Cheyenne Man Charged in Homicide Investigation, Bond Set at $1M
The Park County Attorney's Office has identified the man suspected of killing a woman in Cheyenne before leaving her body in a remote area south of Cody over the weekend.
Joseph Carl Underwood, 45, of Cheyenne, saw his bond set at $1,000,000 cash only during a hearing Tuesday morning in Park County Circuit Court.
In that court, he faces four criminal charges: disposing of a dead human body in order to conceal a felony, possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a violent felony, interference with a peace officer and fleeing or attempting to elude police officers. He could face up to 14 years, six months behind bars if convicted of all charges.
Underwood is charged in connection with the death of 40-year-old Angela Elizondo. Authorities say a local hunter found her body in a remote area south of Cody and west of Highway 120 shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, a Park County sheriff's deputy was securing the area where Elizondo's body was discovered, roughly one and a half miles west of the highway on a dirt road.
At 10:43 p.m., the deputy spotted a vehicle headed in his direction.
"The headlights of the vehicle appeared out of the dark as if someone had just turned them on," the deputy wrote. Dispatch, he said, told him that no other officers were supposed to be en route to the scene.
After some time, when the approaching vehicle was stopped about 100 yards from the deputy, the deputy turned on his spotlight and used binoculars to identify the vehicle. When the vehicle began moving toward him again, the deputy activated his emergency lights and the vehicle stopped, then backed up in order to turn around.
The vehicle started to leave, and he followed it. When the white pickup truck finally reached the highway, it turned right, toward Meeteetse.
Several law enforcement officers from different agencies responded to assist the lone deputy. A state trooper was able to stop the pickup truck near milepost 65.
Looking up the truck's registration information, the deputy found the driver to be Underwood. The deputy had encountered Underwood in the past, and he knew Underwood was a person of interest regarding the discovery of Elizondo's body.
Several officers tried to order Underwood out of his vehicle, to no avail. Underwood pointed a handgun at his head and threatened to take his own life, saying he wouldn't go back to jail and "had nothing to live for," according to the affidavit.
The Cody Police Department's Special Response Team was activated. The Hot Springs County Sheriff's Office helped shut down the highway two miles down the road.
The standoff continued for about two hours. The deputy and another officer were able to approach Underwood's vehicle, still talking with Underwood. Their conversation reportedly turned to a previous incident in which Underwood shot himself in the right temple with a .38-caliber pistol.
One officer asked Underwood if he could "feel the scar" the bullet had left, and Underwood allowed it. That's when the officer lunged through the open window, grabbing Underwood's gun with enough force to eject the round that was in the chamber.
The gun went flying out of Underwood's hand and the officers tried to get inside the truck. Ultimately, when Underwood tried to reach for the gun, the deputy used his taser and stunned Underwood, who finally gave up. He was checked by EMS before being taken to jail.
According to the deputy's affidavit, Underwood was convicted in 2015 of aggravated assault with a weapon and spent time in prison.
Following Underwood's arrest, he was interviewed by a DCI agent and allegedly admitted to transporting Elizondo's body.
Underwood's case in Park County will next be before a judge Nov. 13 for a preliminary hearing to determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence for the case to be bound over to district court for trial.
The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation said Monday that they believe Elizondo was killed in Cheyenne before her body was taken to Park County. If that is proven to be true, any person accused of killing her would likely be charged in Laramie County.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no charge directly related to the killing of Elizondo had been filed with the Laramie County Circuit Court.