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Manhunt in Eastern Idaho Results in Gang Member Arrest

in News/Criminal's handbook/Crime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Granger, Wyoming Mayor Arrested For Allegedly Stealing Town Funds

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The mayor of a small Sweetwater County town is facing charges after allegedly using its funds for his own gains.

Granger Mayor Bradly McCollum was arrested Thursday on a warrant for suspected felony theft and the wrongful appropriation of public property.

McCollum, 55, is alleged to have used one of the town’s bank cards for at least four separate personal purchases totaling more than 1,300 of a six-month period in 2019, according to an announcement from the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office.

These purchases included tires for a personally-owned vehicle, fuel and replacement parts for a furnace at McCollum’s rental property in New York. Sheriff’s detectives have been investigating the case for month, and have examined McCollum’s personal banking records and cross-referencing them with the town’s official financial statements.

McCollum was elected mayor of Granger in 2018.

In Wyoming, the wrongful appropriation of public property is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both. Theft in excess of $1,000 is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten years, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. 

McCollum remains in custody at the Sweetwater County Detention Center awaiting his initial appearance in court.

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Cody Man Tackled In Court After Arrested For Kicking, Spraying Cop With Energy Drink

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Cody resident Frank Denbow is facing a felony charge for allegedly kicking a police officer in his chest and spraying him with a carbonated energy drink. 

And the action didn’t stop when he had his first hearing in Park County Circuit Court on Tuesday, as he was tackled by sheriff’s deputies as the hearing ended.

It was not clear why deputies forced Denbow to the ground during his hearing. According to the Park County Sheriff’s Office, “that report is not yet complete and there is no information available at this time.”

The takedown was the climax to a hearing in Cody on Tuesday during which Denbow became increasingly combative.

During his initial hearing, Denbow, 35, became progressively more disruptive, berating Judge Bruce Waters and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Larry Eichele, at one point ordering Eichele to “speak up.

“You’re not prepared son,” Denbow told Eichele at one point when the attorney paused to look at his paperwork.

Denbow, 35, is facing a felony charge for allegedly kicking a police officer in his chest and spraying him with a carbonated energy drink during an encounter with police Saturday. 

Interference with a peace officer to cause bodily injury in Wyoming carries up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Denbow’s court appearance followed his confrontation with police Saturday.

As police approached Denbow on the street to discuss numerous reported incidents that allegedly involved him, Denbow allegedly raised his digital camera toward Cody Police Officer Patrick Geraghty in a manner that suggested he was taking photos or video of the confrontation.

“Denbow then attempted to wave down a miscellaneous vehicle passing, attempting to get a ride from the driver. The vehicle’s driver sped off out of the area,” Geraghty wrote in his report.

After Denbow admitted to speaking to someone who accused him of trespassing earlier in the day, he started to shake up his energy drink with his right hand.

“You know what’s about to happen,” Denbow said, according to Geraghty.

When Denbow opened the beverage, he changed positions to spray the officer in his eyes, mouth and uniform, Geraghty wrote.

“The amount of liquid that was sprayed into my eyes temporarily blinded me,” his report said.

After securing Denbow by his wrist, Geraghty said the suspect broke free as he was being escorted to the police vehicle, “due to the amount of slippery liquid on his person.”

Geraghty said Denbow then jumped up and kicked him in his chest. In the ensuing struggle, Denbow broke Geraghty’s body camera chest mount with another kick.

Police made contact with Denbow because of six incidents he was accused of taking part in from early Saturday morning through the afternoon. 

Allegations included erratic driving, driving his Jeep onto a bar patio, refusing to leave a gas station; Entering a pool at Cody’s Paul Stock Aquatic and Recreation Center fully clothed; Leaving his vehicle illegally parked in a hotel awning area, and trespassing into a tow lot to retrieve items from his vehicle that was impounded after the hotel parking incident.

Denbow was assessed a $10,000 cash-only bond on Tuesday. 

Once described as “a fixture of New York’s tech scene” in a 2019 New York Times article, Denbow is featured on the website of Digital Summit, a national organization that hosts conferences for digital marketers.

Denbow, who is listed as a speaker for the organization, founded a platform for producing top-quality custom apparel for companies and influencers.

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Man Charged With Transporting Meth After Being Pulled Over For Going 92MPH

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If there is a criminal’s handbook, you would think there would be a section that explained if you are transporting meth across Wyoming, it would be advisable not to drive 92 mph while smoking marijuana.

Because if you do that, you might as well install neon lights on the outside of your car spelling out “I’m an idiot”.

