Category archive

Missing people

Gillette Family Seeks Public’s Help in Finding Missing Ukrainian Teen

in Missing people/News
21080

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The family of a Ukrainian girl missing from Gillette is asking for the public’s help in locating their adopted daughter.

Valeriia “Lera” Nudha, 15, left a note for parents Bethany and Nik Wight on Tuesday afternoon, saying that she had run away and would return when she was ready.

Because she’s been in the country for less than six months and speaks rudimentary English, the Wights are especially concerned for her safety. They also suspect that based on conversations with a friends of Lera’s that she is likely with an older teen or Russian-speaking man who she met online, according to Bethany.

“She’s very vulnerable and susceptible online,” Bethany said, noting that Lera, while living at a Ukrainian orphanage for four years before being adopted, had issues with potential trafficking situations.

“Someone has convinced her that her family life is not a good family life,” Bethany said. “She’s never experienced home life, and we’re very worried.”

The Wights hosted Lera through Host Orphans Worldwide, a nonprofit orphan hosting ministry, in 2020. Nik is a youth pastor at Calvary Community Church in Gillette.

The couple began the adoption process shortly after Lera returned to the Ukraine after her stay. The process was slowede as a result of the pandemic, though the Wights were finally able to bring her to Gillette last November. The family is also in the process of adopting another orphan from Ukraine.

Lera attended Campbell County High School this spring and studied English as a second language. While she had a small group of friends, she chose mostly to socialize online, Bethany said. Her Instagram page has 23,000 followers, which the Wights found concerning and tried to monitor.

“I should have taken away her phone away, but we wanted to trust her,” Bethany said. “It wasn’t enough and that’s really hard. It’s hard not to beat ourselves up over it.”

Lera has been reported as a runaway to the Gillette Police Department, which does not have any updates at this time.

She did not take her cell phone with her.

Lera is just over 5 feet tall and weighs approximately 110 pounds and has long dark hair and brown eyes. She has a small heart tattoo on her right ankle and a nose piercing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact GPD at (307) 682-5155.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Search For Missing Indiana Man In Cody Called Off Due To Flooding

in Missing people/News/weather
20970

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The search for a missing Indiana man whose vehicle was last seen in Park County has been suspended due to the unprecedented flooding in the area, the sheriff’s department announced late Monday.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office suspended the search for Lance Daghy on Saturday out of concern for the searchers’ safety because of high water levels in the Sunlight Bridge area, where Daghy’s vehicle was found last week.

The sheriff’s office said that the situation would be monitored and re-evaluated until the area was again safe for search attempts to continue.

Historic floods have hit northwestern Wyoming this week, with Yellowstone National Park even closing to all visitors until at least Wednesday due to rockslides, road damage and other flood-related issues.

Rain had been falling on the area for several consecutive days, speeding the melt of snow left by a weekend blizzard and boosting river levels to depths not seen for decades.

Daghy was reported missing from Hobart, Indiana, last week. On Thursday afternoon, the Park County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a 2018 red Jeep Wrangler with an Indiana registration being parked near the Sunlight Creek Bridge for a couple of days with no one around.

Investigators determined that the vehicle, which is registered to Daghy, had been in the area since June 5.

Daghy is described as a white man standing 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 130 pounds. He has blue eyes and sandy blonde hair.

According to a social media post by Ashlyn Daghy, Lance Daghy’s daughter, the man has been missing from Hobart since June 2.

“He left with no cell phone, any belongings, or mention of where he was going – this is completely out of his character,” she wrote. “He has no social media. We are unsure if he is still in the area. He is unarmed and not dangerous.”

Ashlyn Daghy declined an interview with Cowboy State Daily on Friday, saying it was not an appropriate time to make a lengthy comment.

“We are just hoping for a safe return at this point,” she said.

It was not known whether the missing man had the appropriate equipment and supplies for a multi-day wilderness excursion.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office reported Daghy has no real backpacking or camping experience and no known ties to the area.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with knowledge about Daghy to call 307-527-8700 or 307-754-8700.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Missing Indiana Man’s Car Spotted Deserted In Park County

in Missing people/News
20849

**For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Park County authorities launched a search for a missing Indiana man on Thursday after finding his jeep parked in an area northwest of Cody.

Lance Daghy was reported missing from Hobart, Indiana, earlier this week. On Thursday afternoon, the Park County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a 2018 red Jeep Wrangler with an Indiana registration being parked near the Sunlight Creek Bridge for a couple of days with no one around.

Investigators determined that the vehicle, which is registered to Daghy, had been in the area since Sunday.

Daghy is described as a white man standing 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 130 pounds. He has blue eyes and sandy blonde hair.

According to a social media post by Ashlyn Daghy, Lance Daghy’s daughter, the man has been missing from Hobart since June 2.

“He left with no cell phone, any belongings, or mention of where he was going – this is completely out of his character,” she wrote. “He has no social media. We are unsure if he is still in the area. He is unarmed and not dangerous.”

Ashlyn Daghy declined an interview with Cowboy State Daily on Friday, saying it was not an appropriate time to make a lengthy comment.

“We are just hoping for a safe return at this point,” she said.

Park County Search and Rescue is searching in the area with ground teams to locate Daghy. It was not known whether the missing man had the appropriate equipment and supplies for a multi-day wilderness excursion.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office reported Daghy has no real backpacking or camping experience and no known ties to the area.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with knowledge about Daghy to call 307-527-8700 or 307-754-8700.

**For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Family Continues Search for 74-Year-Old Fort Washakie Man Lost In Mountains

in Missing people/News
19869

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The family members of a Fort Washakie man who disappeared north of Crow Heart a little less than three years ago are continuing their search for the man in the mountains north of Dubois. 

Rodolfo “Rudy” Ramirez, 74, and his wife Georgina, who is originally from the Wind River Reservation, had been camping on July 5, 2019, with her son and daughter and their families. The group had set up camp in a remote, rugged terrain near the Crow Creek area on the edge of the Wind River Reservation.

The area is remote, with an elevation of 8,000 to 10,000 feet and steep cliffs and densely forested land. A stream ran along the family’s campsite. Outside of a few campers and some loggers, it’s a desolate spot inhabited by wildlife and a protected area for grizzly and black bears.

Georgina and Rudy spent the first night in their camper, freezing despite the multiple blankets. Rudy had a hard time falling asleep, Georgina said, because it was so cold.

The next morning, Rudy complained of a headache and stomach-ache. The group had breakfast and planned to drive to the top of Black Mountain, which was a ritual for the family. When it came time to leave, Rudy, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, opted out and said he’d wait at the campsite for them to get back.

The group was gone for most of the day and returned in the early evening, but Rudy wasn’t there. Georgina thought she’d walk up to see him sitting in front of the fire or resting in the camper. A quick search led to a panic; Rudy was nowhere to be found.

His grandchildren ran along the creek and woods hollering for him while Georgina drove down the road several miles to get a cell signal to call a search and rescue team and Rudy’s youngest daughter from his first marriage, Patricia Ramirez.

By the time the search and rescue team got to the campsite, it was dark. The team’s leader told Georgina there was nothing that could be done until morning, when he would be able to formulate a search plan and round up volunteers.

Though Georgina understood the practicality of this plan, she was devastated. There was no way that Rudy would weather the frigid temperatures overnight. His Alzheimer’s might also have led him to become easily confused and disoriented.

“That was the hardest part,” she said. “Knowing he was out there in the freezing cold without a blanket or anything.”

Five-Day Search



Multiple agencies, including the Shoshone and Arapaho Fish and Game, Fremont County Search and Rescue and Sheriff’s Office, and family members combed the area for the next five days.

Patricia drove up from Albuquerque, New Mexico, with Rudy’s grandson to help.

The search involved dozens of people on foot, in vehicles, flying drones and helicopters with thermal heat detection capabilities searching through miles of trees, river bottoms and the area around Black Mountain and the Absaroka Range.

By the time help got there, however, two days had already passed. Not only was it doubtful that Rudy survived that first night in the cold, but it poured rain the second night, further complicating the rescue operation.

Assistance also came from the Wyoming State Trackers, a nonprofit group of trained trackers who do visual tracking searches, but its members also turned up nothing.

Meanwhile, the Jon Francis Foundation (JFF), a nonprofit organization from Minnesota that helps look for adults lost in the wilderness, drove out to Wyoming and worked with local organizations and volunteers to deploy six canine teams for three days.

Cadaver and scent dogs picked up Rudy’s smell about 1.25 miles from the campsite in the willows near the canyon, according to an incident action plan by JFF and Patricia, but no definitive traces were found.

The family members also raised money to do their own air searches by helicopter after the search parties left.

Searches continued throughout the rest of the summer up until hunting season in early fall and again the next summer. As Patricia noted, the terrain is steep and dangerous with lots of wildlife. The second-to-last search in 2019 was halted due to bear sightings and other potential dangers for searchers.

Three years later, despite exhaustive searches, no trace of Rudy has ever been found.

Patricia said that their family was overwhelmed by all the support from volunteers and different groups, including law enforcement, who helped with the search.

“People came out on their own time just to help,” Patricia said. “They weren’t getting paid for it. They just wanted to help. They were so brave, and I know that my dad would be really impressed with their skills and courage to go out there like that.”

Keeping His Memory Alive

Instead of focusing on their heartbreak, Patricia and Georgina choose to focus on the memories of the cherished husband and father who was beloved by everyone he knew or met.

Patricia said that even strangers were affected by her dad’s kindness. Once, while Patricia was hanging up a missing person poster for Rudy, a clerk at the gas station commented on remembering Rudy from the few occasions he had stopped by.

“He made an impact on people with his kindness,” Patricia said.

One of those people was Georgina, who met Rudy when he moved to Wyoming in the early 2000s.

Rudy was a trained civil engineer and U.S. Army veteran who also served in the National Guard. He spent his life working for the U.S. Department of Transportation in various cities throughout the U.S. and had just transferred to the Riverton area to work with the local transportation department.

One of Georgina’s friends who worked in Rudy’s building invited Georgina to dinner one night. Rudy and his friend John also happened to be there, convincing Georgina that their friends had set the two up.

Rudy and Georgina immediately connected and later got married, moving in together in Fort Washakie.

Rudy was already retired by the time they met, Georgina said, though he later worked at the elementary school as a teacher’s assistant where the children loved him, even though he wasn’t there for very long.

“Everyone seems to remember what a gentleman he was,” Georgina said. “He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”

The two enjoyed visiting friends and family in Colorado and New Mexico and took many trips together.

His love of road trips is one thing his daughter also remembers about him. That and his love of music and joking around.

Patricia is the youngest of five children. She was born in New Mexico, but Rudy’s aspirations took the family all over the country, including to the East Coast where they lived in Virginia for a few years while Rudy worked in Washington, D.C.

“He took the train in to work every day,” Patricia said. “I think he really liked that and was proud of how far he’d come in his career.”

He was a good dad, Patricia added.

“He was so loving and would do anything for family,” she said.

It’s important to remember the good times, Patricia noted. For now, that’s all they have left.

Theories



In the absence of definitive answers, theories and suppositions are the closest the family can get to knowing what might have happened to Rudy.

David Francis of JFF said that in his 14 years of searching he’s learned that the simplest explanation typically proves to be the most reliable.

To this point, he believes that Rudy likely walked along the road by the campsite in either direction for about two miles, at which point he had some kind of mishap. Francis theorized that Rudy likely suffered from hypothermia or perhaps was taken by a predator.

Based on the observations of author Robert Koester in his book, “Lost Person Behavior: A Search and Rescue Guide on Where to Look for Land, Air and Water,” most people who are lost walk until they get stuck, at which point they might cross or leave roads and ping-pong off barriers attempting to find their way back.

People with Alzheimer’s also tend to travel on corridors and roadways, research has shown, and though they might veer off of the corridors, 75% of those people are typically found within 75 feet of the road.

The Peace River K9 Search and Rescue group from Englewood, Florida, which searched the area in July 2020 also came away without definitive answers.

The group searched with cadaver dogs and tested soil samples to detect biological fluids, human remains, teeth, bone and other types of evidence. They determined, according to their final report, that there was a high possibility that some kind of event occurred close to the waterway on the northwest slope of the mountain where their K9 had alerted.

Another theory came from a vision from a Navajo medicine man who met with Georgina at the campsite. He built a fire and prayed, following the direction of the smoke and looking to the spirits for wisdom. The medicine man told her the spirits said that Rudy had walked up to the top of the mountain, stumbled and fell off a cliff. He pointed to the southwest side of the road, which was the only description he could give her.

Georgina can’t stop thinking about how confused and lost Rudy must have felt, but regardless of what might have happened, both she and Patricia believe that Rudy is at peace.

Other family members believe that Rudy might still be alive. They speculate that Rudy might have run into someone who stopped at the campsite or while he was walking down the road who gave him a ride somewhere.

Patricia and Georgina want everyone to have closure and they have hope they will find him one day.

The family is offering a $7,500 reward for any information leading to Rudy’s recovery.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Shoshone and Arapaho Fish and Game Office (307) 330-3208, Fremont County Sheriff’s Office (307) 332-5611 or the Wind River Police Department (307) 332-3112.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Boyfriend of Missing Gillette Woman Charged with Multiple Felonies

in Missing people/News
19713

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The boyfriend of a missing Gillette woman who has been identified as a “person of interest” in her disappearance has been charged with multiple counts of theft, accused of stealing items from her.

Nathan J. Hightman, the boyfriend of Irene Gawka, has been charged with two felony counts of theft, one felony count of unlawful use of a credit card and two felony counts of crimes against intellectual property, according to the Gillette Police Department.

Gawka, 32, who was last seen in a video call with her parents on Feb. 24, was the victim of all the crimes, the department said.

Gakwa was reported missing on March 20 by her brother. The 32-year-old Kenya native was in nursing school and had moved to Gillette last July with Hightman.

Hightman has declined to be interviewed by GPD Gillette Police Department.

The Gillette Police Department has received numerous tips about Gawka’s disappearance and has executed more than 24 search warrants. Investigators are seeking information about a gray or silver Subaru Crosstrek with Idaho license plates that may have been seen trespassing on private property or in rural areas of Campbell County between Feb. 24 and March 20.

GPD is also asking the public for any information regarding the possible sighting of a 55-gallon metal drum, which may have been burned and/or abandoned within the county.

Irene is described as a Black woman who is 5 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs about 100 pounds.

Anyone with information related to Irene’s disappearance, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is asked to contact the Gillette Police Department at 307-682-5155.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Boyfriend Now Considered ‘Person of Interest’ In Missing Gillette Woman Case

in Missing people/News
19618

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The boyfriend of a missing Gillette woman is now considered a “person of interest” in her disappearance, according to police.

Irene Gakwa was reported missing on March 20 by her brother and was last seen in a video conference with her parents on Feb. 24. The 32-year-old Kenyan native was in nursing school and had moved to Gillette last July with her boyfriend, who police say is not cooperating with the investigation.

Investigators have declined to identify the boyfriend.

The Gillette Police Department has received numerous tips and officers have executed more than 24 search warrants during the investigation, according to GPD officials, who said that digital evidence, including location data, has also provided promising leads. 

One such lead indicates that Irene may have been taken to a rural area, mine site or oil or gas location in a passenger vehicle or crossover SUV between Feb. 24 and March 20.

It was his sister’s failure to check in with her family regularly that prompted Irene’s older brother Kennedy Wainaina to report her as missing, he told Cowboy State Daily on Saturday.

Wainaina, a pharmacist in Boise, said his sister would video chat with his parents in Nairobi, Kenya, on a regular basis, either daily or every other day. The family is very close, he said.

Wainaina and his younger brother Chris moved to the U.S. in their late teens to attend college, while their younger sister remained in Kenya where she went to college, worked in the tourism industry and lived with her parents. 

Irene moved to the U.S. in her late 20s to be near her brothers and broaden her experiences, her older brother said.

In Idaho, Irene went to school and worked and met her boyfriend on an online dating website. The couple lived together in Idaho for about one and one-half years before moving to Gillette, which the boyfriend’s idea, Wainaina said.

“We were all shocked,” Wainaina said of his sister’s plans to move to Wyoming. “She was going to school and doing very well. We are a close family and have always kept an eye on each other.”

He described the boyfriend as “controlling” and said his sister was having a hard time acclimating to Gillette given its small size, colder weather and the fact that she missed her family.

Along with the unprecedented lack of contact with her parents, strange text messages to her family from Irene’s phone on March 3 also set off alarm bells. The texts, which her family said were not in Kenyan, announced plans of moving to Texas due to the fact that she was unhappy with her life in Gillette.

Her family also reported that Irene’s WhatsApp account was deleted on March 8, ending group conversations with her family. The last activity on her phone was on March 4, according to the timeline provided by her family.

Irene’s disappearance has been hard for both her brothers and parents, and Wainaina said they’ve been pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support from the Gillette community. An unknown individual paid to post Irene’s missing person information on a digital billboard.

Likewise, the GPD detectives have done a great job keeping the family updated, which has been a blessing, Wainaina said, given their distance from Wyoming. The brothers made the 800-mile drive to Gillette following after Kennedy reported her missing, but have since returned home.

“I sit at home wondering if I’m doing all I can,” Wainaina said. “I wake up at 3 a.m. in the morning worrying and thinking of my sister.”

He described his sister as a loving person and a caring, strong person who wanted and saw the best in everybody.

“She tries to make the best of everything,” he said. “She finds the good in everybody.”

Wainaina said he and his family want to thank the community for everything they’ve done and urged anyone with any information to contact police.

“Sometimes people think ‘I saw this or I saw that and it’s not important,’ but it could be the clue that police need,” he said. “It’s worth sharing.”

Irene is described as a Black woman who is 5-feet, 1inch tall and weighing about 100 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to contact GPD at (307) 682-5155.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Authorities Seek Help in Locating Missing Gillette Woman; Man Living With Woman Not Cooperative

in Missing people/News
18835

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The Gillette Police Department is asking for help in locating a 32-year-old woman who disappeared under what it called suspicious circumstances.

The department has issued 24 search warrants in its efforts to find Irene Gakwa and is now asking for public assistance in locating the Kenya native.

Gakwa was last seen when she made a video call to her parents on Feb. 24 and she was reported missing by her brother on March 20.

The man Gakwa was living with in Gillette has not been cooperative with detectives and is considered a person of interest in the disappearance, according to GPD Chief Chuck Deaton.

