A former Powell and Cody man has been charged in a Torrington murder, arson and theft.
On Thursday the Torrington Police Department officially announced it was charging Sean Pettus, 32, with first degree murder.
The Torrington Police Department said on April 22 in a release, the Goshen County Coroner has identified the homicide victim as Madison Shana Cook, a 20-year old female from Torrington who Pettus lived with. The two were engaged according to his mother Norma Bloomer.
The manner of Madison’s death has been ruled to be a homicide due to stabbing and asphyxiation. She had been missing for nearly two days before her body was discovered.
Pettus was in Park County until mid 2019, when he was sentenced by Judge Bill Simpson to 4-6 years in prison with credit for 749 days served.
According to the Torrington Telegram, the Torrington Police Department, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and Goshen County Coroner are still investigating the homicide, arson, and vehicle theft.
According to a Torrington Police press release, officers found Cook’s body in her home wrapped in a blanket placed between the bed mattress and the bedroom wall. She had received six stab wounds and blunt force trauma to her right eye. Two t-shirts were wrapped around her neck and a plastic bag over her head.
A serrated edge knife was found nearby with a bent blade and blood on it.
Despite freezing temperatures outside, the living room window was open, and three fans on, “in an effort to ventilate the apartment,” Officer Rebecca Wakamatsu said.
Pettus told officers he was not in the apartment during the alleged time of murder.
Cook’s family told officers the couple had a history of violence. Her aunt told officers Cook had moved the majority of her item’s out of the couples’ shared apartment, but then on April 18 brought the items back to the place she shared with Pettus. Loud thumping and a woman’s screams were heard coming from the apartment that night.
In a video timestamped that night, Pettus was holding a bottle of alcohol and a knife and said words to the effect of, “I don’t care if she hurts or not, this is going to happen,” Wakamatsu said.
Cleaning supplies were spotted laying outside his apartment on April 19.
Pettus, who had been paroled from his 2019 sentence, is the owner of BadDreams & Robots tattoo parlor in Torrington. It was this building Pettus allegedly set ablaze and at 6:08 on the morning of April 20, a fire was reported at the building. After the Torrington Volunteer Fire Department had arrived on scene and began working to battle the blaze, officers were made aware of suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident.
A police investigation found burnt walls, flooring and ceiling, blistered paint and heavy smoke damage and a fire marshall determined the blaze had been started with a petroleum-based accelerant. According to the affidavit, around 6:30 a.m., Pettus went into a smoke shop and stole a bottle of whiskey, but left his sweatshirt that smelled strongly of gasoline.
Pettus was not found until late that morning when apprehended for stealing a running 2007 Ford Taurus. Sergeant Matt Davis reported Pettus to be soaking wet and appeared to have been in the river.
While taking Pettus into custody, Davis noticed that he was, “extremely tense and continuously flexing and twitching.”
Pettus is also facing two counts of burglary for entering a part of the building he did not own to start the fire and theft of the whiskey.
Two days later, Pettus admitted to starting the fire by pouring gasoline on the walls of the building when he became angry that someone put sugar in his gas tank.
“Pettus was so angry because he feels like people have been messing with him for a long time so he ... set the building on fire,” Torrington Assistant Chief Patrick Connelly said.
Pettus told the Torrington Telegram in December he had moved there to open his tattoo and body piercing shop. According to Facebook, Pettus started dating Cook in January and the two were married by March 16.
Pettus was charged with burglary in July 2016 after taking a vacuum cleaner from a trailer home in Powell. He pleaded guilty to this crime later that year and was originally sentenced to five years probation and 4-6 years suspended prison sentence in January 2017.
Pettus was sentenced to incarceration in March 2019 after he was found guilty for breaking his probation for failing to complete the Sheridan County Court Supervised Treatment Program, having been terminated for various substance violations, and failure to report for one drug testing.
He was originally placed in the Wyoming State Penitentiary but was transferred to the Casper Therapeutic Community Treatment Program before being released from custody. While incarcerated, Pettus made requests for exoneration and sentence reduction, after a letter was sent to the court by the owner of the vacuum cleaner, saying the incident was more of a misunderstanding than a simple burglary. Neither of those requests were granted.
He was released by at least July 2020 and his very first Instagram post thereafter featured a photo of a burning building.
In 2009, Pettus was accused of making homemade napalm to make a firebomb in Titusville, Fla. Although the bomb was not completed when found he was charged with possession of a hoax bomb, as well as armed robbery and grand theft related to stolen lawnmowers, a motorcycle and more than one vehicle.
Over the last decade Pettus was a resident of both Powell and Cody and according to his Facebook, studied welding at Northwest College.
He is being detained at the Goshen County Detention Center without bail and had a preliminary hearing Monday morning.