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Missing person

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

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She did not take her cell phone with her.

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

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

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jackson Woman Banned From Grand Teton For Lying About Missing Irish Hiker

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The National Park Service has banned a former Jackson woman from Grand Teton National Park for five years for knowingly providing false information to law enforcement about a missing Irish hiker, officials said Thursday.

The park service said Heather Mycoskie, 40, knowingly provided false information and a false report in the search for missing hiker Cian McLaughlin, who was last seen on June 8, 2021. In addition to her park ban, Mycoskie was ordered to pay $17,600 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

An investigation revealed that on June 21, 2021, Mycoskie provided false information to investigators about seeing an individual matching the description of McLaughlin.

As a direct result of Mycoskie’s false report, approximately 532 hours were spent conducting searches, managing search efforts, conducting follow up investigations and completing associated reports.

This wasted valuable time that could have been focused on searching areas of higher probability, according to park officials.

McLaughlin is still missing.

Mycoskie reported she saw McLaughlin in the late afternoon/early evening of June 8, 2021, the day of McLaughlin’s disappearance.

She also told investigators the missing man was hiking on the south side of the Bradley-Taggart moraine in Grand Teton National Park and was headed south towards Taggart Lake where he planned to jump off his favorite rock into the water.

Officials said Mycoskie provided a “very detailed” description of McLaughlin and stated she had a discussion with him in which he shared where he lived, where he was from and his place of employment.

The subsequent investigation revealed Mycoskie never saw anyone matching McLaughlin’s description on June 8, 2021 in Grand Teton National Park. Witnesses reported Mycoskie fabricated the sighting to ensure search efforts continued.

All other reported sightings of McLaughlin were on the trail system that leads towards Garnet Canyon, Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes and Delta Lake, according to NPS officials.

In September 2021, computer forensics revealed McLaughlin had conducted several internet searches focused on Delta Lake just prior to his hike.

Backcountry users in Grand Teton National Park are encouraged to contact the tip line, 888-653-0009, if they locate any of the items that McLaughlin was suspected to have had with him at the time of his disappearance.

These include a red Apple watch, a red iPhone 12 mini, gold wire-rimmed sunglasses, a silver U shaped pendant and a white t-shirt.

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 in December 2020 and that he previously lived in the French ski resort town of Chamonix.

McLaughlin’s mother visited the park last fall and told an Irish news outlet she was prepared to recover, not rescue, her son.

McLaughlin was the only person who disappeared in the park last 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 last August, and his body was found in September, as well. His death was ruled a suicide.

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

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five-Day Search



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping His Memory Alive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was a good dad, Patricia added.

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

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

Theories



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Boyfriend of Missing Gillette Woman Charged with Multiple Felonies

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Former Legislator, Private Investigators Tracking Case of Missing Moorcroft Man

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Bulldog”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disappeared After Argument

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rumors & Speculation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DNA Results Of Found Arm Bone

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

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

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

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

Spate Of Missing Men

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He’s with family,” added Friday.   

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

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

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

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

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

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Big Piney Man Continues Search For Father Missing Since 2018

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

Won’t Give Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Found the Truck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Clues

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

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

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

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

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

Going to Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overwhelming Response

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rallying Call

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doing Something

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect Storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spiraling Out of Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions Surrounding Release From Jail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Answers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sister Not Giving Up Hope Of Finding Missing Thermopolis Man

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Started Her Own Investigation

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

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

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

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

Cause For Alarm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Universe Revealing Itself

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

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

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

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

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

Learning Through Mentors

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

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

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

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

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

Intermediate Level

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

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

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

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

Tool That Aids Investigations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jen Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disappeared Without A Trace

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



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

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

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

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

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

Unanswered Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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



“It was really creepy,” she said.

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

Troubled Past

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

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

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

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

Questions Remain

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Investigation

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

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

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



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

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

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

Just Theories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time For Justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Joy Ufford, Pinedale Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missing persons’

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

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

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

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

DCI update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trapper’s death determined ‘self-inflicted’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Law Enforcement Receives New Tips About Missing Moorcroft Man; Reward Money Increased

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By Jen Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

The reward for a Moorcroft man who has been missing for more than two years has been raised to $12,000, thanks to a recent donation, while Nebraska authorities continue their investigation into his disappearance.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gering Police continue to receive tips and conduct interviews, including one Tuesday morning, according to Brian Eads, lead investigator on the case, who was with the Nebraska State Highway Patrol at the time of Englebert’s disappearance. 

The case is still active and there are no updates to share, Eads said in an email to Cowboy State Daily Tuesday. He would not comment on whether the department has identified any solid clues or persons of interest, saying the investigation is ongoing.

Casper private investigator Amanda Waldron of the non-profit group “We Help the Missing” released a poster seeking information on Englebert on Tuesday and announced her agency will also be investigating details surrounding his disappearance. 

“This case really eats at me,” Waldron said.

Along with police efforts, several amateur detectives have weighed in on podcasts about what might have happened to Englebert, including a Tarot card reader who said the now 28-year-old is likely no longer alive and is buried in a field after being killed by someone who held a grudge. 

Another YouTube channel, “The Missing Truth,” recently raised $2,000 from subscribers to donate to Englebert’s family. 

His mother has been touched by this donation and the outpouring of support from friends and strangers invested in helping to locate her son.

“It’s pretty darn amazing,” she said. “Despite all this evil, we are blessed by the good.”

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

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Remains Found Matching Missing Texas Man’s Description At Teton Pass

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The remains of a person matching the description of a Texas man last seen in late August near Jackson were found on Tuesday, Teton County Search and Rescue announced.

