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'Mountain Man' burglar pleads guilty to federal charges

Published April 8, 2014 7:58 am

Courts • Troy Knapp faces at least 10 years in federal prison when sentenced in June.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Troy Knapp, the alleged "Mountain Man" cabin burglar, will serve at least 10 years in federal prison for firing on law enforcement before he was arrested last year, according to a plea deal that resolves his federal court case.

Knapp, 43, was originally indicted in U.S. District Court on three counts: assaulting a federal officer; use of a firearm during a crime of violence; and for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

During a resolution hearing in St. George on Monday, Knapp pleaded guilty to the second charge of use of a firearm, and the other two charges were dismissed.

The sentence for the charge carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in federal prison, but he could be sentenced to up to life in prison. However, prosecutors have asked a judge to sentence Knapp to 10 and a half years in prison when he is formally sentenced on June 9.

Knapp, a wilderness survivalist, managed to elude cabin owners and law enforcement officers for years as he allegedly broke into Utah cabins during the winter months for shelter and supplies. Authorities finally got a solid lead on his whereabouts last April from a group of people collecting antlers on central Utah's Ferron Mountain who reported seeing someone who looked like the wanted man.

Emery County deputies tracked Knapp for several days, following as he wandered near the Ferron Reservoir area of Sanpete County. On April 2, a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter spotted Knapp chopping wood outside a cabin. Police say Knapp fired a weapon at the helicopter and also pointed a weapon at officers before he was taken into custody.

The federal indictment alleges Knapp was armed with an SKS-type assault rifle and a .357 caliber handgun, which authorities previously have said were stolen during a Sevier County burglary.

Though Knapp has resolved his case in federal court, seven Utah counties have also filed a total of 43 felony and misdemeanor charges against the man — mostly theft and burglary charges ­— but those cases have been on hold since the federal charges were filed last October.

According to state court records, however, 10 charges in Sanpete and Garfield counties were dismissed Monday. It is unclear if the federal resolution affected those district court cases, and the county attorneys were not immediately available for comment.

Knapp is believed to have broken into numerous Utah cabins for at least six years, sometimes taking food or alcohol, sometimes supplies or guns. Cabin owners often reported little damage to their summer homes beyond a broken window or closet door, but said it looked like someone had lived in them for a period of time.

One cabin owner in Beaver County reported that his camp stove had been moved and used to cook beans, but nothing had been missing. However, in a family logbook, Knapp had allegedly left a message: "Thanks for the hospitality, Troy James the redhead."

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller