The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 3, 2013

After 6 years, survivalist surrenders

Suspect laughs with police after arrest

Manti, Utah —

For six years Troy James Knapp eluded authorities, moving from cabin to cabin across the Utah mountains, taking food and weapons and leaving notes to brag about it.

It all ended Tuesday as lawmen made what they called a surprisingly easy capture outside a remote cabin after the suspect fired off a few harmless shots.

"He was laughing with our guys. He said, `Boy, you really snuck up on me,'" said Sevier County Sheriff Nathan Curtis. "He threw his rifle down in the snow and said, `You got me.'"

The 45-year-old survivalist is suspected of burglarizing dozens of Utah cabins and leaving taunting notes for owners — "get off my mountain" — and for sheriffs across several counties — "gonna put you in the ground!" Now he faces multiple felonies in at least four counties, including for shooting at a police helicopter and officers on the ground.

The self-styled "Mountain Man" looked sullen as he was walked into Sanpete County jail late Tuesday, already in jail garb from a quick stop at another county jail. Sanpete County prosecutor Brody Keisel said Knapp will have his first court appearance in Manti within days on a number of felony charges.

Knapp has an impressive memory and was eager to recite his travels and numerous cabin break-ins, bragging that authorities knew only the half of it and showing maps, Curtis said. He does not yet have an attorney.

Authorities believe Knapp had lingered around the snowy mountains outside Ferron, about 125 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, since last fall. He took shelter at cabins in the middle of the Manti-LaSal National Forest.

"It is a relief to know that he has been caught," said Eugene Bartholomew, the owner of a cabin broken into recently at Ferron Reservior under the windswept Wasatch Plateau, where the snow is still piled four feet deep in places. "If he slept in the beds, that's fine with me. As long as he didn't tear up the place."

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