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Wyoming News Briefs


September 9, 2021

Police make arrest in Casper man’s murder

CASPER (WNE) — Police have arrested a man on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of a Casper man reported missing in June.

Justin Armando Marquez, 40, was taken into custody on Friday, according to the Casper Police Department.

The department said on Thursday that it was investigating Ryan Schroeder’s death as a homicide after his body was identified last week after it was found in rural Natrona County.

Marquez faces one recommended charge of second-degree murder. Friday’s police announcement did not offer any details as to why Marquez was suspected in Schroeder’s death. Police said they would not be releasing further information on the investigation “to ensure the integrity of the case.”

Schroeder was reported missing on July 6. Afterward, officers spoke to people who’d been around him and learned he was planning to leave Casper for a trip to Denver around June 24, police said.

The subsequent investigation led detectives to believe Schroeder was dead. It also brought them to an unidentified location in rural Natrona County, where they found a body. Police did not specify the location nor what drew investigators to it.

On Wednesday, authorities identified the body as belonging to Schroeder.

Police said they don’t believe the killing was a random act or that there’s any active threat to the public.

Man convicted of poaching in third Wyoming county

SHERIDAN (WNE) — A man was convicted of extensive poaching in the Bighorn Mountains Tuesday, making it his third county in Wyoming to be convicted of similar crimes.

Sheridan County Circuit Court Judge Shelley Cundiff sentenced Russell Vick, 56, to one year of imprisonment at the Sheridan County Detention Center and a total of $70,000 in fines and restitution for unlawfully taking three antlered moose and one big game animal, a cow moose, between the years of 2007 and 2011 in the Bighorn National Forest in Sheridan County.

According to court documents and testimony shared Tuesday by lead Wyoming Game and Fish Department Investigator Dustin Kirsch, Vick illegally poached four moose in the Bighorn Mountains without a license. 

Vick was and is a resident of Buhl, Alabama, and frequently hunted in Wyoming. WGFD public information officer Christina Schmidt said because of pending charges and an open case in another county, she was unable to provide details as to how the investigation initially began, but in 2017, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigation led to financial records related to the several poaching charges.

The financial documents confirmed Vick was in Sheridan County on the dates in the metadata of photographs taken in the Bighorns with the poached animals, which were seized from Vick’s home in Alabama.

The Sheridan County charges come after Vick received a suspended sentence in 2006 in a Weston County case where he allegedly poached bighorn sheep, and pleaded no contest to eight counts of illegally taking a game animal without a license or during a closed season in Campbell County Circuit Court in June 2020. 

Manhunt subject held in Carbon County

RAWLINS (WNE) — The 30-year-old Denver man captured in southern Carbon County after a daylong manhunt last week continues to be held on a cash-only bond in the local jail.

Jose Guadalupe Valdez Silerio was captured after a manhunt that began at about 1 a.m. Aug. 26 in Riverside. It ended late the same day near Creston Junction west of Rawlins, but not before prompting law enforcement to warn area residents and delay the start of a school by a couple of hours.

Valdez remains in the Carbon County jail, said Carbon County Attorney Ashley Mayfield Davis.

In addition to charges in Colorado, Valdez faces a host of criminal charges in Wyoming, including theft, feeing or attempting to elude, property destruction, reckless driving, interference with a police officer, failure to maintain a single lane of travel and speeding 90 mph in a 70 mph zone.

In his affidavit, Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Chad Bracken wrote that someone matching Valdez’s description “was seen stealing a 1998 green and silver Dodge Diesel 2500 pickup” in Encampment on Aug. 26.

A high-speed chase of some 92 miles with speeds reaching up to 90 mph ensued west along Higway 70 from Encampment to Baggs, then north on Highway 789 toward Creston Junction and Interstate 80, according to the affidavit. Along the way, Valdez successfully eluded several WHP troopers.

