From murderer to millionaire: Exonerated Troy Willoughby hits payday

By on October 18, 2013
Troy Willoughby

Troy Willoughby

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The man once found guilty of murdering Lisa Ehlers of Jackson has received more than a million dollars from the state of Wyoming in settlement of a lawsuit brought by Troy Willoughby who spent three years in prison before being freed when his 2010 guilty verdict was overturned.

According to records released recently by officials with the State Auditor’s Office and the Wyoming Local Government Liability Pool, payments made to Willoughby totaled $1.25 million in a settlement approved by U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl.

Willoughby was convicted of the killing of Ehlers in early 2010 and sentenced to life in prison. Ehlers was found shot in a turnout in Hoback Canyon on June 21, 1984. An investigator on the Sublette County prosecution team came forward after the trial admitting key evidence was never disclosed to Willoughby’s defense team.

Willoughby was granted a retrial and was then acquitted. He filed a lawsuit shortly after.

About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.


  1. Anonyholic II

    October 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    This is just such bullshit. Memo to law enforcement: if you don’t have the case nailed, you don’t have the case. You get caught skirting the system, an unconvicted murderer goes to the bank and gets richer than any of us will ever be. And, after a self-imposed south sea exile, ex-Sublette prosecutor Lucky McMahon has reportedly returned to Wyoming and a cushy corporate law firm job in Casper. What rubes. “The Courts don’t exist to give people justice. The Courts exist to give people a CHANCE at justice.” — Frank Galvin in “The Verdict”, 1982. How are the dice rolling for you these days, Wyoming?

  2. dave

    October 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    with all that money he will trip up again. but probably wont be murder this time.

  3. anonymous

    October 19, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    You don’t even know… The money will be his curse. On the front lines here, I’m only sickened by the money and greed acquainted with the reality of the situation.


    October 20, 2013 at 10:19 am

    RE: “unconvicted murderer goes to the bank ”

    “Jurors took about five hours Thursday afternoon to decide a former Daniel man is not guilty of murdering a Jackson woman in Sublette County in 1984.”

  5. Sammy

    October 20, 2013 at 11:41 am

    I would have demanded more. He’s innocent.

    Employers can kill you by breaking heath and safety laws (clear negligence) in Wyoming and get off pretty much Scott Free. Those are the real criminals.

  6. Anonyholic II

    October 20, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    He’s ‘not guilty’. Not the same as innocent. Enough circumstantial evidence exists against Willoughby for any but a backwater prosecutorial team to take it and run to a conviction. Parsing it with false equivalency doesn’t change that. anonymous above clearly knows more, and it ain’t good.

  7. Where's the beef

    October 21, 2013 at 6:34 am

    “Enough circumstantial evidence exists”

    Prove it. Or list it. Ya know the ‘evidence’.

  8. Anonyholic II

    October 21, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Read the trial transcript. It’s all there.

  9. Try Again

    October 21, 2013 at 6:51 pm


    List JUST ONE piece of non-heresy/non-circumstantial evidence that puts him at the scene of the crime.

    You have no evidence.

  10. dave

    October 21, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    didnt the other 2 people in the car testify that he was not only there but fired shots at the pullout where she was found dead?

  11. Try Again

    October 21, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    DAVE: “didnt the other 2 people in the car testify that he was not only there but fired shots at the pullout where she was found dead?”

    “”On August 16, 2011, Judge Day set aside Willoughby’s conviction, ruling that the evidence was withheld “under a misguided zeal that the disclosure of the report may result in a failure of justice, in the eyes of the investigators, because they ‘knew’ (Willoughby) was guilty.”

    Investigators “purposely hid police reports” that showed the defendant at home in Daniel several hours before the murder when their witnesses had him in Jackson. Investigators stated multiple times that the evidence needed to be disclosed, but if they disclosed it Mr. Willoughby would ‘fucking walk’ and that Willoughby had ‘an ironclad alibi if we can’t put him at the crime scene at 6 am.’ “”

    Of course, Willoughby knew of the withheld evidence because he was directly involved in the incident that had him in Daniel instead of Jackson so it’s difficult for him to claim a coverup when he could have provided the evidence himself.