What is believed to be the body of Robert “Bob” Lowery was found Tuesday afternoon on a steep, timbered slope on Teton Pass, the team said.

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

The body discovered Tuesday was found with a black Nike duffle bag “significantly” off the trail on a steep, wooded slope, according to the search and rescue team.

Volunteers spent Tuesday afternoon recovering the body from the mountainside.

The Lowery family has been notified of the discovery.

More than 25 people and three dog teams from the region helped search for Lowery. Collectively, the search teams hiked more than 75 miles and covered 22,500 feet in elevation.

Calls for assistance in locating Lowery went out in early September, a little more than two weeks after he was last seen by two hikers on the Black Canyon Trail who described Lowery as sitting on a big rock along the trail.

The Black Canyon Trail is more than 12 miles and does not offer any campsites, just lots of wilderness. It is also more known as a trail for mountain bikers than hikers.

The missing man flew to Jackson from Houston on Aug. 19. Lowery’s sister Leigh Lowery said her brother is the loving father of two children with whom he had daily contact, and it was unusual for him to be out of touch with his children for so long.

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Family Releases More Information About Man Last Seen In Jackson In August

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The family of a man who disappeared in Teton County after flying to Jackson in mid-August is renewing its call for any information about his disappearance.

Leigh Lowery said witnesses have helped the family determine that Robert “Bob” Lowery was last seen on the Black Canyon Trail near Wilson at around 2:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20.

Two hikers on the trail described Lowery as sitting on a big rock along the trail. The two reported the sighting after seeing Lowery’s “missing person” poster and recognizing his Nike duffle bag.

“They had exchanged hellos that day and the couple could even timestamp when they saw Bob based on pictures they took right near where he was sitting down,” Leigh Lowery said on social media. “Bob was sitting on a large rock on the righthand side of the trail, with his black duffle behind him. He was alone.”

The couple also reported seeing only three people on the trail that day, including Bob Lowery, and indicated they were not sure as to whether he was tired or just thinking while sitting on the rock.

Originally, Lowery was reported as last being seen taking a rideshare vehicle to Pearl Street Bagels in Wilson. The reported sighting on the trail would have been about 75 minutes after his ride to the bagel shop.

The Black Canyon Trail is more than 12 miles and does not offer any campsites, just lots of wilderness. It is also more known as a trail for mountain bikers than hikers.

“He’d have to go off path to camp,” Leigh Lowery said. ” We assume he walked all that way with a heavy duffle. No doubt he would have been tired. We now know he had a grey tent and blue sleeping bag with him.”

She added that thankfully, the trail is somewhat shady and had streams available, in case her brother ran out of water after he disappeared.

Leigh Lowery said she intended to return to the Jackson area the weekend of Oct. 2 to continue searching for her brother. The Lowery family is working to get in touch with expert hikers, search and rescue teams, mountain biking groups and possibly a helicopter or drone pilot to aid in the search.

“Please keep Bob and his/our family in your prayers. We truly appreciate all the love and support and hope we find him safe and sound, so he can come do what he loves most of all, be a dad,” she said.

Bob Lowery had a grey, single-person Magellan Kings Peak tent and a blue sleeping bag. He was last seen wearing hiking boots, blue jeans, a black baseball cap with the letter “P” and carrying a large black Nike duffle bag with the white logo. The bag likely contained his tent and camping equipment. He has brown hair and blue eyes.

The missing man flew to Jackson from Houston on Aug. 19. Leigh Lowery said her brother is the loving father of two children with whom he had daily contact, and it is unusual for him to be out of touch with his children for so long.

The Lowery family filed a missing persons report with the Teton County Sheriff’s Department about a week after they last heard from Bob. The department’s investigation is ongoing.

“Community members have been incredibly kind and responsive, but Bob has yet to be found,” Leigh Lowery said. “As you can imagine, the worst part is not knowing and desiring his safe return. We continue to hope that he is well and will return home safely.”

Cowboy State Daily previously reported that Lowery had never been to Jackson prior to his arrival from Houston and he had no previous camping experience.

Before Lowery left Houston, he canceled his mail delivery.

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Gabby Petito Investigation: Brian Laundrie Still Not Cooperating; Sister Defends Him

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

The fiancé of a missing New York woman believed to have disappeared while at Grand Teton National Park is still refusing to talk to law enforcement officials.

However, Cassie Laundrie, the sister of Brian Laundrie, defended her brother’s character during an appearance a national news show on Friday morning.

Cassie Laundrie, the sibling of Brian Laundrie who is a person-of-interest in the ongoing investigation of missing person Gabby Petito, defended her brother’s character on Good Morning America without commenting directly on her disappearance.

“He’s a wonderful uncle,” Ms. Laundrie said during her appearance on Good Morning America. “He’s always been there when I need him. He’s been there every time Gabby has needed him.”

“Obviously, me and my family want Gabby to be found safe,” she said. “She’s like a sister and my children love her, and all I want is for her to come home safe and found, and this to be just a big misunderstanding.”

Brian Laundrie has been named a person of interest in the ongoing investigation into Petito’s disappearance. The two were traveling together in the Rocky Mountain West when Petito disappeared.

An hour after Cassie Laundrie’s television appearance, Gabby’s father Joe Petito said her comments didn’t make any sense to him.

“If that’s that family’s version of love, to just ignore and not care that someone’s gone,” Mr. Petito said, “and people are looking for them and entire countries looking for them, I mean, that explains how we got to where we are today. Because I mean, look at their version of what they call love.”

