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Bone Found In Nebraska Likely Not That Of Missing Moorcroft Man

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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.

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Wyo Man Faces 25 Years For Beating Up 82-Year-Old Man & Stealing His Car on Thanksgiving

in News/Crime

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming man is facing 25 years in prison for allegedly assaulting an elderly man and stealing his van on the day before Thanksgiving.

Shane Duane Blackburn, 33, faces 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for carjacking, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in December.

According to court documents, an elderly man, identified as G.J., went to Hines General Store in Fort Washakie on Nov. 24 to pick up supplies for Thanksgiving.

When he left the store, he saw Blackburn asking for a ride. Since it was cold and the day before Thanksgiving, G.J. agreed to give Blackburn a ride in his 2014 Toyota Sienna minivan.

The victim said they had not been driving long when Blackburn got a “mean look” on his face, reached into the back seat and began throwing things around.

G.J. told Blackburn to “knock it off” and then lied to the man, saying he had a weapon under his seat and saying he would use it if Blackburn did not stop throwing things. This did not help, as Blackburn “looked even more terrible and mean,” the documents said.

As the victim continued driving, Blackburn “lunged” at him, pinning him between the seat and car door. He then started to “beat the hell” out of the victim.

Fearful they would crash into oncoming traffic and unable to defend himself while struggling to keep the vehicle under control, the victim pulled over and stopped the car.

Before G.J. could get the keys out of the ignition, Blackburn opened the driver door and pushed the victim to the ground. Blackburn followed, landing on top of the victim.

While on top of G.J., Blackburn continued to hit the man. In attempt to get up, the victim rolled onto his stomach, but Blackburn repeatedly slammed the man’s head into the gravel.

A woman was driving north on U.S. Highway 287 when she witnessed the assault. She pulled over in attempt to help, and Blackburn got into G.J.’s car and drove away, heading south.

Blackburn was later arrested in the parking lot of the Shoshone Rose Hotel and Casino by Wind River police. Before booking him into jail, the officer drove Blackburn to the area where G.J. was waiting for emergency medical services.

The man identified Blackburn as his attacker and the man who stole his van.

Blackburn was interviewed on Nov. 30 and said he had taken methamphetamine for the first time on Nov. 24, and was “freaking out” that morning. He recalled asking for a ride at the general store until someone finally offered him one, but Blackburn could not remember what the man looked like or what he drove.

Blackburn said he did not recall being violent with the van’s owner.

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More Than $20K Raised For Wyoming Animal Shelters In Honor Of Betty White

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More than $20,000 was raised on Monday for Wyoming animal shelters in honor of late actress Betty White.

Three Wyoming animal shelters received thousands of dollars in donations on Tuesday, many of which came in honor of White, the well known actress and animal lover whose 100th birthday would have been Monday. She died on Dec. 31, just a few weeks shy of her birthday.

The #BettyWhiteChallenge encouraged social media users to donate $5 to their local animal shelter in honor of White, who rescued several dogs during her lifetime and worked with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association for decades.

Kaitlin Whitman, spokeswoman for Black Dog Animal Rescue in Cheyenne, said the donors gave the shelter $6,156 in White’s memory on Monday.

“It was a truly heartwarming day with lots of messages of gratitude for Betty and the work that we do,” Whitman told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “We had 192 individual donors and many first-time donors as well.”

Casper Human Society Director Craig Cummings said that the shelter received nearly $6,000 in memory of White on Monday.

“We have been amazed by the response from our community,” he told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “The people in Casper are always generous but we are so grateful that they came out in force to celebrate the life of an animal lover.”

The Kindness Ranch in Hartville raised at least $4,000 in honor of White, but Executive Director John Ramer said he expected the total to be closer to $5,000 once all of the donations have been added up.

The Cheyenne Animal Shelter, Park County Animal Shelter and Sheridan Dog and Cat Rescue did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Shelters across the country were flooded with donations on Monday in honor of White. For example, donors raised nearly $50,000 for animal shelters in Philadelphia and country singer Trisha Yearwood raised $24,000 in just minutes for her charity, Dottie’s Yard Fund.

Following White’s death last month, the Audobon Nature Institute shared a story about how she paid for a plane to relocate zoo and aquarium penguins and sea otters from New Orleans to California following Hurricane Katrina.

“She did not ask for fanfare,” the organization wrote on Twitter, “she just wanted to help.”