Dickinson, North Dakota, resident Jerry Dawson apparently skipped that chapter (if the handbook exists) because he and his passenger Bobby Dickerson of Bakersfield, California, were pulled over on Oct. 13 for allegedly doing exactly that.

Dickerson drew more attention to himself by by attempting to run away (allegedly) from the troopers once they were pulled over.

The problem there is they were 23 miles outside of Gillette. So there really wasn’t anywhere to run away to. And, no surprise to anyone, he was apprehended in a nearby field.

What tipped the Highway Patrol off? Outside of going 22 mph over the speed limit, the troopers allegedly saw a marijuana bud on the passenger seat and could smell the odor of burnt marijuana.

“This prompted a search of the car.  In the trunk of the Chrysler, troopers located approximately 2 pounds of methamphetamine,” the Highway Patrol reported.

Dawson and Dickerson have been charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, felony possession of a controlled substance, and felony possession with intent to deliver.

No word if Dickerson was also charged with attempting to flee from an officer.

The methamphetamine is believed to have originated out of Las Vegas, Nevada, with a final destination of North Dakota. 

Note: All suspects are presumed innocent until proved guilty.

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Torrington PD: Stop Vandalizing, Stealing Political Signs

in News/Crime/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Torrington Police Department has had to get involved in politics this week.

Over the last couple of weekends, the department has received several reports from community members who have had their political signs stolen or vandalized.

The department has also investigated multiple incidents of politically-motivated graffiti that has damaged public property in Torrington. Police believe these incidents have happened during the late evening and early morning hours.

“Just because our political candidates don’t get along, doesn’t mean we can’t take care of each other,” the department said in the post. “The constitutional freedoms that allow us to express ourselves and support political candidates of our choosing are important parts of our democracy.”

The post added that if the community and world at large wanted to continue enjoying those constitutional freedoms, people must maintain an environment that allows for health discussions, “rather than trying to drown out opinions that are different than our own.”

The department is asking for the community’s help in addressing the crimes, adding people should call 911 (if there is an emergency) or the non-emergency line to report information about the vandalizations.

“Thank you for helping us to keep Torrington a great place to live!” the post concluded.

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Children Cause $60K In Damage At Mills Elementary School

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The public is being asked to help identify a number of children in the Mills area believed to have caused more than $60,000 in damages to a permanently closed school over the summer.

The Mills Police Department posted information about the damage caused and photos of the children on its Facebook page Monday.

The department said over the summer, the Mountain View School was flooded with water, multiple items were stolen and numerous fixtures were destroyed.

Mountain View has been closed since the end of the school year in 2018, although the small town fought the decision with a lawsuit, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

It was one of four schools in the Natrona County area deemed “small and inefficient.” Around 150 students attended Mountain View before its closing.

Anyone providing information leading to the successful prosecution and conviction of the suspects is eligible for a $1,500 reward. Tips can be submitted at 307-266-4796.

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Wyoming AMBER Alert Canceled Due To Baby Boy Being Found Safe

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming AMBER Alert was canceled after the missing child, a six-month-old boy, was found safe on Tuesday morning.

The Montana Department of Justice announced Tuesday that Lucas Warner was found safe after being kidnapped by his biological father over the weekend.

Not much information was provided, other than that the Lincoln County, Montana, Sheriff’s Office found the baby Tuesday morning.

According to MTN News, law enforcement officers believed the abduction was planned by Warner’s non-custodial father, Andrew Warner, and babysitter Hayli Emerson.

An AMBER Alert was sent out late Saturday evening across multiple states, including Wyoming. The alert said Andrew Warner was reportedly bipolar and off his medication, and that Lucas was believed to be in danger as a court determined that Andrew Warner was an unfit parent.

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Cheyenne Woman Arrested After Shooting At Boyfriend

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne woman was arrested Sunday afternoon after firing a handgun at her boyfriend.

According to a release from the Cheyenne Police Department, officers were dispatched to a Cheyenne home around 4 p.m. Sunday in reference to a report of shots fired.

Due to the nature of the call and all parties involved retreating back into the residence and refusing to come out, the SWAT team and crisis negotiation unit were called in.

Both parties eventually came out of the residence without incident.

It was found that after a verbal altercation, Brenda Sutton allegedly fired a handgun at her boyfriend, although the round didn’t strike him.

She was taken into custody on scene and transported to the Cheyenne Public Safety Center, where she was interviewed. She was found to have a warrant in Laramie County for failure to appear in court on an original charge of possession of methamphetamine.