The day prior, Petito’s parents read a letter addressed to Laundrie’s parents begging for their cooperation during a media appearance.

“We believe you know the location where Brian left Gabby,” the letter reads. “We beg you to tell us. As a parent, how could you let us go through this pain and not help us? As a parent, how could you put Gabby’s younger brothers and sisters through this.”

Although Petito and Laundrie were vacationing together, Laundrie returned home to Florida on Sept. 1 without his fiancé and said nothing publicly about it. Ten days later, Petito’s family reported her missing.

Since then, their van has been located and impounded and police in Utah reported they were called to investigate a fight between the two, but did not press charges against either.

Laundrie’s refusal to speak to law enforcement has infuriated the daughter’s parents and has hindered progress on the case, according to New York investigators.

A leading defense attorney said Laundrie’s refusal to cooperate isn’t a good sign for Petito.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an arrest,” Lara Yeretsia told FOX News on Friday. 

“It doesn’t look very good, doesn’t look very kosher to me at this point,” she said. “Doesn’t look like he’s completely innocent, but he doesn’t have to help law enforcement.”

Yeretsia said she understood why Laundrie is being advised not to talk.

“Basically, he got a lawyer before law enforcement got him…and the lawyer is not going to make it easier for law enforcement to build a case against him,” she said. “He’s telling them, go do your job. You can have no access to this guy.” 

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Daughter Still Searching for Missing Riverton Woman Three Decades Later

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Kelly Pehringer was 14 when her mom Kathleen disappeared from their Riverton home in 1989.

The last time Kelly saw her, Kathleen was standing at the front door in her bathrobe as Kelly headed off to school. 

Today, more than three decades after Kathleen’s disappearance, Kelly continues to seek answers about what happened that day.

For Kelly, that morning marked a new beginning as she woke up resolved to be a better kid. Her actions in recent months had landed Kelly in a group home and she was very happy to once again be home with her mom. 

She’d been acting like a brat, she realized, and had resolved to do better beginning with not fighting Kathleen about going to school.  

They parted on a pleasant note that morning, and after school, Kelly came home with a couple buddies. Oddly, her mom was gone and hadn’t left a note. 

Odder still was the fact that her mother’s normally overflowing ashtray on the coffee table in the living room had been cleaned and was empty — except for two cigarette butts. One she recognized as her mother’s while the other she identified as belonging to her mom’s new friend Donald Pack, based on the way he always “squinched” the filter down to a tiny nub.

Admittedly, Kelly was not a fan of Pack. In fact, he creeped her out ever since he started coming over to see her mother, ostensibly with the excuse of buying her computer.

He was a friend of Kathleen’s ex-boyfriend and began hanging out after the two broke up.

The afternoon that Kathleen disappeared, Pack stopped by looking for Kelly’s mother. He said he’d been over that morning, too, and she wasn’t home then either. He asked if he could come in and use their telephone. 

Kelly reluctantly let him in and watched while he quickly dialed a number and waited a few seconds before hanging up without leaving a message. 

That struck Kelly odd at the time because their phone was “old and crappy” and some of the digits stuck when you tried to press them.

For this reason, it was nearly impossible to make a quick call. And why had he just hung up without saying anything, she wondered?

He left after using the phone. Kelly then went over to a friend’s, leaving her mom a note.

When she came home later that night for dinner, the note was still there and there was no sign of her mother. When Kathleen still hadn’t returned, Kelly called a friend whose mother came and got her, then they called her grandmother who also had not seen Kathleen.

Then they called the police. 

When questioned, Kelly shared her suspicions about Pack having something to do with her mother’s disappearance. It’s not clear from the police report obtained from the Riverton Police Department whether Pack or anyone else was ever questioned in Kathleen’s disappearance.

All that’s on file is a sparsely written report with basic details shared by Kelly about that morning.

Kathleen had not indicated that she had plans of going anywhere, no clothing was taken and her car was still parked in its normal spot behind the house.

According to RPD Captain Wesley Romero, this is the only document still on file from the 32-year-old case. Any detectives who may have worked the case have long since retired and no active members of the staff have any knowledge of Kathleen’s disappearance.

Kelly doesn’t know if Riverton police ever interviewed Pack. She can’t remember much from that time although she recalls she asked the police to contact her brother Frankie, who was in prison, to inform him that their mother was gone. Later, she learned Frankie was told about his mother’s disappearance by a friend.  

What she does remember vividly, however, is the way her entire life was turned upside down.

With her mother gone, Kelly became a ward of the state and was put into foster care after deciding not to go live with her grandparents — who she did not get along with — or her father, who had remarried and started a new family.

Instead, she cycled in and out of foster homes, one worse than the next as she struggled in the wake of her mom’s disappearance. As a senior, she was placed in a girls group home in Lander, where she was able to graduate from high school. Had it not been for that last placement, she’s certain that she never would have made it through school.

“Those four years were living hell,” Kelly said last week from her home in Sheridan, where she now lives with her father as they two continue working to repair their relationship. 

Now in her late 40s, Kelly is sober after years of alcohol and drug abuse. Though she’s attempting to get her life together, the emotional scars continue to haunt her as she struggles with a myriad of psychological issues.

Over the years, she’s turned to a mediums and empaths for insights into what might have happened to her mom. The closest she came was a medium who told her that Kathleen loved her and was proud of her but wanted Kelly to stop looking for her.

Her mother was smiling at her daughter from the other side, the medium told her, which Kelly believes is her mother’s attempt to keep Kelly from knowing the details of what actually happened to her.

