added, prompting a multi-agency manhunt.

Deputies, with the assistance of a Gillette Police Department K9 team, tracked the male suspect into the prairie, recovering a dropped wallet that contained several ID cards, according to Sams.

But the lack of snow made it difficult to stay on the suspect’s trail, widening the 33-year-old male’s 20-minute lead.

At 8:15 a.m., the suspect still had not been located when a 2008 white Chevrolet Silverado was reported stolen from an address on Saunders Road. The 60-year-old male owner believed the pickup was taken earlier that morning.

Sams said the suspect got lucky, having stumbled across a vehicle that just happened to have the keys left in the cab.

The 33-year-old male was reportedly spotted by law enforcement in Casper driving a vehicle matching the stolen Silverado’s description later the same day, but once again evaded capture.

A call requesting additional details from the Casper Police Department was not returned as of press time.

The Audi was later found to be loaded with burglary tools, including a Slim Jim car door opener and parts of a lockpicking kit, Sams said.

Brinkerhoff has been charged with felony possession of burglary tools. He is also facing a misdemeanor reckless endangering charge for allegedly attempting to blind a deputy with a flashlight, according to Sams.

“There’s a good chance they were here to do some burglaries,” Sams said of the tools recovered from the Audi, adding that Brinkerhoff could face additional charges depending on the results of the investigation.

The CCSO has declined to release the name of the 33-year-old male until his identity can be confirmed given the multiple ID’s found in his wallet.

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Suspects Arrested in Wyoming Arson, Vehicle Thefts

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

Two suspects have been arrested during a felony investigation into a series of stolen vehicles, at least one of which was set on fire, according to affidavits of probable cause filed in the case.

Gillette authorities have charged Austin Anderson, 26, and Cody Allard, 21, with felony third-degree arson after they allegedly lit at least one of five pickups stolen from several Wyoming communities on fire, court documents state.

As of Jan. 19, Anderson also faces two felony theft charges stemming from a Dec. 31 incident where he reportedly took a 2006 Chevrolet from a residence on East Laramie Street, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed on Jan. 15 in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial District, as well as a 2011 Dodge pickup from the 3500 block of Foothills Boulevard.

The Chevrolet, valued at $5,000, was taken between 4:30 and 6:50 a.m. and was found later that morning near Barlow Road, fully engulfed in flames. The Dodge, valued at $23,000, was reported stolen five hours later and was found Jan. 1 near Hartville, Wyoming. It, too, had reportedly been set on fire and was badly burned.

Affidavits further state that Allard and Anderson had allegedly been “car hopping” early Dec. 31 when the pair reportedly entered, started, and took the Chevrolet. After driving around Gillette for a short time, Anderson reportedly perpetuated a plan to steal another vehicle to get rid of the Chevrolet because he could have been spotted near the stolen pickup and lives near the address from which it was taken.

Anderson allegedly identified the Dodge pickup as a work vehicle, reasoning that the keys would be left inside. Allard reportedly could not operate the Dodge’s manual transmission, prompting Anderson to hand the Chevrolet off to him and drive the Dodge instead, court documents state.

The pair left the area soon after and travelled onto Wild Horse Creek Road, where they were seen by a county employee performing maintenance on the road.

The employee reported that several tools and belongings were taken shortly thereafter from his work pickup that had been parked and unlocked on the side of the road, according to a Campbell County Sheriff’s Office incident report.

Both suspects told investigators that the other soaked the Chevrolet in lighter fluid and lit it on fire, though Anderson admitted to being the one concerned about biological evidence left behind in the Chevrolet, according to court documents.

After the Chevrolet was abandoned in flames, the pair allegedly fled to Wheatland in the Dodge where they stole an unidentified vehicle, court documents state, before driving on to Guernsey and stealing another Chevrolet pickup.

The pair reportedly split up in Newcastle, with Allard driving back to Gillette in the stolen Chevrolet. Allard was arrested by Moorcroft Police for driving the stolen pickup, and several items that had been reported stolen from the work truck on Wild Horse Creek Road were also recovered, per the affidavit.

Anderson reportedly burned the Dodge before stealing another unidentified vehicle from a residence in Newcastle on Jan. 1, where he became armed with a firearm, according to Weston County Sheriff Bryan Colvard.

Weston County deputies were tipped off to Anderson’s location at the county fairgrounds, where he allegedly lost control of the vehicle and crashed it into a fairground building, causing upwards of $10,000 in damage, Colvard said.

When Weston County deputies arrived, they observed Anderson fleeing the area on foot through a pasture and, following a short foot-pursuit, managed to take him into custody, Colvard said.

In addition to charges stemming in Campbell County, Anderson has been charged in Weston County for felony aggravated burglary, felony theft, and felony destruction of property.

He was also charged with misdemeanor eluding for fleeing from Weston County deputies, Colvard said.

If he is convicted, Anderson could face up to 10 years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both, for each count of felony theft, felony burglary, and felony destruction of property.