    “”Rosa Hosking (Willoughby’s wife at that time) and Tim Bayse said that on the night of June 20-21, 1984, they were at a party with Willoughby and Ehlers in Jackson and that Willoughby sold some drugs to Ehlers and that she drove off without paying. Willoughby’s wife testified they went to Jackson to meet Basye in the afternoon (of June 20, 1984) and that they went to a party “after one, after midnight sometime (on June 21, 1984).”

    Hosking and Bayse testified that they were with Willoughby when he shot Ehlers around 6 a.m. on June 21, at a pullout on Highway 191 north of Bondurant, Wyoming. Rosa Hosking testified she listened from the car and heard Willoughby’s anger-filled voice before hearing gunshots.

    At 12:38 a.m. on June 21, 1984, while Willoughby was supposedly in Jackson at a party with Hosking and Bayse, Willoughby was complaining to the Sublette County Sheriff’s office that he and his wife (Hosking) were being harassed by three people, whose names Willoughby provided.

    A sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to Willoughby’s home to investigate further, but before he could get there, he was summoned back to the station where the three individuals Willoughby named were demanding to file a complaint against Willoughby. They alleged he had thrown a rock at their car, breaking a window. All three said that they saw or spoke to Willoughby’s wife (Rosa Hosking) during the incident.””

    The police reports showed that at the same time that Rosa Hosking and Tim Bayse said they were with Willoughby and Ehlers in Jackson, police in Daniel, Wyoming —more than 65 miles from Jackson— were questioning Willoughby about a rock-throwing incident following a dispute with three people at a bar in Pinedale, Wyoming.

    How can Hosking & Bayse be with Willoughby in Jackson while Willoughby is throwing rocks at a car in Daniel and Hosking is with him? Three witnesses said Willoughby threw rocks at the car and broke a windshield and they saw or talked to Rosa Hosking (who was clearly not in Jackson at a party).

    Willoughby could have killed anybody. However, there is no proof-positive that he did. There is no evidence. Just talk from two people who lack credibility and can’t get their facts straight.

    They all sound like losers including the deceased.

    The lawyer probably walked away with the money.

  12. Anonymous

    October 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    “With the help of Venable, Ehlers had started a local restaurant association. Rice, Ehlers and Venable were seen at a bank meeting that Rices roommate said occurred weeks before Rice was slain. Rice had also reportedly said that he had stuff in a briefcase that was blow the bank wide open.
    Rumors that law enforcement might have been involved in Ehlers death have never been entirely ruled out, due to eyewitnesses and the psychic describing one of the men as wearing a uniform. They are also inspired by the fact that U.S. Highway 191 was lightly traveled at the time and the right blinker to Ehlers car was found flashing when authorities arrived — implying she might had been pulled over by law enforcement, Funk said.

    Jon Rice, a credit officer with First Wyoming Bank, was 26 when he was shot to death inside his Berry Patch condominium in the Aspens on May 12, 1984.
    Teton County Sheriffs Office Investigator Lloyd Funk said possible leads included a potential conflict with a girlfriend and a potential drug link with his roommate. Both leads were eventually abandoned, Funk said, and the case was never solved.
    Rice was last seen on the evening of May 11, 1984, Funk said. His body was discovered the next morning by a co-worker who had planned to jog with Rice.
    Investigators determined Funk had been killed by a single gunshot to the back of the head, Funk said. According to Funk, Rice had been shot “execution style,” on his knees with his hands possibly bound in handcuffs.
    Neighbors told investigators they saw a person leave Rices condominium at approximately 1:44 a.m. May 12, Funk said.

    Ehlers’ homicide marked the end of three gangland-style executions involving Teton County residents under 30, which likely began eight months earlier with the disappearance of Eric Cooper in October 1983.

    Cooper’s partially bound and scattered bones were found by hikers in August of 1986 around Signal Mountain, about 45 miles north of Jackson.

    Inside his skull: a shattered .22-caliber slug.

    Last year, Jackson police revealed they had retrieved a .22 handgun from the same era left in a safe-deposit box at the now-defunct First Wyoming Bank. ”

    Everybody knows now that the Jackson cops were running the dope trade for the entire Rocky Mountain west section. They were securing the airport to land the planes from Florida. Ehlers found out. From what I can remember, she decided to move out of Jackson. That morning she is leaving with her whole life in the car. As soon she crosses the county line she gets pulled over and shot. That’s because Sublette County had no criminal investigation unit at the time, so the murder was likely to get brushed along.

