Police say ‘Mountain Man’ confesses to dozens of break-ins

Posted at 9:33 PM, Apr 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-04 00:44:21-04

MANTI, Utah -- Troy Knapp made himself right at home.

Inside the cabin near Ferron Reservoir that belongs to Ron Bartholomew's family, Knapp started a fire and cooked himself some dinner. He had apparently been listening to the radio when police moved in and flushed him out.

"My guess is when he heard the helicopter coming, that he reached over, turned the radio off and started to scramble from there," Bartholomew said.

Bartholomew went to the scene of Knapp's dramatic arrest to see the damage that was done to his family's vacation spot. He shared with FOX 13 video he took of the scene.

"You can see where he originally came into the cabin on snowshoes," he said. " That's the window he's broke out and climbed through the window and into the cabin."

The cabin had been winterized, the plumbing and heating shut off. Bartholomew said a propane grill had been moved inside, which Knapp used to make dinners from food stolen from nearby cabins. Knapp apparently coated wood he cut with lamp oil so it would give off less smoke, he said.

"He's had a fire going and was sleeping on the couch and using the blankets," said Bartholomew.

But the stench inside the cabin from a man who spent years alone in the wilderness was overpowering.

"You can imagine somebody not taking a bath for weeks or months and then times it by ten," Bartholomew told FOX 13. "It was pretty bad."

The family bagged some items to take to the cleaners, but others would have to be thrown away. Bartholomew said the water was shut off to the septic tank, so Knapp went to the bathroom in plastic bags that he left inside the cabin. Adding insult to injury, Bartholomew said, Knapp also used his toothbrush.

Authorities said Wednesday the suspected "Mountain Man" burglar has confessed to dozens of back-country break-ins and thefts, more than police even knew about.

Troy Knapp has been speaking to investigators from numerous counties, offering up details about "dozens and dozens" of cabin burglaries and spider-holes scattered across the state.

"He's got victims in a lot of places," said Sanpete County Sheriff Brian Nielson. "Right now, we're so relieved that everybody's safe, off the mountain and he's in custody."

The Iron County Sheriff's Office reports at least 40 burglaries they believe are tried to Knapp. Sevier County said it had nearly 20 break-ins they believed Knapp was responsible for. Sanpete County said it had a half-dozen cases. More were being investigated in Kane, Garfield, Emery, Piute and Wayne counties.

Knapp has been sought for years in central and southern Utah. Investigators told FOX 13 on Wednesday they believe he may have traveled farther than previously believed -- as far north as Heber and as far east as Moab. He may have also been spotted in Washington County, camping by the Virgin River.

"You figure 20 or 30 miles a day as the crow flies, he could really cover some country," said Sevier County Sheriff Nate Curtis.

After being surrounded by police and captured on Tuesday, Knapp told detectives he lived in the wilderness to be away from society. He also expressed disdain for people who had an excess of possessions -- and admitted to vandalizing cabins he felt had too much, Curtis said.

"He did not like hunters," the sheriff told FOX 13. "He didn't like all the money they spent on their ATVs and guns and different things like that. He basically told us he'd rather they have a bow made out of their own hands. So he really, in particular, expressed that he did not like hunters."

Knapp is expected to appear before a judge in Manti's 6th District Court next week. Charges were still being considered, but Nielson said Knapp would likely face a first-degree felony charge of attempted aggravated murder for shooting at a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter during his capture.