The GPD is following many leads, including one that indicates Gakwa might have been taken in a passenger vehicle or crossover SUV to a rural area, mine site or oil and gas location between Feb. 24 and March 20, Deaton said.

Gakwa’s phone is not registering on her service network and nobody has had contact with her since her video call with her parents.

“GPD’s primary goal is to facilitate Irene’s safe return but our team continues to pursue all possibilities,” Deaton said.

Gakwa is described as a 5-foot, 1-inch Black female weighing about 89 pounds with brown eyes and black hair.

Anyone with any information related to Gakwa’s disappearance is asked to contact the Gillette Police Department at (307) 682-5155.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Former Legislator, Private Investigators Tracking Case of Missing Moorcroft Man

in Missing people/News
18826

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

As investigators continue their examination into the disappearance of a Moorcroft man in 2019, a growing number of amateur sleuths and private investigators are turning their attention to the case of Chance Englebert.

Englebert disappeared after beginning what was to be a walk from Gering, Nebraska, to Torrington following an argument with his in-laws.

Although investigators continue to receive tips on the case, none have panned out.

In the absence of answers, dozens of national and local true crime podcasts have done their own investigations into Englebert’s case.

Those incude “Lyn Seeks,” a YouTube channel run by Lyndi DiSanto a former South Dakota legislator who now lives in Montana.

DiSanto, who now lives in Montana and also goes by the name Lyndi Meyer, has been following Chance’s case along with those of other missing persons, including a 9-year-old South Dakota girl who walked out of a residential youth treatment facility in February 2019.

As a South Dakota state senator, DiSanto said she was studying cases involving murdered and missing indigenous women in Rapid City when she first heard of Englebert’s case. She said it was the image of watching his mother Dawn Englebert “sobbing for her missing son” on television that prompted her to get involved.

Like Dawn, DiSanto also has three sons, and Chance’s disappearance hit her hard, she said. The more she learned about Englebert, the more compelled she felt to help Dawn bring her son home.

“People really care about this case because he’s a small-town boy who is well loved and well regarded by everyone, and people can’t believe he just disappeared,” she told Cowboy State Daily.

“Bulldog”

DiSanto’s style, however, has gotten her in hot water.

In February 2021, DiSanto was slapped with a protective order following an uninvited visit to Chance’s former home in Moorcroft, where his wife Baylee was living after his disappearance.

DiSanto knocked on Baylee’s door and filmed outside the home while Baylee called the police, claiming DiSanto was endangering her young son.

She was cited for breach of peace and a Crook County judge later granted Baylee a protective order against DiSanto. DiSanto said the protective order was dropped the following year during a renewal hearing with a different judge.

DiSanto said Baylee once did agree to be interviewed, but later canceled their appointment. Baylee, who has only participated in a handful of interviews, told a South Dakota reporter that she refuses to talk to the press because she and her family get death threats.

For her part, DiSanto acknowledges that her style can be off-putting to some.

“I’m not afraid to ruffle feathers,” she said. “People have cursed me out and I’ve gotten called a lot of names.”

This is because she’s a “bulldog,” she said, and refuses to back down when it comes to following leads and questioning people.

DiSanto has visited Gering to retrace Englebert’s steps that night and said she’s working with a group of residents who are well acquainted with the case and the many rumors that continue to circulate. She believes that people in Gering know a lot more than they are telling police based on the rumors she’s heard from people while there, and she encourages them to share what they know with law enforcement.

“People in the community need to take what they’ve heard to the proper authorities,” she said. “I don’t think they realize that there might be truth in what they’re hearing and could be a clue that police need to break the case.”

She also thinks there are other factors – namely tensions and strained relationships in his marriage and family – that might have accounted for Englebert’s disappearance.

If DiSanto had to speculate at this point, she said based on the evidence she has seen and hard, she believes Englebert probably got into a car with someone during his walk.

Disappeared After Argument

Englebert, then 25, was visiting Baylee’s family in Gering, Nebraska, over the Fourth of July weekend with their son.

During a golf outing with his father-in-law and other members of his wife’s family, Englebert had reportedly gotten into an argument over a new job he’d recently accepted after being laid off from a coal mine in Gillette.

There are varying accounts about the nature of the argument or how much the group had been drinking, but in the end, Englebert was upset and called Baylee to come get him. He told her he wanted to return to Wyoming.

While at Baylee’s grandparent’s house, the couple allegedly got into an argument about him wanting to leave, causing Chance to walk off and ask a friend in Pine Haven to ask for a ride to Moorcroft. That friend was hours away from Gering and was not able to get there, so Englebert then started walking toward Torrington, about 35 miles away.

While walking, Englebert called his friend and Baylee to inform them of his plan. He was last spotted on surveillance footage walking in downtown Gering.

The last communication with Chance was around 9 p.m., when he sent a text message with incomprehensible jumble of numbers and emojis to his aunt, a red flag for his mother Dawn, who said that her son never used emojis.

Despite a massive search involving 17 law enforcement agencies, drones, divers, cadaver dogs and hundreds of volunteers on foot, horseback and ATVs – as well as several searches led by friends over the past two years between Gering and Torrington – Chance remains missing.

Rumors & Speculation

Rumors about Englebert’s disappearance has led to a split between the two families given speculation on social media about the role that both families might have played in Chance’s disappearance.

Hundreds of additional tips have revealed nothing substantive, including a rumor that one of Baylee’s family friends might have been involved after it was reported the friend had just poured fresh concrete.

That was quickly debunked by Gering Police Department Investigator Brian Eads who is in charge of the case. Eads said the concrete speculation comes up again and again and that it has been thoroughly looked into.

Another rumor he said he hears often is that Baylee “lawyered up” early after her husband’s disappearance.

“Baylee hired an attorney to protect herself but never invoked her 5th Amendment rights (or) refused to answer questions,” he said in an email to Cowboy State Daily. “She has been interviewed multiple times at length and very willingly. There have been a lot of rumors and accusations on social media towards all members of the family, but I can only speak to the ones that involve law enforcement as I can’t speak for them.”

Dawn refutes this was a rumor and said she was told about the lawyer by the former investigator on the case, Cpt. Jason Rogers, who called Dawn to ask her if her family was being represented by the same lawyer, which is how she found out that Baylee had hired legal counsel.

Eads also said that he has administered polygraphs on persons who were reported to have involvement in the case as well as people who were falsely reporting on others’ involvement in the case, but he can’t share who was tested or results of those tests.

He confirmed that tips continue to come in and are investigated and it remains an active case.

Currently, friends and family have raised $17,500 in reward money for any information leading to answers in this case.

DNA Results Of Found Arm Bone

Meanwhile, a preliminary investigation of an arm bone discovered last October by a hunter along the North Platte River between Minatare and Melbeta in Nebraska has indicated the bone does not belong to Englebert. 

The bone had initially been sent to the University of Nebraska crime lab for a DNA analysis, but due to the age and condition of the waterlogged bone, the lab was unable to complete testing, Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman told Cowboy State Daily in January. The bone has since been sent to a lab in Florida and results from tests there are pending.

Overman said his department identified two men the bone might belong to – Englebert or another missing man, Walter “Gene” Patterson-Black. He added it is likely the arm belongs to Patterson-Black given the location of the bone and the fact a piece of clothing found near it was reportedly a close match to the shirt Patterson-Black was last seen wearing.

Eads also believes the bone likely does not belong to Englebert, but said investigators are waiting for conclusive DNA confirmation before ruling it out.

Spate Of Missing Men

Chance is not the only man to disappear around the same time in the Gering-Scottsbluff region.

Amanda Waldron, a private investigator with the national nonprofit organization “We Help the Missing” who is working with Englebert’s family, has compiled a list of men who have gone missing in Nebraska during 2019 and 2020.

On that list are the names of more than 25 men who have been reported missing from various cities throughout Nebraska, with most missing from the Omaha area.

A handful of men also disappeared in the same region as Englebert during the same time frame, Waldron said.

Among those are 28-year-old Christopher Loupin, who also vanished under mysterious circumstances in mid-November 2019 from 4 Seasons Campground north of the Elm Creek interchange near Kearney. He, too, disappeared without a trace after last being seen at the campground in shorts and a T-shirt.

Earlier that year, in February, a Colorado man also vanished after crashing his pickup into a guardrail on U.S. Highway 285 in Indian Hills outside Denver. Jacob Paddock-Weeks was seen running from the accident after leaving both his cell phone and wallet in the car.

The lack of information about any of the cases is distressing for Waldron who continues searching for clues as to what might have happened to Englebert and whether there’s any connection between his case and the others.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gering Police Department at (308) 436-5088 or private investigator Amanda Waldron at (307) 797-0363 or the We Help the Missing tip line at (866) 660-4025. Tips can remain anonymous.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wrong Turn Leads To Discovery Of Missing Riverton Man In Las Vegas

in Missing people/News
18694

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily 

A Riverton man who disappeared last week in Las Vegas after missing his flight and being hurt in a street attack has been found by an uncle who made a detour.  

Mikee Enos was vacationing in late March with a friend and the pair stopped at Las Vegas on the way home from San Francisco.  

Enos’ friend returned to Riverton, but Enos stayed in Las Vegas, where he was reportedly attacked on the streets Sunday morning and hospitalized briefly before vanishing for nearly a week. He lost his phone, shoes and wallet in the attack. 

Enos’ brother and other family members took turns visiting the city this week to search for him and speak with police about the man’s disappearance.   

Enos’ uncle, Brian Enos, went to Las Vegas late this week to find him. Brian Enos and his wife had planned to meet up for lunch with their nephew, the missing man’s brother. While waiting for his nephew, Brian Enos visited the police station hoping to request the report on Mikee Enos.  

“The line to get the request form was just crazy,” recalled Brian Enos, who realized he could “probably” find the form online, and got back into the car. 

Brian Enos, his wife, and other searchers in the car headed for the Las Vegas strip, but took a long way getting there. He said he’s familiar with the area and would normally take Sahara Boulevard to reach the strip, but passed it by chance. 

The family looked at the “Pawn Stars” shop of T.V. fame, ambled another two blocks south – and there was their missing person.  

“I just happened to glance to the side when I was crossing the intersection – and there he was in one of those bus shelters… sitting with his head down,” said Brian Enos.  

“I said ‘hey there he is,’ – and everybody got out, all overjoyed.’”  

Brian Enos “gunned the car,” flipped a U-turn, pulled up behind Mikee Enos, and jumped out.  

Mikee Enos told his uncle that his phone had been taken, and businesses in Las Vegas hadn’t allowed him to use their homes to call home.  

“He looked like a vagrant by then,” said Brian Enos, adding that Mikee’s feet were badly blistered from spending several days on the streets with no shoes.  

According to Stormy Friday, who shares a child with Enos, Enos was “a bit sick and just trying to recuperate,” when he was found.   

“He’s with family,” added Friday.   

Friday also said Enos has had a chance to speak with their young son.   

Although she hadn’t had a chance to speak with Enos yet, Friday was tearful with joy.   

“Me and my son are just so thankful. I’m so happy that it’s a good outcome,” said Friday. “It was so scary – but I’m glad it’s a good outcome.”   

Friday thanked the “endless” support from the community, including the Riverton Police Department, social media groups, the Missing Wyoming Facebook page, “and just random people.”   

“I’m thankful,” Friday said again. “Today is a good day.”   

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Big Piney Man Continues Search For Father Missing Since 2018

in Missing people/News
18240

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

As a teen, B.J. Meador’s dad Terry warned him never to leave his vehicle if it broke down or got stuck in the mud. This happened more than once to BJ, who did exactly as he was told and was rescued every time.

But Terry broke his own rules when his truck got high-centered while he was out scouting for deer in the Pine Mountain area, about 40 miles south of Rock Springs. And while the 74-year-old man’s pickup truck was found several days after he was reported missing October 2018, he never was.

Nobody has seen or heard from Terry since, despite numerous searches by foot, all-terrain vehicles and air in the vast, heavily treed and rugged terrain.

Won’t Give Up

But Terry’s son refuses to give up the search and continues to think about what might have happened that day and where his dad could have gone. He’s confident that the searches were thorough, including one involving more than 200 people along with fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

For almost two weeks before the big search party was organized by Sweetwater County Search and Rescue, people were out there and probably walked 100 miles up and down the canyons looking for him, BJ said.

“Either he’s not out there or we’re looking in the wrong place,” he said.

Terry, a former junior high school history teacher and restaurant owner, was an avid hunter and sportsman, knew his way around the woods, his son said. He’d grown up on a mountain ranch between Moab, Utah, and Grand Junction, Colorado, and had lived in Rock Springs for the past 48 years.

According to BJ, his dad had been out spotting for an upcoming deer hunt he was going to take with Terry and Terry’s son, Jackie, who had just turned 12 and drawn a highly coveted tag for the area 102.

All three were excited to hunt that region, which they hadn’t been able to hunt since Wyoming implemented the limited quota system decades ago.

When BJ didn’t hear from his dad after a couple days, he called his dad’s friends to ask if they would look around for him. When Terry was not found at home, a group of about six of Terry and BJ’s friends began searching in the area that he would have gone.

Found the Truck

Searching in the dark until after midnight on the first day of the search, Bobby Hammer finally located Terry’s abandoned truck.

It was found high-centered in a large rut with Terry’s rifle, binoculars, hunting license and small cooler containing a couple bottles of water and a can of soda along with some other snacks still inside, according to the report from the Sweetwater County Sheriff.

The driver’s window was rolled down to allow Terry to presumably climb out of the vehicle given the steep angle of the truck.

BJ filed a missing person report on Oct. 26, which prompted another hunter from Rock Springs to report that he had seen the abandoned truck six days earlier, the day after Terry left home. After searching the area, that hunter followed boot tracks leading from the truck and traveling west about a mile down an access road to where the tracks disappeared, but he didn’t report it to police at that time.

A partially smoked cigarette of the brand Terry smoked was also located about 200 yards west of the truck, according to the sheriff’s report.

A glove that BJ didn’t recognize was also found in the area and was sent off for DNA testing but the results were inconclusive.

Dried mud inside the vehicle and on a shovel tossed in the back of the truck indicated that Terry had attempted – and failed – to dig his truck out of the rut.

Short of a pizza order to a family friend made in Meador’s name that was ultimately determined to be a prank from some school girls, the only other clue to the disappearance the sheriff investigated was a random call to a local hotel from Terry’s phone that might have been a misdial. From what BJ knew, his dad would have no reason for calling anyone at that hotel.

Unfortunately, BJ said, his dad had no use for a cell phone that law enforcement could ping. Likely, if he had his phone, it would have been turned off, BJ said, which would explain why repeated calls to it went straight to voicemail.

That cell phone might have saved his life, BJ noted. That, and taking his own advice to stick with the vehicle.

No Clues

Otherwise, there were no clues to where Terry might have gone. 

This behavior was not typical of his dad, BJ said, and he has no indication of similar behavior in the past aside form one incident that occurred years ago when his dad had disappeared for two days in 2015.

The incident occurred when Terry was moving his mother into an assisted living home in Arizona. Terry, who managed his own bipolar disorder wth medication, hadn’t been taking his meds during that time and ended up having a nervous breakdown and being taken to a psychiatric facility in Phoenix.

According to BJ, his dad had been taking his medication regularly at the time he disappeared and BJ saw no indications that his dad “was on the edge,” though he speculated getting his truck stuck might have exacerbated Terry’s anxiety, leading his judgment to be clouded.

BJ also does not believe his dad was suicidal and there was no indication from other people he interviewed that his father was contemplating taking his own life.

Going to Church

In the past, Terry had told friends when he died he wanted it to be on his own terms, but BJ took that as something an independent guy like his dad, who loves the outdoors, would say. Regardless of his mental state, his dad loved hunting and being outside and would likely feel at peace there more than anything.

“He would say that it was his church,” BJ said. “Outdoors and hunting was his place to feel his connection with something bigger.”

BJ has no idea where Terry might have gone. He theorizes his father might have tried to walk back to Rock Springs and made it to the highway, where he was picked up by a driver.

Terry wouldn’t have left his pickup truck if BJ or one of his grandchildren had been with him, BJ said, but without anyone else to watch over, Terry might have risked finding his way home.

Regardless, BJ would like to have answers to the question of what happened to his dad. He’s not under the impression that Terry is still alive, but it would be nice to know, he said, though even finding his body will likely not solve the mystery.

“Even if we find him, we will never have all the answers,” BJ said. “We will never know that story.”

At the time Terry went missing he was described as 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighing approximately 180 pounds with gray hair and blue eyes. He may have been wearing an orange coat and carrying a rifle.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office (307) 922-5300 (reference case # S18-18536 & R18-32089) or the toll-free hotline at National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (833) 872-5176 (case # MP53670)

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

How Two Missing Casper Men Prompted Stay-At-Home Mom To Create Wyoming’s Missing Person Database

in Missing people/News
18045

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Up until a few years ago, Desirée Tinoco hadn’t given missing people much thought. Why would she? The Casper resident and stay-at-home mom lives a quiet life with her husband and it never personally impacted her life.

Then a friend brought two local missing men to her attention. Tinoco didn’t know either of them, only the rumors of their checkered pasts and reputed drug addictions, but the fact that they were missing, and people weren’t clamoring to find them bothered the 34-year-old mom with two children of her own.  

“How does someone just disappear?” she said. “I don’t even understand how that happens.”

More so, when she looked online for updates or stories in the local media, she found nothing.  The prevailing attitude seemed to be, in her mind, that these were grown men who’d left on their own volition. Tinoco, however, thought the cases should be more urgent and taken seriously.

“If it was a child or a beautiful woman, everyone would be out searching for them,” she said. “I didn’t understand that at all.”

One of the missing men’s body was later found in the woods off I-25 outside Casper in the spring after the snow had thawed.

The death and fate of the other missing local man stuck with Tinoco, and she couldn’t stop thinking about him and others, who despite their sordid pasts and trouble in life, were nonetheless loved and sorely missed by someone.

“I kept thinking of the mom or grandmother holding their baby for the first time and all the love they felt,” she said. “This is someone’s son, father or brother. I could stop thinking about that.”

After looking around to see if there was any type of state-wide database or resources were available to help the families of the missing, Tinoco found nothing, short of a few catch-all community Facebook pages where missing people were sprinkled in among garage sale listings and reviews of local businesses and restaurants.

It turned out that Wyoming was one of 13 states that did not have a statewide missing person database, so Tinoco decided to create one. With the help of a friend, she launched the Missing People of Wyoming Facebook page in July 2019.

Overwhelming Response

Within a month of launching the page, Tinoco watched the number of members steadily grow by the thousands. When it hit 10,000 members, it blew her mind.

She remembered sitting at a packed Modest Mouse concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado that holds just over 9,500 people. The idea of this mass crowd joining something she created was humbling, she said.

When she started the page, she had gone out of her way to find missing people to post, often sharing info she saw on community Facebook pages or the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), including those missing from surrounding states who feasibly could have made it to Wyoming.

Soon, however, several people began to share their own posts and coming to Tinoco for information about how and where to report their missing loved ones. It was one thing to administer a social media page, but quite another to actually advise people on the process.

That was weird in itself, she thought. Not just that people didn’t really understand what to do when a family member disappeared but also that so many people seemingly could go missing.

When she did a search for resources in Wyoming, her Facebook page was invariably the first to come up on the list. At that point, she realized she was out of her league.

“I didn’t have the skills or ability to help these people,” she said. “I was completely overwhelmed.”

At that point, she reached out to several Wyoming state legislators but received no response, save for a terse note from one, telling her that the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) already had a database that had not come up on any of her Google searches.

Though DCI did have a missing person database, it was buried on their website and woefully out of date with the last listing nearly a decade ago. 

Frustrated by the lack of response from state politicians, she launched a petition to Governor Mark Gordon to create a state-wide missing person site. She was shocked when the petition procured more than 36,000 signatures, and even more shocked, when he signaled his support of the endeavor.

In the absence of a response from state legislators, Tinoco decided to approach the Casper City Council after she saw something on their agenda about human trafficking. She was invited to speak, and from there the ball began rolling.

Rallying Call

Tinoco recalled how nervous she was to approach the council. Her hands shook as she read her prepared statement off her cell phone. The next day, when she saw her photo and story on local media, she wondered who the heck that person was.

Up until that moment, she never fashioned herself as an activist of any kind and doubted her ability to be taken seriously as a stay-at-home mom with a high school education. Most surprising to her was the fact that city leaders seemed to be listening to what she had to say.

After that meeting, Casper City Manager Carter Napier called a meeting with Tinoco and Casper City Police Chief Keith McPheeters. All agreed having a state-wide missing person database was a great idea and took the steps to help make it happen. From there, Tinoco met with DCI Director Frosty Williams and other relative figures in the missing person and legal community who also saw the need for such a resource. Within a few months, Tinoco was working with law enforcement to share her feedback and knowledge to help DCI revamp its missing person database.

Katie Koskelowski, records analyst at DCI, was instrumental in updating the website, putting in long hours in sync with Tinoco to update records and add new missing person cases, including a link for the public to report a missing person. 

The group also pulled in Emily Grant from the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center (WYSAC) to create posters for the public on procedures for reporting missing people, such as where to file a report and what information is needed. She also debunked the incorrect assumption that a person has to wait 24 hours before reporting a missing person to law enforcement.

With regard to the missing person appearing on the DCI missing person site, Koskelowski said that she waits until a person is missing for seven days because approximately 90% to 95% of missing people are located or returned home within the first week.

Doing Something

TInoco admitted she’s ridiculously proud of the business cards she just received with her name and title as founder of Missing People of Wyoming group, which she now hopes to turn into a non-profit. As of this month, the site now has more than 20,000 members and Tinoco continues to run the site with the help of Casper private investigator Amanda Waldron.

Along with running the site, Tinoco, who is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe, is also working with the Wyoming Missing and Murdered Indigenous Task Force, which was started by Gov. Gordon about the same time she started her Facebook page, to help raise awareness for murdered and missing Indigenous people and to be a liaison between family members and law enforcement.

What continues to surprise is the number of people who go missing in Wyoming. Since starting the page, she’s personally known a family member or friend of five people, one of whom was her neighbor and long-time friend’s cousin who was first reported missing and later found murdered.

That hit home for Tinoco whose daughter went to school with her daughter and whose porch she can see from her own front door.

Those are the heartbreaking parts of the job, she admitted, especially when it becomes personal, along with the number of trolls and scammers that she frequently has to remove from the site.

Apart from the harder moments, starting the page has been one of the more rewarding things she’s done. To date, it’s all volunteer and she receives no income.

What she’s most proud of is that she was able to identify a problem and actually come up with a solution, rather than just sit around complaining about it. That she was able to actually pull it off by working with civic leaders and law enforcement has been one of the most valuable lessons as far as she’s concerned.

“I still can’t believe anyone took me seriously,” she said with a grin. “But they did, and we got it done.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Pinedale Woman Continues Search For Missing Sister; Over Two Years Now Without A Trace

in Missing people/News
17775

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Anne Elliott was in her mid-20s when her life went off the rails. 

Her life until that point was good. A mother of two living in Jackson and working for a dentist’s office.

The trouble started when she got hooked on pain medicine following a breast augmentation surgery. Complications following the first surgery led to a second with more pain pills prescribed.

From there, the downward spiral was fairly swift, her younger sister Emily Nardacci told Cowboy State Daily Wednesday, leading to multiple arrests, several attempts at rehab, and to Anne disappearing from the streets of Salt Lake City in January 2020 at the age of 33.

Since then, Emily, a Pinedale resident, and her father, a lawyer living in California, have been searching for Anne.

In a million years, Emily wouldn’t have predicted this would have happened to her sister.

“She was an amazing mother and I looked up to her,” Emily said. “Something went wrong, and she got hooked and her life was never the same again.”

Perfect Storm

There’s a backstory to Anne’s life, her sister said, starting with a pregnancy at age 16 and subsequent marriage to an older man in his young 20s. Her subsequent divorce and custody battles created significant stress for Anne, Emily said.

A second pregnancy and a father who refused to help Anne left her on her own to raise both of her sons.

Unfortunately, Emily said, her older sister seemed to struggle with feelings of inadequacy that Emily believes drugs helped ease. 

It was as if the drugs opened a door to Anne’s brain that erased all the pain, Emily said.

Opioids soon turned to heroin and other street drugs after Anne.

“It was kind of a perfect storm,” Emily said.

At first, it started with Anne asking Emily to watch her children for her for a night or weekend, so Anne could have time to herself, a request her sister gladly granted. 

She now feels guilty about being so generous, since she sees it enabled her sister to get deeper into drugs.

Anne made multiple attempts at rehab in Wyoming, none of which panned out. Emily believes Anne’s failure was due to the lack of follow-up care once a person leaves treatment.

“There were no resources to help,” Emily said, particularly in the Star Valley, where they were raised.

Emily described their hometown as “judgy and prone to ignore and isolate people with problems.” As a result, Anne grew more isolated, her sister said, and always returned to the drug scene.

Emily remembers Anne injected herself with saline after one release from a facility in an attempt to break the habit that becomes ingrained in serious addicts. 

Anne lost her job and lived with different family members, including Emily, but was always kicked out due to her drug use.

Spiraling Out of Control

Looking back now, Emily wishes she’d helped Anne more, but back then, it was the hard choice between protecting her sister or her own children and her relationship with her husband.

Eventually, Anne drifted to Salt Lake City in her early 30s, where her drug use intensified, and she became a regular at the local jail.

Utah is where Anne’s problems grew worse, Emily recalled. Anne was frequently arrested for shoplifting, prostitution and misdemeanor drug use, sometimes with police finding her alongside a road with a needle stuck in her arm. 

Anne, who sometimes uses her maiden name of Lancaster, also turned to other, harder drugs in Salt Lake City. She got caught up in sex trafficking and once landed for almost a year in the mental health treatment facility in Evanston, where Emily said Anne seemed to be exhibiting signs of a drug psychosis brought on by excessive methamphetamine use.

Anne tried to escape her lifestyle several times, including moving to live with her father in California, but she always slid back to drugs.

No matter what was happening in Anne’s life, however, one thing was constant: she always called Emily, no matter what, whether it was to get a bus ticket home from jail or rehab or if she just needed to talk. Sometimes she called when she was out of her mind on drugs, Emily said.

Many of these conversations with her older sister were disturbing, Emily said.

“That was hard,” Emily said. “You want to protect the people you love but know that nothing you can do will help except just be there for them, regardless of how much they are wrecking their lives.”

Questions Surrounding Release From Jail

Communication with Anne went dark in January 2020. She had been arrested yet again and had been in the Salt Lake City jail for about six months. 

During that time, Anne called her younger sister frequently and the plan was for Emily and her husband to meet Anne on the day she would be released and bring her back to Wyoming for yet another attempt to get Anne out of this life.

Two weeks prior to Anne’s release, however, Anne stopped calling. The jail was able to tell Emily her sister was set to be released on Jan. 10, 2020, but due to legal restraints, couldn’t tell her the time of day. Emily and her husband rented a hotel room next to the jail and regularly checked in. 

During one 30-minute period between checks, Anne was released and subsequently disappeared.

Emily and her husband stayed in town a few days after, searching for her in parks, homeless shelters and under bridges where homeless and drug users were known to congregate.

At that point, she wasn’t terribly concerned, knowing Anne’s habits, but when she hadn’t heard from Anne for a few months, she called the Salt Lake City police to file a missing person report. Officers were not alarmed given Anne’s past, telling Emily that she would no doubt turn up at some point in jail.

She never did. But police did encounter her once more in March 2020, but did not arrest her — the first time in her long history with Salt Lake City police that a visit with officers did not lead to an arrest, Emily said.

Anne has not been on social media during the more than two years she’s been out of contact with her family, which Emily said is just plain weird because her sister always posted on Facebook, regardless of her state at the time.

“No matter what, she would have called me,” Emily said. “She always did, even when she was out of her mind on drugs.”

No Answers

Emily believes something was going on in those final two weeks in jail when Anne stopped communicating. She has asked for videotapes from that day to see which way Anne might have gone after leaving the jail or if there was somebody on hand to meet her. Police told Emily her sister had been talking to a man on the phone from jail prior to her release but couldn’t give any specifics.

Emily fears whoever that person might be trafficking her. Or perhaps her sister has overdosed and has yet to be found. 

Anne’s DNA is on file and the family is attempting to track down her dental records.

The family hired a private detective who was able to identify a man named “Thor” who knew Anne, however, that tip ultimately went nowhere.

Anne’s disappearance is also being investigated by the national non-profit, We Help the Missing (WHTM), whose volunteer detectives work missing person cases all over the country, including in Wyoming.

Anne is listed the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).

Emily worried that because of Anne’s history of drug use and homelessness, her case is not being taken seriously by law enforcement.

“I feel hopeless because nobody cares,” Emily said. “If she was someone like Gabby Petito, then people would be chomping at the bit to find her. Something happened to Anne. Just because she made bad choices doesn’t mean her life doesn’t matter. It matters to her children, to me and my family.”

Regardless, Emily will not give up until she finds her older sister.

Part of her hopes that Anne is at peace rather than in some horrible situation where she’s being abused or worse.

“I am obligated to Anne’s children who deserve to know where their mother is and what happened to her,” Emily said.

Anne is described as 5 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing 130 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Salt Lake City police at (801) 799-3954 or private investigator Jason Jensen at (801) 759-2259. Those with tips can also call the WHTM tip line at (866) 660-4025. All tips may remain anonymous.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Sister Not Giving Up Hope Of Finding Missing Thermopolis Man

in Missing people/News
16854

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The sub-zero, wintery days make Georgeann Hammond worry even more about her younger brother, even though she knows it’s not rational. 

Her 65-year-old younger brother John has been missing since mid-November. The Thermopolis man had gone on an overnight fishing and camping trip with his long-time friend at the Miracle Mile, outside Casper, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

His friend said John had just walked off. That or gotten lost in the shuffle. Apparently, there had been a couple other people there as well who had driven in a separate vehicle and both thought John had gotten into the other car when they drove from the river to their campsite. When they went back to search for him, he was nowhere to be found.

All Georgeann knows is what police have told her: Hammond was last seen on Nov. 6 camping and fishing in the Sage Creek drainage area in an area north of the Miracle Mile fishing bridge in an area locally known as Walleye Bay.

Numerous foot, drone and helicopter searches conducted for the Carbon County Sherriff and other law enforcement turned up nothing. Georgeann said that the detective on her brother’s case, Dale Miller, has gone out of his way to both to commit resources to the search for John and to keep her informed of the progress. 

In between, there have been numerous rumors of malfeasance on the part of the friend or other people in the group as well as a couple sightings – including one at a casino on the Wind River Reservation – but so far police have evidence of neither, Georgeann said.

As to what really happened, Georgeann has no idea, only to say that her brother is out there somewhere – either dead or alive.

She’s learned about his disappearance after John’s long-time friend who had been with him came to see if Georgeann, who also lives in Thermopolis, had seen her brother. He told her he waited a few days to see if John turned up because he didn’t want to get anyone worried or annoy John if he’d intended to wander off on his own and not be bothered.

It wasn’t completely unlike John to have done so, his sister said. In the past, he up and left for a month to help a friend move to Oregon and didn’t tell anyone until he returned home. 

When he returned, he was surprised to learn that his family had been worried. He told his sister he was “a grown-ass man” who didn’t feel the need to check in with them if he wanted to take a little trip.

John – or “John John” as he is affectionately called in the community – was a bit of an unconventional guy, Georgeann admitted, a bit of drifter who made do with odd jobs to support himself but had been in the process of filing for social security now that he was of the age to do so. His application was nearly finished when he disappeared.

He was known to drink and smoke marijuana, Georgeann said, but she didn’t think he was involved in any harder drugs. 

If you needed anything, Georgeann said, John was your guy. Generous almost to a fault. 

What people might not know about her brother is that he was also a gifted linguist. When he was a student at Hot Spring County High School, he spoke four languages. He was so talented that the U.S. Air Force recruited him in 1974 and put him through language school, where he became fluent in Russian and served during the Vietnam War. 

Once out of the service John came home and worked odd jobs, mostly to support his love of books and classic rock music. He was an encyclopedia on both and often hung out at libraries.

When he disappeared, that’s one of the first places Georgeann checked to see if there had been any activity on his Wyoming library card. There hadn’t, which to her suggests he never came back from the fishing trip.

He had been married in 2001, but his wife died eight years later of cancer. When his dad had a stroke and needed in-home care, John had been the sibling out of the three of them who moved in to take care of him. 

“That’s the kind of guy John was,” his sister said. “He’s awesome. The good-hearted, old boy.”

He also had impeccable outdoor survival skills, Georgeann said, which were instilled in all three kids from a young age. Their dad and mother, who was a police dispatcher and matron, taught them to shoot guns, build a shelter, make a fire and do anything else to survive should you get lost in the woods.

Given John’s skills, his sister is left to think that either someone hurt him and left him out there or he hurt himself, perhaps falling into a ravine and hurting his leg so he couldn’t get out.

She’s driven out there herself, and as a former land surveyor, knows how many places a person could get lost of hidden amongst the craggy sagebrush. She plans to continue looking her search.

“I don’t believe he just would have walked off,” Georgeann said. “It makes no sense.”

John was last seen wearing a baseball cap, blue jeans, a dark gray jacket, brown suede shoes with tennis shoe soles and a T-shirt of unknown color. He had no cell phone. 

He’s described as being 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighing about 195 pounds with hazel eyes and curly, brown-gray hair.

The Carbon County Sheriff’s Office told Cowboy State Daily that John’s case remains active and officers encourage anyone with information to contact CCSO Detective Dale Miller at (307) 328-7743.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Bone Found In Nebraska Likely Not That Of Missing Moorcroft Man

in Missing people/News
16436

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

An arm bone found near Scottsbluff, Nebraska, last year likely does not belong to a missing Moorcroft man, according to Nebraska authorities.

However, officials are still waiting for conclusive DNA evidence to definitely rule out a possible connection between the bone and Chance Englebert, who has been missing for more than two years.

Englebert, then 25, disappeared on July 6, 2019, during a trip to see his wife’s family in Gering, Nebraska. 

The lower piece of a human arm bone was found by hunters last October near the North Platte River in western Nebraska. 

The bone had initially been sent to the University of Nebraska crime lab for a DNA analysis of the bone marrow, but due to the age and condition of the bone, which had been under water, the lab was unable to complete the testing, according to Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman.

It has since been sent to a lab at a Florida university for testing, Overman said. No estimate has been provided as to when the testing might be completed, he added.

Given the location of the bone downstream on the North Platte River, Overman said his department identified two potential missing persons the bone might have come from, Englebert and Walter “Gene” Patterson-Black.

The color of the piece of clothing found near the bone, however, bears a closer match that reportedly worn by Patterson-Black — not the blue shirt Englebert was wearing at the time he was last seen.

Lead Investigator Brian Eads of the Gering Police Department said that he, too, believes the bone likely does not belong to Englebert and has shared this with Englebert’s family. 

“We are still awaiting DNA confirmation, but we have no reason to believe this was Chance based on the evidence,” he said.

That said, Overman said investigators are not ruling anything out.

“What I will tell you is we go with the evidence,” Overman told Cowboy State Daily Tuesday afternoon. “So, we’ve got two missing people that we know of who could have had connections to the river…so it could be either one.”

Patterson-Black has been missing since May 12, 2016, according to The Charley Project, a national non-profit that provides information about missing person cases.

The 72-year-old man had been wearing a tan, plaid long-sleeve shirt when he was last seen in Scottsbluff. His abandoned SUV was found in the parking lot of the YMCA, and it’s thought that he may have intentionally gone into the North Platte River, which was swollen with rain at the time, according to his profile. 

Englebert’s fate remains a mystery despite multiple searches, thousands of tips, dozens of podcasts and extensive local and national media attention.

Friends and family members are offering $17,000 award for information that will lead to the discovery of Englebert or the identity of any suspects responsible for his disappearance. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gering Police Department at (308) 436-5088 or private investigator Amanda Waldron at (307) 797-0363 or the We Help the Missing tip line at (866) 660-4025. 

Tips can remain anonymous.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Scammers Target Wyoming Families On Missing Person Website

in Missing people/News
15832

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Law enforcement officials are warning Wyoming residents about potential scams in which the family members of missing persons are contacted with ransom requests or threats.

The warning comes on the heels of an earlier notice from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) this past spring that cautioned about an increase in scammers targeting vulnerable family members. 

The scammers have now targeted people involved with posts on the Missing People of Wyoming Facebook page, according to page administrator Desirée Tinoco, who said she’s aware of at least two incidents of scammers contacting people who have posted on the page.  