    Apparently the corruption in WY at the time went all the way to the top, as deduced by the FBI agent that busted Ted Bundy.

    Rumors I’ve heard was that it was a cop that had somewhat recently joined the force. After the murders he left the force, which really surprised a friend of mine at the time. He said he “aged 50 years overnight”. He became a butcher I believe, at a grocery store.

    Worth noting:
    “PJH: Anything go unsolved that keeps you up?

    BZ: The big bronze seal in the middle of the courtroom was stolen probably 32 years ago. It was about six feet in diameter. I always wanted to solve that; I always wanted to be the guy who brought the big seal back to town, strapped to the top of my car or something. I always thought that would be just a great case to be able to say I participated in resolving. It’s still missing. I missed it by two weeks in Montana – even saw the house where it was. I came close, but never got it.”

    I know and like Bob Zimmer; he’s done a pretty good job and I’ll miss him. But, is he kidding? That bronze seal is the only thing that went “unsolved and keeps you up?” I know he wasn’t sheriff at the time (he was a TOJ sergeant), but those Lisa Ehlers/Jon Rice murders had to weigh on every law enforcement officer in the area. The ironic thing is, it is widely believed that these murders are “solved”. Solid evidence may be lacking (perhaps), but thanks to good detective work, both TCSO and state DCI know who the the players are, perhaps even the the trigger men in both cases. So, technically, while these cases are “solved”, there has been no justice, and THAT should be keeping him up at night. Some of those believed responsible are now dead. No one to protect now? It’s time the truth was told.

  13. Anonymous

    October 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I probably shouldn’t be saying this but Lisa’s brother in law had a nightmare the morning she was killed.
    He dreamed he was shot in the head by a police officer. It jarred him so much he paced across his kitchen til sunrise. That morning he got the call about Lisa and flew to Jackson. At a stop light, he looked at the driver next to him and immediately, totally recognized the guy from his dream. It was a cop.

  14. TO Anonymous

    October 22, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    “They were securing the airport to land the planes from Florida. Ehlers found out.”

    “Everybody knows now that the Jackson cops were running the dope trade for the entire Rocky Mountain west”

    News to me. I heard it was aliens.

    In the early 80’s, an Aspen (Pitkin County) sheriff’s deputy was busted and the department had a long history of sometimes looking the other way when confronted with the drug trade.

  15. Anonymous

    October 22, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    “The state of Wyoming entered a confidential settlement ending a federal lawsuit brought by a Montana man who was cleared of murder after a Sublette County deputy sheriff came forward to say other county investigators withheld critical evidence from the man’s defense attorneys at trial.”

    Why is it all confidential?

  16. Guilty

    October 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Too many loose ends for this guy to be hung but he sure fits the part of drug-dealing killer with a temper.

  17. Here

    October 22, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Many settlements are confidential.

    “Confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements are the rule these days. Defendants want to avoid the bad publicity and do not want the reputation of being a soft target for marginal claims.”

    Some consider them a virtual necessity:

  18. Anonymous

    October 23, 2013 at 6:33 am

    Definitely. Just wish the full story would come to light in regards to the other two unsolved murders that summer, especially Jon Rice.

  19. Where are they now?

    October 23, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    “Everything goes back to Florida,” Detective Sgt. Todd Smith of the Jackson Police Department said recently. (March 20, 2006)

    Where’s ol’ Todd Smith now?

    Oh Yeah, he’s the JPC.

    “”The noose is tightening,” Teton County sheriff’s Sgt. Lloyd Funk said regarding progress in the reopened Ehlers and Rice investigations.” (March 20, 2006)

    Where’s ol’ Lloyd Funk?

    Celebrating his 22nd year at the end of the month with the TCSO.

    Where are the killers?

    Probably with that black box that has METH written on the side.

  20. nun ya

    September 7, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    you people are f-in we todd did!!!

  21. nun ya

    September 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    your a fucking idiot

  22. nun ya

    September 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    pretty sure the proved that troy wasn,t there because he got pulled over in montana 15 mins after the murder?!?!? hmmm weird

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    October 18, 2015 at 11:12 am

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