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Deaths Of Another 13 Wyoming Residents Tied To Coronavirus

in News/Coronavirus

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of Wyoming deaths blamed on the coronavirus since it was first detected in the state has increased to 1,601, the Wyoming Department of Health announced Tuesday.

The department announced that the deaths of 13 more Wyoming residents in November, December and January had been linked to the coronavirus.

Among the fatalities were three Laramie County residents, two women and one man, and three Natrona County men.

Other victims included a Campbell County man, two Fremont County women, a Hot Springs County woman, a Park County woman and a Sweetwater County man and woman.

The deaths were announced on the same day Health Department figures showed the number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming reached 6,641 on Tuesday, increasing by almost 50% from Friday and exceeding 5,000 for the first time since December 2020.

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3,097 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Tuesday; 1,859 Recoveries; 6,641 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus increased by 2,213 over the holiday weekend.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 1,859 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases from Saturday to Tuesday. 

At the same time, the state reported 3,097 new laboratory-confirmed and 988 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 6,641 active cases for Tuesday.

This is the first time since December of 2020 that the state’s number of active cases has exceeded 5,000.Two counties had more than 1,000 active cases Tuesday, nine had more than 300 and 13 had more than 100. 

Laramie County’s total of active cases increased by 544 over the weekend to total 1,368; Natrona County’s active case tally increased by 408 to 1,003; Teton had 860; Fremont 553; Albany 431; Sweetwater 392; Campbell 364; Sheridan 318; Uinta 317; Lincoln 179; Carbon and Park 134; Johnson 120; Goshen 90; Comverse 62; Sublette 60; Crook 55; Platte 51; Washakie 48; Weston 40; Hot Springs 30; Big Horn had 24, while Niobrara reported eight.

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, 2020, subtracting the number of recoveries during the same period among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness. 

The new confirmed and probable cases brought to 130,553 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. 

Of those, 122,311 have recovered.

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Lander Not Immune From Lawsuit In Lost Bat Case, Supreme Court Rules

in News/Wyoming Supreme Court

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The City of Lander is not immune from a lawsuit filed because a police officer lost a bat, Wyoming’s Supreme Court has ruled.

Justices on Tuesday sent back to state district court a case in which a family sued the city because family members were forced to undergo rabies treatment after a bat found in their home escaped before it could be tested for rabies.

The court, in an opinion written by Justice Lynne Boomgaarden, ruled that the state district court improperly granted the city a decision in its favor when its lawyers claimed the city was immune from the lawsuit.

“The district court erred procedurally and as a matter of law when it granted summary judgment to the city and we conclude the city was not entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on the undisputed facts of record,” the opinion said.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed against the city of Lander by Calli and Phillip Cornella and their three children.

According to the ruling, the Cornellas called the Animal Control Division of the Lander Police Department in September 2016 to ask for help in removing a bat from their home. An officer responded to the home and captured the bat, which he was going to take to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for rabies testing.

However, before the bat was delivered, it escaped. As a precaution, the family was advised to get rabies vaccines, which cost $83,000 for all five family members.

The family sued the city in July 2019 seeking $133,000 in damages, arguing in part that the police officer was negligent in his transportation of the bat.

However, the city filed a request for a ruling removing it from the lawsuit on the grounds it was protected from legal action by the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act. The act generally provides immunity from lawsuits to governmental entities as long as their employees are acting within the scope of their duties.

The state district court agreed, finding that negligent transportation is not recognized as a cause of action under the Governmental Claims Act. As a result, it did not review the merits of the case.

But justices unanimously disagreed, ruling that the base cause for the Cornellas’ action was negligence, which can be a reason for action under the act.

Justices ordered the lower court to review the Cornellas’ allegations to determine the merits of the case.

“As a result, the city is not entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law and we must reverse the district court’s ruling and remand for further proceedings,” the opinion said. “The remaining elements of the Cornellas’ negligence claim, and any defenses the city may raise, are questions that need to be addressed…”

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Sisters, Widow Of Fallen Wyoming Marine Suing Alec Baldwin For Instagram Defamation

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The sisters and widow of a Wyoming Marine killed in the line of duty in August are suing actor Alec Baldwin for defamation, accusing him of making false allegations on his Instagram account about their involvement in the invasion of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Roice and Cheyenne McCollum, the sisters of Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, and his widow Jiennah McCollum are asking for damages of at least $25 million in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Wyoming.

