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'Mountain Man' now faces criminal charges in 5 counties

Published: Monday, Aug. 3 2015 11:31 p.m. MDT

Troy James Knapp, known as the "Mountain Man", was captured in the Ferron Reservoir area on April 2, 2013. He now faces criminal charges in five Utah counties. (Sgt. Dusty Butler, Emery County Sheriff's Office) Troy James Knapp, known as the "Mountain Man", was captured in the Ferron Reservoir area on April 2, 2013. He now faces criminal charges in five Utah counties. (Sgt. Dusty Butler, Emery County Sheriff's Office)

BEAVER — Troy Knapp, dubbed the "Mountain Man" and accused of evading police for years while living in burglarized cabins, is now facing more than 30 criminal charges in five counties.

Two new counts of burglary and a single count of theft, a second-degree felony, as well as a class B misdemeanor theft count, were filed against Knapp, 35, in 5th District Court in Beaver County last week. Knapp is already facing as many as 28 other charges in Sanpete, Kane, Iron and Garfield counties.

Knapp is a survivalist suspected of breaking into dozens of cabins in southern and central Utah over a seven-year span. He is accused of breaking into summer cabins during the winter, living off whatever supplies were inside, and then living in remote mountainous areas during the summer.

The latest charges stem from incidents at the same cabin in 2009 and 2012. Tom Swindlehurst told officers that when he went to his family cabin on Beaver Mountain in the spring of 2009, he found that a camp chef typically stored outside the cabin had been moved inside and was used to cook a can of beans, according to an affidavit filed in court.

Troy Knapp, alleged cabin burglar, makes his initial appearance for charges in Sanpete County on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Manti. Knapp, center, appeared clean shaven before judge Marvin Bagley in 6th District Court by video feed from the Sanpete County Jail where he was appointed a public defender.  (Francisco Kjolseth, All) Troy Knapp, alleged cabin burglar, makes his initial appearance for charges in Sanpete County on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Manti. Knapp, center, appeared clean shaven before judge Marvin Bagley in 6th District Court by video feed from the Sanpete County Jail where he was appointed a public defender. (Francisco Kjolseth, All)

Swindlehurst also noticed a new entry in the log book kept by the family at the cabin: "Thanks for the hospitality, Troy James the red head," the affidavit states. "(Swindlehurst) had not previously reported the incident, but after seeing the media reports and learning the suspect's name, he decided to come forward."

Another member of Swindlehurst's family called to report a burglary in June 2012 and told law enforcement officers that the burglar had left a .45-caliber Kimber handgun in the cabin during a visit in February 2012. When another family member visited the cabin the next month, they found a broken window and no sign of the weapon.

Another gun, though — a .38-caliber Special — was found in place of the missing Kimber, valued at $1,200, the affidavit states.

Troy Knapp, alleged cabin burglar, makes his initial appearance for charges in Sanpete County on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Manti. Knapp appeared clean shaven before judge Marvin Bagley in 6th District Court by video feed from the Sanpete County Jail where he was appointed a public defender.  (Francisco Kjolseth, All) Troy Knapp, alleged cabin burglar, makes his initial appearance for charges in Sanpete County on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Manti. Knapp appeared clean shaven before judge Marvin Bagley in 6th District Court by video feed from the Sanpete County Jail where he was appointed a public defender. (Francisco Kjolseth, All)

Kent Swindlehurst said Thursday that his family's cabin must have made an ideal spot for Knapp.

"We kind of sit back on the top of a hillside, so it was a perfect location for him," he said. "(Knapp) could see what's coming in and out and there wasn't much traffic because we were on a dead-end street."

He said the family thought seeing the barbecue indoors was odd, but didn't think much of the entry in the record book. He said they'd assumed it was probably written by a nephew's friend or someone else staying at the cabin with family.

Other than those incidents and the stolen handgun, Kent Swindlehurst said there was no other damage to his cabin. Still, he said his family members were prepared in case they ever encountered the "Mountain Man."

"We're almost as much mountain men as he is, so we were ready. … There's a lot of southern Utah boys that are the same way," he said. "He was very fortunate to be caught by police."

Troy Knapp, alleged cabin burglar, makes his initial appearance for charges in Sanpete County on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Manti. Knapp appeared clean shaven before judge Marvin Bagley in 6th District Court by video feed from the Sanpete County Jail where he was appointed a public defender.  (Francisco Kjolseth, All) Troy Knapp, alleged cabin burglar, makes his initial appearance for charges in Sanpete County on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Manti. Knapp appeared clean shaven before judge Marvin Bagley in 6th District Court by video feed from the Sanpete County Jail where he was appointed a public defender. (Francisco Kjolseth, All)

At this point, the family mostly wants to see their handgun returned.

Knapp appeared in Sanpete County's 6th District Court Wednesday, where his attorney indicated that a "global resolution" to the various criminal charges is being considered. Sanpete County prosecutor Brody Keisel indicated he has been in touch with prosecutors in the other counties and that "negotiations are going forward," court records state. Another scheduling conference is set for July 10.

Contributing: Dave Cawley

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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