Bob Weaver was a great rock hound, known as “Bob the geologist” to his friends and others around Cody, Wyoming. His friends claimed that his skills were so keen that other rock hunters in Cody were jealous of Bob’s uncanny ability to find fossils. It’s possible that this jealousy is what led others to make false reports about Bob’s activities to the US Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
On the first of December, 2016, six or eight Federal Agents from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Forest Service, accompanied by an investigator from Social Security with the office of the Inspector General, raided Mr. Weaver’s home.
After eight hours of intense interrogation, the agents left. Weaver was not arrested. He then called his therapist who placed him in the hospital under a suicide watch. Weaver apparently never recovered from the abusive treatment at the hands of BLM Special Agent Michael Ramirez and his team.
On December 31, unable to cope with the humiliation, verbal abuse, intimidation and threats made by Ramirez and the other federal investigators, Bob Weaver took his own life.
These are a few of the details related in my original article of January 23rd, about what happened to Bob Weaver. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of visiting with Jessica Oriti, who is Bob’s daughter. Following the death of her father, Jessica is left bewildered, wondering what provoked the harsh behavior of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Special Agent Michael Ramirez and his team, when they used such aggressive force against her father. Why, she asks herself, did the federal agents push her father to the point of taking his own life over his collections of fossils?
Jessica told me that following Weaver’s suicide she questioned Ramirez about why they chose to handle her dad with such force. According to Jessica, Ramirez didn’t have much to say about the matter except that “they had their reasons.” Jessica has been left with more questions than answers, as well as a flood of memories of her father.
In Jessica’s loss, she kindly shared with me a more personal look at who her father was and how deeply he will be missed.
Bob Weaver left behind two brothers, Gary and Jim. He was married to Jessica’s mother for 20 years but they eventually divorced. Later Bob met Susan Hershey who had become a widow in 1999. Jessica said, “Sue was the love of my father’s life.” Bob and Sue were married in a small ceremony at their house in 2000.
Bob was head over heels in love with Sue and he was very happy. During their first year of marriage, Sue was diagnosed with terminal cancer, which changed Bob’s world completely. On November 18, 2001, still a newlywed, Bob lost the love of his life, and his world fell apart. All though Bob struggled to carry on, he was never the same after Sue passed away.
After Sue died, Bob moved to Wyoming. Jessica said that “he loved Wyoming.” Jessica related that when she was a child, Bob loved to watch western movies. When he decided to move to Wyoming, he mentioned that he took a road trip out west in 1969 and at that time fell in love with the beauty of the land. He was truly happy in Cody.
Besides his love of history and artifacts, according to Jessica, he also loved music. Jessica credits her love of music to her father. She shared with me the following stories and memories about her father.
“I remember having countless conversations with him about rock and roll from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. While riding in the car together when I was a kid, he would often comment; “you know I could have been a professional singer” which always made me laugh.
When I was in Cody taking care of his last wishes, upon turning on his truck the song Southern Cross, by Crosby, Stills, and Nash was playing.”
“I’ve heard him listening to this song countless times, but it now has an entirely different meaning to me.”
“Lastly I would like people to know how much he loved his family. He called his mother and myself every Sunday. My husband Anthony and I have talked about how he gave the biggest, strongest, most genuine hugs.”
“He loved his grand kids Arabella and Luca dearly.”
“When I entered his home for the first time after he passed, I noticed their were pictures of my kids all over the house. There was also a scribbled picture that my son had made for him which he had saved and put on his refrigerator.”
“My son has an interest in fossils, dinosaurs, and science. My dad would send him and my daughter fossils which they would take to school and share with their classmates saying, “My grandpa found these!” He will be dearly missed.”
Bob Weaver was by all accounts an honest, hard-working grandpa, father, and friend who loved geology and fossils. It is hard to understand why BLM Special Agent Michael Ramirez and others felt this man warranted the abusive and heavy-handed treatment he received for simply collecting rocks and fossils.
Bob Weaver was not a criminal. He was a beloved man who obeyed the law and loved his family, friends, and his hobby of collecting fossils and rocks. He was a man who suffered from the loss of his wife deeply. His lingering trauma from that loss was aggravated when federal agents raided his house just a few days after the anniversary of his wife’s death.
Recent events, such as the 2009 raid by BLM and FBI agents on the home of James Redd in Blanding, Utah, are evidence that such a nightmare could happen to anyone who collects fossils, rocks, or enjoys other activities on or near public lands. This is not an isolated incident and it is a time that these land agencies be held accountable for what they have done to innocent people like Bob Weaver and his family.