Over the years, the Riverton Police Department handed off the case to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, where it remains open. A request to see the case file report was denied by the agency, according to Ronnie Jones, DCI Region 2 operations commander, who said the agency does not comment on open cases.

All Kelly has to go on is what she can remember, including a visit from two female detectives who found her in a treatment facility around 2006, asking to take a sample of her DNA.

They’d apparently searched a property outside of Riverton that could be linked to Pack and had searched the grounds with cadaver dogs. The dogs had repeatedly returned to an area where they’d found a plastic bag buried underground that were testing for Pack and Kathleen’s DNA.

In the end, the bag was too old to recover any DNA, Kelly said.

However, it appears that Pack had been on DCI’s radar, according to a Feb. 2, 2018 article in Jackson Hole News & Guide. As DCI agents searched for evidence in a locker at the Jackson Police Department, they recovered underwear belonging to a rape victim dating back to the late 1970s that tested positive for Pack’s DNA. 

His DNA was by then on file from a prior arrest and prison sentence for a rape in 1976 in Sublette County that led to his imprisonment for an unknown period of time before he was released in the mid-1980s, approximately two years before he met Kathleen.

Kelly sat with the two rape victims at Pack’s trial in Jackson in 2018, where he was sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison. Pack reportedly confessed to the rapes and apologized to the victims during his trial, saying he’d committed them for the thrill, according to the Jackson Hole News & Guide, but he denied having anything to do with Kathleen’s disappearance.  

Attending Pack’s trial with the two other victims had been empowering for her, Kelly said.

It was the closest she’s come to feeling like one day her mom’s body will be found and there will be justice. 

Kathleen is one of 51 Wyoming residents listed on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS). 

Anyone with information about the case or Kathleen’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Wyoming DCI at (307) 777-7181.

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Explainer: Who Else Has Gone Missing In National Parks In Wyoming?

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The search continued on Friday for missing man Cian McLaughlin, 27, who hasn’t been since June 8 when he went hiking in Grand Teton National Park.

While it isn’t uncommon for people to go missing in the park, it is more unusual for them to stay missing or never be found at all.

McLaughlin is currently the only person missing in Grand Teton, according to Missing NPF, a centralized database of people who have gone missing in national parks and forests.

However, there are currently three people who were last seen in Yellowstone National Park and never seen again: Stuart Isaac in 2010, Bruce Pike in 2006 and Daniel Campbell in 1991. With Yellowstone sprawling over 2 million acres, it is impossible for search teams to look in every nook and cranny throughout the park, especially in the days with less (or no) technology.

Isaac, 48 at the time of his disappearance, was a Maryland native and drove around 32 hours from his home to the park. He has been missing since Sept. 26, 2010, according to Missing NPF. It wasn’t clear why he went to the park, as he wasn’t an experienced outdoorsman.

While on his way to the park, around 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 24, 2010, he called a high school friend, to whom he spoke for at least two hours. The friend was surprised to hear from him, as they normally communicated through emails and text messages.

On Sept. 26, 2010, Isaac’s black Lexus sedan was found at Craig Press in Yellowstone, off of the Grand Loop. No signs of him or human remains were spotted when search teams looked for him.

Pike, 47 at the time of his disappearance, was last seen at the Indian Creek Campground in the park on Aug. 2, 2006. His vehicle was later found abandoned in the park.

Not much information is available in Pike’s case, but according to the Charley Project, Texas authorities are also investigating his disappearance.

Campbell, 42 at the time he went missing, was last seen on April 4, 1991. He and his Australian shepherd dog were dropped off at a trailhead for Hellroaring Creek, possibly with the intent to collect deer antlers.

He was reported missing four days later, but no sign of him or the dog have ever been found.

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Casper Woman Petitions Governor to Create Statewide Missing Person Database

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Up until a couple years ago, Desirée Tinoco had never given much thought to missing people or what happens when a person runs away. The subject had never impacted her personally until a story caught her eye about a local Casper guy who had gone missing followed by another report of a man visiting from Washington who was last spotted in Big Horn County. 

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

It struck a nerve with the Casper woman who began to do some research. It turned out there were many more. Some of the cases might be newsworthy enough to warrant a story, but other times there were just desperate pleas from family members on social media or faces on posters hanging on windows and bulletin boards.

More research into the subject revealed that Wyoming does not have a statewide missing person database nor did there seem to be a unified resource for reporting such cases and sharing them publicly.

She also noticed that while missing women and children seemed to get a lot of attention, others – like older adults and men with criminal pasts or histories of substance abuse didn’t seem to generate the same urgency. 

Still, as she told Cowboy State Daily, somebody out there is worried and looking for them.

“This is someone’s son, father or brother,” she said. “They don’t have a voice, so we have to give them one.”

In the absence of a resource, Tinoco decided to create one. 

In July 2019, she launched the Missing People of Wyoming Facebook page to create a public forum for reports of missing persons and to provide updates and information.

Within weeks of launching, the page took off, with up to five reports of missing people being added each week. In many cases, the missing returned home but not always. 

As of June 15, the page had more than 10,000 subscribers and for Tinoco has become nearly a full-time job.

If you conduct a Google search on “missing people in Wyoming,” Tinoco’s Facebook page is usually at the top of the list. And though many people have told her that she should be flattered by its success and popularity, the notion quite frankly terrifies her.

The idea that she’s somehow become the go-to source for missing people in her mind suggests both a need for the resource as well as someone qualified who can run it. As she points out, she doesn’t have the expertise or experience in the field to confidently help families or provide information.

