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

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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.

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Scammers Target Wyoming Families On Missing Person Website

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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

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

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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.

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Mother Of Missing Sheridan Man Still Hopeful After Four Years

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Coroner: Gabby Petito Died By Strangulation, Body Left In Woods For Weeks

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gabby Petito died by strangulation and her body was left in Bridger-Teton National Park for three to four weeks before police found her, the Teton County coroner announced on Tuesday.

Dr. Brent Blue held a news conference to announce the manner and cause of death for Petito, whose body was found in the woods almost one month ago. Her death was ruled a homicide not long after she was found, but Blue officially announced the cause this week.

He could not reveal much information about how his office determined the manner of death or how they knew Petito had been in the woods for as long as she had, due to a Wyoming state statute. He also could not say whether Petito was killed in the woods and left there or if she had been killed elsewhere and her body was left in the park.

Blue also could not reveal an approximate date of death, but confirmed Petito’s remains have been released to a local mortuary, which will work with her family to return her to them.

Petito’s fiance, Brian Laundrie, is a person of interest in the investigation into her death, but has been missing since Sept. 17.

John Walsh, former host of “America’s Most Wanted,” questioned Blue about his thoughts on whether or not Laundrie was Petito’s killer.

“I think everybody in the world believes that Brian Laundrie killed Gabby,” he said.

Blue could not attest to who killed Petito, and continued to affirm her manner and cause of death only.

One reporter questioned Blue about why it took so long to get the autopsy results.

“The reason was that we were very exacting on our examination and the detail by which the examination was done,” Blue said. “It was just a matter of making sure we had everything right.”

Blue also confirmed that law enforcement took DNA samples from Petito’s remains.

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.

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Yellowstone Officials Scaling Back Search Of Missing Utah Man

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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.

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GoFundMe Campaign Launched For Children Of Texas Man Found Dead At Teton Pass

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to support the education and future of the children of a Texas man found dead near Jackson on Tuesday.

Robert “Bob” Lowery’s remains were found Tuesday with a black Nike duffle bag “significantly” off the trail on a steep, wooded slope, according to the Teton County search and rescue team. Volunteers spent Tuesday afternoon recovering the body from the mountainside.

Lowery was last seen on the Black Canyon Trail near Wilson at around 2:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20.

The GoFundMe campaign will support the education of Meredith, 12, and Luke, 15, Lowery’s children, and is being operated by the late man’s sisters, Anne and Leigh Lowery.

“Bob, a loving father, is survived by two beautiful children, Meredith and Luke, and their mother, Christelle,” the campaign page said. “The children will have the unconditional love and support our full extended family; however, in the wake their father’s unexpected death, we want to ensure that they are best set up for their future.”

As of Wednesday morning, the campaign had raised a little more than $300. The sisters set a goal of $50,000, but noted on the campaign page that there was no real expectation of how much they would raise.

“Regardless of monetary contribution, please know that we have felt the continued love, support & prayers from our community, family & friends throughout this tragedy,” the campaign said. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Any level of contribution is truly appreciated.”

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.

Lowery flew to Jackson from Houston on Aug. 19, canceling his mail delivery before he left.

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Yellowstone Officials Now Looking To Recover, Not Rescue, Missing Navy SEAL

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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.

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Officials Still Looking For Missing Man In Yellowstone After Half-Brother Found Dead

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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.

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Remains Confirmed As Petito’s; Officials Say She Was Murdered

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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.

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Man Found Dead In Yellowstone, Half-Brother Still Missing

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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.

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FBI Raids Gabby Petito’s Boyfriend’s House In Florida

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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.

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Stepfather Of Missing 22-Year-Old New York Woman Arrives in Wyoming To Help With Search

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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.

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Police: Missing Douglas Woman Is Alive; Private Investigator Says “Very Complex Case”

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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. 

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Police Seek Information About Missing Douglas Woman; Family Worries She’s in Danger

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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.”

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Texas Man Disappears In Jackson, May Have Been Camping

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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.

