Wyoming news briefs for September 6


Police make arrest in Casper man’s murder

CASPER — 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.

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Man convicted of poaching in third Wyoming county

SHERIDAN — 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. 

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Manhunt subject held in Carbon County

RAWLINS — 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.

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Body of climber found on Teewinot Mountain

JACKSON — Grand Teton National Park rangers discovered a dead climber Saturday at the base of the Black Chimney climbing route on Teewinot Mountain.

The Park has not said what route the man was climbing, though many climbers regard the general area where he was found as hard to navigate.

The park is withholding the man’s identity until his family can be notified. Park spokesman CJ Adams told the Jackson Hole Daily via text that he had not received confirmation as of Sunday afternoon that next of kin had been notified and so could not provide his name.

But, responding to rumors swirling on social media, Adams said the dead climber was not Cian McLaughlin, the Irish Jacksonite who disappeared in the Tetons earlier this summer.

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. The man was likely alone and planning to climb the East Face, based on a marked map found with him, the release said.

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 remains 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.

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