By on May 24, 2016

Manhunt leads to grizzly discovery

160525TOU-1JACKSON HOLE, WY – The manhunt for a father-son team on the lam from Utah ended in Sublette County Wyoming where authorities arrested Flint and Dereck Harrison on kidnapping charges. The story didn’t end there, though. A missing Utah Transit Authority rail worker, Kay Ricks, was found dead by Lincoln County sheriff’s near Kemmerer, Wyoming five days after he disappeared following a known visit from the Harrisons.

Authorities believe the wanted pair snatched Ricks and his company truck in order to make their getaway to Wyoming. FBI agents doing an aerial sweep near Half Moon Lake where Dereck Harrison, 22, was nabbed after his father, Flint, 51, surrendered, spotted Ricks’ truck in a heavily wooded area. Ricks’ body was found along the route police believe the Harrisons may have taken to their hideout.

Ricks’ death is being ruled a homicide but to date no evidence has been found to link the Utah escapees to his death. The Harrisons waived their expedition rights and have been transported back to Centerville, Utah. Several regional news outlets carried the story.

Meth in a cup case

160525TOU-2ABC News coverage last week included the case of Jon Freiberg of Casper, Wyoming. Freiberg is accused of spiking the drink of Richard Serafin, 46, with methamphetamine last August. Serafin died from cardiac arrest as a result.

Freiberg, 53, pleaded not guilty last week in District Court on one felony count of involuntary manslaughter as well as a slew of other charges. Freiberg is being held in the Natrona County Detention Center.

Wyoming behind Trump

160525TOU-3Wyoming’s all-Republican congressional delegation is behind the Donald. Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, along with Rep. Cynthia Lummis, announced they were backing the real estate mogul Donald Trump for president.

Lummis, who initially endorsed Sen. Rand Paul in the primary, said she still has some reservations over Trump’s treatment of women.

“I also get the impression, however, within his corporate and business life that women have a role and that he treats them as equals with the men in his organization,” Lummis told the Star Tribune. “I don’t think he treats anyone as an equal to himself. But within his group of close advisers and business associates … he treats men and women pretty equally.”

Barrasso is the only member of the state’s delegation to have actually met Trump. He said Trump brought up two issues important to Wyomingites: energy and the Affordable Care Act. Enzi likes Trump’s business background.

“You don’t become a success in business without weathering the downs,” Enzi said. “American business is having a down with the worst job report in years. Under President Obama I expect that it will get worse, not better. We don’t want more of the same.”

Highway deaths down

Authorities in Wyoming are citing proactive efforts by Highway Patrol, especially during winter months, as reason for a sharp decline in fatal crashes on state roads so far this year. More troopers are patrolling state highways. Traffic volume is also down through April. They could be contributing factors as well, WHP Capt. Shawn Dickerson told the Trib.

Eighteen people have died in crashes in Wyoming since the start of the year. That’s compared to 46 fatalities at this time last year. Dickerson said fatal wrecks pick up during the summer travel season. WHP will participate in a national campaign beginning June 5 encouraging motorists to buckle up.

Still dangerous to be gay in Wyoming

160525TOU-4Freelance writer Nathan Martin contributed a compelling argument in defense of gay rights for Writers on the Range last Friday. It was carried by the Albuquerque Journal. Martin recounted his own brush with anti-gay violence while living in Rock Springs in 2001. Things in Wyoming haven’t changed much, he wrote, not even after Matthew Shepard’s story went national in 1999.

Martin lived in Buenos Aires, Chicago and New Orleans during the past decade where he witnessed some homophobia but nothing like what he encountered when returning to Wyoming last year. Martin recalled the brutal attack of Trevor O’Brien in Gillette last December. The incident may have led the 20-year-old gay man to take his life in March 2016.

“Forty-five states have passed [Hate Crime] laws that empower state-level authorities,” Martin wrote. “Wyoming is not one of them. It is time we changed that.” PJH

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