CEDAR CITY — The Iron County Sheriff's Office is warning cabin owners about a man they believe has been living off the land in the mountains of southern Utah and breaking into cabins for years.
The hermit-like man they're looking for has been living deep in the mountains during the summer and breaking into cabins and squatting during the winter for between five to seven years, authorities believe.
What concerns them most, however, is a pattern of violence the man also seems to exhibit — including stealing firearms and shooting guns in some of the cabins.
"He has chosen to shoot through walls and doors in the cabins," said Iron County Sheriff's Sgt. Jody Edwards. "He also has taken religious framed art off the walls and shot it up."
Over the past four years alone, the man is believed to have broken into about two dozen cabins in Iron, Kane and Garfield counties. During the winter, the man will typically break into a cabin and stay until he uses up all the supplies in the home, Edwards said. Once they're gone, he'll move on to the next cabin.
In the summer, they believe he sets up camp deep in the mountains. Investigators have found at least three camps they believe belong to him, two in Iron County and one in Kane County.
"They are way far away from the public," Edwards said.
Though the camps are remote, they are elaborate and filled with high-end camping gear stolen from the cabins, he said. The man is also believed to be responsible for stealing a large number of firearms out of the cabins. In one of the man's camps alone in Iron County, authorities found 14 firearms, he said.
Because of the firearm thefts and the man's tendency to shoot through walls, authorities are concerned about what would happen if a cabin owner should come back one day and find him still inside.
Detectives have no idea who the man is or what his story might be. They don't know if the man has a mental illness or some sort of agenda.
All they know, Edwards said, is he has apparently taken painstaking efforts over the past several years to avoid people. And they are warning people that he should be considered armed and dangerous.
"He has shown a considerable amount of anti-social behavior. He does not want to be seen or known about," Edwards said.
One of the few believed sightings of the man was earlier this year by a couple of bow hunters.
On May 1, a man snowshoeing near Esplin Ranch south of Navajo Lake, which is about 20 miles north of Highway 9 in Kane County, came into the path of bow hunters. The man in snowshoes took off to get away from the hunters as quickly as he could, Edwards said.
Detectives are looking for a white man about 6 feet tall, 180 pounds in his 30s. The man has a beard. He was last seen wearing a baseball cap, snow boots, snowshoes, green wool or green tight sweatpants, a black slicker or windbreaker coat, and a green-colored backpack with the hydration tube system built in.
Over the past two summers, police have put up fliers in the area warning cabin owners. This past summer, they went door to door to personally talk with cabin owners and warn them of the unknown man.
Police are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the man's arrest. Anyone with information can call the sheriff's office at 435-867-7500.