Additionally, both men could face upon conviction up to five years imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or both, for felony arson that damaged property worth more than $200.

Campbell County Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds advised Wednesday morning, Jan. 20, that the investigation into these incidents is currently ongoing across multiple Wyoming law enforcement agencies.

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No Charges To Be Filed Against Riverton Man Who Shot Wife

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A Riverton man who fatally shot his wife after she reportedly startled him will not be prosecuted according to Fremont County authorities.

In a press release, Fremont County Attorney Patrick Lebrun announced that charges will not be filed against Mike Pitt in the Nov. 23, 2020 death of his wife, Lisa.

The shooting, ruled accidental, occurred when Mrs. Pitt startled her husband. who was taking his Glock 9-mm pistol to a gun safe in their bedroom.

“As Mr. Pitt walked past the couple’s walk-in closet, the inside of which was blocked from view owing to clothing hanging from the top of the door, Mrs. Pitt jumped out of the closet in a playful effort to scare her husband. Startled, Mr. Pitt shot and killed her,” the release reads.

“The couple’s teenage son was present in the relatively small home when the incident occurred, and confirmed that nothing was out of the ordinary prior to hearing the gun shot and subsequent yells of his father seeking help. Mr. Pitt engaged in efforts to resuscitate his wife, but she had suffered a fatal wound,” the statement said.

The statement went on to say that charges could have been filed but “there is no sense to it under these specific facts.”

“This was a devastating accident – and to prosecute such an event would add nothing to the life sentence of regret already present,” it reads.

The County Attorney said the family of Mrs. Pitt supports the decision not to press charges.

“They believe prosecution would only cause more torment for their family as they continue to support Mr. Pitt and help him finish raising the couple’s son,” the statement reads.

A fundraising campaign to help pay funeral expenses has been set-up and can be accessed here. Pitt’s obituary is located here.

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Rock Springs: Idiot Gets Arrested Trying to Elude the Police in a Toyota Prius

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If there were a criminal’s handbook, you would think there would be a chapter on high-speed chases and the types of vehicles you should avoid when planning on eluding authorities.

If that chapter existed, probably at the top of that list would be a Toyota Prius.

Sadly for Orlando Wilson, who was arrested in Rock Springs on Tuesday, the chapter doesn’t exist.

In what has to be a worldwide rarity (perhaps a Guinness Book of World Records-level rarity), the words “Toyota Prius” and “high speed chase” made the same police report.

And likely to the surprise of absolutely no one, that high speed chase did not end well for the pursued.

According to one of the best police reports of all time, it turns out, the Prius driven by Mr. Wilson ran out of gas while in Rock Springs on Tuesday. 

He called a taxi to deliver him some fuel and after receiving the fuel, he allegedly took off — without paying.

“The Toyota Prius was located by officers traveling at a high rate of speed,” the reports reads. “An attempt was made to conduct a traffic stop but the driver refused to pull over. He continued to elude officers until he drove down a dead-end road at which time he stopped his vehicle and contact was made by officers.”

According to Rock Springs Police Department spokesperson Jennifer Maze, this is likely the first time in Rock Springs history that someone tried to elude the police in a Prius.

Unfortunately for Wilson, the embarrassment of allegedly trying to elude the police in a Prius was just the start of a really bad day.

The Prius he was driving? Stolen. 

That makes you wonder if Wilson was not a complete idiot because who would ever steal a Prius? It could have been a genius move because no one — in their right mind — would ever steal a Prius.

Regardless, Wilson was arrested for: Felony Theft, Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Police Officers, Possession of Marijuana-Less than 3 Ounces, Interference with a Police Officer, Driving Under Suspension, Failure to Maintain Insurance, and Speeding. 

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Gillette: Drunk Juvenile Flees in Pickup, Passenger Bails

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

A 17-year-old male was arrested Saturday night after reportedly fleeing in a pickup from officers while drunk, Gillette Police Lt. Brent Wasson said Monday.

Gillette police tracked down a black pickup driven by the 17-year-old male and his 19-year-old male passenger after staff at Common Cents reported the intoxicated individuals, Wasson said.

Officers reportedly observed a case of beer in the back seat and both individuals smelled of alcohol. When officers ordered them to step out of the vehicle, however, the 17-year-old male drove away, according to Wasson.

The 19-year-old male reportedly pled with the 17-year-old to stop before leaping out of the moving vehicle after his pleas went ignored, Wasson said.

The pickup was later located and stopped by Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers around an hour later. The 17-year-old male was arrested for driving under the influence, minor in possession, reckless driving, eluding, and no insurance, per Wasson.

Officers also cited the 19-year-old male for consuming alcohol under the age of 21.

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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.

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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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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Casper Woman Arrested For Making Terroristic Threats At Two Walmart Locations

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Casper Police Department arrested a woman last week in connection with terroristic threats made to two Walmart locations, one of which was her employer, earlier this year.

