Sunday, June 30, 2024

The Disappearance of Renee Yeargain

Source: Torrington Telegram

Renee Yeargain has been missing since August 9th, 2004. The then-24-year-old woman was last seen in Torrington, Wyoming. Renee has never been seen or heard from again.

At the time of her disappearance, Renee was living in Torrington with Josh Minter - her boyfriend and father of her youngest child. Renee was determined to be missing after Minter dropped off her three older children - who aren't biologically his - at their former foster home. The foster parents subsequently contacted the Wyoming Department of Family Services. 

Police had a conversation with Minter on August 10th, 2004, during which he told officers that Renee abandoned him and her four children. Minter explained that she left with a grocery sack full of clothing and refused to say where she was going. Police reportedly took Minter's word and did not do much to corroborate his version of events.

On August 12th, 2004, Renee's car was found parked at a rest stop between Torrington and Cheyenne. The keys were found inside the vehicle, as were several of Renee's personal items - including her wallet, identification, and cell phone. The only things that appeared to be missing were Renee's tattoo kit and the reported bag of clothes that Minter said she had when she left their home. 

It was eventually determined that the car had been at the rest stop since August 10th - two days before it was reported to police. Authorities learned that witnesses had seen the car parked there, but it does not appear that anyone reporting seeing Renee. The vehicle is the last known trace of Renee, yet it is unknown if she drove the car there herself. 

Two decades have passed, and Renee remains missing.  Her loved ones are left with several unanswered questions, namely: What happened to Renee? Additionally, a look into the details of how Renee's case was handled by police leads to another question: Would Renee's case be solved if police had acted sooner?


Before Renee's disappearance.

Source: News Nation

Various reports indicate that Renee had something of a rough past prior to her disappearance. She reportedly had taken off without warning years before. Renee had struggled with drug addiction, and as result, had lost custody of her children.

However, according to Renee's loved ones, she reportedly worked very hard to get her children back and was in a good place at the time of her 2004 disappearance. Renee had recently gotten a license to operate a tattoo business from home. She also reportedly planned to marry her boyfriend Josh Minter on August 22nd - a little less than two weeks after her disappearance. 

It appears that Renee's life was headed in a positive direction during the summer 2004. Still, according to Renee's brother, there were some concerns about her relationship with Minter. The couple had been together for three years prior to Renee's disappearance, and their relationship was not without drama. In fact, Renee's brother spoke on a podcast in 2018 and stated that Renee said Minter was "beating on her" the day before her disappearance. 

This inevitably made Renee's loved ones extremely concerned when they realized she had gone missing. Police, on the other hand, did not seem to have such concerns.

Slow start to the investigation.

Renee's family believes that her past caused police to not investigate her disappearance thoroughly. Renee's mother told reporters that she was "dismissed by officers who assumed Renee would turn up again at some point." 

Reports indicate that Renee's missing person's case was opened on August 10th, 2004 - the day after she was last seen. Still, it does not appear that there was an urgency to locate her. In fact, it took several months for Renee's disappearance to make local front-page news. A 2022 report on Renee's case states that "It wasn’t until Friday, April 15, 2005 that an article prominently appeared on the front page of the Torrington Telegram headlined, “Torrington woman missing since August.” 

Although police might have initially believed Renee was missing on her own accord, her family and friends have never believed this to be true. Many maintain that she would not have voluntarily abandoned her children; nor would she have gone this long without contacting them.

A woman named Jess Oaks is amongst those who do not believe Renee is missing on her own accord. Oaks is a reporter for a Wyoming newspaper, but prior to that, she worked at a restaurant with Renee. When Oaks learned of Renee's disappearance, she began to do some digging of her own. 

Oaks eventually told reporters that, four years after Renee's disappearance, police had still not made any progress. Oaks explained, "No evidence had been obtained. No evidence had been collected, no evidence had been checked in or checked out regarding Renee’s disappearance."

Even after that, it appears that several more years passed before any other significant movement in Renee's case. That movement happened over a decade later in 2018.

2018: a new search for Renee.

During 2018, co-director of Goshen County Sheriff Search and Rescue, Jerry Numon, became involved in Renee's case. At that time, a private investigator received permission to search property belonging to Josh Minter's mother. The private investigator enlisted Numon and his cadaver dog, Pax, to scour the property.

According to Numon, Pax indicated twice that that he smelled human remains. After that, police obtained a warrant and came to the property with digging equipment. A report from News Nation explained that during their search, "they found water underground. Pax would hit the hole, where water was rushing in, and alert." 

That same report states that, much to Numon's dismay, "Police determined whatever Pax was smelling must be coming from upstream. So they covered the hole and left the property."

Numon said that he was outraged police did not investigate further. It appears that police have dismissed any allegation pointing towards Josh Minter from the beginning of the case. While it seems police seeming accepted Minter's version of events regarding Renee's disappearance, Numon said that one of Renee's daughters told a very different story.

Numon told reporters, "the daughter remembered this guy Josh throwing her stuff in the car and he drove away with it. Somebody else brought him back to the house." If the daughter's recollection is correct, this opens the possibility that it was actually Josh Minter who drove and parked Renee's car at the rest stop.

More unanswered questions.

The information shared by Numon, combined with the results of the 2018 search at the Minter property, has brought about even more questions regarding Renee's disappearance and Josh Minter's potential involvement. If police had investigated Minter's version of events, would they have searched the property sooner? If so, would Renee have been found?

By the time the Minter property was searched in 2018, over 14 years had passed since Renee's disappearance - leaving plenty of time for evidence to deteriorate or be washed away by water.

A cold case.

At this time, Josh Minter has never been charged with anything related to Renee's disappearance - nor has anyone. Renee remains a missing person. Her loved ones have still not given up on the search for answers.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Renee Yeargain, please contact the Torrington Police Department at 307-5322-7001 or Wyoming DCI at 307-777-7181.

Charley Project
News Nation
Torrington Telegram
Unfound Podcast


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