In one case, a woman who listed her phone number on a post about her missing brother told Tinoco she had received random “weird” messages from men whose contact information she deleted. She eventually removed her contact info altogether.  

Another woman who posted about her missing daughter shared a text with Cowboy State Daily in which someone with an out-of-state phone number had texted her threatening to kill her daughter if she didn’t pay him $7,000. 

She immediately flagged the message as a scam and reported it to local law enforcement agencies, but she said she found it troubling that someone would prey on vulnerable people with missing family members.

These types of scams are par for the course, according to Amanda Waldron, private investigator with the national non-profit We Help the Missing, particularly when reward money is involved.

Waldron is working with the family of Chance Englebert, a Moorcroft man who has been missing for more than two years. The reward for information leading to the discovery of Englebert is now $17,000.Waldron estimated she gets text messages from scammers about three to five times a week regarding the case.

Some of the “tips” are lengthy and detailed, involving confessions of fear about turning in the culprit or location of a weapon that may have been involved in Englebert’s disappearance.

Others confess to guilt for even inquiring about the reward money.  It’s her job to field out the legitimate tips from the scammers, who never seem to stop trying. 

In other cases, Waldron has been contacted by scammers claiming to have a runaway who they’d be willing to turn over for a ransom. 

Unfortunately, the FBI warned, the scammers care nothing about what the families might be going through as they try to extort money from the family through social media posts. The scammers often gather information about the missing person and family to legitimize their ransom demands. 

Typically, the scam takes the form of telephone calls asking for ransom payments for missing people the caller claims to have abducted. The person allegedly abducted is reported to be in imminent danger. 

The most common scam, according to the FBI, is contacting family members using the phone numbers listed on “missing person” posters or by reaching out via messaging applications on social media. The scammers then demand ransoms, generally between $5,000 and $10,000.

Anyone who believes they’ve been targeted or are a victim of an extortion related to a missing person case is asked to contact their local law enforcement agency or their local FBI field office at www.fbi.gov

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Casper Man’s Family Searching Since Summer 2020 With No Answers

in Missing people/News
15794

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jen Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The disappearance of a Casper man in July 2020 is bringing to the forefront the problems of finding people with mental illness who are reported missing.

Paul Pedry was 43 when he disappeared in July 2020.  At the time, the Casper man had been feeling depressed and lethargic.

That afternoon, Paul’s parents Dave and Danna Pedry had accompanied the 43-year-old Casper man, who was also bipolar, to his psychiatric appointment. 

Paul’s doctor had been concerned about his slow speech and depressed state and sent Paul to the lab for blood work. The tests later revealed he had dangerously low thyroid levels because he had failed to renew his thyroid prescription. 

After picking up Paul’s renewed prescriptions and some fast food, his parents dropped him off at his downtown Casper apartment. 

Once home, Paul called his sister about a family matter and later tried to visit a friend. But the friend was at work, so the two talked briefly by phone. That was the last time anyone heard from Paul.

His disappearance left a lot of questions and even more unknowns. 

After his disappearance, Paul’s debit card was found in an alley near his apartment and turned in to the police, who put it in lost and found, according to Danna.

No transactions were made on Paul’s card. Danna hadn’t realized how badly things had gotten for her son until visiting his apartment after his disappearance.

The sink in her normally tidy son’s apartment was stacked with unwashed dishes and there was no food in the refrigerator. 

His low thyroid levels had slowed Paul down considerably, the doctor told Paul’s parents, which accounted for his lack of energy and all-around lethargy and depression.

Paul had been diagnosed as bipolar during his junior year in college.  This illness prevented him from achieving his longtime dream of entering the priesthood because of the manic episodes he would suffer when he stopped taking his medication.

Despite his mental disorders, Paul lived an independent life, holding a job and renting his own apartment. 

But shortly before he disappeared, he had quit his job at a Casper store during a manic episode, telling the manager he’d received a better employment offer with the Central Intelligence Agency, one of his frequent delusions when hypomanic.

“That job was his lifeline,” Danna told Cowboy State Daily, adding she could not blame the store’s manager for being intolerant of her son’s excuses and fanciful fantasies.

Given his depression at the time of his disappearance, there are questions about whether he might have taken his own life, but his parents and family adamantly believe Paul would not do such a thing given his strong religious convictions. 

“In some ways I think Paul had given up,” Danna said. “He thought his family had given up on him and he was discouraged that the drugs he was given weren’t working and were so drastic. But he wouldn’t take his own life.”

His older brother Michael agreed and noted Paul had left for short periods in the past – usually on the guise of joining the CIA. These handful of episodes didn’t last long and concluded with Paul inevitably checking himself into a hospital and calling his family.

The family also pointed out Paul had no money and no access to transportation because his car was in the shop at the time he disappeared.

Lastly, his family said, Paul was too lethargic to get far. Though he’d shown a slight bounce after taking that first dose of thyroid medication, he was still very tired. Paul felt he was being tested by God, his brother said.

In an earlier conversation that Michael thinks was spurred by his brother’s medical condition, Paul spoke about being in a state of “spiritual desolation” in which he felt lonely and that he was being tested. Such statements were not atypical for his philosophical and thoughtful brother, according to Michael.

“Nothing he said indicated he had any thoughts of suicide,” Michael said. “This was an exceptional time for him, and he wouldn’t have made that statement lightly.”

Paul always called his family, Danna noted. He was very close to his siblings and parents. Danna suspects foul play.

Maybe her son was a victim of a botched robbery or some other form of senseless violence, likely in the alley near his apartment that he often took on his walk to church. She believes that’s where her son had been heading that night. 

When Paul was feeling better, he was a formidable presence at nearly 6 feet, 3 inches and 230 pounds. That night, however, he would have been too weak to put up a fight. 

Danna is not sure if there was any video surveillance footage that might answer some questions or if the alley where the card was found was ever checked out.

The Casper Police Department said there’s no evidence to support the theory that Paul was jumped and killed, according to Detective Shannon Daley. She said investigators searched the alley and interviews were conducted.

The only thing Danna does believe is that Paul is no longer alive, prompting the family to issue an obituary for Paul and hold a requiem mass this summer.

“I think God took him,” Danna said, “but I just don’t know how.”

Complicated problem

Cases like Paul’s speak to the difficulty that both families and law enforcement have in tracking down missing people with mental disabilities. In 2021, there have been 131 missing adult reports taken by the Casper police, but only one person is currently considered legally missing.

Of these missing person cases, Daley estimated, at least 75% have some sort of addiction or mental illness.

The fact is that mental illness is a growing problem in general, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), with about one in five adults in the United States, 21%, experiencing mental illness in 2020, per NAMI data. 

In 2018, 28,244 people with mental disabilities, roughly 15% of Americans with mental disorders, were reported missing, according to a Congressional Research Service report. 

Missing person cases involving adults with mental illnesses can be some of the hardest cases to solve, according to private investigator Thomas Lauth of Lauth Investigations Worldwide.

In a 2018 article, Lauth compared the “intricate layered mesh of mental health issues combined with the complexities of a missing person investigation” a “maddening puzzle that plagues both the heart and the mind.”

In addition, unlike children, adults have a legal right to “disappear,” posing a problem for law enforcement agencies forced to deal with strapped budgets and competing priorities.

In such cases, law enforcement has to consider three variables, according to Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police: determine if the adult disappeared on his or her own volition, got physically hurt or lost or whether there foul play was involved.

It’s not a crime to be missing, Oedekoven said. Adults can choose.

There are also health and other privacy issues at stake in cases where the adult wants to be gone. The second two variables, however, require swift and fast action in order to protect that missing person.

“Sorting out the critical nature is to deal with it effectively from the onset,” Oedekoven said, noting that Wyoming law enforcement officers are trained to do so. Apart from notifying law enforcement, one of the best things people can do, he said, is spread the word that someone is missing.

In Wyoming, unlike other states, families do not have to wait 24 hours to report someone missing, and all unsolved missing person investigations remain active until there is an outcome.

“Part of it is public awareness,” Oedekoven said, noting that the media typically focuses on the high-profile cases involving women and children to the exclusion of other cases.

Raising awareness

Heightened awareness in the community is one way to get out more tips and cooperation,
Oedkoven added.

To this end, Casper resident Desirée Tinoco, administrator of the Missing People of Wyoming website, is working with law enforcement and state officials to create a statewide missing person database. Wyoming is currently one of the few states in the nation not to have one. 

In recent months, the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation’s (DCI) has revamped its missing person database to make it more up-to-date and user friendly and is working alongside Tinoco in efforts to create a uniform statewide database for missing people.

Another resource that families have is the non-profit We Help the Missing, a group of volunteer private investigators across the country who offer their services free of charge and take on both new and cold cases.  

Amanda Waldron, a Casper-based private investigator with We Help the Missing, would also like to see other alert systems put in place similar to the “Amber Alert” triggered by the disappearance of a child.

For instance, she said, the “Silver” alert system issues advisories for missing adults 65 and older and younger adults who are developmentally disabled, cognitively delayed or with other mental disabilities. 

A purple alert, such as the one signed into law in Florida this summer to notify missing people with mental health disabilities, would also be helpful, Waldron said, as would alerts for runaways and possible victims of human trafficking.

In the meantime, Paul’s family has no recourse but to rely on tips and law enforcement. 

Since he’s been gone, Paul’s mom has received one tip which did not pan out. Still, the family would like to know what happened to Paul last summer. 

Paul is described as a 6-foot, 3-inch white male with red hair and dark-framed glasses who weighs around 220 pounds. He was last seen in the area of Wolcott and 12th in Casper wearing silver/gray shorts, tennis shoes and a short-sleeve T-shirt.

Anyone with tips or information is asked to contact the Casper Police Department at (307) 235-8278 or the NaMus tip hotline at (833) 872-5176.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Criminal Astrologist Hoping to Solve Missing Persons Cases in the State

in Missing people/News
15610

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Tahnee Zogg sees a lot of red flags when she looks into Renee Yeargain’s disappearance.

With few facts to go on, Zogg, an amateur criminal astrologist and Tarot card reader, has turned to the universe for help in finding out what might have happened to Yeargain after she disappeared in 2004.

Zogg this summer created a “criminal chart,” a tool she said can lend insight into what might have happened to Yeargain.

Yeargain reportedly left her Torrington home on Aug. 4, 2004, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. 

Her car was found two days later at a rest stop in Meridian, about 36 miles south of Torrington. According to her then-boyfriend, Josh Minter, Yeargain packed some clothes into a paper sack and left him and her four children without saying where she was going or when she might be back.

Thus far, there have been no arrests or charges in Yeargain’s disappearance, but her case remains open and is actively being investigated by Torrington Police Chief Matt Johnson, who said there’s strong evidence that Yeargain did not leave her home willingly. 

The investigation has yielded “clear indications of felonious intent,” Johnson said, but he has shared no new details on the case other than to say he and Detective Becci Morris are actively investigating.

Started Her Own Investigation

At the request of Yeargain’s longtime friend Jess Oaks, Zogg began her own investigation of the case as a criminal astrologist.

Zogg is quick to note that though criminal astrologists have been successful in the past in helping law enforcement locate missing persons and solve crimes, she still considers herself a novice. She also clarified that astrological charts aren’t permissible as evidence in courts at this time and for all practical purposes are for entertainment only.

That said, she believes in the art and its ability to lend insight into what might have happened.

The chart was created by entering Yeargain’s last known location and the last time she was seen, which gives Zogg which gives her an imprint based on where the ascendant (AC), or victim, was with regard to the seven astrological signs, or houses, at that time.  

Cause For Alarm

What Zogg sees on Yeargain’s chart gives her grave cause for alarm, she said.

Through a series of complex astrological computations, Zogg has theorized that Yeargain is dead and died as a result of some sort of trauma of the head or neck, likely at the hands of someone she knew. The person was very angry at the time of the incident and had reached a “boiling point,” Zogg said.

The chart showed Yeargain’s death was the result of a sudden and unexpected event, Zogg said.

The criminal astrology chart also points to seven or eight places where Yeargain’s body might be found, Zogg said, and there are strong indications that shallow bodies of water close to Yeargain’s home should be searched.

If someone did assault Yeargain, Zogg said that the chart indicates the person likely has piercing eyes, big limbs, is stocky and a person who is capable of committing a crime of passion, holds deep grudges and is serious, secretive and charismatic.

Zogg produced a map of seven or eight places where Yeargain’s body might be located and has offered to share it with law enforcement officers. 

Johnson said he would be happy to review the map, noting that while investigative resources of this nature aren’t generally recognized in courts, they nonetheless have been used in some investigations to provide direction.

Universe Revealing Itself

As wacky as Zogg knows it might sound to some, she said the universe has been revealing secrets for centuries, and in many cases, effectively. 

In fact, this past spring, Zogg diagnosed her own cancer by doing her health chart which accurately depicted she had stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma prior to her receiving her official diagnosis. Currently, after several months of chemotherapy treatment, her cancer is in remission. 

Zogg may have saved her own life by beating her doctors to the diagnosis, though she won’t do health readings for others given the liability.

It also should be noted that creating a chart does not simply involve plugging numbers into a computer program and churning out results, Zogg said.

Instead, it requires a thorough understanding of both astrology and math and countless hours of studying how all the various components fit together in the 360 degree circle that contains the chart. 

Learning Through Mentors

In her case, Zogg, who has been giving professional Tarot card readings for the past seven years, has spent the past couple years poring over books and watching YouTube videos by noted Australian astrological criminologist Kirsty McIntosh, who has been instrumental in helping law enforcement solve a handful of murders and missing people cases.

After learning more about McIntosh, Zogg became interested in expanding her skills to also read astrological charts that can used in a number of applications, from finding missing people to finding missing car keys, which Zogg has also done.  

 Along with knowing how to interpret the various astrological variables, reading charts requires a great deal of intuition and an ability to read the story being told. 

It’s easy to see when something is not adding up, Zogg said, based on the erratic nature of the chart that is telling a disjointed or illogical story. In charts, a person is looking for a cohesive, coherent story that adds up.

“You shouldn’t have to stretch it to make it work,” Zogg said. “It captures a particular moment in time. It’s an imprint or time stamp in the universe.”

Intermediate Level

Understanding how to interpret that imprint requires both knowledge and intuition, and the best astrologers have both.

Zogg considers herself at an intermediate level as a “criminal astrologist” at this point, but is increasingly interested in the benefits of using these charts to find missing people or help solve crimes. She doesn’t charge for charts like this because she doesn’t like the idea of making a buck off anyone’s heartache.

She also stressed that astrological charts are not absolutes but rather suggestions or possible scenarios that are dependent on solid facts. For example, if you plug in the wrong time or location that a person was last spotted, then your chart will be wildly off. 

Regardless of the skeptics, Zogg is optimistic about the potential these charts have to providing a potentially different set of new facts to help guide law enforcement and families whose loved ones are missing solve their crimes. 

Tool That Aids Investigations

In some cases, Zogg has prepared charts for crimes that have been solved so she can check her work against the known facts of the case.

In one case, she prepared a chart for the case of a teenage girl in her home state of Nebraska who was murdered and whose body was found, although no perpetrator has been identified. Zogg’s chart of the case lined up with the facts as reported by law enforcement.

Ultimately, criminal astrology has a long way to go before being accepted as a crime fighting tool, if that ever happens, Zogg said.

But in the meantime, it can serve as another tool to aid in investigations.

Zogg plans to continue honing her craft with the goal of helping to solve cold cases like the disappearance of Yeargain’s and the cases of other missing people throughout the state. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Mother Of Missing Sheridan Man Still Hopeful After Four Years

in Missing people/News
15052

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Recently, a California girl who had been missing for 13 years was located in Mexico.

Even though Sheridan resident Heather Vanderhoef doesn’t know whether the girl returned home, she finds solace in such stories. It gives her hope that one day maybe her son Kyle Ellis will return home.

However, four years after Kyle disappeared after being dropped off at a gas station in Greybull, the outlook is bleak.

Kyle was last seen at the gas station after being dropped off there by a woman who had given him a ride from the Bighorn Mountains outside of Sheridan and $20 for a meal. 

Unfortunately, there’s no surveillance footage from the gas station or any other location around town to track where he might have gone after being dropped off. Nor did he have with him a cell phone, computer, debit card or even a driver’s license to help track him down.

The woman who dropped him off has been interviewed by police and Kyle’s father, and they and Vanderhoef are convinced was just genuinely trying to help him out by giving him a ride on a frosty January evening.

That night on Jan. 8, 2018, Kyle had walked up to the Bear Lodge Resort in the Bighorn National Forest.  There, the resort’s owner called police out of concern for Kyle’s safety because he had been sitting outside in the cold. The police contacted Kyle’s dad who asked speak to him and offered to come pick him up.

Kyle didn’t want that, Vanderhoef said, and instead opted for the ride with the stranger who recalled that he didn’t talk much during the two-hour drive. Why Greybull? His mom has no idea. And though Kyle had mentioned wanting to go there for some unknown reason, Vanderhoef is pretty convinced he likely didn’t stay long.

Where he might have gone is anyone’s guess, though Vanderhoef hopes that he might have made it to the San Juan Islands off of the Washington Coast, where the family had frequently gone on vacation. It was Kyle’s favorite place. Though there’s a pretty active homeless population on the islands, a friend of hers periodically looks for him and thus far hasn’t seen Kyle yet.

So far, there have been no credible tips, sightings, arrests or remains traced to his DNA. “It’s like he’s just vanished,” Vanderhoef said. “One minute he was just gone.

”Though technically he did leave on his own, Vanderhoef said, the situation is complicated because he was was suffering from mental illness, which for the past decade has derailed his life and world. Up until his late teens, he’d been an honor student and multi-letter athlete who gone to University of Las Vegas.

It was there the first indications of his mental illness surfaced, showing up as excessive partying and self-medicating. Eventually, he dropped out of school.

This was followed by drug and alcohol abuse, arrests and a session of rehab in Rock Springs, where Kyle was unofficially diagnosed as bipolar, although his mom thinks it is more likely he suffers from borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia. However, Kyle didn’t care for medication or treatment.

He’d also left home a handful of times in the past – going as far as Spokane, Washington, Colorado and Texas – before ultimately contacting his mother on Facebook messenger to say he wanted to come home. Until 2018, the longest he’d been gone was 10 days and he’d always been in touch with his family regardless.

He’d warned his mother that one day he would leave and never come home. He was on a mission for God, who had plans for him, he’d said. Kyle had increasingly adopted strange and zealous religious beliefs, according to his mom, which she attributed to his mental illness. 

