“Cokeville Trying to Forget—Except for Prayers of Gratitude,” Ensign, Aug. 1986, 79
Citizens of Cokeville, Wyoming, are doing their best to forget the dramatic incident that focused worldwide attention on their predominantly Latter-day Saint community May 16 when a man and woman held some 160 children and adults hostage in the elementary school there for two and one-half hours.
The abductors, armed with bombs and firearms, took over the school and herded all the children, teachers, and other adults into a single small classroom. They demanded $300 million ransom. After a gasoline bomb exploded in one abductor’s hand, the other—a former Cokeville police officer—shot and wounded a teacher, then turned the gun on himself. If the bomb had functioned as designed, many of the hostages would have been killed.
The hostages escaped through classroom windows and doors. Nearly all the children injured in the accident have largely recovered, although a few face more prolonged treatment and reconstructive surgery.
“The people here are doing very well,” said Bishop John Teichert of the Cokeville First Ward. “It’s been amazing how the children have healed. Considering how bad things could have been, we all feel we’ve benefited from divine intervention.”
There was some concern in the community regarding psychological trauma to the schoolchildren, and a psychological task force has been on hand to help deal with problems as they arise. “A few families report they have children who still wake up at night with frightening memories,” said Bishop Teichert. “But most children already appear to be pretty much back to normal.”