Kaylee Shain was arrested on Friday on one felony charge of making threats, according to an announcement from the Casper Police Department on social media.

On Aug. 18, the CPD and other local law enforcement agencies responded to both Walmart locations in town regarding the report of bomb threats.

Two employees reported receiving text messages from unknown numbers. The messages claimed there were bombs inside the two locations and they would be set off at 7 p.m.

The sender also claimed in the messages that they were “after everyone” and also had firearms.

After the two employees shared these messages, both of the Walmart locations were evacuated. After a thorough search of both locations, officers could not identify a valid threat at either scene.

After speaking with employees, the officers determined the texts were sent using a voice-over IP number, a phone number issued over the internet instead of through a cellular carrier. These are regularly used by scammers and people who wish to remain anonymous while participating in criminal activities.

Detectives were suspicious that the two employees knew more about the messages and obtained search warrants to find out more.

One of the employees, Shain, confessed to sending the messages to herself and the co-worker because of the personal satisfaction she would gain due to the disruption the threat would cause.

Detectives also found evidence on her cell phone as well as the VOIP and her internet provider that proved Shain was the owner of the account that sent the threatening messages.

“Making any type of terroristic threat in our community is not acceptable,” said Casper Police Detective Jesse Jones. “Incidents such as this not only cause unnecessary fear, panic, and a sense of insecurity in our community, it costs thousands of dollars in emergency personnel time and resources to respond to and investigate. We simply cannot allow incidents such as this to go ignored. The Casper Police Department is proud to be able to offer our community highly professional investigative services to not only find the suspects but create a case that holds them accountable in court.”

After an extensive and thorough investigation, Shain was arrested.

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Manhunt in Eastern Idaho Results in Gang Member Arrest

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If there were a criminal’s handbook, you would think they would have a section on tattoos and how they make criminals more identifiable.

Matthew James Wright, for example, might have missed that chapter.

He was arrested Saturday morning by the Pocatello, Idaho, police department after the U.S. Marshal’s Service launched a manhunt for the fugitive who was wanted for federal probation violations.

Turns out he has four felony convictions for possession of firearms.

Unfortunately for Wright, his head, face, and neck look like the front of a grafittied building — a badly graffitied building.

So when the feds launched the manhunt on Friday, it should come as little surprise that he was found only hours later.

Also of no surprise, he was arrested for allegedly committing more crimes.  Wright apparently didn’t read the chapter on stealing vehicles and how trying to escape the police after smashing into other cars — thereby disabling your vehicle — and then trying to run away on foot is a lose-lose situation.

He proved that chapter correct on Saturday morning when he did all of the above for a vaunted criminal’s trifecta.

Perhaps things would have gone better for Wright had he associated with different people. He could have joined the Kiwanis or the Lion’s Club or maybe Rotary.

Instead he chose the Sureños — an organization really not known for civic-minded projects like cleaning up parks or giving food to the needy.  Instead, this group — very well established in prisons — excels at distributing drugs and murdering people.

Apparently Wright has an accurate nickname, according to the U.S. Marshal’s Service.  He’s known as “Dopie.”

The U.S. Marshal’s Service said everyone should “rest easy” now that Dopie is back in his home environment.

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Man Smashes Truck Into Cheyenne Church in Broad Daylight; Then, Thinking He’s Invisible, Drives Away

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If there were a criminal handbook, you would think the chapter on the fallacy of getting away with a “hit and run” would be read more often.

Apparently a man who smashed into a Cheyenne church did not read that chapter nor did he read about the individual in Worland last week who smashed into a parked car and then took off — only to be caught immediately after the police department posted the video captured by a doorbell cam.

Instead the individual who ran his truck into a church in broad daylight at a busy intersection and then took off — must think he and his green truck were made out of the same material as Wonder Woman’s invisible plane.

The only glitch with his ingenious escape plan is that neither he nor his 20+ year-old green Dodge Durango were invisible and people in the area all had functioning eyes.

As a result, the Cheyenne Police Department knows the accident happened at 9:04am on Friday. They know the church he inexplicably hit was the Cheyenne Baptist Temple. They know the truck was a green Dodge Durango (a really poor color selection for criminals). They know his truck was made from 1996 – 2002.  They know the individual is a “young male adult wearing a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans.”

Now, while his description is fairly common, his dumb, damaged green truck is not.

That means if he’s from Cheyenne, some people know who he is. Other people have seen or will see the damaged green truck.

And yes, he can hide his green truck. And if he’s a body shop whiz, then he’s got that going for him.

And if he’s from out of town, perhaps he limped his green truck home to wherever he lives.

Our guess is it’s only a matter of days.  And what was once probably just one charge is now a multiple of charges.

He could face jail time, suspension of his license, financial penalties, and his car insurance (assuming he has insurance — which based on his apparent IQ is unlikely) will not pay for the damage.

Not to mention there will tons of lawyers who will very happily want to represent the church.

If you know who this idiot individual might be, just contact the Cheyenne Police Department.

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