Oil & Gas News

Blaine County Man Exonerated After False Pipeline Bomb Threat Accusation

Blaine County, Blaine, Exonerated, Vindicated

The echo of injustice reverberated through Blaine County as the local sheriff, Travis Daugherty, issued a heartfelt apology to a man who had been wrongly accused and charged with threats of blowing up an oil site. This man, Clayton Cowen, a fifth-generation farmer, now faces a challenging journey to restore his tarnished reputation.

Cowen, who has deep roots in Blaine County, was thrust into a nightmare two months ago when he was accused of sending threatening emails about blowing up a company’s pipeline. “I was accused of sending harassing emails to an oil company employee about blowing up their pipeline,” Cowen recounted, his voice tinged with a mix of frustration and disbelief. “It’s funny saying it out loud.”

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The bizarre tale began in 2023 when the oil company began receiving ominous emails from someone claiming to be “Clay Cowen.” Blaine County Sheriff Travis Daugherty explained, “They believe the person was wanting compensation for his portion of the land where the pipeline was buried.” With Cowen’s property situated just a mile from the threatened site, the Blaine County District Attorney’s Office swiftly issued an arrest warrant earlier this year, even before deputies had a chance to speak with Cowen.

The first inkling Cowen had of the accusation came in the most unexpected way—through the local paper. “I was guilty until proven innocent,” Cowen lamented. “I never got one phone call or one visit from any law enforcement or investigator about this case. It just came out in the paper that I had a misdemeanor for a crime I didn’t commit.”

Mineral RightsAs the sheriff’s race in Blaine County heated up, the spotlight on this case intensified. However, the truth eventually came to light: Cowen was innocent. A thorough investigation, bolstered by a search warrant, revealed that the threatening emails had originated from Pennsylvania, not from Cowen’s farm. “It’s really not clear how a person named Clayton Cowen would address property in Blaine County where Clayton Cowen from Blaine County has invested interest,” Daugherty admitted, highlighting the bizarre twist in the case.

Despite the charges being dropped, the damage to Cowen’s life was significant. “I’ve got upwards of $5,000 tied up in this case so far, and that’s a lot of money for someone who is innocent,” Cowen said. The financial strain and emotional toll have been immense, and Cowen is now on a mission to clear his name completely. “I shouldn’t have to clear it up, but I’m gonna have to,” he stated with determination.

In a bid to rectify the situation, Sheriff Daugherty issued a public apology, acknowledging the severe mistake that had upended Cowen’s life. He took full responsibility for the oversight and vowed to implement more rigorous investigative procedures in the future. Speaking to KOCO 5, Daugherty emphasized, “It is absolutely paramount to me that we prove people’s innocence just as much as we prove the people that are guilty, guilty.”

This case serves as a stark reminder of the flaws in the justice system and the profound impact of wrongful accusations. For Cowen, the road to vindication is far from over, but his resilience and determination shine through. His story is a testament to the importance of due diligence and the devastating consequences when it is overlooked.

As Cowen continues his battle to restore his reputation, the community watches closely, reminded of the fragility of justice and the strength required to fight for one’s truth. The lessons learned from this ordeal will hopefully lead to better practices and prevent such injustices from occurring in the future.

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