Elusive 'Mountain Man' arrested after allegedly firing at helicopter

Father, son describe 'scary' encounter with elusive gunman

Published: Tuesday, April 2 2013 11:15 a.m. MDT

But after the father and son said goodbye and went on their way, Fuller started thinking about stories of the elusive Mountain Man in the area. When he finally got to an area with cellphone reception, he called a friend who is married to a deputy. The deputy then sent him photos of Knapp.

"When I got the second picture where he's walking in front of the cabin, and he's kind of scruffy — he was scruffy when he talked to him — that picture, there was no question whatsoever. It was him."

Fuller called the sheriff's office, and within 45 minutes, deputies began tracking Knapp.

"I think it was fairly quick that our Emery County sheriff got on his track and knew where he was at," he said.

The area where Knapp was found is currently closed to regular vehicles. Nielson said law enforcers used snowmobiles, Snowcats and a helicopter to get to the area.

On Saturday, the Emery County Sheriff's Office responded to a burglary in the Reeder subdivision of Joe's Valley Reservoir. A second burglary was reported the next day. This time, weapons were taken. Funk said the burglary was similar to methods Knapp had allegedly used in previous crimes.

On Monday, county, state and federal officials met to map out a plan to go into the Ferron Reservoir area, Funk said.

Nielson gave high praise Tuesday to all police agencies that participated, with special thanks to DPS and Emery County, which he said did a lot of the leg work.

Knapp's identity was revealed a year ago thanks to a photograph taken by a wildlife camera and fingerprints. He was subsequently charged and an arrest warrant issued in Iron County's 5th District Court. He is typically seen wearing camouflage and has a rifle strapped over his shoulder.

For years, Knapp is believed to have broken into summer cabins during the winter, living off whatever supplies were inside, and then living in remote mountainous areas during the summer. In his summer campsites discovered by law enforcers, they have found high-end camping gear stolen from cabins as well as numerous firearms.

Police say Knapp left threatening messages for law enforcers in cabins that he is accused of breaking into, such as: "Pack up and leave. Get off my mountain." They say he has also shot up the inside of some cabins, and taken aim in particular at religious-themed artwork.

He is believed to have spent most of last summer in the Fish Lake area of Sevier County. In October, more than 40 officers from Sevier, Sanpete, Iron and Box Elder counties as well as the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team searched an area of Sevier County where Knapp was last seen, but they could not find the elusive fugitive.

In Garfield County, Sheriff Danny Perkins said the cabin break-ins began about 2005. Although Knapp has only been charged with three burglaries in Garfield, Perkins said he is a suspect in 20 to 30 break-ins.

"We're happy, we're relieved (he's been arrested). I think everyone in the law enforcement community that has had problems with Mr. Knapp regarding the burglaries that he's committed in our areas, were really worried about public safety and officer safety," Perkins said, adding that he was "looking forward to meeting with him."

In 1986, Knapp was incarcerated in Michigan for convictions of breaking and entering and receiving stolen property, according to court records. Knapp briefly had a listing of a Salt Lake address in 1999. He reportedly has family living in Michigan and Moscow, Idaho. His Idaho home was listed in public documents as his primary residence as recently as November of 2011, but authorities don't believe he has actually lived in Idaho for many years. He is believed to have lived in northern California before moving to Salt Lake City and then dropping off the radar.

In 5th District Court in Iron County, Knapp is facing four counts of burglary, a second-degree felony; theft, a second-degree felony; and three counts of theft, a class B misdemeanor — all charges for incidents spanning June 2009 through September of 2011.

In 6th District Court, he is facing six charges out of Garfield County, including four counts of burglary, a second-degree felony; and two counts theft, a class B misdemeanor, for incidents between February and June 2012. In Kane County, Knapp has been charged with aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony; two counts of burglary, a third-degree felony; and purchase, transfer or use of a firearm by a restricted person, a third-degree felony, stemming from a December 2011 incident.

E-mail: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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