The discovery of an unidentified murder victim's headless body nearly three weeks ago on a remote, dead-end dirt road in Wyoming has stymied investigators and led some residents to speculate that big-league drug violence has reached a rural county just east of Yellowstone National Park.

However, authorities insist they're still looking for a motive for the grisly crime, along with the victim's identity. Duck hunters found the body Jan. 9 near the town of Powell.

A pathologist determined the man -- no more than 35 years old, about 5-foot-8, and 180 to 200 pounds -- was killed by multiple gunshot wounds before he was decapitated. One of his arms also was cut off.

It's believed the man was killed about two days before he was found.

"You've got a body missing an arm and a head, no missing persons reports," Lance Mathess, a spokesman for the Park County Sheriff's Office, said Wednesday. "Nobody's come forward with any solid identification leads at this point, so it really makes it a difficult investigation."

The victim -- stocky, physically fit and white or light-skinned Hispanic -- was wearing an elaborate, embroidered belt buckle featuring a horsehead. Authorities say that buckle style is similar to craftsmanship from some villages in Mexico and Guatemala.

For that reason, Mathess said his agency believes the man might have been from Mexico or elsewhere south of the border and might have been a farm or ranch worker. Park County has reached out to the FBI, the U.S. Border Patrol and even Interpol, the international police agency, for assistance.

"We're well aware of the pattern of killings, if you will, of drug cartels" in Mexico, Mathess said, citing decapitations of victims of drug cartel violence there. "But again we don't really have anything to go on right now."

Pat Childers, a former Wyoming legislator, lives in Cody, just over 20 miles from Powell.

"My personal opinion is that probably it's involved in some drug trafficking. But I don't know that," Childers said.

"It doesn't shock me," said John Linebaugh, a gunsmith whose son lives a few miles from the crime scene. "I've been involved in law enforcement. A lot of my customers are law enforcement people from the FBI on down."

It's unclear whether the man was killed where his body was found. Investigators also say there's no evidence wildlife might have removed the head.

"I think there's concern among the community, but I wouldn't classify it as an overblown concern or a panic," Mathess said.

He added authorities have no reason to believe residents are in any imminent danger.

"We definitely encourage them to be vigilant," Mathess said. "We definitely encourage them to continue to look out for their neighbors, to report strange activity."

(4) comments

rigrat
rigrat

Given the rampant drug activity in Park County,especially Powell,for years,this sort of atrocity was bound to happen.

Laramie quantum observer
Laramie quantum observer

What a bunch of silly, meaningless quotes."I used to be in law enforcement. I don't know what happened here. I'll bet it's drugs." yap yap yap. I don't know anything either. So let me guess it turns out to be a copycat murder..making it look like a drug kill that the dumb cops wont' really care to investigate because they're all happy a druggy got beheaded. That's my guess.

TimothyTwoToesLessRightFoot
TimothyTwoToesLessRightFoot

Namaste Everyone, Drugs and gangs are setting up shop everywhere. To follow that black road will involve you with drugs, violence, destroyed relationships, community oppression and terror. Gangs are destroying neighborhoods. The style of speech and behavior is from inter-city Black America, but these kids are tattooing cultural symbols on their bodies like sacred hoops, bear claws etc in order to diferenciate them from other groups. This is disrespectful to many cultures because gangs have nothing positive about them. Thanks Namaste, Timothy Two Toes Less Right Foot.

lazydotranch
lazydotranch

I heard Cody police have a suspect. They were searching a guys house and found Head and Shoulders in his shower.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.