At mile marker 8 on 789, the stolen truck struck a WHP patrol vehicle while trying to evade some deployed spike strips, doing “significant damage” to the WHP vehicle, Bracken wrote. The truck also was damaged in this crash.

Climber in fatality identified as California resident

JACKSON (WNE) — The climber found dead at the base of the Black Chimney route on Teewinot Mountain has been identified as Hitoshi Onoe, a 42-year old IT engineer who was vacationing in Jackson. 

A Japanese national, Onoe worked in San Jose, California, according to a Teton Park news release. 

His cause of death hasn’t been determined, according to Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue, who provided the Jackson Hole Daily with details about Onoe after his family was notified.

Besides his name, profession and age, Blue said that Onoe had been staying at an Airbnb in town.

Teton Park representatives have not said what route Onoe was climbing, though many climbers regard the general area where he was found as hard to navigate.

The National Park Service is investigating the accident and has released little information about what happened aside from details included in a Saturday evening news release.

Climbing rangers responded Saturday after a separate climber ascending Teewinot reported finding a deceased man at the base of the Black Chimney. Onoe was likely alone and planning to climb the East Face, based on a marked map found with him, the release said.

Park spokesman CJ Adams told the Daily that the incident that led to the man’s death likely occurred Friday, and rangers were notified around noon Saturday. The park recovered his body with a helicopter.

Teewinot has claimed a number of lives over the years, most recently in May 2018 when a Jackson nurse appeared to have slipped and fallen on a high-angle snowfield.

Fentanyl deaths reported in Fremont County

RIVERTON (WNE) — Local health officials and law enforcement are warning residents about an uptick in drug-related incidents involving fentanyl and opioids. 

“In June, the Fremont County Coroner’s Office responded to two confirmed fentanyl deaths,” chief deputy coroner Erin Ivie said in a statement issued cooperatively with the Fremont County Prevention Program. 

“As recreational use of this drug continues, we anticipate more but are hopeful that the community understands how deadly it can be.” 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. 

The drug was developed as a pharmaceutical pain management tool for cancer patients, but because of its powerful opioid properties, FCPP says fentanyl is also diverted for abuse. 

“Recreational use of fentanyl is deadly, simply put,” Fremont County Sheriff Ryan Lee said. “Street use of this substance substantially increases the likelihood of sudden death.” 

Typically a medicine used to treat severe pain under brand names including Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze, synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States. 

In 2017, 59.8 percent of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl, compared to 14.3 percent in 2010. 

Prescription fentanyl can be given as a shot, a patch that is put on a person’s skin, or as lozenges that are sucked like cough drops.

Fire restrictions lifted in northwest Wyoming

POWELL (WNE) — With the arrival of cooler temperatures and more rain, local land managers are lifting fire restrictions. 

The Shoshone National Forest and the Bureau of Land Manage- ment recently removed fire bans and Park County commis- sioners will like- ly do the same next week. 

On Tuesday, Park County Fire Warden Jerry Parker told commissioners that recent rain and lower temperatures have significantly reduced the threat of a major wildfire. 

“Even though we may still have some warm dry weather left before winter, we will probably not return to the extreme conditions that prompted the fire closures,” Parker wrote in a letter. 

Park County commissioners will consider lifting the fire ban — which prohibited all outdoor open fires unless they met one of several exceptions — at Tuesday’s meeting. 

When they first implemented the ban in July, the weather was hot, vegetation was dry and the Robertson Draw Fire had just ripped across about 30,000 acres between Clark and Red Lodge, Montana, destroying multiple cabins. Going against Parker’s advice, commissioners waited until after the Fourth of July to ban fireworks and other open fires. It wound up being a relatively quiet holiday for local firefighters and, despite spending a number of days in “extreme” fire danger, only one other substantial fire — the Crater Ridge Fire in the Bighorn Mountains — broke out in the region in July and August. 

“We were very fortunate this summer that we didn’t have anything that got out of hand that the local fire departments and the federal agencies couldn’t get under control,” Parker said.


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