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Arrest made locally in federal murder, sexual assault case

Mar 30, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Federal documents released last week reveal that Bureau of Indian Affairs special agents arrested a man on Feb. 26 on the Wind River Indian Reservation on federal murder and sexual abuse charges connected to the July 4 death of a woman near Lame Deer, Mont.

A female co-defendant in the case was arrested in Rapid City, S.D. on one count of second-degree murder.

A federal indictment from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montana charges Garrett Sidney Wadda, 35, with first degree murder and aggravated sexual abuse in the July 4 death of a woman it did not identify.

The crime occurred near Lame Deer within the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana.

The same document charges Eugenia Ann Rowland with second-degree murder for the same death.

The Ranger as a policy does not publish names of alleged victims of sexual crimes.

Wadda's warrant does not list where he was arrested, but reports indicate it was on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

His warrant stated he was brought to the Bureau of Indian Affairs Detention Center in Fort Washakie, and the arresting officer listed on his warrant is BIA special agent John Grinsell.

Wyoming U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman John Powell said he was told BIA special agent Dereck Martin was involved in the arrest. The BIA's jurisdiction is on reservations, Powell said, indicating that the arrest took place on the reservation.

Federal Bureau of Investigations special agent Todd Facer declined to comment on the arrest because the investigation is ongoing. The Wind River Police Department did not return a request for comment. It rarely provides information about its operations.

Fremont County Undersheriff Ryan Lee confirmed that Wadda is in custody at the Fremont County Detention Center as a courtesy hold for the U.S. Marshals Service. He did not know if Wadda was residing in Fremont County or staying temporarily.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Teressa McKee in Lander on Friday ordered Wadda transferred to Montana.

The indictment did not provide details of the alleged crimes. According to the charges, however, Wadda on July 4 "knowingly and unlawfully killed (the victim) with malice aforethought...in the perpetration of the crime of aggravated sexual abuse."

His second charge alleged he "engaged in a sexual act with (the victim) by using force against (her)."

Rowland's charge stated that on July 4 she "knowingly and unlawfully killed (the victim) with malice and forethought."

A U.S. magistrate judge in Rapid City ordered Rowland transferred to Montana from the Pennington County (South Dakota) Jail where she is incarcerated.

For his charges, Wadda faces two life-in-prison sentences and up to $500,000 in fines. Rowland faces life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Reports on her arrest were conflicting, and specifics were difficult to confirm as Facer declined to comment on Rowland's case.

Capt. Jay Evenson of the Pennington County Sheriff's Office said the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Rowland about two months ago in Rapid City.

"She was a homeless person picked up," he said.

Court documents indicate she was arrested March 26, however.

Evenson did not know more details because his office was not investigating it and is holding her on behalf of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The Associated Press reported the alleged victim was a 21-year-old single mother who disappeared on July 4. Her body was found south of Lame Deer's rodeo grounds several days later, according to the Montana newspaper.

A database of federal court cases indicates charges were first made public on Wednesday.

According to Montana media, law enforcement was tight-lipped about the investigation for months. The alleged victim's family reportedly has been organizing marches demanding to know what happened to the woman, and local groups raised money to offer a reward for information about her death.

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Wind River Indian Reservation