Authorities arrested the fugitive known as the “mountain man” Tuesday afternoon in the Butte Walmart parking lot.
Dan Nichols, 46, had been wanted by law enforcement since March after he failed to show up for a pre-trial hearing in Jefferson County on a drug case. Nichols gained infamy for abducting a world-class biathlete in Big Sky in 1984.
Rod Ostermiller with the U.S. Marshals Service said the service got several tips last week and had confirmed sightings of Nichols in the Bozeman and Three Forks area. Marshals followed up on the tips, he said, and spoke with several people who knew of Nichols and where he was. Those tips led the marshals to think Nichols was in Butte, Ostermiller said.
The marshals learned what kind of car Nichols was driving, a red 1982 Honda Prelude with Gallatin County plates, and contacted Butte police, who caught Nichols. Police were told to use caution in the arrest, because Nichols was reported to be possibly armed.
Three officers spotted Nichols’ car and conducted a felony stop, with their guns drawn and ordering Nichols on the ground, according to Butte police. Nichols complied with police and was arrested without incident.
“They did a very good job for us,” Ostermiller said of the Butte police.
Sheriff John Walsh said Nichols didn’t have any weapons at the time of his arrest.
Nichols is expected to be arraigned in Butte Wednesday and he will be turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service. He was being held in the Butte jail Tuesday.
Nichols was arrested Aug. 13, 2011, at a music festival near Three Forks after police found him with marijuana and heroin. He pleaded not guilty to two counts each of possession and distribution of dangerous drugs and one count of tampering with evidence.
In 1984, Nichols and his father, Don Nichols, kidnapped Kari Swenson. Don Nichols was sentenced to 75 years in prison for shooting a man who was helping search for Swenson. Dan Nichols served 10 years for kidnapping.