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Thursday, October 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Kidnapper suspected of raping ex-girlfriend

Women couldn’t flee without abandoning children, sheriff says

A Spokane felon with a history of kidnapping women is suspected of raping a woman in the mountains of Pend Oreille County near the spot where he nearly froze to death 2-1/2 years ago while trying to elude police.

Gary L. Stoddard, 34, is suspected of kidnapping an 18-year-old former girlfriend and her two infants from her Spokane home and raping her after a five-hour odyssey. Although no weapon was used, Pend Oreille County Sheriff Jerry Weeks said the woman was threatened and couldn’t flee without abandoning her two daughters, ages 18 months and 3 months.

Authorities say Stoddard is the father of the 3-month-old. The woman had known Stoddard about a year, but recently broke off their relationship because of an alleged incident of domestic violence.

Stoddard allegedly was waiting in the alley behind the woman’s home about 11 a.m. Oct. 8, and jumped into the passenger seat of her vehicle when she started to drive away. He soon took the wheel himself, and drove her around the Mount Spokane area until they ran low on gasoline, Weeks said.

After getting fuel and some snacks for the children at a convenience store near Mt. Spokane High School, Stoddard allegedly took the woman and her children to visit an uncle of hers in the Diamond Lake area of Pend Oreille County. Weeks said the woman tried to signal to her uncle that something was wrong, but the elderly man is nearly blind and couldn’t figure out what was troubling her.

After that, Weeks said, Stoddard drove his captives to a “very remote and isolated area on a dead end road about 4,000 feet elevation.” The sheriff said “numerous articles of physical evidence” were found at the crime scene about 20 miles north of Newport, on the east side of the Pend Oreille River.

Weeks said the site is within a few miles of the spot where Stoddard fled into the woods during a snowstorm in February 1999. Stoddard was a Spokane County rape suspect when Pend Oreille County sheriff’s deputies pursued him on a Spokane County fugitive warrant.

With temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees that night and snow being driven by 45-mph winds, Stoddard nearly froze to death when he fell into Skookum Creek. He collapsed unconscious when he finally made his way back to the waiting deputies almost three hours later.

A Spokane County jury later acquitted Stoddard of rape and kidnapping charges in that case, in which he was accused of breaking into a co-worker’s home and beating her into submission.

Two years earlier, though, Stoddard was convicted of kidnapping and raping another Spokane County woman with whom he had a six-year relationship and a 4-year-old child. He forced the woman and child to leave their home on foot at knifepoint, but fled when a police officer approached. Two weeks later, authorities said, the woman agreed to go to dinner with Stoddard and wound up driving around north Spokane with him holding a knife to her throat.

Court documents said the woman was stabbed in the forehead, stomach and chest when she tried to escape. Stoddard served 14 months of a 20-3/4-month sentence in that case.

Weeks said Stoddard told the victim of this month’s rape that he took her to the area in Pend Oreille County where he was chased into the frozen woods. He was “kind of bragging about it,” the sheriff said.

After the alleged rape, Stoddard reportedly released his captives at the Shadle Shopping Center in Spokane.

U.S. marshals arrested Stoddard two days later on probation-violation charges, and he is being held without bail pending a Nov. 30 hearing in federal court. Stoddard is on probation for federal fraud convictions last year. He was convicted of using a false name and bilking people across the country with offers of low-cost firearms that he never delivered.

Stoddard - known as Michael Gary Stoddard in federal court - was sentenced to 18 months but was placed on supervised release last September. He served 90 days in jail earlier this year for violating his probation by using a false name and Social Security number to get a job and failing to cooperate with his probation officer.

Shortly before the alleged Pend Oreille County rape, federal prosecutors charged Stoddard with violating his probation again by assaulting the woman repeatedly and forcing her to remove her clothes in public on Sept. 22. He also was accused of buying a car with the woman without consent and failing to report he had been questioned by Spokane police.

Since then, the alleged kidnapping and rape have been added to Stoddard’s list of pending probation-violation charges.

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