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Person of interest arrested in Gillette missing woman case

Irene Wairimu Gakwa, 32, went missing from the Gillette area in late February and is believed to have lived with a man up until her disappearance. (Gillette Police Department/City of Gillette)

GILLETTE, Wyo.— Investigators have arrested a person of interest in the case surrounding the sudden disappearance of 32-year-old Irene Gakwa, the Gillette Police Department announced Wednesday.

Gillette resident Nathan Hightman, 38, was arrested Tuesday, May 10, for multiple felonies; one for unlawfully using Gakwa’s credit card and two for crimes against her intellectual property, according to the department’s statement.

Hightman has declined interview requests from Gillette police, who continue to investigate Gakwa’s disappearance and maintain their belief she went missing under suspicious circumstances.

Gakwa is described as a Black woman approximately 5-foot-1 and weighing about 89 pounds. She was reported missing by her family March 20. They told police she had not been seen since a video call Feb. 24.

Her phone is not pinging on any network, and she has not been heard from since March 4, according to multiple law enforcement agency reports.

Investigators believe Irene was taken to a rural area, mine site, or oil and gas location between Feb. 24 and March 20, according to a previous Gillette Police Department statement.

Police detectives are asking the public for any information regarding a gray or silver-colored Subaru Crosstrek with Idaho registration that may have been seen trespassing on private property and the possibility of a 55-gallon metal drum that may have been burned or abandoned within Campbell County.

Anyone with information relating to Gakwa’s disappearance, regardless of how insignificant it may appear, are urged to contact the Gillette Police Department at 307-682-5155.

A stock image of a 2020 Subaru Crosstrek. The exact year of the vehicle has not been released. (Jfern Visions/Shutterstock)

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Nathan Hightman was arrested on Tuesday, May 10.