Detective John Barnett assists Troy James Knapp out of the snow cat.
Troy James Knapp, known as the 'Mountain Man,' was captured in the Ferron Reservoir area on April 2 at 10:11 a.m. On March 29, Dale Fuller and his son Jordan Fuller, Ferron residents were shed antler hunting on Ferron Mountain and encountered an individual who identified himself as the 'Mountain Man.' Fuller said they did not feel threatened by the man and he was carrying a large backpack and had a rifle. He told them he wasn't going to shoot them. Dale said he was concerned upon encountering the man, because he had his son with him. Dale considered the incident suspicious and when he came off the mountain he contacted one of the Emery County detectives who texted photos of Troy James Knapp to him. Dale said he couldn't be positive, but it looked like the same man. Dale's dog was barking at the man and the man was saying odd things.
Emery County Sheriff's Office personnel started searching the area on March 29 and followed tracks for a few days, leading them to believe that Knapp was in the Ferron Reservoir area. Tracking became easier when Knapp made it back into the snow. The sheriff's office contacted the Sanpete Sheriff's Office at this time, because they had entered Sanpete County.
On March 30, a detective from Emery County Sheriff's Office responded to a burglary in the Reeder Subdivision area of Joe's Valley Reservoir. On March 31, the detective investigated another burglary in the same area. Weapons were taken in the second burglary. Evidence at the scenes suggested the same method of operation as tied to Knapp in the past.
Several meetings between county, state and federal law enforcement agencies were held to discuss an organized search of the area. On April 1, a plan was developed to go into the Ferron Reservoir area. Four personnel from Emery County Sheriff's Office went into the area to see if they could locate Knapp. As daylight came, all agencies responded to the cabins on the south side of Ferron Reservoir. The personnel from the Emery County Sheriff's Office kept an eye on the cabins to try to determine which one Knapp was in and to make sure he didn't get out of the snowy area and back onto dry ground where tracking becomes very difficult.
Officers were positioned to try to cut off any escape routes. In the early morning hours the personnel that went in early heard the sounds of Knapp chopping wood, from this sound they were able to determine his location. Not long after this the helicopter showed up and the snowmobiles came onto the scene.
Shots were fired at officers in the helicopter. The helicopter went higher into the sky to avoid these gunshots. It is not known if Knapp was trying to scare the helicopter pilot or if he was trying to hit officers. Knapp picked up his gun and backpack and was attempting to leave the area. Knapp took off but as he came over a hill, law enforcement officers shouted commands at Knapp to drop his weapon. Which he did.
Knapp was arrested without further incident by multiple law enforcement personnel on the ground. He was taken to the Emery County Sheriff's Office where he was questioned and then taken to Manti to be booked into the Sanpete County jail.
Officers described Knapp as being an interesting as well as entertaining person.
Knapp admitted to burglarizing three cabins in the Joe's Valley area and had been in the Ferron area recently. Sheriff Funk said, "I am happy that he's been apprehended. It's been a real concern. You don't know what kind of reaction you're going to get in these situations. I really want to thank all of those involved in this arrest. I want to thank Wade Nielsen from the road department. When we called and asked for the road to be plowed so we could get to a launch point for the snowmobiles, they went right to work. Thanks to all of our deputies who took care of the calls in the county, while a lot of our personnel were on the mountain tracking and apprehending this suspect. We have the best group of guys. Thanks to all of the extra personnel that came in to help including Iron, Sevier, Beaver, Sanpete, the Utah Highway patrol, Adult Probation and Parole and to the forest service for opening the gate to that area. We used the county's snowcat to bring out Mr. Knapp. The US Marshal's were also involved."
The Emery County Sheriff's Office participated in a search for the Mountain Man bandit in November of 2012. At that time he was in the Peavine area of the Muddy drainage. The bandit has been alluding capture for several years. Typically in his entry into the cabins he cuts a screen, opens a window and enters the cabin, "There was a federal warrant out for this man. He is a felon in possession of a fire arm, he was wanted in Iron County for burglary, they have filed charges against him," said Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk, "He's been on the run for approximately seven years now and he is originally a parole violator from California where he is on paper.
"When he breaks in he's usually pretty good, he just eats, showers and he cleans up after himself. He did deface some cabins in southern Utah, if it looked like the owners worked for the government or if there were religious pictures or artifacts in the home.
Knapp is 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighs 160 pounds and has blue eyes and red hair typically cut very short. Knapp is being held in the Sanpete County jail on numerous charges. It's not known for certain how many break-ins he's been involved with over the years, but in Sevier County it is reported to be between 15-18. At least 30 in Garfield County and countless others in Iron, Kane, Sanpete and Emery counties.
When the final moments came before Knapp threw down his weapon and surrendered, Sheriff Funk said Knapp made aggressive moves toward him and Agent Wade Allinson by raising his rifle and taking aim at Agent Allinson and Sheriff Funk fired a shot, but did not hit Knapp.
Sanpete County Sheriff Brian Nielson in a letter to the Emery County Progress said, "I am writing to let the people of Emery County know the hard work and dedication put forth by Sheriff Greg Funk and his men. Sheriff Funk and his deputies spent many days and nights, and traveled many miles on the mountain tracking the "mountain man." They are expert trackers and extremely dedicated. The effort they put forth was a major factor in the apprehension of Mr. Knapp. I am grateful, as are many in the state of Utah, for Sheriff Funk and the Emery County Sheriffs Office. I am very happy with the apprehension of Mr. Knapp, and that he is in custody and all agencies involved are safe. April 2, 2013 was a great day for Utah law enforcement, and a good example of teamwork among agencies."