Last winter, she approached the Casper City Council to ask for their help in advocating for a statewide missing person database that’s overseen by a law enforcement agency, preferably the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI).

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” she said. “I’m definitely out of my league.”

Along with speaking to city council, she’s contacted several legislators and a computer administrator at DCI – all of whom were receptive to the idea – and she’s petitioning Gov. Mark Gordon for help in launching a statewide resource. Wyoming is one of roughly a dozen states in the country that do not have a unified statewide database unlike other states including South Dakota, Montana and Colorado.

As Tinoco pointed out, Wyoming has a problem when it comes to missing people. In fact, the Cowboy State was ranked the seventh state for missing people, with 7.8 missing people for every 100,000 residents, according to a 2019 Vivint Source survey.

Alaska was much worse, topping the chart with 41.8 missing people per every 100,000, followed by Arizona at 13 and Oregon in third with 10.4. 

Nationally, more than 600,000 individuals go missing in the U.S. each year, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), with an estimated 4,400 unidentified bodies recovered annually. Tens of thousands of those missing people remain gone for more than a year, at which point many agencies consider their disappearances “cold cases.”

According to that same data, of the missing, approximately 60% are male and 40% female with an average age of 34 at the time of their disappearance. 

In Wyoming, NamUs lists 49 active missing person cases in the past roughly 90 years. Of those, 30 are men and 19 women. 

The latest person to go missing is Rupert Brown, a 42-year-old Native American man from Riverton, who was last seen on December 31, 2020. The oldest case to date is Olga Mauger who went missing from Dubois in September 1934 when she was 21. 

In between there are a host of others ranging in ages and from multiple counties.

With the exception of the NamUs database and Tinoco’s Facebook page, the only other missing person database is the relatively limited and hard-to-access missing person database overseen by DCI, with the most recent entry dating back to 2018.

“It’s not up-to-date in terms of current cases,” Tinoco said.

She’s hoping that her petition will prompt the governor and lawmakers of the necessity of creating a statewide database. As of Wednesday, Tinoco’s petition has garnered over 20,000 signatures with the governor’s office voicing their support.

In an email to Tinoco on June 15 in response, Emily Soli, special counsel senior policy advisor for tribal affairs for Gordon’s office, noted that although there is no centralized public database of missing persons cases that are under the jurisdiction of local law enforcement, DCI does in fact maintain an internal database of all missing persons across the state that is not accessible to the public.

“That database is not published because it contains sensitive information and because it is not updated in real-time (i.e. outside of ordinary work hours),” Soli wrote. “Its purpose for DCI is to ensure that the State reports to the appropriate federal clearinghouse any missing persons cases which remain unresolved after 60 days.”

After this point, those names are then listed in the federal NamUs database, she further explained.

Creating and maintaining a statewide, real-time missing person’s database as Tinoco suggests, Soli said, would require legislation and an appropriation that the governor would support.

“The Governor would certainly consider any bill on the issue,” she said, noting his creation of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force, which recently published the first statewide report in the country. “The Governor has made missing persons a priority and would welcome legislative support for those efforts.”

Tinoco, who is Native American and has lived on two reservations, acknowledged the importance of that initiative.

“It’s a huge effort,” Tinoco said, “and I don’t want to take away from it.”

Still, she thinks a centralized database would go a long way in helping combat the missing person problem in general. Wyoming is years behind the curve in her estimation.

“Other states are lacking databases,” she said, “but Wyoming is definitely the worse. This is one case where our propensity for small government definitely works against us.”

A second issue that compounds the problem, according to Tinoco, is that every law enforcement agency – including tribal police – has its own protocols for handling missing person cases and runaways. 

There’s also a lot of misinformation out there, she noted, when it comes to how and when to report runaways or missing persons. For example, it is widely believed that a person has to be missing for 48 hours before being reported as missing, however, that is not the case for the majority of local law enforcement agencies. 

The effort definitely poses challenges, according to former Laramie County law enforcement officer and retired private investigator Dave Wolfskill, who has been involved in many local missing person cases.

“A major challenge is a lack of communication and similar procedures between law enforcement agencies,” he said. “I think a central agency (DCI, maybe) should get all missing notifications from the police agencies and that someone at that central agency should be responsible to follow up on proper procedure.”

Casper private investigator Amanda Waldron, who also heads up the middle school expulsion program for Natrona County, agrees that a unified central database accessible to multiple agencies would go a long way in also helping to combat the rising number of missing people and teenage runaways.

“We are seeing an increase of mental health concerns here in Casper,” she said, “especially among our teen population, and it’s a challenge to collaborate with law enforcement as they don’t respond to runaway cases in a very effective of efficient manner.”

She advocates for an agency or group which would focus on this specific demographic. She also thinks the state could do a far better job providing resources for those in crisis, including a hotline as well as hanging posters and flyers in bathrooms and other public spaces to provide resources for vulnerable youth and victims of human trafficking.

In the meantime, Tinoco is going to keep lobbying for the database and hopes her petition continues to gain steam, repeating the mantra that makes her passionate about the cause.

“The missing don’t have a voice,” she said, “so we need to speak for them.” 

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Moorcroft Man’s Disappearance Remains Mystery Nearly Two Years Later

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By Jen Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

After three days of scouring the banks of the North Platte River, Matt Miller and his small search party once again returned to Campbell County empty handed this week with no sign of the man they were hoping to find. 

The outing last week was the team’s first search for Chance Englebert in nearly a year in the wake of the pandemic that stalled efforts to find the missing Moorcroft man.

