Notorious ‘mountain man’ arrested in parking lot

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Police arrested notorious “mountain man” Dan Nichols Tuesday on drug charges following a months-long search that came nearly three decades after he and his father kidnapped a world-class athlete.

Nichols was taken into custody after phoning the U.S. Marshals Service and saying he would be in the Walmart parking lot in Butte between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff John Walsh said.

Nichols showed up as promised in a 1982 red Honda Prelude with Bozeman license plates and was arrested without incident, Walsh said.

“He basically turned himself in,” Walsh said.

The sheriff said he did not know why Nichols called marshals. Chief Deputy Marshal Rod Ostermiller did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Nichols failed to appear in court in March on charges of drug possession and intent to distribute during a rock concert last August in Three Forks, and Jefferson County officials issued a warrant for his arrest.

Nichols was 46 at the time of his arrest last year.

Federal prosecutors became involved in April, charging Nichols with participating in a medical marijuana organization in Helena accused of illegally growing and distributing more than $1.7 million in pot. The co-founders of that operation, Montana Cannabis, are either facing federal drug charges or have made plea deals.

It was not immediately clear where Nichols had been living the past few months.

He is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Wednesday, and the U.S. Marshals Service is expected to take custody of him then.

In 1984, Nichols and his father, Don Nichols, kidnapped biathlete Kari Swenson. Don Nichols planned to make the then 22-year-old Swenson his son’s wife.

Don Nichols was convicted of killing Swenson’s would-be rescuer, Alan Goldstein, while Dan Nichols was convicted of shooting Swenson in the rescue attempt. Swenson survived the shooting and the Nichols eluded authorities for five months until they were arrested by Madison County Sheriff Johnny France.

Dan Nichols was paroled in 1991. His father was denied parole for his 85-year-sentence in a high-profile hearing last month.

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