According to the lawsuit, Baldwin first contacted the McCollum family in August after Rylee McCollum was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan. Baldwin reached out to Roice McCollum, Rylee’s older sister, and sent her a check for $5,000 for Jiennah McCollum and her child. The check was “a tribute to a fallen soldier,” Baldwin told Roice.

The court documents state that on Jan. 3, Roice posted a photo on her Instagram page that she took on Jan. 6, 2021, showing a crowd of demonstrators at the Washington Monument. Roice posted the photo, the lawsuit said, in anticipation of the 1-year anniversary of the invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

While Roice attended a demonstration in Washington, D.C., in support of former President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, she was not involved in the riot and while she was later interviewed by the FBI, she was never accused of or charged with a crime.

Baldwin commented on Roice’s posting, asking, “Are you the same woman I sent the $ for your sister’s husband who was killed during the Afghanistan exit?”

Upon confirmation that she was the sister of Rylee McCollum, Baldwin sent private messages Roice and accused her of being an insurrectionist.

“When I sent the $ for your late brother, out of real respect for his service to this country, I didn’t know you were a January 6th rioter,” Baldwin wrote in one message.

Roice responded by telling the actor that protesting was legal in the United States and that she had already spoken with the FBI, but he persisted, according to the lawsuit.

“Your activities resulted in the unlawful destruction of government property, the death of a law enforcement officer, an assault on the certification of the presidential election. I reposted your photo. Good luck,” Baldwin wrote back.

Baldwin later claimed on social media that he was trying to point out irony in his reposting of her phot, by juxtaposing her brother’s sacrifice for the country with Roice being an “insurrectionist.”

Baldwin reposted Roice’s photo on his own Instagram account, which has 2.4 million followers, discussing the Capitol attack and mentioning Roice’s involvement in the protest on Jan. 6, 2021.

Within 20 minutes of his post, Roice began to receive hostile, aggressive and hateful messages from Baldwin’s followers, the lawsuit said.

One message said “Get raped and die, you worthless [expletive]. Your brother got what he deserved.” Roice forwarded this message on to Baldwin, sarcastically thanking him for the post.

Baldwin ultimately followed the person who sent the message on Instagram. He also chimed in on the feed, calling Roice an insurrectionist and claiming she participated in the riot.

He also misidentified Jiennah as an insurrectionist in one Instagram comment, although she was not in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021. People began sending hateful and threatening messages Jiennah and Cheyenne McCollum, Rylee’s eldest sister.

Other messages called on Baldwin to get a refund of his money and comparing the McCollum family to ISIS and Nazis,

Baldwin did nothing to stop his followers from contacting the family, the lawsuit said.

“Baldwin’s conduct was negligent and reckless as he should have known that making the allegations he did against Plaintiffs to his millions of followers would cause Plaintiffs harm,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claims the three women have suffered from headaches, nausea, loss of sleep, severe anxiety, mental distress and fear for their lives due to Baldwin’s post.

The lawsuit seeks damages for all three women on allegations of defamation, invasion of privacy, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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Former Lander City Employee Sues For Discrimination, Wrongful Termination

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A former Lander city employee is suing the city and its public works director, alleging he was discriminated against due to his military status and was improperly fired.

Michael Clancy is suing the city and public works director Lance Hopkin in U.S. District Court, claiming they violated his federal and state due process rights and discriminated against him due to his status as a member of the armed services.

“Defendants discriminated against Mr. Clancy by imposing adverse employment actions including but not limited to, forced resignation, because of his status as a service member in the (Army National Guard) in violation of (federal law),” the lawsuit said.

According to court documents, Clancy worked for the city of Lander for more than 15 years as a water treatment plant operator. Clancy is also a member of the Army National Guard who was deployed to Iraq between 2009 and 2010.

Upon return from his deployment, the city of Lander paid the retirement that he would have earned had he not been deployed, including contributions he would have made.

In September 2018, Clancy was again deployed, this time to Afghanistan. Upon his return in August 2020, Hopkin, Clancy’s new supervisor, denied Clancy his prorated salary, as well as his benefits, from the period of his deployment.

Clancy thought his boss’ decision was unfounded, so he contacted a Veterans Affairs representative to look into the situation. The representative contacted Hopkin and tried to explain that Clancy was entitled to a portion of his salary and benefits, as well as military benefits, while he was deployed.

Hopkin was not receptive to the information, questioned who the representative was and asked what authority he/she had to tell him what to do regarding his employees, the lawsuit said.