In a case that has spurred numerous podcasts and just as many competing theories of what might have happened, Englebert disappeared on July 6, 2019, after walking away from his in-laws’ house in Gering, Nebraska. Englebert, then 25, had been spending the holiday weekend with his wife Baylee and infant son. 

It’s not clear exactly what happened.

Englebert had spent the day golfing with his father-in-law and other members of his wife’s family. They’d reportedly been drinking when someone made a comment about Englebert’s new job.

He’d just been laid off from a coal mine but had already secured a new job due to start the following Monday.

Whatever was said angered Englebert, who told his wife he wanted to go home to Moorcroft. When she hedged, he walked off, calling Miller to come get him.

Miller, who was in Gillette, called Englebert’s mom in South Dakota, while Englebert said he’d start walking the roughly 35 miles from Gering to Torrington.

He never made it. This last time Chance Englebert was seen was on surveillance footage that showed him walking down the 700 block of O Street in Gering, wearing Wrangler jeans and shirt and a trucker’s cap. 

Calls and texts to his phone went unanswered. The last text message – an incomprehensible jumble of numbers and emojis – was sent from his phone at 9:08 p.m.

That in itself was odd, according to his mother Dawn, who said Englebert never used emojis. Someone else must have been using his phone, she believes.

Despite a massive search involving 17 agencies, drones, divers, cadaver dogs and hundreds of volunteers on foot, horseback and ATVs, Englebert remains missing. 

Both Dawn and Baylee say Englebert would have never walked away from his family, both vehemently agreeing that something must have happened beyond his control. 

Theories that he might have fallen into the North Platte River during a storm on the night he disappeared are hard for his mom to believe.

Her son was an accomplished athlete — an avid swimmer, rancher and bareback rodeo rider who had gone to college on a rodeo scholarship. 

Hundreds of tips have turned up nothing, according to lead Brian Eads, an investigator with the Gering Police Department who was with the Nebraska State Highway Patrol at the time of Englebert’s disappearance.

Eads said tips continue to come in regularly.

Along with police efforts, several amateur and seasoned detectives have weighed in on podcasts, as did a Tarot card reader who said that Englebert is likely no longer alive and is buried in a field, killed by someone who held a grudge, is now paranoid about the situation and one day will snap.

Another detective familiar with the case who asked not to be identified endorsed the theory that the key to solving the mystery is finding that person.

“Somebody’s conscience is bothering them,” he said. “Identify that person and work on them.”

Eads did not comment on whether the department has identified any solid clues or persons of interest, saying the investigation is ongoing.

“We are actively following up on tips and welcome any new ones,” Eads told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

Baylee has refused requests for interviews, telling the Rapid City (South Dakota) Journal that interviews in the past have led to death threats against her and her family.

A temporary protection order was issued against a former South Dakota state senator who Baylee accused of stalking her  after she refused to be interviewed for a story on the legislator’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Miller and his wife Tanya continue to work with his family and others to find him. Prior to the pandemic, Miller and his wife, both coal miners, drove from their home in Pine Haven, Wyoming, to Nebraska on their days off to search for their missing friend.

Last week’s search along the banks of the North Platte River was the first in almost a year for the group. For three days, they braved snow and heavy winds to comb roughly a dozen properties between Torrington and the Wyoming state line, looking for any trace of Englebert.

They turned up nothing.

Dustin Easton, who drove from his home South Dakota to join the search party, wasn’t discouraged. He’s never met Englebert, he said, but his disappearance haunts him nonetheless.

He grew up in this part of Nebraska, and knows members of both Baylee’s and Chance’s families through ag and rodeo connections. 

Easton wonders how a guy can just go missing? 

He’s troubled by this notion, which has changed the the way he sees the landscape he knows well and once trusted.

“It’s kinda surreal,” he said by phone on his way home Wednesday. “I grew up here and now I can’t think about the river in the same way anymore.”

He will return for the next search in July, he said, acknowledging that the desire to find Englebert has gotten under his skin as he continues to actively follow the case and stay in touch with Miller and family.

Along with the next search, Englebert’s mom Dawn wants to host a memorial walk in her son’s honor in July. Details will be posted on Miller’s Facebook page, Let’s Start with Chance (https://www.facebook.com/groups/474898930097246/).

In the meantime, Miller has no plans to stop searching until he brings his friend home

.“What are we going to do?” Miller said. “We’re not giving up. We’re going to keep looking.”

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Sweetwater County Detective Appears on True Crime Podcast to Discuss Missing Person Case

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Sweetwater County detective made an appearance on a true crime podcast this week to discuss a 2018 missing person case.

Detective Matt Wharton appeared on the “Just the Tip-Sters” podcast to discuss the case of Terry Meador, a 74-year-old retired teacher from Rock Springs who was reported missing in October 2018 after he went looking for a place to hunt.

“Someone like Terry, he’s retired, he’s got some extra time in his life,” Wharton said during the interview.

Meador’s pickup truck was found on stuck in a rut on an access road near Rock Springs several days after his disappearance.

Wharton told host Melissa Morgan that one of the challenges with Meador’s disappearance is that Sweetwater County covers 10,000 square miles, making it the eighth-largest county in the United States, and there are only two patrol deputies to cover the county.

Additionally, the area where he was scouting for a hunting spot had spotty (at best) cell phone service.

Meador suffered from some mental health issues, especially when he didn’t take his medication properly, but he wasn’t considered a problem in his community, Wharton said.

“He didn’t go out and cause a lot of issues and he had a lot of friends,” he said. “Terry was a great guy.”

Morgan described Meador as an Ernest Hemingway-type who seemed like a rugged, but kind, grandfather.

