Wyoming News Briefs
January 9, 2020
Cody standoff ends with one dead
CODY (WNE) — A standoff involving Cody police and Park County deputies ended around 5:30 p.m. Monday when authorities in tactical gear entered a camper where a 76-year-old man had shot and killed himself after shooting a woman in the head, according to a Cody Police Department news release.
The woman, his 44-year-old girlfriend, suffered non life-threatening injuries and was taken to the Cody Regional Health Emergency Department.
For roughly two hours authorities, some with the Tactical Response Team carrying rifles, had surrounded a fifth wheel parked in the Parkway RV Campground and Trailer Village and had at one point fired several rounds of possible smoke or concussion grenades.
The incident began at 3:29 p.m. when an ambulance responded to a 44-year-old woman with a head injury.
The female told officers she was shot in the head by her boyfriend during an argument in their camper, which was located in the RV park behind the gas station, the release states. The female was able to leave the camper and sought help at the gas station.
The male followed the female to the gas station, but apparently returned to the camper as law enforcement arrived.
Multiple attempts to make contact with the male were unsuccessful. With the assistance of the Cody Bomb Team, a specialized robot was deployed into the camper and it was discovered the male suspect was deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Man accused of embezzling from pizza store
LARAMIE (WNE) — A Laramie man, Adam Schneider, has been charged with felony theft for allegedly stealing upwards of $12,800 from Papa Murphy’s on Grand Avenue.
Between October and December, the 34-year-old manager apparently embezzled the business’s cash deposits before being caught. He became the manager less than a month after being hired.
On Dec. 21, the business’s co-owner told police that Schneider had been responsible for taking the business’s cash deposits to the bank.
However, the co-owner later realized that very few cash deposits had been made during that
time period and Papa Murphy’s was $12,800 short.
When Schneider was confronted, he reportedly told the co-owner that “he does not have a car and it is hard to get to the bank and the safe was full, so he kept some of the cash at his home.”
When Laramie Police Department officer Ethan Greenwalt spoke with Schneider, he told the officer “you know what happened,” according to an affidavit of probable cause.
When Greenwalt and Schneider went to the defendant’s house to recover the money, Schneider’s mother came out and the defendant reportedly said, “I’m
in big trouble, I embezzled a bunch of money from work.”
While at his house, Greenwalt found $2343 in cash as well as deposit slips totaling $7620.
Under Wyoming law, theft of more than $1000 constitutes a felony punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Humanities names new chief operating officer
CHEYENNE (WNE) — Wyoming Humanities, the statewide organization that develops and promotes cultural and artistic endeavors, has named former Wyoming Business Council CEO Shawn Reese as its new chief operating officer.
Reese, who served as the council’s CEO from 2014 to last year, will lead strategic and financial planning for the organization, which serves as Wyoming’s affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Wyoming Humanities executive director and CEO Shannon Smith said the hiring of Reese fits into the organization’s efforts to follow the mission of ENDOW, an effort started by former Gov. Matt Mead to diversify the state’s economy.
“It really became clear over the period of time that the ENDOW council was working that the idea of enhancing the creative and cultural economy in this state would be a great benefit to this diversification project,” Smith said.
Given Reese’s experience with the Wyoming Business Council and as Mead’s policy director, Smith said the new hire will help the organization attract businesses to particular communities by using economic incentives.
Reese, in a statement provided to the Tribune Eagle, said he was excited to start sparking synergies between various communities in Wyoming.
“I believe the arts and humanities can drive personal and economic development, and I am eager to help build the superstructure of Wyoming’s cultural network at this critical juncture in our state’s history,” Reese said.
Riverton man extradited in 36-year-old murder
RIVERTON (WNE) — A Riverton man indicted Sept. 23 on first-degree murder charges has been extradited to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he pleaded “not guilty” Dec. 12.
The murder case is 36 years old.
Willie C. Moore, 61, was arrested by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office Sept. 20 after three years’ contact between the local law enforcement entity and a cold-case detective team from Tulsa.
At his initial appearance in Lander Circuit Court, Moore denied having committed murder.