When he told her to prepare for his eventual departure, she gave him 10 stamped envelopes with various family addresses and names and asked him to promise that if he did leave for good, he’d let one of them know. Those envelopes, along with his social security card and driver’s license, were found in his room.

Prior to his departure, Kyle had returned home to Sheridan and seemed to be doing well, Vanderhoef said. He was living with his dad, from whom Vanderhoef is divorced, helping him around the house while he healed from foot surgery. 

“He was sober and doing well,” Vanderhoef said, “but then something happened, and he was just gone.”

She thinks it was a personal matter that put him over the edge, but she can’t be certain. Kyle told her he he was tired and wanted to be gone, though in the past he’d never harmed himself or given his family any substantial reason to admit him to a mental health facility. He is very smart, she said, and equally charming with a big heart.

He’s not street smart, however, so there’s a chance he might have gotten into the wrong car but at this point, it’s all conjecture.

“The only thing I know is that he hasn’t been found or arrested,” she said. “Those are the only two certainties I have.”

Ellis’ disappearance is one of the nearly 50 “missing person” cases involving men to have been opened since 1974 that are listed on the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation’s (DCI) missing person database.  The men range in age from under 1 year to 72 years.

Also listed are the missing person cases of 30 women.

Wyoming, according to a 2019 Vivint Source Survey, is ranked seventh for missing people, with 7.8 missing people for every 100,000 residents.

Cases like Kyle’s prompted Casper resident Desirée Tonico to start the Missing People of Wyoming Facebook page to provide a resource to share reports of missing people as well as case updates. Two years after its start, it has more than 16,000 subscribers. 

Wyoming is currently one of only a handful of states to not have a statewide database that stretches across law enforcement agencies other than the DCI, but Tinoco is leading an effort to create one and is currently in talks with DCI and local and state leaders to make it happen.  

Though Tinoco has personally never had a loved one go missing, she was prompted to establish some kind of resource after seeing a couple of missing people posters around Casper of local men who had disappeared.

Tinoco wanted to provide a resource after noticing that the missing person cases that seemed to garner media attention largely involved children and young girls and women, but less attention was paid to indigenous people and middle-aged men, particularly those with spotty pasts and criminal records.

She has been surprised at the response on her Facebook page from the public and from state agencies and leaders who are universally in support of a statewide database that provides up-to-date information across law enforcement agencies and DCI to provide a uniform and cohesive resource.

Kyle’s case in particular had always stood out to her as “such a handsome young man with so much potential.

“So many of these cases are heartbreaking,” she said. 

Kyle is currently 33 years old, 6-feet tall and weighing roughly 190 pounds with brown hair and distinct green/hazel eyes. He wears glasses and a black beanie at all times of the year and has tattoos of a pin up girl on both his right and left shoulders, “sex drugs and rock n roll” on his abdomen and a sleeve tattoo on his left forearm.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office at (307) 672-3455 or the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS) toll-free hotline at (833) 872-5176 or namus@usdoj.gov.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Family Waits For DNA To See If Remains From Nebraska Are Of Missing Moorcroft Man

in Missing people/News
14799

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jen Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The family of a Moorcroft man who has been missing for more than two years is waiting for the results of DNA testing to determine whether or not human remains found in western Nebraska Monday belong to their son.

Speculations in the media earlier this week that an arm bone and shirt found near Melbeta, Nebraska, belonged to Chance Englebert prompted the family to publicly respond.

In a statement posted on the Help Find Chance Englebert Facebook page, Englebert’s mother Dawn told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday morning that family members have been in contact with the  Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s department and are waiting for the results of a DNA test, which could take a couple of weeks to process.

“The sheriff was very kind and said until DNA is back it’s just hard to say,” she said. 

Chance Englebert, then 25, disappeared July 6, 2019, during a weekend trip with his wife and young son to visit her family in Gering, Nebraska. 

It’s unclear what transpired that day, but Englebert had been golfing with his father-in-law and other members of his wife’s family and reportedly got into an argument over the new job that he’d recently accepted after being laid off from a coal mine.

Englebert called his wife to come get him and told her he wanted to return home to Wyoming. When his wife refused to leave, he called a friend to come get him, but the friend was not able to make the drive, so Englebert allegedly started walking toward Torrington. 

He was last spotted on surveillance footage walking in downtown Gering on the 700 block of O Street, wearing Wrangler jeans, plaid shirt and a trucker’s cap.

The last text message from his phone was sent just after 9 p.m. that day and contained an incomprehensible jumble of numbers and emojis, according to his Dawn, who questions whether someone else had his phone, because he never used the symbols in his messages. 

Despite a massive search involving 17 law enforcement agencies, drones, divers, cadaver dogs and hundreds of volunteers on foot, horseback and ATVs – as well as several searches led by friends over the past two years between Gering and Torrington – Englebert remains missing.

Dawn also announced that a planned dive in Terry’s Lake with Jared Leisek and his dive team from the YouTube channel Adventure with Purpose Dive has been postponed his dive pending the DNA results.

Leisek, who often teams up with law enforcement agencies for searches had been planning to dive the 7-acre Terry’s Lake and other surrounding ponds in Terrytown, Nebraska, which is one of the last places that Englebert was seen on grainy surveillance footage walking past an apartment complex. 

There is no boating or swimming allowed at the Terry’s Lake, according to a post on the Visit Nebraska page.

Leisek and Dawn have been correspoding by email for about a year, she said, and she asked him if he would consider looking for Chance should he ever be driving through Nebraska close to Scottsbluff. To her surprise, Leisek contacted her last week to say he’d be passing through yesterday and would be willing to dive. However, his plans changed when he learned about the recently recovered remains and the pending DNA results, she said. 

“Jared and his crew are truly amazing” Dawn said, noting that the diver did say it might likely be a long shot. “He was very patient with us and explained the different cycles of water and how and what it does to a body. He feels that if Chance was in these ponds, he would have surfaced.”

Regardless, if the DNA is not a match, Leisek told Dawn he would be back to search on his next trip through Nebraska. 

The lead detective on Englebert’s case, Brian Eads of the Gering Police Department in Nebraska, had contacted Dawn and her husband Everett earlier in the month to let them know that remains had been found but that given the high-profile nature of this case, they were not planning to make the information public until there was a DNA match. 

Eads has not yet returned Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment. 

The reward money for information leading to solving this crime has since been raised to $17,000.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gering Police Department at (308) 436-5088 or private investigator Amanda Waldron at (307) 797-0363 or the We Help the Missing tip line at (866) 660-4025.  Tips can remain anonymous.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Woman Won’t Give Up Seeking Justice in Torrington’s Only Unsolved Missing Person Case

in Missing people/News
14727

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Jess Oaks briefly knew Renee Yeargain before she disappeared more than 17 years ago. 

The two had worked together at the Little Moon Supper Club in Henry, Nebraska, in spring 2003. Oaks had been charged with training Yeargain to be a fry cook. Both young 20-something mothers at the time, the two bonded over discussions about their kids and parenting.

Sometimes they’d get together outside of work but not that often. Oaks remembered Yeargain talking about her boyfriend, Josh Minter, and once showing up to work in his green Mustang. 

After Little Moon shut down that fall, the two drifted apart. Then Oaks learned that the house where Yeargain was living with Minter and her four children had burned down just after Christmas. 

Oaks had heard about the fire on the radio and reached out to Yeargain to see if they needed anything since the kids had lost all their Christmas presents. Later, Yaergain and Minter met Oaks and her mom at their storage unit and took what they needed. 

A few months later, Oaks randomly ran into Yeargain on the street in downtown Torrington. Both had been running errands, but they stopped to talk. Yeargain said things were going really well and she was getting married in August and was also following her dream of becoming a tattoo artist. Oaks, meanwhile, had taken a job as a reporter at the Torrington Telegram. 

Yeargain told her former co-worker she was excited to see where her life would take her, Oaks said. Words that ultimately haunted Oaks when not long after she saw her friend’s face on the front page of the newspaper on Aug. 10, 2004.

Disappeared Without A Trace

According to news reports, the then-24-year-old woman had disappeared without a trace, leaving her boyfriend of three years and four children, 12 days prior to her planned wedding to Minter. 



When questioned, Minter told police that Yeargain left the borrowed car she was driving at a rest stop in Meriden, midway between Torrington and Cheyenne. 

In the car were her purse, keys, cell phone, wallet, checkbook and other items. Minter further told investigators that Yeargain had walked out of the home they shared with a grocery sack full of clothing and refused to say where she was going.

At the time, her mother, Diane Van Horn, said that her daughter would never have voluntarily left for this long without contacting her children.

Yes, Yeargain had struggled with her mental health and drugs in the past, Van Horn told the Scottsbluff (Nebraska) Star-Herald in a 2009 interview, but she’d since cleaned up her life and was looking forward to marrying and had just gotten her tattoo license and planned to open up a shop in their home.

“She had all these plans,” her mother said in the interview. “I believe something has happened here, and I have questions that I want answered.”

Unanswered Questions

Van Horn’s request for answers remains unmet. To date, Yeargain has not returned home nor has her body been found.

In between those facts lie a lot of questions and few unsubstantiated facts which Oaks has been meticulously tracking for nearly two decades in her 12-pages of detailed notes as Yeargin’s case passed through the hands of at least five different investigators at the Torrington Police Department.

Oaks personally knew Minter from high school and remembers him as a loner who frequently wore a dark trench coat and hung out with another student that her peers called “creepy.”    

Minter was artistic, Oaks said, recalling a troubling profile image of himself on his Facebook page that a detective alerted her to following Yeargain’s disappearance.

The illustration is of a brooding man in a black hoodie and dark-rimmed glasses surrounded by cryptic words and phrases in red ink including “sacrifice,” “involved,” “burden,” and most hauntingly, “I know the grave.”

The profile has since been taken down, but Oaks took a screenshot.



“It was really creepy,” she said.

Efforts by Cowboy State Daily to contact Minter via social media were not returned.

Troubled Past

Yeargain had a pretty troubled life in general, Oaks said, including mental issues and a past history of drug abuse.  She’d gotten pregnant with her first child at 15, and her fiancé had been killed in a motorcycle accident when the child was still a toddler.

His death had apparently haunted Yeargain, Oaks was told by friends, leading to Yeargain’s self-medicating to the point she might be gone for a couple of days. 

She was also estranged from her mother, according to what Oaks has learned, as well as her biological father, a reported sex offender who has since died.

Her troubled past, Oaks believes, might account for the way in which her case was investigated.

Questions Remain

Oaks, who is no longer a reporter but instead works in the graphics department at the Torrington Telegram, is frequently asked why she’s so invested in a case involving a person she barely knows. 

For her the answer is simple, if it can happen to Yeargain, it can happen to anyone. It could happen to her. She’s also a single mother and worries about what would happen to her children if she disappeared. 

Would there be justice? She’s not so sure. 

She doesn’t have much family left; it’s just her in Goshen County.

She can’t wrap her head around this happening in a community she’s always considered safe.

She also feels a complicated connection to her former co-worker given that she’d run into Yeargain just two weeks before she disappeared. She feels maybe that was meant to be and that it’s her responsibility to help find Yeargin. 

New Investigation

She recently brought in a new private detective from We Help the Missing to investigate, and for the first time in 17 years, a press release has been shared with both media and the community.

“It hasn’t been easy to continue,” Oaks admitted. “You run into one closed door after another.”  

Like Oaks, Yeargain’s youngest daughter, Angelina Schirmer, believes that her mother is likely dead but is still seeking closure and would like to have her mother’s body returned and someone prosecuted. 



Now 21, Schirmer is making a life for herself in Wolf Point, Montana, where she works as a cashier at a gas station. Things are going pretty well, she said. That wasn’t always the case. After her mom disappeared, Schirmer admitted, life was downright shitty. All of the kids were put into different foster care families and lost touch with one another over the years. 

Her older sister Mariah has since died somewhere in Alaska and her older brother Johnathon has no contact with the family. 

As far as helping law enforcement solve the crime, she doesn’t have much to tell them from that time. She remembers the house catching on fire and being in a car accident with her mother, but otherwise, memories are hazy. 

Just Theories

She has her theories, but they are just that, theories. Ultimately, she doesn’t blame Yeargain given that she was battling “a lot of mental illness at the time.”

At the time, Schirmer was pretty certain her mom would return home like the other times she’d briefly left them. 

She, too, has a lot of questions and feels like the case could have been handled better. 

“There’s a lot of ‘what ifs’ I had to grow up with,” she said. “And there’s nobody to ask.” 

She feels betrayed by the police who she thinks never gave her mom’s case much time.

“I could have had a whole other life,” she said, “and feel like the police failed me and my siblings, and it’s very heart breaking.”

It’s time for some real action and effort, she said.

Time For Justice

Torrington Police Chief Matt Johnson agreed that it’s time Yeargain had justice. He’s relatively new to the position and department but said there’s a real effort on his part and the part of Detective Becci Morris. Assistant Chief Pat Connelly, who has also been working the case over the past few years, is eager to revive efforts to find Torrington’s only person missing under suspicious circumstances who has not been recovered.

Johnson said he can’t comment on any of the details of the case – past nor present – nor could he discuss whether or not they were investigating any persons of interest. All he could say is that evidence suggests she did not leave her home willingly, and that the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigations is also helping. 

“There’s clear indications of felonious intent,” he said, “and finding justice for this young woman is something we care about.”

He’s hopeful that some new detail will emerge through technology that wasn’t available 17 years ago. All they can do is pick up from the clues they have, he said, 

“We’re optimistic that there will be a breakthrough,” he said, and encouraged anyone with information to present it to the Torrington Police Department. “We will talk to anyone and will follow up on all leads, and I hope those efforts are ultimately going to lead to the truth.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Torrington Police Department at (307) 532-7001 or WHTM private investigator Amanda Waldron at (307) 797-0363 or the WHTM tip line at (866) 660-4025. Tips can remain anonymous. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Missing Irishman’s Mother Prepared For Recovery, Continues Call For Info

in Missing people/News
14625

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The mother of an Irish man who disappeared while hiking in Grand Teton National Park has traveled to Wyoming to attempt a recovery of her son.

Grainne McLaughlin spoke with Irish news outlet RTE News this week while in the park and pleaded for people who were in the area around June 8 and might have seen her son, Cian McLaughlin, to come forward.

“Cian was a very outgoing guy, loved being outdoors,” the mother said. “If you met Cian, he’d stop and have a chat. He was living here for two years, he had dual citizenship.”

Grainne McLaughlin explained that Cian would work as a snowboard instructor in the winter and would work in the Jackson-area bars during the summer. She added her son was popular and had many friends both in Ireland and the United States.

Cian McLaughlin, 27, was last seen at around 2:30 p.m. June 8, about one-half mile from the Lupine Meadows Trailhead in the park. His vehicle was found days later.

“Despite the rangers’ massive search, I think they’ve put about 5,000 hours into it, we’ve still had no luck in finding anything,” his mother said. “He was well-versed in the mountains. He grew up hiking with me, his dad, my brother. He’s well-versed with equipment, gear, so we’re sure he was out on a day hike.”

McLaughlin was wearing a white t-shirt, a pair of shorts, a red Apple Watch, wire-rimmed sunglasses and a silver necklace at the time of his disappearance. 

Grainne McLaughlin suggested that although it was June when her son disappeared, the snow runoff in the area he was hiking could have been a factor.

“All of the waterfalls were gushing, there would have been [snow]melt underneath ice, so it’s tricky, it’s a tricky time of year,” she said.

McLaughlin is 6 feet tall and weighs 180 pounds. He has brown hair and eyes. He has an Irish accent and would be considered thin or fit.

McLaughlin is the only person who disappeared in the park this summer who has not yet been found. Gabby Petito was found in Bridger-Teton National Forest, not far from the park, in mid-September and her death has been ruled a homicide.

Robert Lowery also was last seen in Grand Teton in August, and his body was found in September, as well. His death was ruled a suicide.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Remains Found In Florida Confirmed To Be Brian Laundrie’s

in Missing people/News
14468

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The FBI confirmed Thursday that the partial human remains found in a Florida park on Wednesday were in fact those of Brian Laundrie, former fiancee of the murdered Gabby Petito.

The FBI said in a statement that dental records were used to confirm the remains as Laundrie’s. Family attorney Steve Bertolino told CNN on Wednesday that the remains were like Laundrie’s.

“It’s quite sad, you can imagine as a parent, finding your son’s belongings alongside some remains. That’s got to be heartbreaking. And I can tell you that they are heartbroken,” Bertolino said Wednesday night.

The cause of death was not immediately reported.

CNN reported this week that after a brief search Wednesday of a trail Laundrie frequented, the Laundrie family and law enforcement found “some articles” belonging to him.

According to the FBI, which gave a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, the items found were a notebook and a backpack belonging to Laundrie. During the news conference, officials said they could not confirm if the remains found were Laundrie’s.

The notebook and backpack were first signs of Laundrie since he disappeared in mid-September after Petito was reported missing. Laundrie was never been named a suspect in Petito’s death, but was considered a person of interest.

Petito’s body was found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest last month after she was last heard from in August. She and Laundrie had been traveling the country in a van.

On Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to his home in Florida with the van and without Petito.

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

Last week, Teton County coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the cause of Petito’s death as homicide by strangulation. He also said her body had been in the forest for three to four weeks before law enforcement officials discovered her remains.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Attorney Believes Human Remains Found In Florida Are Brian Laundrie’s

in Missing people/News/Crime
14441

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The attorney for the family of Brian Laundrie believes that the partial human remains found in a Florida park this week are likely those of the former fiance of murder victim Gabby Petito.

Attorney Steve Bertolino told CNN late Wednesday that “the probability is strong that it is Brian’s remains.”

“It’s quite sad, you can imagine as a parent, finding your son’s belongings alongside some remains. That’s got to be heartbreaking. And I can tell you that they are heartbroken,” Bertolino said Wednesday night.

CNN reported this week that after a brief search Wednesday of a trail Laundrie frequented, the Laundrie family and law enforcement found “some articles” belonging to him.

According to the FBI, which gave a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, the items found were a notebook and a backpack belonging to Laundrie. During the news conference, officials said they could not confirm if the remains found were Laundrie’s.

The notebook and backpack were first signs of Laundrie since he disappeared in mid-September after Petito was reported missing. Laundrie has never been named a suspect in Petito’s death, but is considered a person of interest.

Petito’s body was found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest last month after she was last heard from in August. She and Laundrie had been traveling the country in a van.

On Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to his home in Florida with the van and without Petito.

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

Last week, Teton County coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the cause of Petito’s death as homicide by strangulation. He also said her body had been in the forest for three to four weeks before law enforcement officials discovered her remains.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Investigators Find Brian Laundrie’s Items In Florida Park

in Missing people/News/Crime
14423

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Law enforcement officials discovered several items belonging to the man sought in the murder of Gabby Petito in a Florida park on Wednesday.

CNN reported that after a brief search Wednesday of a trail Brian Laundrie frequented, the Laundrie family and law enforcement found “some articles” belonging to him, family attorney Steve Bertolino said.

According to the FBI, which gave a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, the items found were a notebook and a backpack belonging to Laundrie.

Involved in Wednesday’s search were Laundrie’s parents, who have been described as uncooperative in the investigation into their son’s disappearance and the murder of Petito, his fiancee.

Bertolino would not give any further information on what or how many items were found, but did say law enforcement was conducting a more thorough search of the area.

A video obtained by Fox News showed the Laundries and law enforcement officers together. The officer appeared to tell the parents: “I think we might have found something.”

NBC news reported that partial human remains appear to have been found near a backpack in the Florida park. The FBI said they could not confirm if the remains were Laundrie’s.

The Sarasota County, Florida, medical examiner and a cadaver dog were also brought to the scene, according to media reports.

This is the first sign of Laundrie since he disappeared in mid-September following Petito being reported missing. Laundrie has never been named a suspect in Petito’s death, but is considered a person of interest.

Petito’s body was found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest last month after she was last heard from in August. She and Laundrie had been traveling the country in a van.

On Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to his home in Florida with the van and without Petito.

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

Last week, Teton County coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the cause of Petito’s death as homicide by strangulation. He also said her body had been in the forest for three to four weeks before law enforcement officials discovered her remains.

Nicole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, called Laundrie a “coward” during an appearance on “60 Minutes Australia” over the weekend.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Missing Lincoln County Woman & Suicide Of Former Boyfriend Investigation Still Active

in Missing people/News
14301

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Joy Ufford, Pinedale Roundup

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Four months ago, a convoy of investigators mounted a search over a trapper’s remote property near LaBarge looking for clues to the disappearance of his former girlfriend, reported missing in 2017.

The next day on June 20, Darrell L. “Pete” Petry, 66, left his isolated ranch on the Sublette-Lincoln county line apparently with no one noticing. It was the day after a county, state and federal team executed a search warrant for evidence of the whereabouts of Vanessa “Nessy” Sue Orren, with whom LaBarge residents and family members last saw in February 2016.

The first official press release about Orren’s “missing person” status, the search – and Petry’s death – came on June 30 from the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Travis Bingham wrote, “The (SCSO) has been actively investigating Ms. Orren’s disappearance since the missing person’s report was made (in January 2017). Ms. Orren was entered into National Crime Information Center and NamUs (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System) as a missing person.”

Petry’s body was found on June 22, his death ruled as “self-inflicted,” Bingham said.

Since then, Bingham has declined on detectives’ behalf to release any more information about Petry, who was not detained during the search. How, when and where Petry died were left unanswered. Although Petry was not named as a suspect in Orren’s disappearance, the few details released led to numerous rumors.

SCSO detectives’ focus shifted to analyzing potential evidence for Orren’s fate, mainly by Detective Ian Allen who filed the 2017 missing person report.

On Oct. 12, Bingham said, “This case is still an active investigation with the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office. Until the investigation concludes, we are not able to release any more information at this time. … They are still working the case and again when it’s complete we will have more details to release at that time.” 

Missing persons’

Investigators, perhaps acting on new information, undertook searching “for any evidence relating to the disappearance of Ms. Orren,” according to Bingham. Agencies including NecroSearch, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Game and Fish, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Wyoming Highway Patrol assisted the SCSO.

What they took away and what they discovered about Orren’s location are as yet unknown. She was described in 2016 as being 5 feet to 5 feet, 5 inches tall, weighing 110 to 115 lbs. with reddish hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information can contact the SCSO Detectives’ Division at 307-267-4378.

After the detective reported Orren to NCIC as a missing person, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation also posted it.

Wyoming DCI completed a very recent update to its “Missing Persons” webpage, front and center, including Vanessa Orren’s information and photos – along with many other missing persons reported by Wyoming law enforcement since April 26, 1974.

DCI update

DCI’s already-planned upgrade took on new urgency with the recent, heavily publicized search last month for missing woman Gabby Petito centered on northwest Wyoming. Social media went wild with rumors about the missing woman and her now-missing fiancé, and many turned to official and volunteer “missing persons” sites for updates.

Desirée Tinico of Casper, who started her Facebook page “Missing Persons in Wyoming” two years ago, credited DCI director Forrest “Frosty” Williams with the push to highlight people reported missing in Wyoming.

Tinico said Williams contacted her a couple of months ago – “before Gabby’s case” – about her Facebook page, where people submit missing person information that might help find their loved ones passing through or living in Wyoming. Often families have their own Facebook pages where updates are posted and tips passed on.

“They really ramped up their end of things,” she said of DCI’s efforts to modernize the state’s webpage. “They have been great to work with and we’re just trying to figure all of this out.”

She noted, as have others, the disparity between almost worldwide attention for Gabby Petito and others whose disappearances slide under the radar. The attention is welcome – “before Gabby,” her Facebook page had about 130,000 hits every 60 days that grew to 170,000 and the public is reenergized about helping resolve them.

“When the Gabby case first happened, it was a horrible situation and everyone was trying to navigate through a third party,” Tinico said. “There are families that don’t get covered at all. There are no happy endings for cases like that.”

Very recently, Tinico met with state officials including Wyoming’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force “to brainstorm ideas for a unified database.”

DCI’s current funding shortfall might be eased with legislative action, she noted.

“The old page – the DCI’s technology grew up around it and it got left behind,” she said, adding Wyoming is one of 14 states without an organized database “when someone goes missing.”

Ideally, a system could track “runaways, tribes’ missing persons and others who fall through the cracks,” she said.

Wyoming DCI’s homepage now has a visible link to “Wyoming Missing Persons,” listed chronologically back to April 26, 1974. Go to https://wyomingdci.wyo.gov/dci-homepage/missing-persons.

Trapper’s death determined ‘self-inflicted’

How, when and where Darrell “Pete” Petry died while investigators searched his remote property for evidence of missing woman Vanessa “Nessy” Orren went unanswered for weeks.

Although Petry was not named as a suspect in Orren’s disappearance, the few details released about his untimely death led to numerous rumors and questions.

Sublette County Coroner Curt Covill confirmed details about Petry’ death this week – the first shared since Sublette County investigators searched Petry’s property near LaBarge from June 19-23.

SCSO’s Sgt. Travis Bingham has declined to provide information about the man except to say Petry’s death was “self-inflicted” with no signs of foul play, citing the active investigation.

Covill was called when Petry’s body was found on June 22 and he determined Petry died on June 20 – the day he left his home. He was not in custody or detained during the search, Bingham said earlier.

It isn’t known if anyone spoke with Petry or was at his home when he left.

Deputies apparently lost track of him for several days; on June 22 they read a note left on his door and looked for him at Deadline Ridge, just inside the Sublette County border with Lincoln County.

Petry did not shoot himself, no gun was found at the scene and his toxicology reports came back negative, Covill said.

Petry was found outside, seated against a tree with a cord tied to him and the tree; when he sat down, he asphyxiated, the coroner said. Petry’s dog was in Petry’s Jeep Cherokee parked nearby.

“There was nothing to indicate foul play,” Covill said of the scene and his later exam, determining it was “suicide by ligature, strangulation.”

Petry’s body was taken to Covill Funeral Home, where a visual postmortem exam showed “no other trauma” such as fresh injuries or abrasions. Covill saw “nothing suspicious” to indicate an autopsy was needed and contacted Petry’s son Ira, who identified his father from photos.

Petry’s remains were later cremated and the ashes sent to his family. Covill filed a death certificate with the state of Wyoming; his coroner’s report is not finalized while he waits for detectives to conclude their report.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Family Of Missing Irishman Last Seen In Grand Teton Pleading For Info

in Missing people/News
14284

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The family of an Irish man last seen in Grand Teton National Park has put out a plea for information from anyone who might have seen him earlier this summer before he disappeared.

Cian McLaughlin, 27, was last seen at around 2:30 p.m. June 8, about one-half mile from the Lupine Meadows Trailhead in the park. His vehicle was found days later.

“The weather is changing rapidly and we have a small window to bring home this incredibly adored young man,” a new missing poster with the hashtag #FindCian said. “We desperately need your help to find him and get closure for his loved ones who have been frantically searching over four long months to locate Cian.” 

The poster said that McLaughlin was wearing a white t-shirt, a pair of shorts, a red Apple Watch, wire-rimmed sunglasses and a silver necklace at the time of his disappearance. 

Rangers received a report not long after of someone seeing a man fitting McLaughlin’s description around 3:45 p.m. on June 8 hiking up the Garnet Canyon trail, so search teams began to look in that area.

McLaughlin is 6 feet tall and weighs 180 pounds. He has brown hair and eyes. He has an Irish accent and would be considered thin or fit.

According to an article by the Irish Times, McLaughlin is a Dublin native who works as a snowboard instructor in Jackson. The newspaper also noted his Facebook page said he started working at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort last December and that he previously lived in the French ski resort of Chamonix.

A GoFundMe campaign was launched to support McLaughlin’s family, including their travel to the United States to help search for him. It has raised more than $50,000 in U.S. currency as of Thursday.

McLaughlin is the only person who disappeared in the park this summer to not yet be found. Gabby Petito was found in Bridger-Teton National Forest, not far from the park, in mid-September and her death has been ruled a homicide.

Robert Lowery also was last seen in Grand Teton in August, and his body was found in September, as well. His death was ruled a suicide.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

26 Years Later, Teton County Sheriff’s Deputy Solves Missing Person Case

in Missing people/News
14224

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jen Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

When Kris Martin heard that his younger brother Kyle went missing during a kayak trip down the Hoback River outside of Jackson, his immediate thought was that he would fly out from Pennsylvania to go find him. Even today, more than 26 years later, Kris still remembers the phone call from his father Paul and mom Linn and the fear and grief in Paul’s voice when he delivered the news to Kris.

“Kyle’s missing,” his dad said. He still hears that in his mind like it was yesterday.

He’d fallen to the floor as he tried to make sense of it. In his mind, Kris thought that Kyle was likely just lost in the woods and fantasized that he would be the one to find him, at which point, Kris would hand him a beer and the two would laugh about it later.

That fantasy never came to pass.



Instead, four days later, Kris had been on an airplane en route to Wyoming while his older brother Kevin, his father, Kyle’s long-time girlfriend Michelle and other family members stood on the river bank and briefly watched Kyle’s body bob to the surface before plunging under the water.

His body was then carried downstream after the kayak was momentarily freed from a snarl of trees in the river in what was, by all accounts, a harrowing rescue attempt by a helicopter pilot and Teton County Search and Rescue.

It was May 30, 1995. Kyle, then 24, had gone kayaking with a buddy. He’d just moved out to Wyoming in fall 1994 with a couple friends from college, who like him, had moved West to live in the mountains for a year. Kyle worked at the Wort Hotel, and according to Kris, had discovered a love of cooking that he’d plan to pursue once he returned home.  

Lost In The River

He never made it. Instead, his body was now lost in the river.

Kris never imagined he’d see his brother’s body ever again but was at peace knowing he died doing something he loved in a beautiful location.

“He was buried in the river and I liked that he was one with nature,” Kris told Cowboy State Daily on Sunday.

Then Kris got a phone call this spring from a dogged deputy sheriff in Jackson who told Kris that they might have found Kyle after a skull and other bone fragments were discovered by a hiker in September 2002 in the Palisades Reservoir.

The bones, including a sacrum and other fragments, were found between Big Elk and Blowout Canyon by detectives from the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho. The detectives sent the bones to an anthropologist at Idaho State University, according to a release from the sheriff’s office, who theorized that they belonged to a male between 25 to 45 years old and of no determined race.

The sheriff’s office thought they might be belong to one of the two adult men who, along with two children, drowned in a boating accident in 1980 but were eventually able to rule them out.

This March, the bones were sent to a biotechnology lab in Texas who were able to extract DNA from the bones to determine a genealogical profile for the unknown male they had since began referring to as “Palisades Pete,” a nickname created by a National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) employee in 2014.

The Idaho sheriff’s office chipped in $1000 to pay for the process while the lab kicked in the rest from donations.

Now, they had a profile for the body and just needed a genetic match.

Enter Dave Hodges

Dave Hodges with the Teton County Sheriff’s Office was involved in Kyle’s rescue attempt in 1995.

He was leafing through a forensics magazine in March when he read about the discovery.

Immediately, Hodges wondered if that might be Kyle.

Hodges recalled that attempted rescue on the Hoback River 26 years ago. It was his first year with the sheriff’s office though he’d been a Teton Search and Rescue volunteer for a few years.

He remembered that day. It’d stuck with him for a couple reasons. First, the rescue mission itself had been nothing short of heroic, he said.

Kyle’s submerged kayak had been lodged between several thick trees that had fallen in the river. The helicopter pilot had been able to dislodge a couple of the branches in a maneuver that was both death-defying and heroic, Hodges said.

It was also the first and only body never recovered by the search and rescue team.

“I did not expect Kyle to submerge almost as quickly as he emerged,” Hodges said. “He was on the surface for just a few moments and then he was just gone.”

Hodges had been waiting down river in a boat to grab the body after it was released and was within a boat length of Kyle when his body sunk.  He’d jumped into the murky, fast-moving water in a wetsuit with his hook.

“We tried to do our best,” he said. “The water was chocolate brown and discolored. We were planning to reach over and grab the body, but he went under and disappeared.”

It was a haunting moment that stuck with the young deputy.

DNA Sample Positive

Over the years, Hodges had thought of Kyle every time he passed that particular spot along the river which is distinct and viewable from the road.

When he’d read about the DNA profile and where the bones had been found, he’d immediately thought of the 24-year-old man from Pennsylvania.

Hodges then contacted the Bonneville sheriff’s office and ran the profile through the missing person’s database where no match was made. Hodges then coordinated with local police in Pennsylvania who were able to track down Kyle’s mother to get a DNA sample.

His father has since passed, Kris said, but his mother had called him about receiving a call from the Wyoming deputy and was more than eager to participate. The day police contacted her, she’d just been moved into an assisted living facility in Lancaster. The call bolstered her spirits, her son said. Like the rest of the family, she resigned herself to the fact that she’d never see her son’s body again.

Turns out it was a perfect match.

He saw the results for himself, Hodges said, and was able to call Kris with the good news.

“It was an emotional call for us both,” Hodges said.

Too Overwhelmed

Kris couldn’t put into words how important Hodges had been in this discovery; he was just too overwhelmed.

“We’d long given up hope of having his remains returned,” Kris said, adding that once they do get the bones they plan to cremate Kyle and sprinkle around the tree that his friends planted for him in their hometown to which the family members frequently visit.

The discovery brings a sense of closure, Kris said. It’s bittersweet. One on hand, his brother has been returned to the family but on the other, the loss is still raw. He likes that Kyle was able to go West and seemed to be finding himself, but he regrets not seeing the man that his brother would have become.

Kyle had even grown the obligatory beard, Kris laughed, stereotypical of mountain men which coincidentally is in their blood.

Their great, great-grandfather, Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones had been friends with Pawnee Bill and Buffalo Bill and was the first game warden at Yellowstone National Park, hired by Theodore Roosevelt.



Their Buffalo Jones had been an ardent conservationist and instrumental in helping to preserve the bison herds throughout the park. He’d been a mythical character to them as kids, Kris said.

He likes that Kyle had been able to experience a little of that history, and once he arrived in Jackson, he understood what had drawn his brother in the first place and why he loved living there.

“He had been coming into his own,” Kris said, noting that he was just a couple months away from returning home to Pennsylvania.

Coming Home

His father commissioned a sculptor to create a tribute to his son on a rock in the rugged terrain close to the river. Kris and Kevin found it on a trip to Jackson four years ago.



Kris, too, lauded the bravery and skill of the search and rescue team, particularly the pilot, who even his uncle, a pilot and Vietnam veteran, said defied anything he’d ever seen in his flying experience. One errant log might have pulled the helicopter down and the man who ultimately help bring his brother home.

“Dave had felt a lot of guilt that he hadn’t been able to capture the body,” Kris said, “but we have nothing but gratitude for him.”

He also appreciated the nickname given to his brother and the fact that people called him Pete and thought about him. He, too, thinks about his brother every day, despite his worry that one day he might forget about him and just move on. Not a chance, he said.

Now, his brother is finally coming home.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

More People Come Forward With Info About Missing Moorcroft Man

in Missing people/News
14169

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

New leads and information about what happened the night a Moorcroft man went missing more than two years ago have been coming in, according to a private investigator who recently picked up the case, as the reward money increases to $14,750 following a fundraiser for the family.

Though she couldn’t divulge any of those leads or information at this time, Amanda Waldron, private investigator with the national non-profit We Help the Missing (WHTM), said that new witnesses have contacted her with information about the night of Englebert’s disappearance.

“Multiple people have come forward,” she said. “Typically, most cases are 5,000 piece puzzles but this one is more like a 10,000-piece.”

Chance Englebert, then 25, disappeared July 6, 2019, during a weekend trip with his wife and young son to visit her family in Gering, Nebraska. 

It’s unclear what transpired that day, but Englebert had been golfing with his father-in-law and other members of his wife’s family and reportedly got into an argument over the new job that he’d recently accepted after being laid off from a coal mine.

Englebert called his wife to come get him and told her he wanted to return home to Wyoming. When his wife refused to leave, he called a friend to come get him, but the friend was not able to make the drive, so Englebert allegedly started walking toward Torrington. 

He was last spotted on surveillance footage walking in downtown Gering on the 700 block of O Street, wearing Wrangler jeans, plaid shirt and a trucker’s cap.

The last text message from his phone was sent just after 9 p.m. that day and contained an incomprehensible jumble of numbers and emojis, according to his mom Dawn, who questions whether someone else had his phone as he never used the symbols in his messages. 

Despite a massive search involving 17 agencies, drones, divers, cadaver dogs and hundreds of volunteers on foot, horseback and ATVs – as well as several searches led by friends over the past two years between Gering and Torrington – Englebert remains missing.