It was theorized that Meador lost his was way while out in the wilderness hunting and no one has been able to find his remains.

“There are not a lot of clues in this case,” Morgan said.

Anyone with information on the disappearance of Meador can call Wharton at 307-922-5345.

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Search Continues In Northwestern Wyoming For Missing D.C. Man

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

A mysterious disappearance in northern Wyoming has law enforcement officials in Big Horn County puzzled.

It’s been more than seven months since 28-year-old Davante Richardson was last seen by family in Washington, DC on July 20, 2020. A week later, his abandoned Jeep Compass was spotted on a dirt road about seven miles from Greybull… but there was no sign of the driver. 

The reporting of the Jeep as an abandoned vehicle came seven days after Richardson’s family reported him missing on July 22 and prompted a multi-agency investigation involving agencies from Big Horn County to Washington, D.C.

Big Horn County Sheriff Ken Blackburn told Cowboy State Daily that the investigation got off to a slow start because of the many jurisdictions involved in the missing persons case. The jurisdiction with authority over the case is the Washington, D.C., Metro Police Department. 

“It’s very common throughout the United States for agencies to work together on different things – search and rescue, missing person cases, homicides,” he said. “You know, bad guys travel across state lines all the time and we do a lot of those mutual aid assists and those types of things. So when this gentleman came missing, it was unknown that he was missing until his car showed up in Big Horn County.”

When officers ran the car’s information through the national crime database, they discovered that Richardson had been reported missing from Washington, D.C., by his family just the week before.

“So immediately we get on the horn with that agency, and we start getting the information now, that there’s this missing person, we start running all of those leads to ground with the Washington, D.C., police.”

But Blackburn said investigators instantly ran into some cultural – and geographical – hurdles, which stalled their effort to get information out to the public.  

“We were sharing with them what we were dealing with, and they were flat not understanding the rural nature,” he explained. “And those officers have just never been to the West, for lack of a better explanation – it was nobody’s fault. And so, we didn’t know what Metro PD was working, what angle they were working, so we had to respect their desires for a period of time. So it was about a week, give or take, but finally we started pushing the issues. We literally got mad and went out and took pictures looking north, south, east and west from that car, and said, ‘where would you like this address that you’re so stuck on?’ 

“And then at that point they recognized that they were dealing with a whole different set of geography,” he continued. “At that point we were able to start getting the word out.”

Shortly after the investigation began, D.C. Metro changed the lead investigator on the case, and Blackburn said the new detective had a better handle on how things work in the West.

“The new investigator was from Colorado, and at least had an understanding of the West – and then we started moving like lightning,” he said.

Blackburn pointed out that people out West are really good about looking out for other people – so they literally had hundreds of reported sightings of Davante, all the way from Yellowstone National Park south, east and west into South Dakota, and several other places. And he added that several other agencies assisted. 

“In addition to Big Horn County resources, we had the FBI out, we had multiple different counties with their K-9 units, we had horse teams, foot teams, air support, all searching this particular area,” he said.

He added that in any type of search, a perimeter is set up, and this one was based on computer algorithms that determined the speed of a person on foot, including details like weather conditions and geographical formations. 

“We set very liberal perimeters and searched those perimeters, then expanded them again, and continued to search,” he said.

But he said officers have had no success locating Davante within these search areas, although they have continued to search throughout the winter. Another major search will probably be conducted in the spring, Blackburn said.

However, based on experience, Blackburn said Richardson is probably not in the area that officers have been searching.

In an interview with the Basin Republican-Rustler newspaper, Marquita Richardson, Davante’s aunt, said that Davante is a quiet young man who has no history of mental illness or of trouble with the law. 

Richardson found himself unemployed in February last year, when COVID shut down the chain of grocery stores for which he worked as a manager, and he then took a job as an Uber driver, until he contracted the virus himself. Richardson was also a tattoo artist and a musician as well, with his own multimedia company he called “Big Blues Studio” – and dreams of one day becoming a music producer. 

The family suspects it was this dream that caused him to make the 2,000-mile trip to rural Wyoming in July, although they didn’t even realize he was missing until several days after he left the D.C. area.  

Davante had sent a late-night text message to a friend, saying he was going to Wyoming to get a jump on his music career. Friends suspect that he was going to try to see Kanye West, a resident of Cody.

Blackburn agreed with the assessment, explaining that in one of Richardson’s YouTube videos (which have since been taken down), he expressed a desire to connect with West.

“He said ‘Me and Kanye need to talk,’ or something like that.”

Missing persons cases in rural Wyoming are rare, but not unheard of, according to Blackburn.

“In the West, we’ll have missing persons with search and rescue type situations – but a person who just comes out here and dumps a car? It happens, probably more frequently than anybody would like to recognize, but it is on the rarer side of things,” he said. “Maybe once every couple of years in Big Horn County.”

But he added cases aren’t usually this perplexing, with so few clues.

“One of my career emphases is on search and rescue, and we take a lot of pride in getting folks home to their kin,” Blackburn said. “And we work very hard on our search and rescue, with missing persons and people who run away, to get people reunited. And we take that very, very, VERY seriously.”

However, in this case, Blackburn has his concerns about Davante’s safety, based on the condition in which the vehicle was found.

“The car was ‘processed’, and there were several flags that presented themselves to experienced investigators, that caused some concern,” he said. “The car itself did not present any evidence of somebody driving straight through across the United States. It was very clean, very well kept. There was an absence of fast food wrappers, and those types of things that would build up during a sustained road trip. That is a flag that most definitely raises some eyebrows.”

