Authorities continued a homicide investigation Monday after the body of a decapitated man was found Jan. 9, 10 miles northwest of Ralston.
The victim has not been identified.
In an autopsy performed Saturday, a forensic pathologist estimated the time of death as Jan. 7, although the exact cause of death is still under investigation, the Park County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
The body, which also was missing an arm, was discovered by hunters in a creek drainage about 10-12 feet off the north side of Little Sand Coulee Road approximately 1.5 miles off WYO 294.
Sheriff deputies, BLM officials and agents from the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) responded to the scene.
A Cody man, 40, hunting ducks with his son discovered the body.
The victim’s head has not been recovered.
During a press conference Friday, Sheriff Scott Steward did not say where the crime took place, and whether or not the victim knew his attacker, but did say there was a “fair amount” of blood in the area.
There have been no reports of anyone missing in the area who fits the victim’s description, Steward said.
“You take an adult male who doesn’t live at home and it may take awhile,” he added.
The sheriff’s office reported Monday the victim was a “Caucasian or light-skinned Hispanic male, about 5 feet, 4 inches to 5-6 tall, weighing 180-200 pounds. He was less than 35 years old and, by all indications, an agricultural or ranch worker.
“He was of a ‘stocky’ build and appeared to be in good physical condition.
“The victim was wearing blue jeans, size 36-inch waist and 30-inch length, as well as a pair of brown-laced Ariat work boots, size 10 1/2. He was also wearing a brown leather belt with distinctive braided design and matching buckle. The belt was size 38 inch.”
DCI gathered tissue and blood samples to be used for identification purposes. Steward did not say if the remaining hand could be used for fingerprints.
“There are several other injuries that I cannot go in to,” he said. “No animal activity was evident on the body.”
Law enforcement personnel, including agents from DCI, processed the scene for evidence.
“Given the condition of the body, whoever did this does not want us to identify the body,” sheriff’s office public information officer Lance Mathess said.
Law enforcement is pursuing several investigative leads.
“We don’t have enough details yet to know what we’re dealing with,” he said. “I can’t say if it’s a random act or something else. People need to be aware of their surroundings and let us know if they see something.”
Steward anticipated an increased call volume about suspicious activity.
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “I urge people to stay vigilant, but be reasonable.”
He would not speculate about whether drugs or crime fueled the murder.
Anyone who was in the area and has information, or can identify the body, is encouraged to call the sheriff’s office, 527-8700.
“Anyone who traveled down Little Sand Coulee Road in the last week should contact us,” Steward said. “We can get a better time frame.”
(Chris Frost can be reached at email@example.com.)