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Escaped inmate may have been seen near city

Sep 13, 2013 - From staff reports

The sighting is unconfirmed for now, as the fugitive was not identified from surveillance footage at the Wind River Hotel and Casino.

A prisoner who escaped custody in August in Natrona County reportedly was spotted this week at the Wind River Hotel and Casino south of Riverton.

A Rock Springs man called authorities Thursday to report the possible sighting of Kenneth Ward at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. The reporting party said he spoke with a man who matched the escapee's description; he also indicated the man identified himself as Kenneth Ward.

"The reporting party was not aware of the ongoing manhunt until he arrived back home and read the newspaper," Undersheriff Ryan Lee said in a press release. "He then called the Fremont County sheriff."

Lee said the sighting is unconfirmed for now, as Ward was not identified in any surveillance footage at the casino.

The prisoner escaped custody Aug. 31 at a rest stop near Independence Rock in Natrona County. According to published reports, he was still in handcuffs when he disappeared at about 5:40 p.m. that day. He was being taken to jail in Sweetwater County by a private prisoner transport company, officials said.

Reports state Ward escaped while others in the transport group were using the restroom. Officials said Ward's trail was tracked until it disappeared at the Sweetwater River. He reportedly has a violent history and shouldn't be approached. He is described as a 6 foot-tall man with brown hair and brown eyes. He weighs about 180 pounds and was last seen wearing khaki shorts, a black shirt and flip flops. He was handcuffed in front of his body but was not wearing leg shackles, according to the Casper Star Tribune. Officials said Ward had a stab wound on his left side that occurred while he was at another detention center.

Anyone with information about Ward's location can call the Fremont County Sheriff's Office at 856-7200 or the Natrona County Sheriff's Office at 235-9282.

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