Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Mark Dykes
Editor 

Man charged with several felonies including arson

 

October 17, 2019



On Oct. 7 there was a residential fire reported at 2569 US Hwy 20 in Washakie County. Emergency services and law enforcement personnel from the Worland Fire Department, Hot Springs County Fire Department, Washakie County Ambulance, Wyoming Highway Patrol and Washakie County Sheriff’s Office responded to the location. The fire department agencies were able to gain control of the fire and it was extinguished. An investigator from the Wyoming State Fire Marshal’s Office was contacted and responded to the location.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office requested assistance from the Washakie Sheriff’s Office to obtain a search warrant for the property to investigate the cause of the fire. Wyoming Game and Fish was contacted to investigate possible game and fish violations observed on the property as well. Wyoming Game and Fish officers obtained their own search warrant for the property and executed, on the same date. Ryan Tate Allen, a 1998 graduate of Hot Springs County High School, later returned to the residence in a white truck.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Allen had with him a six-pack of alcohol, and proceeded to open a bottle and drink it in front of law enforcement. The Washakie County Sheriff’s Office arrested Allen for violation of his bond conditions.

Law enforcement observed a carbine that appeared loaded in the truck Allen had been driving. The firearm was secured and the vehicle was checked for illegal items. During this search a Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper observed a box that contained possible controlled substances.

A baggie was discovered containing a substance suspected to be methamphetamine, as well as a white hard like substance inside a plastic bag and a cloth like bag containing blotter paper and items wrapped in tin foil. There were scissors and tweezers in the bag also. The blotter paper is commonly used for Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Also found were unused hypodermic syringes and needles.

There were additional criminal charges filed after Allen’s arrest. The initial charges filed were for open container of alcohol and violation of interlock requirement for the vehicle Allen was operating when he arrived at the scene. The Washakie County Attorney’s Office filed two additional felony charges against Allen; possession of meth with intent to distribute and possession of LSD with intent to distribute. There were 26 grams of suspected meth and an estimated 100 tabs of suspected LSD seized from Allen’s vehicle after his arrest. The found substances both tested presumptive positive for controlled substances.

The Washakie County Sheriff’s Office executed other search warrants for the property. The Sheriff’s Office contacted an agent with Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) when they discovered multiple firearms Allen could not legally possess because of his past record. The State Fire Marshal’s Office was able to determine the cause of the fire for the residence. Their investigator through the Washakie County Attorney’s Office filed a charge of arson against Allen. He was in custody at the Washakie County Sheriff’s Office when the charge was filed against him.

According to an affidavit of probable cause with regard to the fire and resultant arson charge, remains of an electric heating element device were found melted/burned into melted plastic resembling a plastic barrel. There were further indicators the heating element device was in place prior to the fire, and a “trailer was found leading from the device to a vertical positioned roll of tar paper leaning against Styrofoam concrete foundation forms.

Interviews with a confidential informant indicated Allen had made statements of planning to burn the house. The informant further stated Allen asked for the informant’s help to help practice an attempt to make the fire ignition appear to be a failed appliance. The informant refused involvement in the “practice run.”

The interior of the house was void of any valuable items previously known to have been in place inside the structure. These items include, but are not limited to, wild game mounts, weapons, hunting equipment and apparel. These items were found on the property in a separate and locked storage shed. Several freezers with frozen game animal remains were also located in a garage type structure on the property.

The power had been terminated prior to the fire. However, while processing the scene it was discovered the power meter had been bypassed and power was connected to the involved structure.

Allen made his initial appearance on all the charges filed against him in Washakie County Circuit Court. Allen received cash bonds for all the offenses in the amount of $86,000 and was released on those cash bonds. There was a federal complaint warrant issued for Allen after his release for violation of federal laws related to possession of firearms. Allen violated conditions of his cash bonds by failing to check in to the Washakie County Law Enforcement Center.

On Oct. 13, Allen along with a female passenger, later identified as Tandi Marie Vocu, were observed trying to leave his property in one of his vehicles. They fled from the property onto BLM land. The vehicle stopped and Vocu surrendered and was taken into custody while law enforcement continued to try to apprehend Allen, who fled from the vehicle on foot. Law enforcement agencies with the Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Washakie County Sheriff’s Office, and Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Office established a perimeter to prevent Allen’s escape.

The Big Horn Basin Regional Tactical Team was called out for assistance. The team members are comprised of the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office, Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Office, Worland Police Department, and Washakie County Sheriff’s Office.

Brandon Yule of Worland and the Hot Spring’s County Sheriff’s Office provided the use of their UAV’s or “drones” to assist in locating Allen, who continued to try and elude law enforcement on foot.

Allen later surrendered after he encountered members of the tactical team. He was arrested and transported to the Washakie County Sheriff’s Office jail in Worland. He is being held for violation of his bond and the federal arrest warrant. His passenger was arrested for possession of controlled substances. Allen was charged with possession of controlled substances and interference with a peace officer. Law enforcement located two firearms in Allen’s vehicle and suspected controlled substances.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Allen was still jailed on a $200,000 cash bond in addition to the other sums he has posted, and is scheduled to appear in Washakie County Circuit Court on Nov. 22

The Washakie County Sheriff’s Office expressed appreciation to all the law enforcement, fire department, and emergency services who assisted with the numerous incidents involving this investigation. They also appreciate the law enforcement, emergency services, and Brandon Yule for their assistance with Allen’s arrest. The cooperation we have with the surrounding law enforcement and emergency services is what makes joint operations work well in our community.

 

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