How a Michigan High School Dropout Became the Infamous ‘Mountain Man’ Fugitive of Utah
Long before he was the most wanted person in the Utah backcountry, Troy James Knapp was a high school dropout from Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Knapp's criminal record begins with a breaking-and-entering charge from Kalamazoo County filed in 1986 when he was 18. No sources reveal what high school in the area Knapp dropped out from.
After his stretch in jail served in Michigan, Knapp surfaced out west. It was 2007 that the first reports of break-ins began in southern Utah, an area full of federal lands like Dixie National Forest as well as Zion National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Owners of cabins in these report areas would report the break-ins.
The Crimes of 'Mountain Man' Troy James Knapp
Reporter and author Jon Billman (a current Michigander serving as a professor at Northern Michigan University in Marquette) has profiled Knapp both in his book The Cold Vanish and in an article for Outdoor Magazine. Knapp's MO, according to Billman's reporting
was to break a window or door pane, twist the lock, and let himself in. Sometimes he’d wipe his boots, sometimes he wouldn’t. He made soup from cans and helped himself to coffee. Knapp liked sardines, mayonnaise, and especially liquor: if there was a bottle of spirits, he might drink it and rend the place with bullet holes. He might replace the firewood he burned. Sometimes he did his dishes, but he never put them away.
The plundered supplies would support Knapp's outdoor, off-the-grid living. It wasn't until 2013 that he was apprehended long after picking up the Mountain Man moniker and making cabin owners wary of opening up and visiting their cabins for the season.
He was charged with 13 burglaries across 3 counties of Southern Utah. The feds tacked on firearms charges. There are also charges stemming from Knapp taking some shots at officers attempting to make his capture.
The Christain Science Monitor details the final sentencing:
He was sentenced to one to 15 years on each of the 10 felony burglary charges, with the state sentences running concurrent with each other and the federal sentence.
State officials will determine whether Knapp spends any more time behind bars. But prosecutors and Knapp's attorneys said the intent was for Knapp to serve his entire sentence in federal prison.
The Salt Lake Tribune shares video of the Mountain Man's court appearance to hear his sentence from 2014 when he received 10 years for his crimes.
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