Police: Man hindered Wyo. hitchhiker investigation
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Sweetwater County authorities have filed a felony charge against a man they say gave false statements to investigators looking into the June 2006 slaying of a hitchhiker in Wyoming.
Tommy Joe Bowman, 38, faces a charge of being an accessory after the fact in the death of Ben Bradley, 29, of Tabernash. The charge, filed in Rock Springs Circuit Court, alleges he tried to hinder the investigation into Bradley’s death. A conviction could carry a prison sentence of up to three years.
Detective Dick Blust of the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that Bowman was charged Wednesday in California and is being held at the Amador County jail in Jackson pending his return to Wyoming.
Wednesday’s charge came a week after Sweetwater County officials announced they had filed a first-degree murder charge against 41-year-old Eric John Conn, formerly of Rock Springs, in Bradley’s death.
Bradley’s case has garnered national attention, including coverage on the television program “America’s Most Wanted.” Bowman has given media interviews in the past denying any involvement in the killing.
Bradley, a devoted snowboarder, disappeared on his way to Jackson after calling friends from Rock Springs the evening of June 2, 2006. His family says he worked at the Winter Park Ski Area in Colorado as a snowmaker and had planned to work the 2006-07 winter in Jackson.
Bradley’s body was found in October 2006 north of Rock Springs. He died from stab wounds to the chest and suffered a skull fracture, according to court records.
Sheriff’s Lt. Robert Mizel filed a sworn statement in support of an arrest warrant for Bowman, saying Bowman contacted Sweetwater County authorities in October 2006, before Bradley’s body had been found. Bowman told investigators he found a backpack floating in Flaming Gorge Reservoir, south of Rock Springs, in June, that contained paperwork belonging to Bradley, snowboard boots and other belongings.
However, Mizel says the backpack’s conntents show no signs of being in the water. Mizel also said investigators didn’t believe Bowman’s statement that he found the backpack on the lake’s western side because winds generally push floating objects to the eastern shore.
While Bowman told investigators he left the snowboard boots on the beach, Mizel says investigators found a pair of the boots when they searched Bowman’s vehicle.
“Bowman’s statements have been shown to be materially false and inconsistent,” Mizel wrote. “As a result of the multiple statements by Bowman, law enforcement’s efforts have been hindered investigating false leads.”
Mizel says investigators determined Bowman spent time at a Rock Springs residence where Conn and several other people lived at the time of Bradley’s death.
Federal agents arrested Conn last month in St. Louis. According to court records, Conn told the agents he and two other “male subjects” attacked Bradley at the residence after they spent hours “getting high.” The records don’t report whether Conn gave any reason for the attack.
Conn said he cleaned up Bradley’s blood while the other two dumped his body in the desert north of Rock Springs.
Brett Johnson, Sweetwater County attorney, said this week he couldn’t comment on whether his office plans to charge the other two unnamed “co-suspects,” or whether any other charges or warrants have been filed in the case.
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