His case has been the subject of dozens of missing person and true crime podcasts, most recently on InHuman: A True Crime Podcast.

Waldron is in the process of tracking these new leads down and encourages anyone with information to come forward.

“I’d suggest people need to get ahead of this before criminal charges start happening as we get closer to getting answers,” she said Monday. “Someone innocent is protecting someone guilty, and it would be in their best interest to come forward.” 

Gering Police continue to receive tips and conduct interviews, Brian Eads, lead investigator on the case, said, though they haven’t seen a boost in new people coming forward after the reward money was recently increased $2,700 to $14,750 for any information leading to solving the case.

The new funds are the result of a fundraiser by business owner and neighbor, who lives near the  Englebert’s ranch outside Edgemont, South Dakota, and who also lost a son in an ATV accident.

Ironically, Englebert had taken the young boy’s loss hard, asking his mother how a parent goes on after losing a child. He didn’t think he could take the pain, he told his mom.

“I told him it’s the best and hardest job you’ll ever had,” Dawn said, thanking her community and all the people who are helping to help bring Chance home.

“His family and community need him home,” she said. “We will complete the puzzle yet, and Chance will be where he belongs.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gering Police Department at (308) 436-5088 or private investigator Amanda Waldron at (307) 797-0363 or the We Help the Missing tip line at (866) 660-4025.  Tips can remain anonymous.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Yellowstone Officials Scaling Back Search Of Missing Utah Man

in Missing people/Yellowstone/News
14106

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Yellowstone National Park officials are scaling back search efforts for a Utah man who has been missing in the park for nearly three weeks.

Crumbo, 74, and his brother Mark O’Neill, of Washington, were reported overdue by a family member on Sept. 19 from their four-night backcountry trip to Shoshone Lake.

Park search crews found O’Neill’s body the next day. It was determined the man died of hypothermia.

Search teams have been using helicopters, boats, sonar technology and ground crews to find Crumbo, to no avail at this point. Current weather forecasts call for deteriorating conditions over the next week, including snow and freezing temperatures.

Park officials will continue limited search efforts, as long as conditions allow, this year. In late September, park officials changed the search from a rescue to a recovery of Crumbo.

“All of us at Yellowstone extend our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and colleagues of both Mark and Kim,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly. “I want to personally thank the teams from Yellowstone, other parks and agencies, and partner organizations who worked to help us locate Mark, and who continue search efforts to bring Kim home.”    

This incident is still under investigation. Officials are asking for the public’s help in putting together a timeline of events, so if anyone was in the Shoshone Lake area between Sept. 12-19, contact officials at 307-344-2428 or yell_tip@nps.gov.

Both O’Neill and Crumbo are National Park Service retirees, and Crumbo is a former U.S. Navy SEAL.

Shoshone Lake, the park’s second-largest, is located at the head of the Lewis River southwest of West Thumb. At 8,050 acres, its average year-round temperature is about 48 degrees. Survival time in the cold water is estimated to be only 20 to 30 minutes.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Brian Laundrie’s Sister Insists She Doesn’t Know Where He Is

in Missing people/News/Crime
14004

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The sister of Brian Laundrie said during an interview with ABC News this week that she does not know where her fugitive brother is.

Laundrie has been the subject of a nationwide manhunt since mid-September, when the body of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, was found in Bridger-Teton National Park. Petito’s death is considered a homicide and Laundrie is considered a “person of interest” in the case.

Laundrie and Petito were traveling the country in a van and Laundrie returned to his home in Florida on Sept. 1 without Petito. Ten days later, the woman was reported missing by her family. Her body was found Sept. 19.

“I wish he had come to me that first day with the van, because I don’t think we’d be here,” Cassie Laundrie said in an interview on Tuesday. “I worry about him. I hope he’s OK, and then I’m angry with him and I don’t know what to think.”

The couple was documenting their travels on a YouTube channel and on social media.

Laundrie is wanted by the FBI for fraud for illegal use of someone else’s credit card.

Cassie Laundrie encouraged her brother to come forward and get the family out of this “horrible mess.”

She said the last time she saw her brother in person was Sept. 6. She added she has tried getting in touch with him multiple times via phone since then.

She also noted that she and her son were with the Laundrie family, including Brian, on a camping trip just days before Petito’s body was found.

“There was nothing peculiar about it,” Cassie Laundrie said. “There was no feeling of a grand goodbye. There was nothing. I’m frustrated in hindsight that I didn’t pick up on anything.”

Cassie Laundrie added that she has been cooperating with police since the investigation started and called on her parents to do the same thing. Last month, the FBI searched the Laundrie family’s home to look for evidence regarding the Petito case.

“To tell the truth, I don’t know if my parents are involved,” Cassie Laundrie said. “If they are, they should come clean.”

Despite describing her brother as a “mediocre survivalist,” Cassie Laundrie said she wouldn’t be surprised if he could last a long time out in the wilderness.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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

in Missing people/News/Crime
13887

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Law Enforcement Receives New Tips About Missing Moorcroft Man; Reward Money Increased

in Missing people/News
13798

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jen Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The reward for a Moorcroft man who has been missing for more than two years has been raised to $12,000, thanks to a recent donation, while Nebraska authorities continue their investigation into his disappearance.  

Chance Englebert, then 25, disappeared July 6, 2019, during a weekend trip with his wife and young son to visit her family in Gering, Nebraska. 

It’s unclear what transpired that day, but Englebert had been golfing with his father-in-law and other members of his wife’s family and reportedly got into an argument over the new job that he’d recently accepted after being laid off from a coal mine.

Englebert called his wife to come get him and told her he wanted to return home to Wyoming. When his wife refused to leave, he called a friend to come get him but the friend was not able to make the drive, so Englebert allegedly started walking toward Torrington. 

He was last spotted on surveillance footage walking in downtown Gering on the 700 block of O Street, wearing Wrangler jeans, plaid shirt and a trucker’s cap.

The last text message from his phone was sent just after 9 p.m. that day and contained an incomprehensible jumble of numbers and emojis, according to his mom Dawn, who questions whether someone else had his phone as he never used emojis. 

Despite a massive search involving 17 agencies, drones, divers, cadaver dogs and hundreds of volunteers on foot, horseback and ATVs – as well as several searches led by friends over the past two years between Gering and Torrington – Englebert remains missing.

Gering Police continue to receive tips and conduct interviews, including one Tuesday morning, according to Brian Eads, lead investigator on the case, who was with the Nebraska State Highway Patrol at the time of Englebert’s disappearance. 

The case is still active and there are no updates to share, Eads said in an email to Cowboy State Daily Tuesday. He would not comment on whether the department has identified any solid clues or persons of interest, saying the investigation is ongoing.

Casper private investigator Amanda Waldron of the non-profit group “We Help the Missing” released a poster seeking information on Englebert on Tuesday and announced her agency will also be investigating details surrounding his disappearance. 

“This case really eats at me,” Waldron said.

Along with police efforts, several amateur detectives have weighed in on podcasts about what might have happened to Englebert, including a Tarot card reader who said the now 28-year-old is likely no longer alive and is buried in a field after being killed by someone who held a grudge. 

Another YouTube channel, “The Missing Truth,” recently raised $2,000 from subscribers to donate to Englebert’s family. 

His mother has been touched by this donation and the outpouring of support from friends and strangers invested in helping to locate her son.

“It’s pretty darn amazing,” she said. “Despite all this evil, we are blessed by the good.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gering Police Department at (308) 436-5088 or private investigator Amanda Waldron at (307) 797-0363 or the We Help the Missing tip line at (866) 660-4025.  Tips can remain anonymous. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Remains Found Matching Missing Texas Man’s Description At Teton Pass

in Missing people/News
13780

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The remains of a person matching the description of a Texas man last seen in late August near Jackson were found on Tuesday, Teton County Search and Rescue announced.

What is believed to be the body of Robert “Bob” Lowery was found Tuesday afternoon on a steep, timbered slope on Teton Pass, the team said.

Lowery was last seen on the Black Canyon Trail near Wilson at around 2:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20.

The body discovered Tuesday was found with a black Nike duffle bag “significantly” off the trail on a steep, wooded slope, according to the search and rescue team.

Volunteers spent Tuesday afternoon recovering the body from the mountainside.

The Lowery family has been notified of the discovery.

More than 25 people and three dog teams from the region helped search for Lowery. Collectively, the search teams hiked more than 75 miles and covered 22,500 feet in elevation.

Calls for assistance in locating Lowery went out in early September, a little more than two weeks after he was last seen by two hikers on the Black Canyon Trail who described Lowery as sitting on a big rock along the trail.

The Black Canyon Trail is more than 12 miles and does not offer any campsites, just lots of wilderness. It is also more known as a trail for mountain bikers than hikers.

The missing man flew to Jackson from Houston on Aug. 19. Lowery’s sister Leigh Lowery said her brother is the loving father of two children with whom he had daily contact, and it was unusual for him to be out of touch with his children for so long.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Family Releases More Information About Man Last Seen In Jackson In August

in Missing people/News
13720

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The family of a man who disappeared in Teton County after flying to Jackson in mid-August is renewing its call for any information about his disappearance.

Leigh Lowery said witnesses have helped the family determine that Robert “Bob” Lowery was last seen on the Black Canyon Trail near Wilson at around 2:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20.

Two hikers on the trail described Lowery as sitting on a big rock along the trail. The two reported the sighting after seeing Lowery’s “missing person” poster and recognizing his Nike duffle bag.

“They had exchanged hellos that day and the couple could even timestamp when they saw Bob based on pictures they took right near where he was sitting down,” Leigh Lowery said on social media. “Bob was sitting on a large rock on the righthand side of the trail, with his black duffle behind him. He was alone.”

The couple also reported seeing only three people on the trail that day, including Bob Lowery, and indicated they were not sure as to whether he was tired or just thinking while sitting on the rock.

Originally, Lowery was reported as last being seen taking a rideshare vehicle to Pearl Street Bagels in Wilson. The reported sighting on the trail would have been about 75 minutes after his ride to the bagel shop.

The Black Canyon Trail is more than 12 miles and does not offer any campsites, just lots of wilderness. It is also more known as a trail for mountain bikers than hikers.

“He’d have to go off path to camp,” Leigh Lowery said. ” We assume he walked all that way with a heavy duffle. No doubt he would have been tired. We now know he had a grey tent and blue sleeping bag with him.”

She added that thankfully, the trail is somewhat shady and had streams available, in case her brother ran out of water after he disappeared.

Leigh Lowery said she intended to return to the Jackson area the weekend of Oct. 2 to continue searching for her brother. The Lowery family is working to get in touch with expert hikers, search and rescue teams, mountain biking groups and possibly a helicopter or drone pilot to aid in the search.

“Please keep Bob and his/our family in your prayers. We truly appreciate all the love and support and hope we find him safe and sound, so he can come do what he loves most of all, be a dad,” she said.

Bob Lowery had a grey, single-person Magellan Kings Peak tent and a blue sleeping bag. He was last seen wearing hiking boots, blue jeans, a black baseball cap with the letter “P” and carrying a large black Nike duffle bag with the white logo. The bag likely contained his tent and camping equipment. He has brown hair and blue eyes.

The missing man flew to Jackson from Houston on Aug. 19. Leigh Lowery said her brother is the loving father of two children with whom he had daily contact, and it is unusual for him to be out of touch with his children for so long.

The Lowery family filed a missing persons report with the Teton County Sheriff’s Department about a week after they last heard from Bob. The department’s investigation is ongoing.

“Community members have been incredibly kind and responsive, but Bob has yet to be found,” Leigh Lowery said. “As you can imagine, the worst part is not knowing and desiring his safe return. We continue to hope that he is well and will return home safely.”

Cowboy State Daily previously reported that Lowery had never been to Jackson prior to his arrival from Houston and he had no previous camping experience.

Before Lowery left Houston, he canceled his mail delivery.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Yellowstone Officials Now Looking To Recover, Not Rescue, Missing Navy SEAL

in Missing people/News
13693

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Yellowstone National Park officials are focusing on the recovery, not rescue, of a missing former U.S. Navy SEAL who was last heard from a week ago.

After five days of searching, efforts to locate Kim Crumbo, 74, of Utah, at the park’s Shoshone Lake are transitioning to efforts to find his body, officials announced Friday.

The search followed the discovery Monday of the body of Mark O’Neill, 67, of Chimacum, Washington, whose body was found on the lake’s eastern shore.

O’Neill and Crumbo, who were half brothers, had been reported by family members as overdue from a four-night backcountry trip in the park. On Sept. 19, park crews found a vacant campsite and gear on the park’s south side, along with a canoe, paddle, personal floatation devices and other personal belongings on the lake’s eastern shore.

The discovery of O’Neill’s body sparked a search for Crumbo over the last five days by crews who swept all the trails in the area, searched the entire lake shoreline by boat and gridded the open water by helicopter.

On Friday, crews from the National Park Service’s Submerged Research Center were to begin using sonar equipment to search for clues in the water. Park search crews continued to look for him by foot and boat, with assistance from the Grand Teton National Park’s interagency helicopter.

Recovery efforts will continue for the next several days as conditions warrant, park officials said.

The incident remains under investigation. Officials are asking for the public’s help in putting together a timeline of events, so if anyone was in the Shoshone Lake area between Sept. 12-19, contact officials at 307-344-2428 or yell_tip@nps.gov.

Both O’Neill and Crumbo are National Park Service retirees, and Crumbo is a former Navy SEAL.

Shoshone Lake, the park’s second-largest, is located at the head of the Lewis River southwest of West Thumb. At 8,050 acres, its average year-round temperature is about 48 degrees. Survival time in the cold water is estimated to be only 20 to 30 minutes.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Prosecutors Say Laundrie A Flight Risk, Want Him Jailed If Found

in Missing people/News
13687

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Federal prosecutors are asking that once the missing boyfriend of Gabby Petito is found, he be detained prior to his trial on a federal charge of unlawful use of a credit card.

In a petition to the U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, prosecutors alleged that prior to his trial, there is a risk Brian Laundrie could flee and pose a risk to the community.

Prosecutors asked for a hearing on the motion on Monday.

Officials in Florida continued their search Friday for Laundrie, who was reported missing one week ago. He remains a “person of interest” in the death of Petito, whose body was found in Bridger-Teton National Forest on Sept. 19.

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

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

Since returning to his home, Laundrie has not cooperated with law enforcement officers in the investigation into Petito’s disappearance and death.

Laundrie was reported missing by his family on Sept. 17.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Officials Still Looking For Missing Man In Yellowstone After Half-Brother Found Dead

in Missing people/News
13584

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Search and rescue personnel continued searching Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday for a Utah man whose half-brother was found dead on the shores of a lake in the park on Monday.

Officials are searching for Kim Crumbo, 74, by foot, helicopter and boat at Shoshone Lake in the park and will continue to do so for the next several days as long as the weather conditions allow for it.

Park crews on Monday found the body of Mark O’Neill, 67, of Chimacum, Washington, on the east shore of the lake.

O’Neill and Crumbo, of Ogden, Utah, were reported overdue from a four-night backcountry trip to Shoshone Lake by a family member on Sunday.

On Sunday, park crews located a vacant campsite and gear on the south side of the lake, as well as a canoe, paddle, personal floatation devices and other personal belongings on the east shore of the lake.

A Grand Teton National Park interagency ship and crew are also assisting with air operations.

Both O’Neill and Crumbo are National Park Service retirees, and Crumbo is a former Navy Seal.

The incident remains under investigation.

Shoshone Lake, the park’s second-largest, is located at the head of the Lewis River southwest of West Thumb. At 8,050 acres, its average year-round temperature is about 48 degrees. Survival time in the cold water is estimated to be only 20 to 30 minutes.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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

in Missing people/News/Crime
13561

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Man Found Dead In Yellowstone, Half-Brother Still Missing

in Missing people/News
13550

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The body of a Washington state man was found Monday along the east shore of Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park.

Park crews on Monday found the body of Mark O’Neill, 67, of Chimacum, Washington, on the east shore of the lake.

O’Neill and his half-brother, Kim Crumbo, 74, of Ogden, Utah, were reported overdue from a four-night backcountry trip to Shoshone Lake by a family member on Sunday.

On Sunday, park crews located a vacant campsite and gear on the south side of the lake, as well as a canoe, paddle, personal floatation devices and other personal belongings on the east shore of the lake.

Search and rescue efforts continued Tuesday, with 10 crew members searching for Crumbo on foot.

A Grand Teton National Park interagency ship and crew are also assisting with air operations.

Both O’Neill and Crumbo are National Park Service retirees, and Crumbo is a former Navy Seal.

The incident remains under investigation.

Shoshone Lake, the park’s second-largest lake, is located at the head of the Lewis River southwest of West Thumb. At 8,050 acres, its average year-round temperature is about 48 degrees. Survival time in the cold water is estimated to be only 20 to 30 minutes.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Police, Family Seeking Information About Missing Casper Man Last Seen In August 

in Missing people/News
13557

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Law enforcement and family members are seeking the public’s help in locating a 39-year-old Casper man who has been missing for more than three weeks.

Darren Thunehorst was last seen at the end of August at his former address on A Street in Casper, according to a Tuesday post on the Casper Police Department’s Facebook page.

Thunehorst has missed work and other important events he typically would not miss, his sister Aha Rha said on a Facebook post on the “Missing People of Wyoming” page.

She added he has not contacted family or friends and is not receiving calls on his phone.

“We are very concerned,” she said.

The Casper Police Department did not immediately respond to request for comment prior to publication.

Thunehorst is described as 5 feet, 10-inches tall with red hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Casper Police Department at (307) 235-8278.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

FBI Raids Gabby Petito’s Boyfriend’s House In Florida

in Missing people/News
13492

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Less than one day after the likely remains of Gabby Petito were found in Bridger-Teton National Forest, the FBI raided the family home of Brian Laundrie, the boyfriend of the young woman.

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

Laundrie was reported missing late last week as the investigation into Petito’s disappearance ramped up. He has not been cooperative with authorities regarding the investigation, officials have said.

Remains matching Petito’s description were found on Sunday within the forest, the last place she was seen alive. A cause of death has not yet been announced.

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

Petito and Laundrie had been traveling together in a van converted so they could live in it. Laundrie returned to his home in Florida on Sept. 1 without Petito. The FBI got involved with the investigation late last week.

Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino called the discovery of remains in Wyoming “heartbreaking,” adding: “The Laundrie family prays for Gabby and her family,” according to CNN.

