Why I support House Bill Number HB0029

Jess Oaks
Posted 2/14/24

There are so many advantages to living in Goshen County. We live in a community which is always willing to go the extra mile for others in need. There isn’t a week that goes by we don’t see a fundraising event in the area.

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Why I support House Bill Number HB0029


There are so many advantages to living in Goshen County. We live in a community which is always willing to go the extra mile for others in need. There isn’t a week that goes by we don’t see a fundraising event in the area. The amount of support we are willing to give, without question in most cases, in Goshen County is phenomenal. We all should be so thankful to love our neighbors, more often than not. 

But, if we open our eyes, our whole state, for the most part, is probably one of the safest places to raise children, retire and grow old.

Sure, sometimes living in the sticks can be a challenge. I have friends who live in large cities, like Dallas, and they will never understand we only have two grocery stores, or the town of Torrington rolls up the carpets at 9 p.m. 

Wyoming is a wonderful place to live however sometimes living in a small area can have its own set of challenges. 


Sometimes Wyoming just doesn’t have the resources available to do everything the citizens feel necessary and investigating cold cases becomes impossible for small-town police forces. 

This week, House Bill Number HB0029 cold case database and investigations, sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee, hit the floor. 

This bill, if it passes, could be a critical key to solving some of the states 150 homicide cold cases, dating back to 1965. 

What does this bill do?

Well, even living in a small town like Torrington, keeps any police officer steady. Our department doesn’t have the funding to hire a handful of detectives to investigate serious cold case crimes. It is just something we don’t have here but that doesn’t mean our cold cases in Goshen County and the surrounding area aren’t important. It just means, here, in Wyoming, our small towns lack the resources. 

The Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) was created in 1973 pursuant to Wyoming State Statue 9-1-611. DCI is a division of the Wyoming State Attorney General’s office.

“The mission of DCI is to provide exceptional service to our criminal justice partners and the citizens of Wyoming through leadership, teamwork, and cooperation while exhibiting a positive attitude with Dedication, Courage and Integrity,” according to DCI’s website.

To sum it all up, DCI comes when our smaller departments are faced with serious crimes. I just to call them the Big Dogs. 

The bill will provide DCI with $150,000 from the state’s general fund to create and maintain a cold case database for all unsolved homicides and felony sexual offenses three years or older, beginning in 1972.

If the bill is approved, it will take effect July 1 and it would become mandatory for law enforcement agencies to report all unsolved cold cases, which meet the criteria, to DCI. 

The bill further states, “The division shall adopt rules specifying the information for each cold case that shall be collected from law enforcement agencies in the state and maintained in the database.” 

Many of us are unaware of just how many unsolved cold cases the state of Wyoming has. Of course, we are extremely lucky to keep those number fairly low, but one serious crime, is a serious issue. It doesn’t matter when the crime occurred, where it occurred, clearly it occurred. 

It should be noted, the definition for “cold case” is also mentioned in the House Bill Number HB0029, “As used in this section, ‘cold case’ means a homicide or felony sexual offense that remains unsolved for three (3) years or more after being reported to a law enforcement agency.” 

This bill would support investigations for so many Wyomingites like Shawny Lee Smith wo was found deceased in a field off US Highway 85 in Weld County, Colorado. Smith was a Cheyenne resident. 

The bill could help Stella Ellen McClean, a Gering, Nebraska resident who disappeared from Scottsbluff. Her body was found near I25 in Platte County, in 1978.

Or Amy Wroe Betchel who disappeared while jogging in 1997 between Lander and South Pass in Fremont County, Wyoming. 

I support House Bill Number HB0029 and aproving this bill will give DCI the resources needed to provide a sense of closure for the families of Smith, McClean, Betchel and so many more. 

If you are interested in learning about the cold cases in Wyoming, please visit the DCI website at https://wyomingdci.wyo.gov/operations/cold-cases