Sutton was booked on the warrant on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

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California Woman Busted For 87 Grams of Meth; 50 Grams (And Pipe) In Bra

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By Michael Summers, (republished with permission from County 17)

A routine traffic stop ended with the arrest of a California woman when she was pulled over for speeding Saturday morning just after 7 a.m. Tammy Barber, 54, was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance after allegedly being caught carrying 87.62 grams of methamphetamine.

Campbell County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped Barber’s white Ford F-150 on HWY 50 near Southern Drive after she was clocked speeding 71 mph in a 55-mph zone.

As Barber handed deputies her California driver’s license, they could visibly see that she was shaking and appeared nervous, according to the Affidavit of Probable Cause filed in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial District on Aug. 10.

Per court documents, she had also been pulled over the night before for speeding by another agency outside of Campbell County, but it didn’t specify where.

When the K-9 indicated positive for marijuana during a free-air sniff of the vehicle Saturday, Barber admitted to deputies that her son had used marijuana in the vehicle approximately one week prior, the affidavit stated.

Deputies then conducted a search of the vehicle and reportedly found what they suspected was marijuana wrapped in a blue and white surgical mask at which point Barber was placed under arrest.

While detained in the deputy’s patrol car during a further search of the vehicle, Barber allegedly admitted to hiding narcotics in the crotch area of her pants.

She then reportedly handed deputies a white baggie with approximately 38.27 grams of meth and was transported to the Campbell County Detention Center without incident.

Before entering the jail, Barber allegedly told deputies that she was hiding more narcotics in her bra. She then reportedly produced three more baggies of suspected methamphetamine, weighing 29.13, 5.04 and 15.18 grams, respectively, along with what appeared to be a meth pipe, per court documents.

Barber was arraigned on Aug. 10 for felony possession of a controlled substance with a bond of $5,000. At the time of reporting Tuesday morning, she was still incarcerated.

A conviction of felony possession of methamphetamine is punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years, a $25,000 fine, or both.

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Update: Video Footage From Casper Police Shootout Released

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UPDATE 11:25am: A neighbor provided K2 Radio with video of today’s incident.

As K2 Radio advises, “the video is graphic and depicts a woman who was apparently shot being led out of the building.”

A death was reported Friday at the scene of a reported shootout and kidnapping in Casper, according to the Casper Police Department.

The department, in a post on its Facebook page, reported finding the body after exchanging gunfire with someone at a home in Casper.

The post said officers were responding at about 7 a.m. to a report of a woman being held against her will and at gunpoint at 2200 S. Jefferson in Casper.

After entering the residence, gunfire was exchanged when officers entered the home’s bedroom.

“Officers located multiple individuals. Two individuals sustained gunshots wounds, one of which was deceased on scene. The injured person was transported to the hospital,” the posting said.

No officers were injured during this incident.

At this time, this incident is under investigation by the Division or Criminal Investigations and further information will be released as it becomes available.

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Laramie Teen Charged With Manslaughter

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Laramie teenager has been charged with manslaughter after shooting a 13-year-old Tuesday morning.

According to a news release posted to the Laramie Police Department Facebook page, officers responded to the report of a shooting around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

The 13-year-old male victim was transported to Ivinson Memorial Hospital and later to a Denver hospital, where he later died.

As a result of the investigation, a 14-year-old male was arrested and charged with manslaughter. The boy is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Since this is a juvenile matter, court processes and sentencing will vary.

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Good News: Wyoming Fifth-Safest State in Country

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming has been ranked as the fifth-safest state in the nation by the personal finance website WalletHub.

The state’s status as having the third highest number of law enforcement employees per capita in the nation helped with its fifth-place overall ranking, which put it directly behind Utah and directly ahead of Iowa.

WalletHub said it looked at 53 key safety indicators in five categories to determine the threats faced by state residents from a number of sources, including roadway deaths, workplace fatalities and the coronavirus.

The company said the information it relied on for its rankings included state coronavirus response, assaults per capita, unemployment rates, the percentage of adults with “rainy day funds” and the rate of bullying.

With its high number of law enforcement officers, Wyoming placed sixth for the category of “personal and residential safety,” which also took into consideration a state’s number of mass shootings, assaults, thefts and other crimes per capita and the incidence of bullying.

In the category of financial safety, which looked at items such as the number of uninsured people in the state, unemployment rates, foreclosure rates and personal debt, Wyoming ranked 15th. 

For road safety, which looked at factors such as fatal accidents and charges of driving while under the influence of intoxicants, the state was in 16th place, the report said.