Laundrie’s sister also issued a statement to ABC News praising Petito for her relationship with Laundrie’s nephews.

“Gabby was a fun and loving influence to ‘the boys’ as she always referred to them. We will cherish the time we spent with her,” Cassie Laundrie said in the statement.

Police visited the Laundrie family home after Petito was reported missing, but Laundrie’s family refused to talk and instead gave authorities their attorney’s information, according to CNN.

Their home was searched Friday evening after Laundrie’s family told police he had not been seen for days. He left home with his backpack Tuesday and told them he was going to a local nature reserve, CNN reported.

Police had an encounter with the couple in Moab, Utah, on Aug. 12, where officers described them as having “engaged in some sort of altercation.”

Although the two are described as getting into a physical fight following an argument, “both the male and female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” a report from Officer Eric Pratt said.

On Aug. 24, Petito FaceTimed with her mother and told her she was leaving Utah and heading to the Teton range in Wyoming, CNN reported.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Body Found At Grand Teton National Park; Body “Consistent” With Description of Gabby Petito

in Missing people/News
13484

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A body matching the description of 22-year-old Gabby Petito has been found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, law enforcement authorities announced Sunday.

“Earlier today, human remains were discovered consistent with the description of Gabby Petito,” FBI Agent Charles Jones said during a news conference. “Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified of the discovery.”

“The cause of death has not been determined at this time,” he added.

Jones, a supervisory special agent for the FBI, held back tears as he expressed condolences to the family of Petito before making the announcement at the press conference in Grand Teton National park.

“On behalf of the FBI personnel and our partners, I would like to extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gabby’s family,” he said.  

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

Laundrie disappeared earlier in the week.

A campground on the eastern edge of Bridger-Teton National Forest was closed over the weekend as officers searched for Petito, a New York woman whose family reported her missing on Sept. 11.

Petito and Laundrie had been traveling together in a van converted so they could live in it. Laundrie returned to his home in Florida on Sept. 1 without Petito.

Laundrie has not cooperated with authorities in their investigation into Petito’s whereabouts and he was reported missing by his family last week.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Gabby Petito Investigation: Brian Laundrie Still Not Cooperating; Sister Defends Him

in Missing people/News
13464

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

The fiancé of a missing New York woman believed to have disappeared while at Grand Teton National Park is still refusing to talk to law enforcement officials.

However, Cassie Laundrie, the sister of Brian Laundrie, defended her brother’s character during an appearance a national news show on Friday morning.

Cassie Laundrie, the sibling of Brian Laundrie who is a person-of-interest in the ongoing investigation of missing person Gabby Petito, defended her brother’s character on Good Morning America without commenting directly on her disappearance.

“He’s a wonderful uncle,” Ms. Laundrie said during her appearance on Good Morning America. “He’s always been there when I need him. He’s been there every time Gabby has needed him.”

“Obviously, me and my family want Gabby to be found safe,” she said. “She’s like a sister and my children love her, and all I want is for her to come home safe and found, and this to be just a big misunderstanding.”

Brian Laundrie has been named a person of interest in the ongoing investigation into Petito’s disappearance. The two were traveling together in the Rocky Mountain West when Petito disappeared.

An hour after Cassie Laundrie’s television appearance, Gabby’s father Joe Petito said her comments didn’t make any sense to him.

“If that’s that family’s version of love, to just ignore and not care that someone’s gone,” Mr. Petito said, “and people are looking for them and entire countries looking for them, I mean, that explains how we got to where we are today. Because I mean, look at their version of what they call love.”

The day prior, Petito’s parents read a letter addressed to Laundrie’s parents begging for their cooperation during a media appearance.

“We believe you know the location where Brian left Gabby,” the letter reads. “We beg you to tell us. As a parent, how could you let us go through this pain and not help us? As a parent, how could you put Gabby’s younger brothers and sisters through this.”

Although Petito and Laundrie were vacationing together, Laundrie returned home to Florida on Sept. 1 without his fiancé and said nothing publicly about it. Ten days later, Petito’s family reported her missing.

Since then, their van has been located and impounded and police in Utah reported they were called to investigate a fight between the two, but did not press charges against either.

Laundrie’s refusal to speak to law enforcement has infuriated the daughter’s parents and has hindered progress on the case, according to New York investigators.

A leading defense attorney said Laundrie’s refusal to cooperate isn’t a good sign for Petito.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an arrest,” Lara Yeretsia told FOX News on Friday. 

“It doesn’t look very good, doesn’t look very kosher to me at this point,” she said. “Doesn’t look like he’s completely innocent, but he doesn’t have to help law enforcement.”

Yeretsia said she understood why Laundrie is being advised not to talk.

“Basically, he got a lawyer before law enforcement got him…and the lawyer is not going to make it easier for law enforcement to build a case against him,” she said. “He’s telling them, go do your job. You can have no access to this guy.” 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Stepfather Of Missing 22-Year-Old New York Woman Arrives in Wyoming To Help With Search

in Missing people/News
13381

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

The stepfather of a New York woman who reportedly disappeared while in Grand Teton National Park in September has flown out to Wyoming to help in the search.

The New York Post reported that James Schmidt, the stepfather of 22-year-old YouTuber Gabby Petito arrived in the state on Tuesday.

“He’s not leaving until he brings Gabby home,”Nicole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, told the Post. “Now we have eyes, ears, feet on the ground in both her home state and where she was last seen.”

Authorities believe Petito was last seen with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, in Grand Teton National Park.

Since that time, the van they had been traveling in has been located and Laundrie is in his home state of Florida. However, he is not cooperating with authorities.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officials in Florida told the Miami Herald that Laundrie, now listed as a person of interest, is “hindering” the investigation.

“We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said. “The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out.”

Utah authorities, also on Wednesday, announced that police were called to an incident between Petito and Laundrie in August. The two were in Moab, Utah, immediately before they traveling to Wyoming.

“Our officers did respond to an incident involving Brian Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito on 12 August 2021,” Chief Bret Edge told 2News, “however, neither Brian or Gabrielle were the reporting party. Officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges.”

The New York Post, which acquired a copy of the police report, said the couple was apparently in an argument which became physical.

“Brian said Gabrielle, thinking he was going to leave her in Moab without a ride, went to slap him,” the report said. “As Gabrielle started to swing, Brian pushed her away to avoided the slap. As a result Gabrielle, off-balance, but still caught Brian’s face with some fingers causing minor visible scratches.”

The report went on to say that neither party wanted to press charges.

Laundrie did release a statement from his attorney on Tuesday which said he and his parents hoped Petito was found.

The statement’s release only incensed Petito’s father.

Appearing on FOX News Wednesday, Joe Petito called the statement “bullshit”.

“Forget Brian, Brian’s home safe. His parents, yeah it’s hard for them. Bullshit. You know what? My daughter is not here. Our daughter is not here. We don’t even know what state she’s in,” Petito said.

“You know, we’re shooting from the hip here and trying to do what we can. So I don’t care about the statement. I care about finding Gabby,” he said.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Police: Missing Douglas Woman Is Alive; Private Investigator Says “Very Complex Case”

in Missing people/News
13377

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jen Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Douglas police have made contact with the female veteran from Douglas who was reported as missing after last being seen in June.

According to Detective Sean Leman of the Douglas Police Department, 41-year-old Amy  Frontiero Needham “is alive and well” as confirmed in a Sunday phone call with her and is no longer considered a missing person.

“To maintain Amy’s privacy as well as the integrity of the case, there isn’t much more I can disclose,” Leman wrote to Cowboy State Daily Wednesday, adding that her name has been removed from the National Crime Information Center as missing.

However, Leman said the case remains active until other information can be corroborated.

Needham, 41, was last seen on June 5 at a motel in Burlington, Colorado, with a female companion who identified herself as “Michelle Halle,” which may not be her actual name. 

Needham, the former director of a facility for victims of domestic violence in Douglas, apparently met Halle at the facility.

Halle told her that she was on the run from an abusive husband and needed help.

The pair reportedly have been staying at various motels throughout Nebraska and Colorado, but Needham has not contacted friends or family members since leaving Douglas, which family members say is unlike her, according to a release from “We Help the Missing,” a national non-profit that helps locate missing people throughout the country. 

Needham also left without taking any personal belongings or her dogs and car, per WHTM private investigator Amanda Waldron, and it is believed that she left under suspicious circumstances. 

“This case is very complex, and the back story is long, complicated, part of the investigation and not to be shared publicly,” Waldron said. 

According to Waldron, the phone call between law enforcement and Needham was short and police are still working to verify other information about her whereabouts.

“It was a very short call from a burner phone,” Waldron said. “They are still concerned with her well-being and are still trying to make physical contact with her as the call was very concerning.”

She has not reported to a law enforcement agency to verify her information as requested by Leman, Waldron added, and police do not know her actual location.

Needham is a Casper native who had previously served in the Air Force. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Police Seek Information About Missing Douglas Woman; Family Worries She’s in Danger

in Missing people/News
13303

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Staff reports

Family members and law enforcement officers are asking for the public’s help in locating a Douglas woman and veteran who has been missing since early June.

Amy Frontiero Needham, 41, was last seen on June 5 at a motel in Burlington, Colorado, with a female companion who identified herself as “Michelle Halle,” which may not be her actual name. 

Needham, the former director of a facility for victims of domestic violence in Douglas, apparently met Halle at the facility.

Halle told Needham that she was on the run from an abusive husband and needed help.

The pair reportedly have been staying at various motels throughout Nebraska and Colorado, but Needham has not contacted friends or family members since leaving Douglas, which family members say is unlike her, according to a release from “We Help the Missing,” a national non-profit that helps locate missing people throughout the country. 

Needham also left without taking any personal belongings or her dogs and car, per WHTM private investigator Amanda Waldron, and it is believed that she left under suspicious circumstances. 

“This case is very complex, and the back story is long, complicated, part of the investigation and not to be shared publicly,” Waldron said. 

A missing person report was filed with the Douglas Police Department last week.

Department officials did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for information about the case. 

According to Needham’s longtime friend Jessica Brehe, this behavior is very unlike her friend.

Needham is a Casper native who had previously served in the Air Force. 

“This is not typical behavior for Amy,” she said. “She is very kind and generous and would give you the shirt off her back. It is not like her to not be in contact with her friends and family.”

Needham said she fears her friend might be in danger as it’s been over three months since anyone has heard from her.

“Amy is very loved by her friends and family,” Brehe said. “We just want to know she’s okay.”

Anyone with information about Needham is asked to call the Douglas Police Department at (307) 358-3311, Waldron at (307) 797-0363, or submit a tip to WHTM tipline at (866) 660-4025.

“Someone, somewhere knows where Amy is,” Waldron said. “Please keep sharing her flyer and encourage your friends and family to do the same.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Texas Man Disappears In Jackson, May Have Been Camping

in Missing people/News
13307

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Teton County Sheriff’s Office is looking for information about a missing Texas man who was last seen in Jackson.

Robert “Bob” Stiles Lowery, 46, was from Houston and was last seen in Jackson on Aug. 19, according to Attempt to Locate, a social media page that shares information about missing persons cases. The organization received information about the case from the sheriff’s department.

Lowery was last seen on video at Piste Mountain Bistro at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village. It is believed he took a rideshare car to Pearl Street Bagels in Wilson the following day.

Lowery had never been to Jackson prior to his arrival and may have had plans to go camping, as he’d recently obtained a sleeping bag and tent. However, he had no previous camping experience.

Lowery’s family believes he might have been working somewhere in town before he disappeared. The last “ping” on his cell phone was in Jackson on Aug. 23, but the phone is now no longer working or trackable.

Lowery is 6 feet tall, has brown hair and blue eyes and often wore a Patagonia vest over a T-shirt. He was last seen wearing a black baseball hat with the letter “P,” a blue down vest, a plaid shirt and blue jeans.

Before Lowery left Houston, he canceled his mail delivery.

Anyone with information about Lowery is encouraged to call the sheriff’s department at 307-733-2331, especially if they have seen or spoken with him since Aug. 20.

A number of people have disappeared from the Grand Teton and Jackson area over the last few months. Cian McLaughlin, an Irish man who worked as a ski instructor, disappeared after being last seen hiking in Grand Teton National Park. He has yet to be found.

Just days after Lowery was last seen, a young woman from New York, Gabby Petito, was last seen in Grand Teton. She is also still missing.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Virginia Woman Missing In Montana’s Glacier National Park

in Missing people/News
13037

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Authorities are searching for a Richmond, Virginia woman who was last seen in Glacier National Park in Montana earlier this week.

Jennifer “Jenn” Coleman is believed to have been hiking around Logan Pass on Monday or Tuesday. She is 5-foot, 6-inches tall, weighs 135 pounds and has blond, shoulder-length hair and blue eyes.

She was last heard from around noon Monday, according to the AWARE Foundation, an organization that assists in locating missing people.

According to a Montana TV station, park rangers found Coleman’s car in the Logan Pass parking lot this week.

A local newspaper reported that Coleman could have been hiking the Highline Trail. Park officials are seeking information from anyone who might have seen her in a particular area in order to focus their search efforts.

The AWARE Foundation said a welfare check was done at her campsite by the local sheriff’s office where they discovered her belongings. Coleman was on vacation and was set to pick up her dogs from a boarding facility the following day, but she never showed up to get them.

According to a missing persons poster, the boarding facility contacted her family when her dogs were not picked up.

She was wearing a watch enabled with a GPS that was synced to her cell phone, but her phone appears to be dead.

Park rangers and a helicopter are being used to search for Coleman.

Coleman’s LinkedIn profile describes her a Director of Compliance and Enforcement at the Virginia Department of Health.

If anyone has information on Coleman’s disappearance, please call the Glacier National Park tip line at 406-888-7077.

This is not the first case of someone disappearing in a national park this summer. Cian McLaughlin, 27, went hiking in Grand Teton National Park earlier this year, and hasn’t been seen since.

Tatum Morrell, 23, went missing in the Beartooth Mountains, but she was found later, deceased.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Missing Casper Man Found Dead, Police Investigating As Murder

in Missing people/News
13006

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The body of a Casper man who has been missing since June was found in Natrona County this week and authorities are investigating his death as a homicide.

Ryan Schroeder’s body was discovered in rural Natrona County this week, according to the Casper Police Department. He was 36, a father and grandfather.

“The Casper Police Department extends our deepest condolences to the loved ones of Ryan Schroeder and will continue to work tirelessly to ensure justice is served,” the department said in a statement.

Schroeder was last heard from on June 26 after reportedly being dropped off a convenience store in the Denver area by a friend.

Detectives, in a statement Thursday, said based on interviews with individuals who had been with Schroeder in the days leading up to his disappearance, they do not believe Schroeder’s death was the result of a random attack. However, officials also said they do not believe the death poses any threat to the public.

Schroeder’s sisters, Allyson Schroeder and Cassidy Dieguez, told Cowboy State Daily in August they believe their brother actually returned to Wyoming after the second of two trips to Colorado.

However, officers had said they did not believe Schroeder returned to Wyoming.

Anyone with information on Schroeder’s death can call the Casper Police Department at 307-235-8278. Tips can also be reported anonymously and that person may be eligible for a monetary reward by reporting through Crime Stoppers of Central Wyoming by calling (307) 577-8477 or online at crime-stoppers.com. 

Schroeder’s case has also been taken up by private investigator Amanda Waldron of “We Help the Missing,” a nonprofit organization founded in Utah with volunteers all over the country, CSD previously reported.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Search Continues For Casper Man Missing Since June

in Missing people/News
12703

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The Casper Police Department continues to seek the public’s help in locating a 36-year-old Casper man who has been missing for nearly two months.

Ryan Schroeder was last heard from on June 26 after reportedly being dropped off a convenience store in the Denver area by a friend.

While Schroeder’s sisters, Allyson Schroeder and Cassidy Dieguez, said Sunday they believe their brother actually returned to Wyoming after the second of two trips to Colorado, investigators don’t believe he returned to Wyoming after June 26.

His family fears that Schroeder is in danger, his sisters said, and they are gravely worried about his safety and ask the public for help.

“If this was someone else’s loved one, they’d want that person to come forward with any information,” Allyson Schroeder said.

Schroeder is more than just a face on a poster, Dieguez added, noting that he’s a father and grandfather and that his children and family love and miss him greatly. 

Schroeder’s whereabouts are being actively investigated by multiple law agencies both in Wyoming and in Colorado, according to Casper Police Department Public Information Officer Rebekah Ladd, who urges anyone with information to come forward. 

Schroeder’s case has also been taken up by private investigator Amanda Waldron of “We Help the Missing,” a nonprofit organization founded in Utah with volunteers all over the country.

Schroeder is described as 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighing 190 to 200 pounds. He has brown thinning hair, a short beard and blue eyes. He also has multiple tattoos on his left arm, including an American flag, a pistol and math equations as well as a green skull and numbers on his left hand and fingers and a cross and angel wings on his right arm. 

Schroeder typically wears a T-shirt, khaki shorts, tennis shoes, and a baseball cap. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Casper Police Department Detective Shannon Daley at (307) 235-8278 or e-mail at sdaley@casperwy.gov

Tips can also be reported anonymously and that person may be eligible for a monetary reward by reporting through Crime Stoppers of Central Wyoming by calling (307) 577-8477 or online at crime-stoppers.com. 

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to the We Help the Missing tip line at (866) 660-4025.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Cheyenne Man Disappeared In Wind River Mountains Over Weekend

in Missing people/News
12548

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Sublette County officials were searching Monday for a Cheyenne man who disappeared while hiking in the Wind River Mountains over the weekend.

Thor Hallingbye, 41, was last seen in the vicinity of Gannett Peak in the mountain range near Pinedale on Saturday afternoon. He was last seen wearing a red backpack.

According to a social media post by his wife, Jenileah Hallingbye, Thor got separated from his group after summiting Gannett Peak. He was last seen around 2 p.m. Saturday, “about 30 minutes from the top.”

She noted that the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office will be using helicopters to search for her husband on Monday.

“Please say prayers for Thor,” she wrote. “Please pray that he is safe and that he will be found. We have faith that he is okay.”

Hallingbye is 5-foot, 7-inches, 125 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information regarding Hallingbye’s disappearance should call the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office at 307-367-4378.

This is not the first person to have disappeared following recreating in the remote areas of Wyoming. Jackson resident Cian McLaughlin was last seen hiking in Grand Teton National Park in early June, but has not been seen since.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***