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Suspect Arrested In Connection To Casper Man’s Murder

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A man was arrested Friday in connection with a Casper resident’s death.

Justin Armando Marquez, 42 of Casper, was arrested Friday as part of the two-month investigation into the whereabouts and death of Ryan Schroeder, who was found dead this week after disappearing earlier in the summer.

Marquez was arrested for one charge of second degree murder, according to the Casper Police Department.

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.

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.

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Virginia Woman Missing In Montana’s Glacier National Park

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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.

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Rescue Teams Expand Search For Missing Montana Hiker

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming and Montana search and rescue teams have expanded their search areas in their attempts to find hiker Tatum Morrell, who disappeared after going hiking in the Beartooth Mountains last week.

According to Red Lodge, Montana, Fire Rescue, search teams still haven’t found sign of the missing 23-year-old, but rescuers have expanded the search area to include areas adjacent to original 15 square-mile area. This expansion was done in case Morrell became disoriented or had to retreat from the high altitude routes due to bad weather.

Morrell planned to hike five peaks in the mountains last week. She camped at Shadow Lake in Montana on July 1 and contacted her mother via a satellite communicator that evening.

A National Guard helicopter was used Thursday night to take high-resolution images of the area for more detailed analysis and to help direct ground searchers.

Officials have determined that although Morrell wasn’t due to be back from her hiking trip until July 5, she left her camp on July 2 to summit a 12,000-foot peak and never returned.

Currently, Montana’s Red Lodge Fire Rescue, Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, Gallatin County and Big Horn County search and rescue and rescue teams are looking for the young woman, assisted by the Park County, Wyoming, search and rescue team, the U.S. Forest Service, three dog teams and three helicopters.

Morrell is an engineering graduate student at Montana State University-Bozeman and is originally from Idaho. This was her first trip to the Beartooths, according to Red Lodge Fire Rescue officials.

She is an experienced hiker who recently completed a similar trip in Gallatin County, climbing five peaks in five days.

Anyone with information on Morrell’s disappearance can call 406-446-1234, the Carbon County, Montana Sheriff’s Office.

Morrell is not the only hiker to be reported missing in the region recently. Last month, an Irish man disappeared while hiking in Grand Teton National Park.

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Wyoming, Montana Search and Rescue Teams Looking For Missing Hiker In Beartooth Mountains

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Search and rescue teams from both Wyoming and Montana were searching southern Montana on Tuesday for a woman who disappeared while hiking in the Beartooth Mountain area last week.

Tatum Morell, 23, planned to hike five peaks in the mountains last week. She camped at Shadow Lake in Montana on July 1 and contacted her mother via a satellite communicator that evening.

It is believed she left her tent on Friday. She has not been seen since, according to Red Lodge Fire Rescue officials.

Currently, Montana’s Red Lodge Fire Rescue, Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, Gallatin County and Big Horn County search and rescue and rescue teams are looking for the young woman, assisted by the Park County, Wyoming, search and rescue team, the U.S. Forest Service, three dog teams and three helicopters.

On Wednesday, ground teams planned to search the routes Morrell may have taken to climb the peaks in the area, with a focus on Sundance, Bowback, Castle and Whitetail mountains. These routes are high elevation and relatively difficult, with car-sized boulders and snowfall being possible elements in the way.

The dog teams will search around Morrell’s camp.

Helicopter crews from the National Guard and Two Bear Air searched the area Sunday night though Tuesday evening, while ground crews searched the area around her camp and the surrounding lakes.

Morrell is an engineering graduate student at Montana State University-Bozeman and is originally from Idaho. This was her first trip to the Beartooths, according to Red Lodge Fire Rescue officials.

She is an experienced hiker who recently completed a similar trip in Gallatin County, climbing five peaks in five days.

Anyone with information on Morrell’s disappearance can call 406-446-1234, the Carbon County, Montana Sheriff’s Office.

Morrell is not the only hiker to go missing in the region recently. Last month, an Irish man went missing in Grand Teton National Park and still hasn’t been found.

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