Anyway, for today's installment of Missing Person Monday, I wanted to revisit a missing persons case that was solved. The victim, Kari Swenson, was kidnapped while trail running and later shot and left for dead. Her survival story is nothing short of inspiring.
Her abductors were captured and convicted. One was released in the early 1990s. The other kidnapper, still imprisoned, is in the news.
Last year, I covered the Kari Swenson story extensively in a series of posts which can be viewed at the link here.
In July of 1984, then 22-year old Swenson was trail running near Big Sky, Montana. She was a world-class biathlete and was vying for a spot on the United States team that would compete in the World Biathlon Championship.
She was alone and on a break from her job at a local lodge.
Unexpectedly, she was confronted by two armed men, Don and Dan Nichols.
The father and son Nichols thought of themselves as "mountain men" and had been living in the heavily wooded and mountainous area there for almost a year.
The Nichols had decided to abduct young Kari that day--hoping that she would eventually become the wife of Dan and that they could start a family living in the wilderness.
To summarize the story, Kari was struck in the face by the older man when she tried to resist, and then immediately restrained with chains. The group spent the day walking deeper into the wilderness, and she was chained in a seated position to a tree at night; while the men slept.
Inadvertently the next morning, two volunteer searchers from the lodge where Kari worked wandered into the Nichols camp. The search teams were expecting to find that Kari had fallen ill or had been attacked by a wild animal and was in need of medical aid--they had no idea that she had been kidnapped.
Quickly, the situation escalated.
In the commotion, Dan Nichols inadvertently shot Kari in the chest with his gun.
The father, Don Nichols, shot and killed one of the searchers. The other searcher was able to flee the camp and run for help.
While Kari was lying on the ground gasping for air and bleeding, Dan and Don Nichols packed their gear and fled the area. Leaving the young victim to die with a life-threating wound.
In a testament of her strength and will to live, she remained alive for hours until authorities arrived.
After months of grueling medical treatment and determination, she able to compete in biathlons again--and was a member of the bronze medal-winning U.S. relay team at the world championships in Chamonix, France.
Fast forward to this past weeked, when the AP is running stories like this one about how convicted kidnapper and murderer Don Nichols will go before a parole board this month and make an appeal for his release.
He is currently serving an 85-year prison term for his crimes.
HELENA, Mont. — A notorious "mountain man," who abducted a world-class athlete in 1984 to keep as a wife for his son, comes up for parole on April 27...
The elder Nichols has had a good track record in prison, where he has worked on the yard crew, and over the years has reportedly become a bit more apologetic for kidnapping Swenson...
Wow, "a bit more apologetic"?
Now that is convincing.
If one reads Mr. Nichols' "manifesto" about the incident he blames anyone and everyone involved in Kari's kidnapping--everyone but himself that is.
Mr. Nichols even points a finger at his victim for the violent crime so many years ago--that she was only chained lightly, was treated humanely, never was hit, and should have just done what she was told.
Mr. Nichols should be glad that I am not on his parole board.
I think the safety of our society is being preserved with this "mountain man" imprisoned--he murdered one man and tried his best to kill a young athlete.
"A bit more apologetic", eh?
I say let him out.
Yes, let him out after he FINISHES HIS FULL 85 YEARS, and is what, like 130+ years old?
Makes sense to me.