Human remains found near Etna resolve missing person case, lead to murder charges

STAR VALLEY, WYO – Lincoln County Authorities have confirmed human remains found in a shallow grave have ties to a missing person case dating back more than four years ago.

Joann Hakes missing poster from 2015.

On May 18, 2019, human remains were found on a property located neat Etna, Wyoming. Upon investigation by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, Wyoming State Crime Lab, and the Lincoln County Coroner’s Office, those remains have been positively identified as the remains of missing person Joann Hakes. Hakes was last seen on January 3, 2015 near Thayne, Wyo.

On June 4, 2019, agents from Wyoming DCI and the LCSO, along with authorities from the Idaho State Patrol and the Chubbuck Police Department, executed a search warrant for an apartment in Chubbuck, Idaho and an arrest warrant for Ronald Todd Weerheim, 55, of Chubbuck, for the alleged crimes of First Degree Felony Murder, Second Degree Murder, and Kidnapping.

Ronald Todd Weerheim from a 2012 arrest in Afton, Wyo. (Mugshots)

Weerheim and Hakes reportedly lived together in various locations in eastern Idaho and Star Valley for some time while the two were dating. According to Idaho Cold Cases, the couple were staying temporarily at the Silver Stream Lodge in Thayne on January 3, 2015, when they both drank enough to get thrown out of the establishment, after which Hakes disappeared. Weerheim allegedly made no attempt to report her missing but told authorities later that she got into a truck with two males.

That was the last anyone saw of Hakes until last month. She was 43 years old at the time of her disappearance. The case received some national attention and was featured on Thin Air podcast February 13, 2018. In the podcast, Hakes’ daughter Laura Lee Jones said she suspected Weerheim the whole time.

Weerheim is currently being held in the Bannock County Detention Center awaiting extradition to Lincoln County, Wyoming. He has an arrest record in Idaho for domestic battery.

Anyone with information that may be helpful to authorities regarding the charges are asked to call the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at (307) 885-5231 ext. 2, or the Lincoln County Attorney’s Office at (307) 885-0164.

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