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Uden bodies to be raised from bottom of deep lake

Nov 6, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Sheriff's Office has said it intends to recover the remains of Gerald Uden's three victims from the bottom of Fremont Lake, if they are there. The effort to locate the bodies, however, will have to wait until next year.

"The sheriff's office is committed to doing whatever we can to see it through with available resources and technology available to us," Undersheriff Ryan Lee said in an interview.

Any effort would have to wait at least until the spring.

"At the current time of year, it is not feasible or safe to conduct such an operation at Fremont Lake," Lee said in a statement.

Fremont Lake

On Friday, Uden pleaded guilty to murdering his ex-wife, Virginia Uden, and their children, Richard, 11, and Reagan, 10, in 1980. In court, Gerald Uden said he buried the bodies at the bottom of Fremont Lake after initially hiding them in a gold-mine shaft near Lewiston, a ghost town 12 miles east of Atlantic City.

Uden is now serving a life sentence for the crimes.

Authorities want to confirm Uden's claim before launching a project to recover the remains.

Sheriff Skip Hornecker said he wanted to make sure there is a "factual basis" for Uden's statement before any attempt at recovery.

"The Fremont County Sheriff's Office is continuing this investigation, specifically Uden's recent statement regarding the location of the bodies," Lee said.

Difficult task

Authorities involved in any such effort would face quite a challenge.

Fremont Lake, located four miles north of Pinedale in Sublette County, is half a mile wide and 11 miles long. The lake is more than 600 feet deep in places.

Lee said the sheriff's office usually makes at least one underwater recovery a year. The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation has equipment for such operations and makes it available to counties, the undersheriff said.

DCI also led the investigation of Uden and likely would be involved in a recovery effort that way as well, Lee said. The location in another county would not cause a problem because the two sheriff's offices cooperate often, he said.

Exact spot

Uden's testimony would not be much help.

"I could not go to the lake and point and say where (I sank the bodies), because it was dark," Uden said.

His statements offered some clues, though.

He said he tried to go to the center of the lake. Before dumping the barrels into the water, he had sealed the bodies in steel drums and drilled holes in the sides so they would sink.

Uden also said he sounded the depth and knows that he where he dropped the barrels was more than 450 feet deep because that was the length of his line.