But he stopped short of hypothesizing what those flags might indicate.

“It would be foolish for me to say what it may or may not be, and it’s inappropriate for me to say,” he explained. “But when things are out of place like that, investigators start to wonder what might have happened inside that vehicle.”

However, Blackburn said he’s not giving up hope.

“I’ve been in the business too long to make any statements or guesses, because we just flat do not know,” he said.

And Blackburn emphasized his agency is committed to solving this case.

“We have done, and would continue to do anything in our power, to bring a successful resolution and bring this man home to his family,” he said.

Richardson is described as a 6-foot, 1-inch tall black male with a medium brown complexion, weighing approximately 170 pounds. The Sheriff’s Department said anyone with information about his disappearance – which is still considered an open case – can contact the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office at 307-568-2324.

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Missing Carbon County Hunter’s Binoculars Found One Year Later

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A missing Carbon County hunter’s binoculars have been found more than a year after he went missing, but no sign of him has been found.

Mark A. Strittmater, 44 at the time of his disappearance, went missing in Medicine Bow National Forest during an early season snowstorm in October 2019 while hunting elk.

Multiple searches were conducted for him last year, but were called off after yielding no results.

A search last week did result in some new clues, but still no sign of the hunter himself.

According to a release from the Carbon County Sheriff’s Department, a hunter found Strittmater’s binoculars in late October, which led 11 searchers and a K-9 unit to search again for the missing hunter in the forest last week.

They went to the area where the binoculars were found, turning up “other items” believed to be Strimatter’s, but he was still not discovered during the search.

“The sheriff’s office will continue with the search efforts for the missing hunter in attempts to bring his family closure,” the release said.

This was the first search for Strittmater the sheriff’s department has held since the summer, when a team organized a three-day investigation to try and find him. Again, no new results were found.

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Missing Texas Man Found, Returned Home After Last Being Seen In Laramie

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More than a month after going missing from a Laramie airport, Texas man Roy Anderson Jr. has returned home.

The Laramie Police Department announced the good news on Wednesday on Facebook. The 37-year-old was last seen at the Laramie Regional Airport by an employee on Aug. 4, which is also the last day anyone in his family had any contact with him.

An initial investigation revealed Anderson traveled to Denver. Laramie officers and investigators worked with agencies in Colorado and Texas to determine his location and welfare.

The agencies confirmed Anderson was in the Denver area and interacted “several times” with public safety agencies while in Colorado. The records indicated Anderson didn’t need and wasn’t interested in assistance from the agencies, though.

On Sunday, the lead officer on the case in Laramie received word from the Harker Heights, Texas, police that Anderson returned home.

Anderson was entered into the National Crime Information Center last month after Laramie police received a call on Aug. 12 about unclaimed luggage at the airport.

Anderson’s suitcase was sent back to his family in Texas. Most of his personal effects were still in the luggage, but not his wallet or cell phone.

His phone charger, however, was in the bag. The phone was apparently turned off while he was missing.

The family was unsure why Anderson was even in Wyoming, as he had no relatives or friends in the state.

The family was especially concerned because Anderson needed medication for both diabetes and for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder he suffers after having served as a contract worker in Afghanistan.

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Texas Family Searching For Missing Man Last Seen In Laramie

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Texas family is searching for a missing mentally disabled man who was last seen in Laramie in early August.

According to NBC News, 37-year-old Roy Anderson Jr. was last seen at the Laramie Regional Airport by an employee on Aug. 4, which is also the last day anyone in his family had any contact with him.

Anderson, of Harker Heights, Texas, regularly takes bus trips to various areas, primarily Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where many of his family members live.

Lakeisha Anderson, the man’s sister, told NBC she is not sure why her brother was in the airport, since he normally travels by bus.

“We’re not sure why he was at the airport,” she said. “He usually just takes a bus, so we’re not sure what prompted him to just fly to Wyoming. We don’t even know anyone there.”

Lakeisha has a Twitter account where she is providing updates regarding her brother’s case. She also has a hashtag, #FindRoyJr, for people to follow.

Anderson’s suitcase was left unclaimed at the Laramie airport and was sent back to his family in Texas. Most of his personal effects were still in the suitcase, but not his wallet or cell phone.

His phone charger, however, was in the bag. The phone has apparently been turned off since he disappeared.

Anderson’s family has worked with his bank to track his movements and they determined his bank account was accessed on Aug. 9 in Denver.

Lakeisha Anderson told NBC that the Denver Police Department is working to obtain security footage to find out if the transaction was made by Roy.

There is no more money in his account, though.

“We’re just waiting at this point,” Lakeisha Anderson said. “It’s just been so long since we’ve heard from him and it doesn’t make sense. He would’ve found a way to contact us by now.”

The family is especially concerned because Roy needs medication for both diabetes and for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder he suffers after having served as a contract worker in Afghanistan.

Roy Anderson’s mother, Brenda Anderson, told NBC that her son likes reading books about other states and travels to them on a whim. She thinks that may be why he was in Wyoming.

“I feel like he read about Wyoming and just wanted to go visit,” Brenda Anderson said. “But it’s been a month and there’s no sign of him and he hasn’t even tried to contact us. He would at least be in touch with me, his brother or his best friend. But nothing. That’s what worries us.”

Anyone who might have seen Roy Anderson is encouraged to contact the Laramie Police Department at 307-721-2526.

He is described as being around 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighing between 250 and 260 pounds. He could have more facial hair than is seen in this picture, since he hasn’t had access to money for a haircut and shave.

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