Wyoming was in 20th place for workplace safety, due largely to its rank as having one of the nation’s worst ratings for fatal occupational injuries per capita. Wyoming placed 48th in that area, sharing the ranking with North Dakota and Alaska.

Except for Utah, surrounding states trailed Wyoming. Idaho was ranked the 20th-safest place, Nebraska 30th, Colorado 36th, Montana 38th and South Dakota 40th.

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Who Are “Bitter Creek Betty” and “I-90 Jane Doe”?

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The news of an Iowa man being arrested in two Wyoming cold cases could mean that the mysteries of “Bitter Creek Betty” and “I-90 Jane Doe” are one step closer to being solved.

Clark Perry Baldwin, an Iowa resident, was arrested earlier this week in connection with the two murders that occurred in 1992 and a Tennessee murder that occurred in 1991.

The bodies of the two murdered women were found at opposite ends of the state, “Betty” near the Bitter Creek turnout in Sweetwater County and “Jane” in Sheridan County a little more than one month later.

Since their bodies were discovered, little has been learned about the women.

According to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, “Betty” was found along Interstate 80 on March 1, 1992 in Sweetwater County.

She is believed to be white or Hispanic, between the ages of 24 and 32, around 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing about 125 pounds with dark brown or black hair and brown eyes. “Betty” had a tattoo of a rose on her left breast, a Cesarean section scar on her abdomen and a one-inch scar on her left calf.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Betty” was found in the westbound lane of Interstate 80 and was nude. It is believed she died in early February. Her tattoo was discovered to have been done in Tuscon, Arizona.

DNA evidence taken from “Betty” was analyzed and matched evidence found on “Jane,” whose body was also dumped along a highway.

“Jane” was found on April 13, 1992 in a ditch in Sheridan County, five miles south of the Montana border near Interstate 90. She is believed to be white, somewhere between the ages of 16 and 21, about 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighing approximately 110 pounds. She gave birth at least once in her life.

Jane was found fully clothed, missing only missing her shoes and socks. It’s estimated she also died in early February.

DCI noted in a release that although the woman’s hair length, cut and curl characteristics were known, the hairstyle might not reflect the way she really wore her hair.

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Wyoming Coronavirus: Overall Police Calls Decrease But Car Break-Ins Skyrocket

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By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

With few exceptions, police call volumes are down during the pandemic in Wyoming’s two largest cities, Casper and Cheyenne police departments reported.

In Casper, vehicle break-ins skyrocketed since March 16, but assaults, patrol arrests and restraining order violations dropped significantly, said Rebekah Ladd, the Casper Police Department’s public information officer.

“The biggest thing we’re seeing are those auto burglaries,” Ladd said. “We’ve seen several homeowner’s security videos with people walking down the street pulling on car handles until they find one open.” 

From March 16 through April 17, calls labeled by dispatch as auto burglaries increased 18% and calls labeled burglary non-residential, which can include cars, sheds or outbuildings, increased 100%, she said.

Unlocked cars grant criminals unprecedented access to a number of valuables, and in some cases, firearms, Ladd said.

“Criminals aren’t likely stealing firearms to go hunting,” she said. “The No. 1 thing you can do is lock your car. In this way, we can literally disarm criminals.”

Overall calls for service in Casper were down 30%, according to Casper PD data. Calls labeled assault by dispatch were down 32%, residential burglary decreased 32% and Family Violence Protection Act calls, which include restraining order violations, were down 50%.

Patrol arrests also decreased with juvenile arrests dropping 82% and adult arrests falling by 51%.

“We’re really proud of our community,” Ladd said.  “Our call volume is down significantly. We’re really seeing people listening to state officials and taking the advice to stay home.” 

About 175 miles southeast in the Capital, David Inman, public information officer for the Cheyenne Police Department, said his department also experienced a decrease in call volume.

Inman did not have data on hand at the time of the interview, but anecdotally, he said Cheyenne has not seen a rise in burglaries of any type.

“Our violent crime — we don’t have much anyway — has gone down as far as assaults,” Inman said. “Domestic dispute calls have gone up, but that is just calls. Those don’t always indicate an assault. In many cases, it’s just two people yelling at each other loud enough for the neighbors to call us.”

Shoplifting remained at normal levels throughout the pandemic, but it was the outlier, he said.

“We’re associating the decreases with people staying inside more,” Inman said. 

As COVID-19 spreads throughout the state, both Casper and Cheyenne police departments reported they are approaching call responses with cautionary measures, such as face masks and medical gloves.

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