After much resistance, Clancy did ultimately receive his prorated salary.

However, Hopkin required Clancy to pay almost $5,000 in employee contributions to retirement he accrued while deployed, which was not the same arrangement made the first time he was deployed.

Additionally, when Clancy returned to work, Hopkin assigned him to work at the cemetery, even though he is experienced and licensed as a water treatment plant operator and there was a shortage of operators at the water treatment plant. At the cemetery, Clancy’s duties were mostly related to lawn care.

The reassignment resulted in a loss of on-call pay and overtime Clancy would have received if he was working as a water treatment plant operator.

Clancy was eventually transferred back to the plant in November of 2020.

Since his return from Afghanistan, Hopkin treated Clancy worse than other employees who were not in the Guard, even refusing to speak to Clancy for a time, the lawsuit said

Hopkin also denied Clancy two promotion opportunities by not advertising the positions to him and misrepresenting certain facts about other employment availability, the lawsuit alleged.

For example, in October 2018, the water superintendent position became available, and Hopkin emailed all employees in the department about the job other than Clancy, and the person who was hired did not have as much administrative experience or seniority as Clancy.

In February 2021, an HR position was advertised, and although Clancy expressed interest, Hopkin steered him toward applying for an assistant water superintendent position. Clancy did not apply for the HR position, and when he later asked Hopkin about the assistant superintendent job, he discovered it did not actually exist.

Hopkin also told Clancy in April 2021 that he had some concerns about Clancy’s deployments, but would not elaborate on this.

The week of May 3, 2021, the water treatment plant had issues making potable water, which Clancy and his colleagues had been working on. On May 7, Clancy’s scheduled day off, he drove to Spearfish, South Dakota, which he had informed his co-workers about.

About an hour away from Spearfish, Hopkin called Clancy and told him to come into work, but Clancy said he was six hours away from Lander, but would be back late that night and could work that weekend. Hopkin told Clancy he needed to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and placed Clancy on administrative leave.

Following “an extremely biased investigation,” Hopkin gave Clancy the choice to be fired or resign for negligence, insubordination and dishonesty.

“These reasons are baseless and not supported by the evidence,” the lawsuit said. “Mr. Clancy was forced to resign under protest so that he could retain his retirement.”

While Clancy’s job description does say there might be on-call work requirements and 24-hour standby, Clancy was never told he was on a standby or on-call duty when he left for South Dakota. In the past, whenever Clancy was required to be on call, he was told in advance.

Prior to the incident with Hopkin, all of Clancy’s employee evaluations had been satisfactory and he was never put on notice for job performance.

Clancy claims he and his family have been damaged by the job loss and although he has gotten a job driving trucks in Fremont County, the pay and benefits are “substantially less” than at the city.

However, Clancy does not want his job back, due to the way he has been treated.

In the lawsuit, Clancy is asking to be paid back for lost wages and benefits, on call pay, emotional stress and attorney’s fees.

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Family ‘Lost’ After Casper Marine’s Death

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The stories help. 

Since burying their 20-year-old son and U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jerrod Warden just over a week ago, Kelly and Kyle Warden are reliving a lot of memories and good times. 

Two weeks before Christmas, Jerrod died at Camp Pendleton in California. It’s not clear why.

His parents suspect it had something to do with his heart, though an investigation in currently underway to reveal the exact cause.

The cause behind their son’s death is far less pressing for the couple than the fact he’s gone. His death has left a permanent hole in the close-knit Casper family. 

Their cozy living room is a shrine to their son. His airbrushed face smiles from a blanket folded over a futon while a plaque with his photo and the poem “As I sit in Heaven” hangs on a wall near the television.

On a shelf, his photo appears every few seconds in a digital picture display that never ceases to prompt Jerrod’s niece Kimora to jump up and point at her “Uncle JJ.” 

The two were close, and the 2-year-old is struggling to understand why her beloved uncle missed Christmas. She’s been told he’s in heaven but still wonders why he didn’t come home as promised. 

His departure for boot camp in California had been hard on Kimora, so Kelly purchased a “Hug-A-Hero” doll, a stuffed figure carrying a photograph of Jerrod. 

On Jan. 6, the family buried Jerrod at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery in Evansville in a military honors ceremony, complete with an escort led by members of the Wyoming Patriot Guard Riders.

