By Joshua Scheer, lead reporter, County10.com
(Lander, Wyo.) – The Fremont County Attorney’s Office has filed charges in Lander Circuit Court against and issued a warrant for James Franklin Jagers in connection with a 1974 motor vehicle theft that could be linked to a Riverton man’s disappearance.
The affidavit filed on April 2 charges Jagers, 66, with Grand Larceny and Theft of an Automobile. Each charge is a felony punishable by between one and 10 years in prison.
According to the affidavit written by Riverton Police Det. Mike Phillips, Riverton man Larry Marvin Morris, who was 25 at the time, was last seen in Riverton on April 27, 1974. “Morris was driving his 1966 Ford LTD bearing Oklahoma plates RO-94,” states the affidavit. “Morris was going to Yellowstone National Park before his work sent him back to Oklahoma. Morris has not been seen since.”
Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett did not immediately return requests for comment on how the case is just now being charged, and if Jagers was in custody elsewhere in the country. The story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Jagers is being charged with stealing Morris’s Ford LTD. Phillips wrote that Jagers was released from the Canon City, Colo., Penitentiary on March 6, 1974. His former cellmate Jack Lincoln reportedly escaped the jail on April 24, 1974.
“On April 27, 1974, Morris’s credit card was used in Jackson, Wyoming for a gas charge,” states the affidavit. “At that stop the gas station attendant recalls there were two male subjects but not three male subjects. The signature on (the) credit card receipt does not match Morris’s handwriting.”
The affidavit goes on to trace uses of Morris’s credit card over the next couple days, including stops in Idaho, Nevada and California. Several items of Morris’s were also pawned.
“On April 30, 1974, Jagers and Lincoln left Morris’s LTD for repairs and then rented a 1974 Ford Mustang,” states the affidavit. “All the signatures read Larry Morris. The Greary Ford of San Francisco employees were not able to identify Morris via a photographic lineup.”
Phillips wrote that Morris’s employer reported him missing on May 2, 1974.
“On May 8, 1974, Morris’s credit card was used in Emmett, Idaho for gas,” states the affidavit. “Lincoln’s left index print was later confirmed on that receipt. On May 8, 1974, Lincoln and Jagers were arrested in Hollister, Idaho and were found to be in possession of Morris’s identification and credit cards, and the Ford Mustang rented from Greary Ford with Morris’s credit card.”
In October of that year, the FBI reportedly confirmed Lincoln’s fingerprints on items inside Morris’s vehicle.
“On July 15, 1975, James Murphy (who is Jagers’s cousin) from Englewood, Colorado advised that Jagers borrowed some camping equipment approximately a year prior to go camping in Wyoming,” states the affidavit.
According to Phillips, Jagers was interviewed about Morris multiple times over the years but didn’t say anything about him until May 16, 1983, when the Division of Criminal Investigation received a letter from him, offering information in return for a transfer to a different location.
“During that interview, Jagers stated that Morris is dead and Jagers would be able to show where the body was buried,” states the affidavit. “On a later interview Jagers further state he could never forget the location and details regarding Morris.”
The affidavit states that the value of Morris’s 1966 Ford LTD at the time of the alleged theft was between $1,500 and $1,800.