NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, May 14, 2019

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A woman who was found dead Friday is now considered a homicide victim, according to the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department.

Carol J. Wallace, 80, was found dead Friday morning in the basement of a home in the 1100 block of Green Mountain Road, which is northwest of Cheyenne.

When deputies arrived at the home at 7:29a.m. Friday, they found Carol Wallace dead. The reporting party was a son who came from a different address. There was also another son in the home when the reporting party arrived, according to a news release from the sheriff’s department, which will continue to investigate.

The department announced Monday morning that a second search warrant would be conducted at the home the same day.

Both sons were taken to the department for questioning. The brother who was at the home, James Brian Wallace, 48, is in custody on unrelated charges (on a warrant for failure to appear in court on charges of domestic battery, criminal entry, destruction of property and interference).

He is expected to be formally charged in connection with the homicide through the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office in the coming days, according to Capt. Linda Gesell.

An autopsy on Carol Wallace has been completed, but as of Monday morning, the sheriff’s department said the cause of death would not be released pending a report from the medical examiner. There is no threat to the public, according to Gesell.


Teenage girl identified as instigator of ‘threat’

RIVERTON (WNE) — After a Riverton Police Department release alerted the community to the threat of gun-related violence at Riverton High School, instigator of the supposed threat was identified late Friday afternoon as a 14-year-old girl. 

RPD chief Eric Murphy issued an announcement on Friday morning, acknowledging that the threat was “vague at best, but we are taking it very seriously and investigating the threat in an effort to locate a suspect and keep the kids and staff safe.” 

The comment that interested police emerged in mid-April, when one RHS student confronted the girl on social media, in an attempt to provoke her to reveal her identity. 

The girl’s anonymous Instagram account was said to have been derogatory toward the student body of the Riverton school. 

In a statement that reflected on his briefing of the situation, Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun said that the conversation under investigation devolved into “a 17-year-old boy telling a 14-year-old girl that she was fat and ugly, and furthermore, (he) told her that she was the kind of person who would shoot up a school.” 

The Instagram user now known to school authorities made just one response to the provocation. LeBrun said the response was “’Gotchaaaa. May 15,’ followed by a wink emoji.” 

It was this response that induced both the FBI and the RPD to launch an investigation into the matter. 

LeBrun, who is a parent of a child in a Riverton school, concluded his statement with his personal belief that “my child will be safe at school on May 15.”


Montana mussel discovery has Wyoming on high alert

CODY (WNE) — Yellowstone National Park and Wyoming Game and Fish are becoming increasingly vigilant about the dangers to waterways from zebra and quagga mussels.

The tiny invasive species, long on the organizations’ watch list, have the potential to infect and ruin fisheries and even drinking water if not repelled from water systems.

“It’s a disaster,” warned Game and Fish director Brian Nesvik in a talk in Cody last Thursday. “It’s bad stuff.”

Only two days earlier in Cody, Todd Koel, the National Park Service fisheries supervisor in Yellowstone, also addressed the threat.

The recent discovery of mussels in some bodies of water in Montana has helped raise the profile of the small mollusks that are the size of a coin.

“It heightened awareness,” Koel said. “They have been advancing west for some time.”

Mussels are native to eastern Europe, but worked their way across the continent and then to the United States. They are freshwater species that breed quickly and reconfigure ecosystems to the point other fish in lakes die off or unwelcome vegetation grows.

Zebra, and the stronger quagga mussels, invade water bodies by adhering to the bottom of boats that are transported from place to place, or by remaining in water carried in boats whose owners move them across the country. Mud, sand and animal and plant matter can conceal them.

This is a key reason why Wyoming has an elaborate watercraft inspection system for boats arriving in the state. Likewise, Yellowstone has ratcheted up its protective measures designed to prevent any invasion into the Park’s waters. 


Sheridan hospital gets high marks

SHERIDAN (WNE) — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced on its Hospital Compare website that Sheridan Memorial Hospital has earned a 4-star rating. The rating is based on a series of quality indicators CMS measures in their 5-star rating system. This puts SMH in the top 20 percent of all hospitals across the country.

According to hospital Chief Nursing Officer Barb Hespen, the hospital achieved this 4-star rating ahead of schedule.

“Originally we had a goal of attaining 4-Star status later in 2019 or early 2020. This shows the efforts we are putting into improving our processes is working,” Hespen said. “This rating is a testament to all of the hard work and dedication that is put in by our staff and physicians every day.”

Since the start of the star rating system in 2015, CMS has collected and compiled data from hospitals and uses that information to assign ratings from 1-5 stars. Much of the data comes from surveys of actual patients assessing their specific experience. CMS uses the rating system to measure multiple facets of more than 4,000 hospitals across the country to drive systematic improvements in care and safety for patients. The ratings are published on the CMS hospital compare website  —

The specific performance indicators include measurements related to re-admission rates, patient experience and mortality rates.


Wyoming this Weekend, May 17-19

By The Wyoming News Exchange

An annual auction elk antlers collected from the National Elk Refuge will highlight this weekend’s activities at Jackson’s ElkFest.

The celebration begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with the annual Boy Scouts Elk Antler Auction, which is expected to draw more than 100 buyers from across the country. Money raised by the auction, which generated more than $170,000 in 2018, is divided between the Boy Scouts and the Elk Refuge.

Other activities at the ElkFest include performances by the Jackson Hole Community Band on Saturday and a mountain man rendezvous and chili cook-off on Sunday.

Other events scheduled for the weekend include:

The ninth annual “Harmony, Hops and Hope” brew fest in Casper on Saturday;

A historic walking tour of Lander on Saturday;

The “Spiritual Nature of Earth, Hide and Metal” exhibit at Big Horn’s Brinton Museum continuing through the weekend, and

Ongoing performances of Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue in Cody through the weekend.

For more information on these and other weekend activities, please visit the Wyoming Tourism Division’s website at