Monday, October 15, 2018

Notorious 'mountain man' from 1980s is up for parole

HELENA, Mont. — A notorious "mountain man," who abducted a world-class athlete in 1984 to keep as a wife for his son, comes up for parole on April 27.

Don Nichols is serving an 85-year sentence for kidnapping Kari Swenson, then a 22-year-old world-class biathlete. He also was convicted of killing Swenson's would-be rescuer, Alan Goldstein.

Nichols and his son, Dan Nichols, were known to spend long stretches in the mountains living off the land. Prior to the abduction, they had lived for a year poaching game and growing hidden gardens at various camps they set up — earning them both a "mountain man" moniker they embraced.

The elder Nichols has had a good track record in prison, where he has worked on the yard crew, and over the years has reportedly become a bit more apologetic for kidnapping Swenson.

The parole hearing comes as Dan Nichols — paroled in 1991 from his kidnapping and assault sentence received for his role in the infamous crime — is in trouble with the law again. Jefferson County officials issued an arrest warrant last month for the younger Nichols after he failed to show up for a pretrial hearing in a drug case.

The younger Nichols could face many more years in prison after being charged last summer with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell at a rock concert.

Back in the 1980s, the abduction and manhunt gripped the state and the nation.

In July 1984 the Nicholses ambushed Swenson with guns while she was on a training run in the mountains above the resort town of Big Sky.

They forced her into the woods and kept her chained to a tree most of the time when would-be rescuers stumbled upon the camp. In a melee, Dan Nichols accidentally shot Swenson. An armed standoff ensued, and the elder Nichols gunned down Alan Goldstein.

The Nicholses left Swenson severely wounded and escaped into the woods. The experienced woodsmen evaded capture for five months living in the Madison Range, until a daring Madison County sheriff and former bronco buster named Johnny France took it upon himself to follow a tip and gave chase alone before storming the Nicholses camp and forcing their surrender.

The sensational tale made the cover of national newsmagazines, and spawned two books and a TV movie, The Abduction of Kari Swenson.

Comments
Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist, dies

Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist, dies

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates, has died at 65
Updated: 1 hour ago
Emmanuel Sanders' taunt comes back to haunt Broncos

Emmanuel Sanders' taunt comes back to haunt Broncos

Emmanuel Sanders thought he had a touchdown catch and started wagging a finger in the defender's face
Updated: 1 hour ago
Warriors prepare for bittersweet arena move across the bay

Warriors prepare for bittersweet arena move across the bay

If anybody understands an arena's link to a city, to a faithful fan base, Kevin Durant does
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jets' busy Beachum uses many life passions to help others

Jets' busy Beachum uses many life passions to help others

Jets' busy Kevin Beachum uses his many life passions to help others
Updated: 1 hour ago
Mason Crosby's emotional week ends on high note for Packers

Mason Crosby's emotional week ends on high note for Packers

Mason Crosby ended one of the tougher weeks of his career on a high note
Updated: 1 hour ago
Emails show California agency's cozy ties to gas tax backers

Emails show California agency's cozy ties to gas tax backers

AP Exclusive: Emails show California's transportation agency coordinated frequently with the public affairs firm working to block the repeal of the state gas tax hike
Updated: 1 hour ago
Niners give Packers 2nd chance late after flag on Sherman

Niners give Packers 2nd chance late after flag on Sherman

The San Francisco 49ers turned the ball over three more times but still had a chance to hold off the Green Bay Packers
Updated: 2 hours ago
Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist Paul Allen dies at 65

Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist Paul Allen dies at 65

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates and went on to become a billionaire philanthropist, has died
Updated: 2 hours ago
Chacin, Brewers' bullpen blank Dodgers 4-0 for 2-1 NLCS lead

Chacin, Brewers' bullpen blank Dodgers 4-0 for 2-1 NLCS lead

Jhoulys Chacin combined with four relievers on a five-hitter, Orlando Arcia hit a two-run homer and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0 to take a 2-1 lead in the NL Championship Series
Updated: 2 hours ago
Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist Paul Allen dies at 65

Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist Paul Allen dies at 65

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates and went on to become a billionaire philanthropist, has died
Updated: 2 hours ago