Casper Police Officer Charged With Felony Child Abuse Still Has Not Turned Herself In
One of two police officers accused of abusing their adopted children still has not turned herself in to the Natrona County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities were on the phone with the attorney for Laura Starnes-Wells at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in an effort to have Starnes-Wells turn herself in, Sgt. Aaron Shatto told reporters.
She faces a single count of felony child abuse and could face up to 10 years in prison as well as a $10,000 fine if convicted.
"We anticipate her turning herself in, we hope by the end of this week," Shatto says. "But if it falls into the beginning of next week, we still expect her to turn herself in."
He says Starnes-Wells was on a previously-planned vacation in another state when the warrant for her arrest was issued last week.
"We didn't know specifically when the warrant was going to come out," Shatto said. But, he adds, "she's not on the loose or running from this."
Her husband, Casper police Sgt. Todd Wells, turned himself in Tuesday, Feb. 21. The pair have been on administrative leave since November, when the police department learned of the investigation by the Natrona County Sheriff's Office.
Shatto says Starnes-Wells is not receiving any special treatment, and investigators are proceeding as they would in any other such case.
"As soon as she comes back, we plan on making the arrest," Shatto says.
Because Starnes-Wells is in another jurisdiction, Shatto says there's only so much the Natrona County Sheriff's Office can do to take her into custody.
"We are sworn peace officers in the State of Wyoming," Shatto told reporters, saying officers typically do not go to another state to apprehend someone wanted in Natrona County unless the defendant fights extradition and a governor's warrant is issued.
"It's not going to be effective to go get them when the cost is so much, especially when we know they're going to turn themselves in," Shatto adds, saying waiting for her to turn herself in is the best option at this point.
Casper police have declined to release a photo of Starnes-Wells.