While the manhunt continues for a man suspected of kidnapping a Rathdrum woman and firing gun shots at police, authorities are investigating multiple tips on the whereabouts of fugitive Mitchell Lee Walck.
Walck had told his kidnapping victim, 62-year-old Susan Smith, he planned on traveling back to western Montana where he had hidden a travel trailer, according to new court documents.
Walck has been on the run from authorities since Friday night after he fled a traffic stop in his truck and led multiple law enforcement agencies on a pursuit. Shots were fired at an Idaho State Police officer during the chase.
The fleeing gunman escaped into the woods leading up to Rathdrum Mountain, where authorities now know he confronted Smith and forced his way into her home along the 16000 block of Reservoir Road to hide. He approached her some time on Saturday when she was letting her cat outside, Smith later told authorities. Walck ordered her at gunpoint back inside the home, where he shaved his beard, ate some food and showered, Smith said.
Walck waited for the sun to go down before he forced Smith into her own car and led her on a drive through multiple states, stopping at every rest area along the way, court documents said. It’s not clear who drove the car.
From Rathdrum, they drove to Spokane Valley, where they got onto Interstate 90 and trekked through Idaho, Montana and finally into North Dakota where Smith said Walck crossed as many state lines as possible because he wanted federal authorities to take over the case, the documents show.
It isn’t the first time Walck has drawn intense law enforcement scrutiny.
In 2001, he was arrested in Montana following a standoff with Powell County sheriff’s deputies who were investigating reports that Walck was squatting in an abandoned ranch house near Drummond. When deputies initially arrived at the abandoned home, Walck was inside with his girlfriend and told her he planned on shooting the deputies, Powell County Sheriff Scott Howard said.
Authorities eventually subdued him after shooting him with a rubber bullet. Later, he attacked corrections officers inside the Powell County Jail, an assault that sent him to prison for 10 years.
Though his standoff charges were dropped due to court technicalities, Walck was sentenced to 10 years in Montana State Prison where he sent death threats to authorities including Sheriff Scott Howard. He later sued Howard and the prison’s warden because “he truly believed he owned that property” where the standoff took place, Howard said.
“I’m really concerned. He’s really weird character to explain in words,” Howard said. “He sees and hears a lot that are just not there.”
Walck drove Smith all the way to North Dakota before turning around to drop her off at the Albertsons in Glendive, Mont., telling her to give him 45 minutes before calling anyone, documents show.
Store employees described Smith as calm when she walked to the deli asking for a phone book so she could call a local pastor. Those calls were not answered, but she did use the deli manager’s cell phone to call family in Spokane Valley and say: “I’ve been abducted and I need you to call the FBI.”
Smith followed Walck’s instructions even after she was released. She told authorities Walck said she should only speak to the FBI. She even declined to call police though Albertsons employees urged her to do so in the minutes following her freedom. Smith’s family called authorities for her while she waited at the grocery store’s deli.
Bail for Walck’s arrest has been set at $1 million and the FBI is now offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest is offering a $1,000 reward. The FBI has also issued a felony unlawful flight to avoid prosecution warrant.
Anyone with information regarding Walck’s whereabouts is asked to call the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office at (208) 446-1300. Since Walck is thought to be armed and dangerous, police ask the public not to approach him.
Related: Montana authorities are very familiar with the suspect, Mitchell Walck, who they arrested in 2001 for theft, burglary, trespassing and assault on law enforcement. Powell County Sheriff Scott Howard shares Walck’s criminal history and what put him in Montana State Prison for about 10 years on the Sirens & Gavels blog.
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