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Sheriff says murder mystery investigation ‘progressing’

The investigation into a decapitated body found in Badger Basin west of Powell last week is “progressing,” according to the Park County Sheriff’s Office.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the sheriff’s office said it is working closely with local as well as national and international law enforcement agencies, using every possible resource available.

“We have had excellent cooperation with local law enforcement including the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and the Cody and Powell Police Departments,” said Sheriff Scott Steward. “In addition, we have reached out to agencies in Montana as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), INTERPOL and the United States Border Patrol in an attempt to both identify the victim and to further enhance our investigation leading to the eventual apprehension of the suspect(s).”

The mutilated body — apparently belonging to a white or light-skinned Hispanic agricultural worker under the age of 35 — was discovered by a duck hunter on Jan. 9.

A DCI statement says it appears the damage to the body was inflicted after the man was dead.

Investigators continue to work closely with the DCI forensic laboratory in Cheyenne to analyze evidence. They’re also processing information provided by the public — information the sheriff’s office said is appreciated.

Authorities plan to search more areas for additional evidence — include the missing body parts — but recent weather has hampered these efforts.

“We are also fully aware of the theories and rumors circulating within our community regarding the crime being drug-related, a drug cartel killing, etc.,” Steward said.

“But it would be irresponsible for us to focus on theories at this juncture because we just don’t have enough facts to support conclusions this early into the investigation,” he said. “Our primary focus must be on identification of the victim and possible suspect(s). Any speculation on my part without supporting evidence would be unwise and could hinder both the investigation and could lead to a false sense of security within the community.”

The sheriff said Park County citizens’ safety and security is of the utmost importance and that he’ll immediately release any information that will enhance their security.

“I ask that the public be patient and understand that we are doing everything we can to keep the public informed without jeopardizing the investigation. I realize this is difficult giving the brutality of the crime,” Steward said. “But in the end it is my duty to ensure the integrity of the investigation at the same time balancing the public’s need to know.”

The release asks that any information regarding the investigation, including possible identification of the victim, be immediately given to the Park County Sheriff’s Office at 307-527-8700.

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