Manhunt leads to Montana - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Manhunt leads to Montana

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Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 12:00 am

The man suspected of shooting at a state trooper early Saturday later allegedly kidnapped a 62-year-old Rathdrum woman by forcing her at gunpoint into her vehicle at her home before releasing her unharmed in an eastern Montana city.

Transient Mitchell Lee Walck, also known as Mark Mackenzie, 57, remained at large Monday night and is wanted on a $1 million warrant for the kidnapping charge.

The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office identified the kidnapping victim as Susan M. Smith. Smith's sister-in-law reported at 5 p.m. Sunday that Walck had let Smith out in Glendive, Mont.

"She said her sister-in-law needed help and was unharmed," KCSO Lt. Stu Miller said.

Miller said Walck has no connection with Smith. Miller said no one else was home during the alleged kidnapping incident.

Walck was last seen in Glendive driving the victim's silver 2005 Subaru Forester with Idaho license plate K230050.

"He was last seen wearing jeans, two-tone brown cowboy boots and multiple long-sleeved shirts under a blue or black jacket," a press release states.

Walck shaved his beard off and dyed his hair and mustache black.

Glendive is 742 miles and about an 11-hour drive from Rathdrum. Miller said it's unknown which direction Walck headed from Glendive and that Smith's Forester hadn't been recovered as of Monday night.

Smith was still in Montana on Monday afternoon and local law enforcement planned to bring her home. She was transported by the Glendive Police Department to Billings, where detectives from the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force met with her.

The KCSO said Smith and her family declined requests to be interviewed.

Walck is suspected of leading multiple police agencies on a 30-minute vehicle chase early Saturday after an alleged traffic violation on Highway 41 just south of Spirit Lake.

The Chevy Silverado, stolen in July out of Idaho Falls, was spotted in the Athol area and eventually left Highway 53 in Rathdrum. It turned onto Bingham Road and stopped at the dead end street. Walck fled into the woods on foot, and soon after an Idaho State Police trooper gave chase, Walck fired a handgun, according to police reports. The trooper was not hurt.

Walck was last seen off Highway 53 near Dashco in Rathdrum, running north toward Rathdrum Mountain. He eluded police, despite a 12-hour search that included a perimeter, a K-9 and use of a helicopter.

Walck hid out at Smith's home in the 16000 block of Reservoir Road just outside city limits at the base of the mountain not far from where the foot pursuit ended.

In addition to the handgun Walck used to fire upon the trooper and kidnap Smith, he also allegedly stole a 30-30 Winchester rifle and a Mossberg .22-caliber rifle from Smith's home.

Although Walck may adhere to some ideologies of militia, racist or sovereign citizen groups, there is no definitive proof that he is aligned with any of them despite some reports stating otherwise, according to the KCSO. He is known to frequent churches in an attempt to get assistance.

Walck was sentenced to 120 months in prison in Montana for an assault on a police officer in Powell County (Deer Lodge) in November 2001. He was released in October. He had also been involved in a standoff in Montana.

Police say he has no criminal history or ties in Kootenai County. He is also wanted on a felony probation violation in Sanders County, Mont.

Post Falls police Capt. Greg McLean said Walck was known to frequent areas such as Priest River and Clark Fork in North Idaho and Troy, Libby and Missoula in western Montana.

McLean said it appeared Walck, who also has ties to Pennsylvania, lived out of the Silverado. The items recovered from the truck included three guns, clothing and his briefcase that contained personal information, a photo of himself and several papers with names and numbers jotted on them.

"It was almost like the briefcase was his filing cabinet," said McLean, adding that detectives haven't received any leads from the information.

McLean said Walck is divorced.

According to newspaper archives, Smith graduated from Lakeland High in 1968, earned a master's degree from the University of Idaho and worked in multiple branches of the federal government before retiring. She served with an interfaith group called Maranatha Volunteers International on projects in Russia and South America.

ISP said the unnamed trooper who was shot at was unavailable for an interview, citing the ongoing investigation.

Those with information about Walck's location can call 911, but should not to contact or approach him as he's considered armed and dangerous.

Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest has offered a $1,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest. The number for that organization is (800) 222-TIPS.

The alleged kidnapping is being investigated by the KCSO, which can be reached at 446-1300.

The alleged vehicle pursuit and shooting at the trooper is being investigated by Post Falls Police, which can be reached at 773-3517. Anonymous tips can be left at www.postfallspolice.com.

The FBI is assisting in the case.

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1 comment:

  • Hayden Joe posted at 7:12 am on Tue, Dec 4, 2012.

    Hayden Joe Posts: 170

    Why did the Press feel compelled to do so much research and reporting on the poor victim in this story?

    Leave her alone already and go find a real story.

     
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