The parade of cars stemmed for miles between exits on 1-25 as hundreds of friends, classmates, family members and military members lined up to pay their final respects at the cemetery.

The turnout caught the Wardens off guard, particularly all the cars with strangers who pulled over to the curb as the escort passed, getting out of their cars in the frigid wind and cold to salute the fallen soldier.

They were floored by the outpouring of love and respect for their son. They were also touched by Jerrod’s close friends and platoon mates from the 2/1 Weapons Company of the 81st Platoon.

The 13 soldiers arrived in Denver during a snow storm.

Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, worked with the Department of Transportation and law enforcement officers to make sure they reached Casper in time for the ceremony. 

Kelly was also been pleased to see delegates from Sen. Cynthia Lummis and Gov. Mark Gordon’s offices. 

Their son loved being a Marine. He’d decided to join the military after graduating from Kelly Walsh High School. 

He signed up as a mortar man – which he told his mom entailed ‘blowing things up’ – and told his parents he wanted to be on the front lines. Jerrod completed one tour in Kuwait and Jordan before returning to Camp Pendleton.

Like other military members, he was frustrated by the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan last summer. He was assigned to guard the Jordan border but had wanted to be in Kabul.

He was paid to fight, he told his parents, and had enlisted to serve, not stand around watching everyone else in action.

“Sitting back hadn’t been easy for him,” Kelly said.

Like the rest of the state and country, he was devastated by the death of his fellow Marine and wrestling friend, Rylee McCollum, who died in the blast that killed 13 servicemen at the Kabul airport following the American withdrawal. 

Rylee’s parents have been in touch with the Wardens, Kelly said, to offer their condolences and support.

“Gold Star families stick together,” Kelly said with a smile. “You never want to be one, but at least you have the support of other people who are going through the same thing.”

Since Jerrod’s passing, the Wardens have heard from many of his fellow military members and former classmates at both Kelly Walsh and Centennial Middle School about the many ways that Jerrod helped them. 

Text messages and letters tell heartfelt stories about how Jerrod helped others.

One Marine told Kyle he wouldn’t have made it through boot camp without Jerrod, who had stopped at several points along a grueling obstacle course to pick him and others up – sometimes dragging them – to get them over the finish line.

They were in this together, Jerrod said, and if the individual Marines didn’t pass, none of them would.

Likewise, Kelly recounted the story told by a young man who during the funeral had said that he wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for Jerrod.

In junior high, the boy had really been struggling with depression and suicidal ideations. Sensing his distress, Jerrod took the underclassman, a young wrestler, under his wing and more or less saved his life.

Others talk about Jerrod’s unabashed love for his family. Jerrod was a “mama’s boy” and proud of it. 

Kelly thinks this stemed from the brief period between elementary and junior high when she had homeschooled him because he was getting into too much trouble. He would help her in the kitchen and become her little buddy, she said.

Later when she had brain surgery for hydrocephalus, Jerrod, then 8, and his father shaved their heads in solidarity with Kelly.

Kyle also heard from many of Jerrod’s friends who said his son was their hero.

Kyle tearfully read one message from one of Jerrod’s platoon mates who reiterated how much his son loved and respected him. Jerrod was his hero, the friend wrote.

He was a natural leader, both parents said of their son, and an athlete.

Just a hard-working, smart and very nice kid, Kyle added. During his two years in the military, he’d already been promoted twice up to lance corporal and had been studying to be full corporal  prior to his death. 

Jerrod talked about wanting to come home in two years to marry his girlfriend and former classmate, Anastasia, who he’d recently connected with. 

He also talked about joining the Wyoming National Guard and maybe becoming an MMA fighter.

Jerrod had wrestled all through school and had recently asked his mom to send his wrestling gear to Kuwait, so he could practice with other Marines. 

Since joining the Marines, the Wardens had seen a change in their son from boy to man.

They watched him become more resolute in his convictions in protecting both his country and family. 

“One thing the Marines taught him, I think,” Kelly said, “is that nobody is going to mess with his family again.”

The fact that Jerrod will not have a life and family with Anastasia has also been a hard truth to accept, the couple said. They are very fond of the girl and now consider her family, regardless.

There’s no shortage of stories about their son, the couple said, and they enjoy hearing and telling them. It helps keep his memory alive, well after his funeral. 

Jerrod’s 22-year-old sister, Lily, is also struggling with the absence of her brother, Kelly said.

