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A murder suspect arrested Thursday in Mills was leaving a gas station covered in blood “from his shoulders down to his feet,” a police report shows. A knife was found in his pocket and he allegedly told a deputy he had killed his ex-girlfriend and slit his own wrists.

Donald J. Crouse, 48, is suspected of killing a woman in northern Wyoming earlier on the same day he was found. He appeared Monday in Big Horn County Circuit Court, where he was charged with first-degree murder.

The report, written by officer Grant Pederson of the Mills Police Department, offers the first details concerning Crouse’s arrest.

Pederson notes in the report that he was looking for the murder suspect around 10:30 p.m. Thursday when he spotted a parked Subaru matching a description provided to the department. Pederson spotted Crouse leaving the Loaf ‘n Jug on West Yellowstone Highway covered in blood, according to the report. After Crouse got into the Subaru, he was detained without a struggle.

Crouse told the officer that he had a knife in the car’s center console and “he was the guy (Pederson) was looking for,” according to the report. Crouse had a knife in his pocket, and the report does not indicate if another knife was found in the car.

Crouse had several cuts on both wrists, the report states. He told police that he had slit his wrists in Lovell before driving to Mills. Crouse was hospitalized before being transported to Natrona County Detention Center. While hospitalized, Crouse said he killed his ex-girlfriend, according to the report.

Two dogs in the Subaru were taken to Casper’s Metro Animal Services.

Police in Lovell went to Crouse’s apartment on Thursday for a welfare check and found Carol Jean Barnes, 49, of Cowley dead inside, according to Lovell police. She was killed sometime in the afternoon or evening of the same day.

Police said Crouse and Barnes were previously in a relationship of an unspecified nature. The two did not live together, according to Lovell police.

“Our thoughts, prayers and sympathy are extended to the victim’s family and loved ones,” Lovell police Chief Dan Laffin wrote in the Friday release.

In addition to the Mills and Lovell police departments, the Natrona County and Big Horn County sheriffs’ offices and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation were involved in the case.

Crouse’s public defender was not available for comment Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson


Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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