Green River Star -

By David Martin

Community remembers Susan


David Martin

Samantha McKeown lays her head on her mother Mary McKeown during a candlelight vigil hosted at the Sweetwater County Family Justice Center Tuesday night. The vigil was for Susan Tripplet, who is alleged to have died as a result of abuse.

On a rainy Tuesday night, dozens of residents from Green River and Rock Springs met at the Sweetwater County Family Justice Center in Rock Springs to remember a four-month-old girl.

Susan Tripplet is alleged to have died as a result of abuse investigators believe occurred at the hands of her parents, Amanda and Jacob Tripplet. The couple are currently being held at the Sweetwater County Detention Center on $1 million cash bonds.

However, for many people throughout the county, the event underscores feelings of disbelief and rage that something like the events described in court documents, despite not having been proven to have taken place in court, could have happened in southwestern Wyoming.

"This doesn't happen in our community," Aimee Gatzke, director of the family justice center and YWCA Support and Safe House, said.

Gatzke believes a lot of people have had a hard time processing their feelings in regards to the alleged events.

Gatzke said the candlelight vigil helps with that process while memorializing an alleged victim of abuse.

"I think it's important we don't forget the alleged victims," she said.

Having looked at social media, Gatzke said a lot of people have also mentioned not knowing what to do.

Gatzke said a number of resources are available to victims of domestic abuse. One of the greatest resources is the family justice center itself, which was established as a one-stop location for people seeking help for a wide variety of abuse-related issues.

The center houses representatives from the YWCA, as well as local law enforcement, Southwest Counseling Services, the Sweetwater County Attorney's Office and other community outreach organizations. It also provides a secure place for victims to talk about their situations.

Gatzke said going to law enforcement for help is another way of finding help, as is reaching out to one of the counseling agencies in the area.

"We have a ton of resources to help prevent these kinds of tragedies," she said.

Tim Savage, a Rock Springs City Councilman who serves on the YWCA's Support and Safe House board said Sweetwater County has a problem with domestic abuse, saying the rate of violence is much higher than other locations in Wyoming.

Savage helped host the vigil, but he, like many others, has difficulty processing the alleged events.

"What a horrible, horrible tragedy, Savage said. "I don't know how these things happen."


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