News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Officials planning to recover Uden bodies from Fremont Lake
Aug 22, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
Authorities plan to recover the bodies of the Uden family from the deep waters of a Sublette County lake as the 34th anniversary of their murders approaches. Agencies involved are keeping details of the operation under wraps, however.
"The Fremont County Sheriff's Office will be assisting the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation as well as Sublette County authorities to hopefully locate and recover the Uden family in Fremont Lake," Fremont County Undersherrif Ryan Lee said.
Fremont Lake is located about four miles north of Pinedale.
Gerald Uden testified in October that he shot and murdered his ex-wife, Virginia Uden, 32, of Riverton, and his adopted sons, Reagan, 10, and Richard, 11, on Sept. 12, 1980. The trio's disappearance remained unsolved until last summer when Gerald was arrested in Chadwick, Mo., where he had been living with his wife, Alice Uden, who he had married after divorcing Virginia. Alice was arrested at the same time on charges relating to the death of an earlier husband in the mid-1970s near Cheyenne. She was convicted of second-degree murder in May.
Lee said he could not give more information on the operation because DCI is treating the case as an ongoing criminal investigation.
"There has been a tremendous amount of planning completed in the last few months to organize and prepare for this obviously difficult operation," Lee stated. "The exact time frame of this complicated Search and Recovery Mission is proprietary at this point however it is tentatively scheduled to begin soon."
Lee said he released the information he could because the crime occurred in Fremont County, and he wanted to keep local residents informed.
The search and rescue mission is bound to be complicated and could prove to be a grisly spectacle.
In court, Gerald stated that two months after he murdered his three victims, he sealed their bodies in perforated metal drums, drove them more than 100 miles from South Pass into Sublette County and submerged them in more than 450 feet of water at the bottom of Fremont Lake.
The lake's depth reaches more than 600 feet in places.
An underwater salvage expert told The Ranger in the fall that recovering the bodies would be possible but would involve specialized equipment.
Jim Cross, the owner of Cross Marine Projects of American Fork, Utah, said the human remains and steel drums are probably in good condition.
Cross's company has been sending divers underwater on construction projects for 38 years. The business also has been involved in underwater recoveries of tsunami victims' bodies and crashed airplanes.
The first step would be to have Gerald pinpoint as well as he could where he dumped the bodies, Cross said. Then, the salvage company would scan the lake's floor with sonar and metal detectors.
If they found the drums, Cross could send down divers to attach a cable to raise the bodies up.
More than standard scuba equipment would be necessary, however.
"Our divers look just like astronauts," Cross said. "They're fed air and mixed gas from the surface so we can safely reach these depths and do a search."
He could also use remote-controlled submersible to attach the cable.
Cross thought the whole operation would take about a week.