Feb. 23, 2012— -- A mountain man who has been as elusive as Big Foot over the past five years has been identified by Utah police as a suspect who has been burglarizing cabins, shooting them up and leaving behind menacing messages.
Police said a fingerprint found at a burglarized cabin identified the suspect as 44-year-old Troy James Knapp.
"This suspect is known to be armed and could be possibly dangerous if cornered," Iron County Police said in a statement. "This investigation is evolving by the minute and we continue to work very hard to bring a safe end to this."
Knapp allegedly broke into two dozen cabins in three mountainous Utah counties over the last five years, stealing supplies and sometimes shooting up the interiors, including religious artwork. He has also left behind ominous messages, including "Gonna put you in the ground!" and "Get off my mountain", the Deseret News reported.
Knapp allegedly stole supplies and lived inside vacant cabins during the winter months.
Over the past five years, the clean-shaven, gun-toting, knife-wearing mountain man has remained one step ahead of law enforcement, moving between three mountainous Utah counties that span one thousand square miles.
Investigators have found some of Knapp's outposts, which included camping gear, dehydrated food and weapons, the Associated Press reported.
The Iron County Sheriff's Office was able to collect and use fingerprints from the glass window of a 2009 cabin burglary. They found a match in their criminal database, tying the prints to Knapp from an arrest for theft in California in 2000, police said.
Images of Knapp are rare. However, police were able to double-check that they had their man by matching an old mugshot of Knapp, who has distinctive tattoos, to images of a man caught on a wildlife camera after a burglary.
Identifying the elusive burglar is only half the challenge. Now, police need to find him, and they're hoping his parents' phone will yield clues.
Investigators obtained a court order earlier this month, allowing them to track the phone of Knapp's parents, Bruce and Barbara Knapp, who live in Moscow, Idaho. Detectives will only be able to to pinpoint the location and duration of calls, but they're hoping it will lead them to Knapp, who reportedly told a parole officer in California that he called his mother from "time to time".
Knapp has been charged first-degree felony aggravated burglary, two counts of third-degree felony burglary and one count of third-degree felony possession of a firearm by a restricted person.