A judge once called him an “avenging angel” with a face like a “cherub,” but behind the badge Deputy Jeff Angell of the Big Horn County Sheriff’s department is a man with a big heart who truly cares about victims of violent crime. So much so, that he gave up a lucrative and predictable factory job to help them.
Angell spent two years on the Lovell Police force and later jumped at the opportunity to become a deputy on the Big Horn County Sheriff’s team. As a deputy, he is sent out to investigate some of the most unpredictable and violent crimes committed, mostly against women and children.
“I felt there was a need for someone to concentrate on this area of crime,” said Angell. “There’s just too much of it (domestic and sexual violence) in the community.”
His efforts in this area have not gone unnoticed, and he was recently presented with the Visionary Award by the Division of Victim Services (DVS) at the Fall Victim Services Conference that took place in Cheyenne.
This award is given to someone who shows exceptional vision in serving victims of crime in Wyoming,” said Leslie Hoffman, Director of CARES, an advocacy and referral program for victims of crimes.
The CARES organization nominated Angell for the award.
In a letter to the nominating committee of DVS, CARES Board Chairman Sylvia Gams and CARES Director Leslie Hoffman wrote:
“Jeff has had the vision that Big Horn County can be a safer place for children and all citizens if sexual predators are prosecuted. This awakened a desire in him to actively pursue more training and become a full-time law enforcement officer.”
The letter went on to describe Angell’s involvement in a major case that put a sexual predator behind bars.
“Deputy Angell is the reason a sexual predator, Marvin Tilley, was incarcerated recently for a period of not less than 110 years. After receiving the case involving two female juveniles being assaulted by a family member, Deputy Angell began investigating. One assault occurred in Park County and had to be dismissed in Big Horn County. The other victim’s family refused to cooperate with investigation or prosecution.”
“That should have been the end of the story. Deputy Angell did not let it end there. He sensed there were more victims and mounted a campaign to find them and bring the predator to justice. Through nothing but hard, gritty police work, he was able to find four women who were abused by this man in the last 20 to 30 years. These women had buried their past and their victimization.”
“Because of Jeff’s hard work and huge heart, including his amazing skills working with victims, these four women came forward when they discovered this sexual predator was still actively offending. Other victims surfaced along the way and were able to be used as rebuttal witnesses in the trial, which was held in Oct. of 2010.”
“It’s all about trust,” explained Angell. “Victims know they can trust me. I’m not going to give up on helping them and I’m not going to let up on people who commit these kinds of crimes.”
Angell works closely with CARES to make sure victims get the kind of help they need to better their lives. This includes: advocacy, referral and compensation, along with help dealing with the legal and medical systems.
“There’s so much of this kind of crime that goes unreported because victims are afraid or embarrassed,” said Angell. “I don’t care if it happened 30 years ago, like the Tilley case, something needs to be done about it.”
By Patti Carpenter