He told Judge Robert B. Denhardt, “I didn’t have nothing to do with that.”
Fremont County Undersheriff Mike Hutchison said there were no special challenges in Moore’s arrest, however, when he refused to be extradited, prosecutors sought a governor’s warrant to finish the process.
Once Gov. Mark Gordon compared the identities of the man wanted by Tulsa law enforcement and the local Willie C. Moore, the latter was extradited despite his refusal.
According to the Tulsa Police Department cold case file, on Sept. 18, 1983, Anthony Baltes was found deceased inside a motel room in Tulsa having been tied up and subject to “blunt-force trauma.” Robbery was the suspected motive at the time.
Baltes’s vehicle was discovered near the scene.
The office of Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter filed a press release Sept. 20 crediting DNA technology with the identification of the two suspects: Riverton’s Willie C. Moore, and Erlene Gayle Lee, 58, of Texas.
Lee also was extradited from Texas to Oklahoma. She pleaded “not guilty” in October.
Corrections Department seeks $4 million for hepatitis treatments
CASPER (WNE) — Gov. Mark Gordon is recommending the Legislature reject a $4 million proposal to treat Wyoming inmates who have hepatitis C, something Corrections Department officials say is in keeping with local standards and with recent court cases from across the country.
One-hundred thirty-eight inmates in Wyoming’s prisons have hepatitis C in one of three categories of severity. Currently, the state treats those who have deteriorated into the two worse categories. Treatment, which in recent years has effectively cured the viral condition, is expensive: a Corrections Department official told lawmakers last month that it can cost thousands of dollars.
Robert Lampert, the director of the Corrections Department, told lawmakers last month that while people on Medicare or Medicaid are fully covered for hepatitis C treatment, inmates can’t enroll in either program and thus aren’t covered.
Corrections officials asked lawmakers for money last year to treat patients. That request was denied, and legislators instead asked for more information on the extent of hepatitis C in Wyoming’s prisons. Testing revealed that roughly eight percent of the state’s inmates had the disease, compared to more than 17 percent nationally.
In that report, Lampert wrote that the $4 million request was a “one-time” ask. Going forward, he said, hepatitis C treatment will be part of the state’s contract with the independent medical company that provides treatment to inmates.
Gillette woman sought in international meth ring arrested
GILLETTE (WNE) — A 40-year-old Gillette woman who has been on the run from federal law enforcement for the last six months is now in custody.
Billie Jo Adams, also known as Billie Jo Reynolds, was arrested on warrants at about midnight Dec. 28 in Cheyenne, said Campbell County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Maul.
Adams has a federal warrant from the U.S. Marshal for her alleged involvement in a Mexican drug cartel’s international conspiracy to distribute meth.
In May, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Southern California said police had arrested 33 of the 43 people charged in the case and seized roughly 80 pounds of meth, four guns and more than $100,000 cash.
Adams was one of ten people law enforcement agencies were still looking for.
Adams also had three warrants out of Campbell County, including probation revocation on an original charge of taking a controlled substance into jail and bench warrants for failure to appear on an original charge of defrauding a drug/alcohol test for bond revocation on an original charge of failure to abide by bond conditions by leaving treatment.
She was brought to Campbell County by Natrona County law enforcement late Friday morning, Maul said. The earliest local warrant was issued in June 2018, meaning Adams had been on the run for a year and a half at the time of her arrest.
FCC gives $8.5 million for Albany Co. broadband
LARAMIE (WNE) — The Federal Communications Commission has authorized $8.5 million in funding for broadband to be expanded in Albany County to 8,179 remote and rural locations.
The funding for Albany County accounts for most of the $9.3 million the FCC approved for Wyoming broadband in December.
Ten other Wyoming counties also received some funding, though the average sum for those counties is $85,160.
Albany County is receiving almost a tenth of the entire funding the FCC is investing nationwide in this round of Connect America Fund Phase II projects.
Satellite provider Viasat is responsible for using the funding to provide service to the homes and businesses in Wyoming, using speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps.
