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'Mountain man' who kidnapped athlete Kari Swenson on run again

Jefferson County Sheriff / AP

This undated photo shows Dan Nichols, one of the infamous "mountain men" who kidnapped Olympic athlete Kari Swenson.

The "mountain man" who helped his father abduct world-class athlete Kari Swenson in 1984 is reported to be on the run again in Montana.

The U.S. attorney's office in Montana has filed federal drug and weapons charges against Dan Nichols, alleging he participated in a statedwide marijuana distribution ring, The Associated Press reports.

He and his father, Don, were convicted of kidnapping Swenson and killing a rescuer. They hid for months in the wilderness northwest of Yellowstone National Park before they were captured.


The new indictment said the Nichols and two other men collected 28 firearms, including pistols and semi-automatic and assault-style rifles, to protect their operations, which brought in $1.78 million, The Billings Gazette reported.

Christopher Wayne Williams and Christopher Lindsey, two of the five co-founders of the now-shuttered Montana Cannabis statewide medical marijuana operation, are also charged in the case, but only Nichols is on the run.

"He should definitely be considered armed and dangerous," Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for Montana Rod Ostermiller told the AP. "He is obviously someone who hasn't been compliant with law enforcement in the past."

The kidnapping of Swenson, a world-class biathlete, in 1984 gripped the nation. The elder Nichols was reportedly looking for a wife for his son, then 19, when he snatched Swenson, who was on a training run near the resort town of Big Sky. Here's the AP account of what happened next:

The so-called mountain men had been living continuously in the woods for a year prior to the abduction, growing hidden makeshift gardens, poaching game and generally staying out of sight.

The scheme quickly fell apart when would-be rescuers stumbled upon the camp. In the melee, Dan Nichols accidentally shot Swenson. An armed standoff ensued, and the elder Nichols gunned down Alan Goldstein.

The Nichols evaded capture by living in the Madison Range, until they surrendered when a Madison County sheriff caught up with them.

Swenson, despite diminished lung capacity from the gunshot wound, went on to win a bronze medal in the world biathlon championships.

Both men were convicted. Dan Nichols was paroled after serving six years in prison. Don Nichols, now 81, has a parole hearing next week.

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