She checks her rearview mirror to see if she’s being followed.
Before stepping into her truck, she peers underneath for explosives.
At home, she keeps a gun and a large German shepherd.
This is the latest chapter in the hard life of a 21-year-old Post Falls woman named Tina.
A year ago, Tina’s father, George Paul Anton, fled from Kootenai County authorities. He had just been convicted on three counts of rape - Tina was his victim.
Now, Tina and her husband find themselves bound in fear. Fear that he will never pay for the twisted crimes he committed. Fear of retribution from a manipulative and violent man.
“It’s hard not knowing if he’s out there, if he’s going to come back and get her,” said Bryan, Tina’s husband. “He always claimed he would kill me and Tina.”
“I’m tired of running from him, I’m tired of being scared of him,” Tina said Thursday.
Now, in a desperate attempt to find him, they are talking to anyone who will listen - police, sheriff’s deputies, TV and newspaper reporters.
Anton is the most wanted man in Kootenai County. A $500,000 arrest warrant has been issued and the FBI has joined the search.
“If I were going to get to arrest somebody today, he’s the one I would like to see arrested more than anybody else,” said Bob Williams, county warrants officer.
Although he was found guilty of raping only his daughter, Tina, family members and court records suggest Anton also sexually assaulted numerous young relatives. He is believed to have fathered children with some of them.
Friends and family members say Anton can be charming with a booming Texas drawl. He is 70 years old, but appears younger.
Despite the accusations, the former Coeur d’Alene man steadfastly denied ever sexually abusing any of his family members.
“To this day I don’t think he thinks he did anything wrong,” Tina said. Her last name is withheld to protect her identity. “He probably believes that it’s OK because it’s in the family.”
Many years ago, Anton married Tina’s grandmother, Mary. In 1970, the couple divorced and Anton took his ex-wife’s daughter, Raye, as his new bride. She was 18, but had been forced into sexual relations with Anton since she was 9, Tina said.
The couple had several children, one of whom was Tina, and lived in McCall, Idaho. When Anton and Raye divorced, Anton won custody of the children and moved to North Idaho.
“At first he said he was lonely and he wanted us kids to sleep in his bed,” Tina said, remembering how the abuse began when she was 14 years old.
Sleeping together led to fondling and eventually to rape, sometimes three or more times a week by the time she was 16 and 17 years old.
Anton also locked Tina in the basement for days at a time with the windows blocked and nailed shut.
“The level of control was really sad to hear,” said Lansing Haynes, chief deputy prosecutor. “If she went out when she was a high school student he would question her about the fact that her shoelaces were tied in a different way when she came home. He would infer that she had been promiscuous.”
Tina never reported the abuse. She believed Anton controlled the outside world, and he threatened to hurt or kill her.
Anton finally let Tina move out of the house, shortly before he and his other daughters moved to Texas. Tina thought the abuse had ended. But when she got a call from her younger sister, then 14, she knew it wasn’t over.
Anton had found his next victim.
“I had to put a stop to this,” Tina said, explaining that both girls finally told police. “This was the only chance we had to stop this madness.”
In October 1992, the Kootenai County prosecutor filed criminal charges against Anton.
Anton managed to put off the trial for more than two years, presenting the judge with medical reports claiming he was too sick to travel from Texas to Idaho for trial.
The case finally went to trial in May last year. Before the jury reached a verdict, Anton asked to take one of his witnesses to the Spokane airport.
Judge Gary Haman said Friday he had no authority to stop the man. Anton was not in custody and had not yet been found guilty.
“That’s his role in life, to be one step ahead of the authorities,” Tina said.
Although it is believed that Anton returned to Idaho after going to the airport, he never came back to the courthouse. Despite his absence, the jury returned a verdict - guilty on all three counts of rape.
Today, Tina still has nightmares.
“It’s tough when your wife cries at night,” Bryan said.
Although Anton is suspected of having returned to Texas, people recently have reported seeing him in Coeur d’Alene and the Spokane Valley.
On Sunday, it will have been a year since Anton was convicted.
“He keeps dates very well and I know he’s going to remember this one,” Tina said. “I’m the only one that came out and spoke. I pretty much ruined his life. I don’t know what he’ll do.”
Tina has a good job and intends to go to college. She hopes to have children. She refuses to let the past ruin her future.
“They are on the edge of closing this terrible chapter in their lives, but the door isn’t shut,” Haynes said Friday. “I would love them to feel that and experience that. For him to be caught and sentenced would end it for them.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WANTED George Paul Anton usually goes by the name Paul. He is 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds. He has silver hair and hazel eyes but has discussed dyeing his hair brown. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department at (208) 664-1511.
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