The two were close, like the rest of the family. Kelly recalled that Jerrod had probably had a harder time when Lily gave birth to Kimora than Lily did.

Like his dad, Jerrod was a jokester and couldn’t ever be serious for too long, except when it came to his sister. It had been a rough birth for her, and she’d lost a lot of blood.

Jerrod had paced back and forth, sticking out his arm in desperation and offering his blood to help her.

That’s not quite how a blood transfusion works, Kelly had told her son, laughing today at the memory.

They are waiting for his belongings to be returned home. Among them are the numerous pairs of shoes that Jerrod painstakingly collected, keeping the shoes — mostly tennis shoes —- in their boxes with the price tags on when he wasn’t wearing them. 

Because the family does not have much money, the Wardens said Jerrod started buying shoes with his own money.

Even when serving in the Marines, he would buy expensive sneakers and have them shipped and waiting for him in Casper.

Kelly laughed at her son’s idiosyncrasies. He’d also had their Christmas gifts shipped home and waiting for a holiday visit that never came. In the meantime, the Warden plan to do everything they can to keep their son’s memory alive.

To that end, Jerrod’s family has started the Jerrod L. Warden Kelly Walsh Wrestling Scholarship that people can donate to by purchasing a T-shirt at the online store

Proceeds from the scholarship will go to Kelly Walsh wrestlers who, like Jerrod, show a lot of heart and love for the sport but aren’t among the top performers who would otherwise qualify for wrestling scholarships.

The Wardens are confident Jerrod would approve of this effort.

They are also trying to get on with their lives because they know Jerrod would want that. For the first time since her son’s death Kelly started walking on trails again this week.

Prior to his death, Kelly had sent Jerrod a picture of herself on the trail pretty much every day. He’d been very proud of Kelly’s recent 50-pound weight loss and loved encouraging her, Kelly said.

Jerrod told her that it was time for her to focus on herself after a lifetime of pouring her energy into her two children. The walks are now a mixed blessing. Sometimes she cries, sometimes she laughs, other times she has long conversations with her son.

“It’s just me out there,” she said, eyes blurry behind her glasses.

The one thing the family always did together was hold family meeting to discuss various issues about their health or lives, so that they could make the decisions together.

Recently, they held their first meeting without Jerrod. It felt surreal, Kelly said, but it’s part of what they have to do now that he’s gone.

“We’re all really lost right now,” she said. “We just feel like we’re in a fog, but we’ve got to move on because we have no choice.”

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Trump Says Cheney Polling At 16% As Jan. 6 Committee Continues To Investigate

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at one of his favorite targets, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, during a rally in Arizona over the weekend, claiming her approval rating is at 16%.

Trump held a rally on Saturday and railed against various political foes, touching on both Cheney and the committee investigating the Capitol invasion of Jan. 6, 2021, on which she serves as vice-chair.

“Now the radical Democrats have yet another witch hunt no different from Russia, Russia, Russia, the ‘unselect’ committee of political hacks,” he said. “They’re Democratic hacks and they’re vicious and every one of them voted to impeach me.”

Without citing a source, Trump claimed Cheney has an approval rating of 16%. SoCo Strategies said a poll it conducted in December showed support for Cheney among 18.8% of those questioned, compared to 38.6% who supported Harriet Hageman, who has won Trump’s endorsement in her bid to unseat Cheney.

Trump also attacked U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger during the rally, the only other Republican serving on the committee.

Trump’s Arizona rally was originally scheduled for Jan. 6, but was rescheduled after the former president was criticized for holding a rally on the one-year anniversary of the attack.

Cheney’s committee has interviewed dozens of sources about the events leading up to and surrounding the day of Jan. 6, 2021, when rioters stormed the Capitol as Congress was finalizing presidential election results that would showed President Joe Biden to be the victor over Trump.

Since the election, Trump has regularly claimed that it was “stolen” from him, although no evidence has been substantiated.

Last week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said he would not cooperate with a request from the committee to voluntarily provide information about the incident, including details about Trump’s state of mind both during the Capitol attack and in the weeks after.

“As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee’s abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward,” he said in a statement.

Cheney, however, said that this meant McCarthy was “clearly trying to cover up” what happened during the invasion.

“I wish that he were a brave and honorable man,” she told CNN late Wednesday. “He’s clearly trying to cover up what happened. He has an obligation to come forward and we’ll get to the truth.”

The committee asked McCarthy to discuss conversations he had with Trump before, during and after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

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