“Albany County’s support is based on the number of locations in the area without options for voice and adequately-advanced broadband service [at least 10/1 Mbps],” FCC spokesman Will Wiquist told the Laramie Boomerang in an email.
Wiquist said Viasat offered coverage for Wyoming at the best price.
In return for the funding, Viasat will need to provide the service at lower costs to consumers than typical while also permitting high usage allowances. Wiquist said the prices will need to be “reasonably comparable to the rates for similar service in urban areas” using the FCC’s Urban Rate Survey.
Gunmaker files for bankruptcy
CASPER (WNE) — Glenrock-based firearms manufacturer Sharps Rifle Company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after years of declining revenue and growing debts, according to documents filed Dec. 31.
According to the documents, filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Wyoming, the company owes more than $4 million in total, spread between nine different creditors. The debts range in amounts from less than $2000 to nearly $2 million for services covering advertising to working capital to equipment. The debt also includes a $835,986 judgment levied by a Missouri court to be paid to a former owner of Sharps for fraud and intellectual property violations.
The filings show the company struggling over the last few years. In 2017, Sharps brought in a little more than $1 million in gross revenue. In 2019, it took in only $578,000.
Clark Stith, a Rock Springs-based attorney representing Sharps, said right now the bankruptcy shouldn’t have a large effect on Glenrock because it’s a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That means the company will be able to continue business as usual while going through the bankruptcy court proceedings.
The facility currently employs only one person. Glenrock Mayor Bruce Roumell said the facility hasn’t had more than one employee for over a year.
The company’s president, Jay Johnston, did not immediately return calls Thursday seeking additional information.
Shooting case moved to district court
CHEYENNE (WNE) — A Nebraska man accused of shooting someone in a hotel parking lot last month had his case bound over Thursday afternoon to Laramie County District Court.
Isaac James, 26, of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, is charged with attempted first-degree murder in connection with a Dec. 11 shooting that left a North Dakota man a paraplegic.
Isaac James, along with his brother, Terence James, 27, of Cheyenne, were allegedly part of a drug deal gone wrong that resulted in the brothers getting into an argument with Genaro Bojorquez, 35, of North Dakota and Joseph Andrade over methamphetamine. During the argument, Isaac James allegedly shot Bojorquez in the back, and Terence James allegedly punched Andrade in the face.
Terence James is charged with accessory, aid and abet attempted first-degree murder, and simple battery for the same incident. Terence James had his case bound over to district court last week.
Circuit Judge Denise Nau also set Isaac James’ bond at $1 million cash only; he was previously being held without bond.
According to court documents:
On Dec. 11, Cheyenne police responded to the TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotel parking lot on West Lincolnway in response to reports of someone being shot. When police arrived, they discovered Bojorquez shot in the back.
Bojorquez and Andrade bought drugs from Terence and Isaac James, and later that night, an altercation ensued between them. During the argument, Bojorquez was shot by Isaac James, and Andrade was punched in the face by Terence James.
Part of high Tetons closed to allow goat removal
JACKSON (WNE) — A large swath of the high Tetons will be off limits next week to buffer the public from contracted aerial gunners who will have their sights set on non-native mountain goats.
The area closure, which includes the north and west slopes of the iconic Cathedral Group, will begin Sunday and extend as late as Jan. 12. Grand Teton National Park officials said in as statement that the area will be entirely closed to human entry for “public and operational safety.”
The weather-dependent operations will kick off Sunday with reconnaissance flights to map out where the 100 or so estimated goats in the range are spending their winter. The gunning, contracted to Oregon-based Baker Aircraft, will use non-lead rounds from a shotgun or rifle, the exact weapon depending on the conditions. Tentatively, goat killing will begin Monday, Teton Park spokeswoman Denise Germann said.
“We’re trying to be efficient and effective — so doing this as fast as possible in the most efficient way — and we believe that the aerial operations does that,” Germann said.
Ground-based killing by “qualified volunteers” who would hunt the goats is not taking place this winter, Germann said.
The purpose of Grand Teton Park’s mountain goat eradication efforts is to help the mountain range’s struggling native bighorn sheep.