Grand Teton National Park rangers help bust suspect
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
July 7, 2012
Facebook photos with a familiar backdrop led to the arrest of a man in Jackson Hole suspected of assaulting a person at an Aspen bar more than two years ago, the Aspen Times reports.
Grand Teton National Park rangers arrested Derek Clark, 29, on June 18 in an employee dorm where he worked for a concessionaire. The Aspen Police Depart-ment told rangers that recent photos posted on Facebook showed Clark at Jackson Lake.
“The investigator in Aspen on the case came across the photo,” Grand Teton spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said. “He determined it was likely the individual was going to be in the park for the summer. One of our rangers made a call to a concessionaire and asked if the individual was an employee.”
Clark was indeed a concierge for a concessionaire, and rangers later found him in his dormitory and arrested him.
This week, Clark appeared in Pitkin County District Court to answer one charge of second-degree assault causing bodily injury, the Times reported. The case had been under investigation since May 23, 2010.
The paper gave the following account of the incident and investigation:
Clark allegedly struck a patron of the Regal Watering Hole in the face by hurling a glass at him. But Clark’s identity remained a mystery.
One week after the incident, a bouncer from the bar told Aspen police that he believed the perpetrator’s name was Derek. No arrests were made, and the case didn’t progress for almost two years.
This spring, police got a break. Clark was arrested for an unrelated incident, and his mug shot ran in the Aspen paper. The Regal bar manager recognized him and contacted police.
The manager pointed investigators toward Clark’s Facebook page and said photos from the page made him “positive” Clark was the person who threw the glass.
Another witness told investigators he was “75 percent sure” it was Clark after reviewing a photo lineup of six men.
The new information led to a warrant for Clark’s arrest. Investigators dug further into Clark’s Facebook page, and uncovered a photograph Clark took of himself while boating on Jackson Lake.
The backdrop of the photo, which is no longer posted to the social media website, shows the northern part of a rather famous mountain range.
“You can see the Teton Range in the background of the photo that was discovered by investigators out of Colorado,” Anzelmo-Sarles said.
Grand Teton rangers investigated and found that Clark has a criminal history that “included possession of controlled substances, kidnapping, domestic violence and assault,” the National Park Service said in a statement.
Rangers arrested Clark without incident, Anzelmo-Sarles said. An unspecified amount of marijuana was also found on the premises.
“He has since been charged with possession of a controlled substance,” Anzelmo-Sarles said.
Clark posted bond shortly after being booked into Teton County jail.
He turned himself in to Pitkin County jail within the last 10 days, Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin told the Times.
The jail initially released Clark because he had posted bond in Teton County. But Mordkin told the Times that was an error and that the Wyoming bond was not valid in Colorado.
Clark was subsequently taken into custody during a courtroom hearing. A judge set his bond at $10,000 for the assault case, the Times reported.