From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 106, Number 14 - April 2, 2009
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Willoughby bail set at $1 million cash

by Jonathan Van Dyke

Murder suspect Troy Willoughby was brought to Sublette County on Friday afternoon and had his initial hearing to set a bail bond.

“The state made recommendations for bond and gave the defense an opportunity to speak and then he (Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws) set bond conditions,” County Attorney Lucky McMahon said.

Willoughby, 46, has been charged with the murder of Elizabeth Miles Ehlers. She was found dead almost 25 years ago at a pullout near the Hoback Junction.

He did not speak during the hearing, and the bond was set at $1 million cash.

Ehlers, 25, was found dead on June 21, 1984 at about 6 a.m. She had gunshot wounds — likely from a high-caliber pistol — to her hand, chest and head. The Jackson native had been traveling to Florida to meet with her husband.

State statute does not necessarily require a bond to be set for murder charges.

“The judge has to go by certain factors,” McMahon said. “The evidence already at hand has to be very, very convincing before the judge will set no bond at all.”

Willoughby’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 8, before the circuit court and Haws.

“We have to show probable cause that there’s been a crime committed and that it is more likely than not that he is the person that committed that crime,” McMahon said. “Then he’ll be bound over to the district court.”

Until then, he will be housed in the Sublette County jail.

“We did an evaluation and classified Mr. Willoughby as a person that needs to be segregated by himself,” Sheriff Wayne “Bardy” Bardin said. “It’s business as usual and high-level alert on anyone in there.”

A final trial is unlikely to start until 2010, but Bardin reiterated his praise for the team of detectives that helped move along the quarter-century old case.

“They took what was a good case and made it a great one,” Bardin said. “There was a lot of prior investigative work done, after it set for a while and fresh eyes looked at it we found a different route to go and it proved profitable.”

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