Wyoming news briefs for September 14


Wildlife tissue samples sought in Jackson Hole area as fall hunting gets underway

JACKSON — Rifle season for big game in much of Northwest Wyoming kicks off with deer hunting on Wednesday, and wildlife managers want hunters who harvest to take one extra body part with them.

Specifically, a lymph node. 

They’re urging hunters to teach themselves how to carve out the node from the retropharyngeal area, which is to say the back of the throat. Finding the gummy bear-sized gland is important because it’s a small body part that can easily be tested for chronic wasting disease, an incurable and lethal sickness that’s making inroads into deer and elk populations in the Jackson Hole region.

The Game and Fish Department has a surveillance system in place that identifies different “focus” hunt areas, where the state sets out to collect a statistically significant volume of CWD samples. 

This year those focus areas blanket a large portion of huntable public land in the agency’s Jackson Region, and they’re applicable for both elk and deer.

For deer, hunt units 146 and 150-156 have all been designated as focal areas. In elk, units 70, 71, 75, 77-85 and 88-91 are special CWD surveillance areas.

Although the degenerative brain-wasting disease has not been documented hopping species from cervids to people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instructs hunters not to consume meat from infected animals. A cousin of CWD, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, does affect humans.

The state of Wyoming has not yet required hunters to submit CWD samples from their harvested animals in most places.

Instead, locally, they’re debuting a carrot approach. Hunters who voluntarily submit lymph nodes will be automatically entered into a “CWD raffle” for two tiers of prizes.

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Man killed by trooper intoxicated

RIVERTON — The man who was fatally shot by a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper in June near Lander was intoxicated at the time, according to a case report from the Fremont County Coroner’s Office. 

David L. Fann, 24, died at about 3:55 p.m. June 25 of multiple gunshot wounds resulting from a homicide, officials said. 

Toxicology testing showed his blood-alcohol content was .412, and his body contained 18 nanograms per milliliter of methamphetamines. 

Reports published previously indicate Fann was driving on Sinks Canyon Road near Goodrich Drive and fired on the trooper during a traffic stop initiated at about 3:25 p.m. Friday, June 25.

According to a WHP statement, Fann shot and wounded the trooper with a firearm.  The trooper returned fire, striking Fann, who was transported from the scene to a hospital and died shortly thereafter.

The legal blood-alcohol limit in Wyoming for drivers is .08, meaning Fann’s BAC was more than five times the permissible amount. 

The trooper has been released from the hospital and is recovering.

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Missing woman believed to last be in Teton Park

JACKSON —  Multiple law enforcement agencies are searching for 22-year-old Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, who is believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park before her disappearance.

Petito’s parents filed a missing persons report Sept. 11, about two weeks after they last spoke to her over the phone.

Petito is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 110 pounds, according to a Suffolk County, New York, Police news release. She has blonde hair, blue eyes and several tattoos, the news release stated, including one on her forearm that reads “let it be.” The van she was traveling in has been recovered.

She had been traveling with a companion in a 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida license plate QFTG03 when she stopped communicating with friends and family, according to the Suffolk County Police release.

According to a Facebook post by Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, Petito was last seen headed to Yellowstone National Park from Salt Lake City. During their last call — around Aug. 24, Petito told her mother that she was in Grand Teton National Park and soon headed to Yellowstone.

Reportedly, Petito’s fiance, with whom she was traveling, returned to their home in Florida, hired a lawyer and refused to cooperate with law enforcement officials, her family said.

Schmidt said her daughter routinely FaceTimed and called her, but those calls subsided in late August.

“The first couple of days when I wasn’t getting responses, I believed she was in a place with no service. It was like day eight and nine that I really became concerned,” she added.

Police investigators are asking anyone with information on Petito’s disappearance to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. The release adds that calls can remain anonymous.

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Powell man charged with first degree murder

CODY — A Powell resident is facing first degree murder charges related to the death of his four-month old infant.

Jason Getzfreid, 27, is facing the possibility of life in prison and the death penalty if found guilty.

According to the Park County Sheriff’s Office affidavit, the baby girl known as “R.G.” was brought to Powell Valley Healthcare on Aug. 22 and was being treated for “non-accidental trauma.” A Connecticut doctor consulted on the case determined from x-rays the injuries were “typical of non-accidental injuries over a period of time.”

It was determined the mother of the child was at work when the injury occurred. 

When PVHC staff couldn’t determine any obvious external injuries, the infant was transported by air to a hospital in Salt Lake City. After surgery there, it was determined the infant had no corneal reflex, was generally non-responsive, needed assistance to breathe and was not responding to pain. The child’s injuries were determined not consistent with any fall or “explained by benign events or reasonable discipline.”

“These findings are consistent with inflicted injury and child physical abuse,” Ehlers said in the affidavit.

A doctor at the hospital determined the child’s injuries due to violent acceleration and deceleration, consistent with some form of shaking. 

On Aug. 27 the infant passed away.

Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters set Getzfreid’s bond at $1 million after his initial hearing on Friday. Getzfreid is scheduled for a 10 a.m. Friday preliminary hearing in Circuit Court. 

Getzfreid, a registered sex offender, was convicted for second degree sexual abuse of a minor younger than 13-years old in 2012. In 2013 he was found guilty for failing to register as a sex offender.

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