Fugitive releases abductee
Walck forced woman to travel to eastern Montana, police say
A Rathdrum woman kidnapped at gunpoint by a man on the run from police was released unharmed in Montana, authorities said.
Now, a multistate search is continuing for Mitchell L. Walck, who also is alleged to have opened fire on an Idaho State Police officer during a Friday night pursuit. The officer was uninjured, but the gunman escaped into the woods off Bingham Road.
The FBI has offered a $20,000 reward for Walck’s arrest and conviction.
Walck is suspected of kidnapping Susan M. Smith, 62, after forcing his way into her home.
He shaved his beard to alter his appearance. The intruder then forced Smith to accompany him in her car as he fled.
Police were alerted to the kidnapping by a woman who called Sunday evening to report that her sister-in-law had been abducted.
Kootenai County sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Stu Miller said Smith and Walck drove to Glendive, Mont., near the North Dakota border, where she was dropped off unharmed. A local resident gave Smith a cellphone to use, and she called her sister-in-law.
The search began Friday night when Walck allegedly fled a traffic stop near Spirit Lake, the sheriff’s office said, and several law enforcement agencies chased his truck for about 30 minutes. Walck escaped after the Bingham Road incident with the ISP trooper. Police searched for Walck in the woods around Rathdrum Mountain on Saturday with the aid of Spokane County sheriff’s Air-1 helicopter.
This is not the first time Walck allegedly has assaulted or attempted to assault a police officer. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the November 2001 assault on a corrections officer at Powell County Jail in Montana.
Walck was last seen driving the kidnapping victim’s 2005 silver Subaru Forester, with Idaho license plate number K230050.
He wore jeans, two-tone brown cowboy boots and long-sleeved shirts under a blue or black jacket. Besides shaving his beard, authorities said, Walck may have dyed his hair and mustache black.
The Montana Department of Corrections’ website lists Walck as married and originally from Pennsylvania. It also lists him as having brown eyes, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 170 pounds and right-handed. He did not have any listed scars or tattoos.
Walck is considered armed and dangerous. Law enforcement believes he has a handgun and two stolen rifles.
Walck is on the move and could end up traveling back through Washington state or other areas of Idaho, the FBI said in a news release.
Police advise citizens to call 911 if they have information about Walck’s location.