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Campbell County Sheriff’s Office provides update in search operations for missing Gillette woman

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Following the first days of initial searches for Tami Lynn Sturgeon, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office is planning a larger grid search involving units from multiple counties for Thursday, March 28.

Crook County units assisted searches with a drone Wednesday, and units from Johnson and Washakie counties will be aiding in Thursday’s search, according to Campbell County Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds.

Sturgeon, 55, went missing on Saturday, March 23 after splitting up from her husband to search for her lost cellphone in the Yellowhammer Buttes south of Bishop Road, where the pair had earlier driven their ATV.

Sturgeon’s missing cellphone was later recovered in the ATV the same evening she was initially reported missing.

Winter weather from the weekend has significantly impacted the ability to find signs of Sturgeon’s path in the area. Approximately 20 people from the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office conducted grid searches in the area Tuesday, and were able to find a footprint and a cigarette butt from her preferred brand near her last known location.

A focus of this week’s search efforts has been to find evidence to determine which direction Sturgeon would have walked in after becoming lost, Reynolds said. To the south, activity and lights from a nearby coal mine may have been seemed a better option for someone lost, but Sturgeon’s husband and their ATV were located to the north of her, through more difficult terrain.

Sturgeon was last seen in a treeline in a section of the Yellowhammer Buttes that is rougher country than other areas close to Bishop Road, which is much more open, Campbell County Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds said.

“The terrain is not what most people are envisioning. It’s a different beast down in that area, so to speak.”

Reynolds described Sturgeon as a relatively small woman, estimating she was roughly 100 pounds. When she separated from her husband, she was not carrying a flashlight, and a small backpack of supplies they had brought with them had stayed with the ATV.

Reynolds stressed that the investigation was strictly search-and-rescue given that the evidence found at Sturgeon’s last known location was consistent with the husband’s account of events. No foul play is suspected.

“There’s no reason for us to go the other way at this point.” Reynolds said. “Yesterday when we found the footprint and everything, we were like, ‘Yeah, at least we know the story is matching up. She was here.'”