The defendant was involved in other cases in Wyoming.
St George • The Washington County Sheriff’s ongoing investigation into an Ivins man with guns and machetes who allegedly threatens hikers who walk their dogs off-leash on trails is ongoing again.
After sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Joel Hafoka emailed The Tribune Tuesday, the investigation has been reopened for the second time and will now involve the Washington County Attorney’s Office.
“The case has been … reopened as part of a larger investigation into the matter,” Hafoka explained in the email. “The case is under review by the prosecutor, so it remains open until we get an answer from them. At this point, I cannot provide any further information on the case until we have received feedback from the [county attorney’s] Office.”
In deciding to reopen the case, Hafoka said that sheriff’s investigators would still conduct the actual investigation, but the Washington County Attorney’s Office would review the case to determine whether the current evidence supports an indictment.
On Wednesday, the county attorney’s office told The Tribune that it has not yet begun reviewing the evidence because it has not yet received any information from the county sheriff’s office.
The decision to reopen the case comes a day after The Tribune reported that some hikers who had potentially violent altercations with the Ivins man weren’t happy with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and said they had assisted failed to exercise due diligence in investigating the incidents.
The repeated investigation into the alleged “leash law vigilante” stems from an incident involving Jaden Turner of St. George, who said she was confronted with the man while walking her unleashed dog, Baz, on a Bureau trail of Land Management in Santa Claus walked Clara Reserve on December 5th. She said the man verbally abused her, pulled out a pistol and threatened to shoot her and Baz if she didn’t have the dog on a leash.
After meeting with two sheriff’s deputies the following day and subsequently giving them further leads, Turner said she never heard from them again. Others who walk their dogs off-leash on BLM properties in Red Cliffs Reserve have also reported being verbally abused and threatened by the Ivins man, but said they were not contacted by sheriff’s investigators.
After meeting Turner, sheriff’s investigators said they interviewed the Ivins man, whose name is being kept secret, but said he was only defending himself, calling the incident his word against hers. But the day after the December 15 Tribune article about the numerous incidents, the county sheriff’s office told Fox 13 News that they were reopening the case.
A few days later, the county sheriff’s office closed the investigation again, stating in the December 20 press release that the Ivins man said he felt threatened by Baz and only drew his gun to defend himself. He denied ever pointing the pistol at Turner, according to sheriff’s investigators.
The publication did not mention any incidents involving the man and other hikers. In addition, two other altercations at the man’s second home in Star Valley Ranch, Wyoming, went unmentioned.
Last June, the man allegedly wielded a machete and threatened a dog owner whose pets were off-leash in the Wyoming community, only stepping back and walking away after a neighbor of the dog owner retrieved a gun and told him to “drop [the machete],” according to reports compiled by Star Valley Ranch Special Municipal Officer Jim Rogers. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office also investigated the incident but did not file any charges.
In September, Terry Martin said the same man who is a neighbor of his at Star Valley Ranch threatened to take him away if he trespassed on his property. He referred the incident to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office — not to press charges, but to bring them to their attention.
Despite this string of incidents, Lincoln County Sheriff’s officers — like some Utah hikers — say they haven’t heard from Washington County Sheriff’s investigators. Asked last week if his office had investigated the other incidents in Wyoming, Deputy Sheriff Graham Hancock said no.
“With testimonies from those involved as well as [the Ivins man] mostly concordant, there was no evidence of any crime committed so no reason to investigate further [the man’s] previous engagements [that were] not in our area,” he explained in a Dec. 23 email.
Though the case has been reopened, Karen Rossiter is one of several area residents who are skeptical of the outcome.
“It is disturbing that this individual lives in our community and has been allowed to continue with this despicable behavior,” the Ivins resident said. “A lot of women here now feel compelled to arm themselves and carry body cameras. Our sense of security is shattered while we see law enforcement doing little.”
Added Ivins resident and avid wanderer Sedona Arabella:
“I don’t feel safe doing what I loved and trusted to be safe. Now I have moments where I [have] Fear planning for my hikes… Instead of just grabbing my water and going, I now have to strap on my body cam and mace.
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2023/01/05/washington-county-sheriffs/ The Washington County Sheriff is reopening an investigation into Ivin’s husband who allegedly threatens off-leash owners