Long-time Friend Seeks Public’s Help in Locating Cheyenne Woman

Cindy “CJ” Caldwell has been missing since early June

Cheyenne resident Cindy Jo "CJ" Caldwell was officially reported missing on June 28 after she failed to communicate with her long-time friend for nearly a month. (Courtesy photo from Sarah VanRensselaer)

By Jennifer Kocher

Special to the Wyoming Truth

It’s been one month since Sarah VanRensselaer spoke to her childhood friend, Cindy “CJ” Caldwell. Even at her worst moments, Caldwell, 34, always found a way to call VanRensselaer.

VanRensselaer last heard from Caldwell on June 7. She believes there’s a good chance that Caldwell left on her own accord with her dog, Patrick, and a tent and may be camping in nearby Vedauwoo, 30 miles west of Cheyenne. Though Caldwell has gone off the grid for short periods in the past, she always took her phone and reached out to VanRensselaer within a couple weeks.

This time feels different, VanRensselaer said, because Caldwell’s smashed phone was found on a street near the apartment she had shared with VanRensselaer and her family prior to her disappearance. Caldwell also neglected to pick up her last two paychecks from Sam’s Club and hasn’t contacted any of her other friends or family.

“It’s really strange for her not to contact me,” VanRensselaer said. “I’m afraid maybe she tried to go off the grid and something happened to her.”

Capt. David Janes of the Cheyenne Police Department said Thursday that Caldwell was entered into the National Crime Information Center ( NCIC) on June 28.

“We have no updates at this point,” Janes said told the Wyoming Truth.

Cindy Jo “CJ” Caldwell was last seen driving a light brown late model Chevy Silverado with license plate WY-251831. (Courtesy photo from Sarah VanRensselaer)

Caldwell is one of 84 missing people listed on the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation’s missing person database, dating from July 6, 2023 to April 1974.

In a 2019 survey by Vivint, a home security company, Wyoming was ranked the seventh state nationwide with the most missing people at 7.8 per 100,000 reported missing.

In 2021, Wyoming law enforcement reported 533 missing person cases, according to a report by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center. During the first seven months of 2022, an additional 486 people were reported missing, the report stated.

Twenty-five percent of those missing cases in 2021 were cleared by law enforcement the same day they were entered into NCIC, while an additional 55% cleared within the week. 

Childhood friends

VanRensselaer has known Caldwell since the two were high school students in Canton, North Carolina. VanRensselaer was a senior and Caldwell a freshman when they met in marching band  and began a friendship that would span decades, including after VanRensselaer took a teaching job in Cheyenne in 2014.

In 2021, Caldwell told VanRensselaer she was ready to start a new life outside of North Carolina. VanRensselaer invited her to move in with her family in Wyoming.

Caldwell stayed for six months with VanRensselaer until she was able to get her own apartment. She found a cooking job at a local restaurant. In January, however, Caldwell fell onto hard times and asked to move back in back in with VanRensselaer. Caldwell was doing well up until the day she disappeared. Not only was she attending church, but she had found a supportive community, VanRensselaer said.

Tension arose when VanRensselaer announced she was moving to Sterling, Colorado, to start a mental health program for children. She urged Caldwell to move with she and her family, but Caldwell decided to move into a condo with a friend in Cheyenne.

VanRensselaer sent Caldwell a text on June 8, reminding her to pick up the box spring bed she had left in the apartment. The text was never read. That same day, she received a text from a stranger who had found Caldwell’s shattered phone in the street near her condo.

VanRensselaer believes that either Caldwell threw it in anger or it fell off the top of her car, where she might have accidentally left it. When VanRensselaer called Caldwell’s employer, Sam’s Club, a coworker said she had left with her dog in the middle of her shift.  

Along with having no phone, Caldwell also hasn’t used her debit card since she disappeared,  according to VanRensselaer who learned this from police. 

“Maybe she just went off the grid, but I’m afraid something happened to her,” VanRensselaer said. “There’s a lot of details that have us worried, so we are asking for the community’s help. I don’t think she realizes how many people care about her.”

Caldwell is described as a white female, approximately 5-foot-6, 200 pounds with hazel eyes and brown hair. She’s thought be driving an older model light brown Chevy Silverado with license plate WY-251831. Anyone with information about Caldwell’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Cheyenne Police Department at (307) 637-6525 or the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation at (307) 777-7181.

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