DNA solves 26-year-old Carbon County cold case

RAWLINS — DNA identification technology has led the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office and Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation’s Cold Case Team to close a 26-year-old case of brutal attack and kidnapping. 

Two local people reported being attacked by a man July 23, 1995 while camping in the area of South Spring Creek Reservoir in the Medicine Bow National forest, according to a CCSO press release. The man, armed with a rifle, performed multiple sex assaults and other felony offenses against the victims before locking them in the trunk of their vehicle and leaving them for dead. 

The pair escaped and walked about 10 miles to a safe location, where they contacted authorities. 

Although the sheriff ’s office — working in conjunction with the FBI and U.S. Forest Service — generated numerous leads, the technology available at the time inhibited further investigation, according to the press release. 

While the case went cold, the CCSO maintained evidence should a suspect be identified. 

More than 20 years later in 2018, the WDOC Cold Case Team and Carbon County Sheriff Archie Roybal explored using technology available now to generate additional leads in the case, the release said. 

The evidence was sent to the Wyoming Combined Laboratory and a DNA profile was developed of the suspect. 

“Through advances in DNA technology, including the employment of investigative techniques, a suspect was generated by DCI agents and forensic analysts in August 2021,” according to the release. 

Agents traveled to Missouri to interview the suspect and got a statement, during which he confirmed being in Rawlins in 1995 and visiting Carbon County at other times. They also got consent to take a DNA sample from the suspect, which was confirmed as a match to the evidence collected in 1995. 

In the time since giving the sample and being confirmed as the suspect in the kidnapping and assault of two local people the man died from an existing illness, the CCSO reported. 

Under Wyoming state law, because an indictment or charges hadn’t been filed in District Court, the suspect may not be identified.

“In this matter, the defendant’s death occurred before this could take place,” the release said. “For this reason, the defendant will not be publicly identified at this time.” 

DCI agents also have met with the two victims in the case to update them on the new developments in the investigation.