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Wyoming News Briefs: November 19, 2019

SVI Media is part of the Wyoming News Exchange. These stories come courtesy of the WNE.

 

Man charged with murder in discovery of body

CODY (WNE) — Former Cody resident and convicted felon Joseph Underwood is now facing multiple charges, including first degree murder, in Laramie County related to a homicide investigation.

In addition, Underwood is also accused of first-degree sexual assault, stalking and two counts of applying pressure on the throat or neck. His charges were filed in Laramie County last Friday.

Underwood’s court file is sealed due to the sexual assault allegations, but his charges were available on circuit court computers. Court cases involving sexual assault charges are usually sealed until they are bound over to district court.

His initial appearance and preliminary hearing haven’t been scheduled at this time in circuit court because Underwood is still in the Park County Detention Center. It’s anticipated that he will be transported to Laramie County soon to face his murder charge.

On Monday morning Judge Bruce Waters dismissed charges against Underwood for disposing of a human body and three other alleged crimes, to allow Laramie County better ability to prosecute the more serious charges.

The deceased victim in the case is Angela Elizondo, 40, of Cheyenne.

Her body was found by Cody hunter Marty Dupertuis, wrapped and bound near milepost 67 on WYO 120 South, 1.5 miles west from the highway on a dirt two-track road.

It is believed Elizondo was murdered in Cheyenne before being transported to Cody, according to a Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation news release.

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Gordon denies most of UW budget increase request

LARAMIE (WNE) — The budget that Gov. Mark Gordon is presenting to the Legislature contains few of the increases to the University of Wyoming’s budget that trustees asked for. His budget for the upcoming biennium was released Monday.

To continue the current services already funded by the Legislature’s block grant, UW would need a legislative appropriation of $435 million for the 2021-2022 biennium.

However, university officials had hoped the Legislature would increase the block grant to $501 million for the upcoming biennium.

A $65.8 million budget increase, however, was much more than Gordon was willing to support and his budget includes none of the $30 million UW had asked for to boost its general operations.

In UW’s budget request, the university said that $30 million would’ve been used to help hire College of Business professors to ensure its programs remain accredited, increase blockchain programming, boost the stature of the College of Agriculture, and pay for operations at the Science Initiative and Engineering Education and Research building.

Aside from funding for general operations, UW had asked for $43.8 million in state funding to create new endowments, but Gordon is only supporting $12.5 million of that request, including half of the $10 million that UW had requested to hire new endowed faculty.

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Man charged in decades-old assault

EVANSTON (WNE) — A 52-year-old Evanston man accused of sexually assaulting two family members and a former girlfriend’s daughter decades ago pleaded not guilty to all counts in Third District Court in Evanston last week.

Rodney William “Bill” Blakeman entered not guilty pleas to four counts of second-degree sexual assault, along with one count of taking immodest, immoral or indecent liberties with a child.

Investigators say Blakeman sexually assaulted a 6-year-old while living with a former girlfriend. Two other alleged victims, both blood relatives, have accused Blakeman of abusing them when they were children. One said Blakeman sexually assaulted her from about the age of 8 until she was 12, and the other said Blakeman sexually assaulted her when she was 17, after he provided the girl with alcohol.

Blakeman is scheduled for a pre-trial conference at 11 a.m. on Jan. 28, 2020, and a trial is set to begin on March 3, 2020.

If convicted, Blakeman faces up to 90 years in prison and up to $40,100 in fines.

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Mysterious Park County grave contains remains of pet

POWELL (WNE) — A mysterious grave reported on Polecat Bench this summer contains “the remains of a beloved family pet” and not a human body, the Park County Sheriff’s Office announced last week.

A private landowner had discovered the grave on their property and reported it to the sheriff’s office in mid-August.

Adding to the site’s unusual nature was a metal cross with the name “Morgan,” positioned at one end of the grave. Multiple rings were attached to the cross by a necklace chain, while the cross itself contained a pair of numbers indicating that it was meant to memorialize a person who lived from 1988 to 2003.

As part of its investigation, the sheriff’s office ran cadaver dogs at the site, which indicated there might be human remains, department spokesman Lance Mathess said. Investigators turned to the public for tips in September, drawing significant interest on social media.

In a Thursday Facebook post announcing the close of the case, the sheriff’s office indicated that someone familiar with the creation of the site came forward to explain that a pet was buried at the site. The post said that investigators have since “verified that the grave does not contain human remains.”

“As to the significance of the cross, those responsible for the grave have asked to remain anonymous and that their privacy be respected,” the sheriff’s office said.

The site is located a couple miles east of Wyo. Highway 294, north of Powell.

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Wyoming This Weekend, Nov. 22-24

By The Wyoming News Exchange

A number of bazaars and other holiday happenings around the state offer Wyoming residents ample opportunities to kick off the holiday season.

Experience a Festival of Trees at Gillette’s Cam-Plex throughout the weekend (https://www.gillettefestivaloftrees.com/events).  The event features live entertainment, shopping opportunities and more than 60 Christmas trees and wreaths for auction to raise money for better healthcare for the community.

A Cowboy Christmas at the home of the Wyoming State Fair in Douglas on Saturday offers shopping from vendors and local artisans.  The kids can visit with Santa and adults can enter the salsa, chili or Bloody Mary competition  (https://www.conversecountytourism.com/events/2019-11-23).

Other events include the following:

A Very Merry Christmas Makers’ Market Friday evening in Buffalo at the Cowboy Carousel Center  (http://buffalowyo.com/Events/detail/15602);

The Sinclair Holiday Fair on Saturday at the Sinclair Recreation Center (https://www.wyomingcarboncounty.com/events/474-sinclair-holiday-fair);

Newcastle’s Christmas in Wyoming Bazaar Saturday at the First Methodist Church  (http://www.newcastlewyo.com/events);

Teton Mudpots Holiday Sale on Friday in Jackson, where holiday shoppers can find pottery, prints, jewelry and paintings created by local artists (https://www.jacksonhole.com/events/events_cat/teton-mudpots-holiday-sale.6306.html).

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