ST. GEORGE, Utah — Law enforcement authorities conducted an intensive search after a reported sighting of a mountain recluse accused of more than two dozen cabin burglaries in the remote southern Utah wilderness.
Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower told The Spectrum of St. George (http://bit.ly/zvPgKS ) that no trace of Troy James Knapp turned up during the search Saturday in the hills outside Cedar City.
"Someone in Cedar City saw a person with a gun slung over his shoulder that matched his description" and reported it to police late Saturday morning, he said, adding authorities were unable to confirm whether Knapp was actually spotted.
The search continued into Saturday night when officers in a helicopter used technology designed to detect heat and light sources.
Gower said about 30 officers from at least seven different agencies joined in a ground search. They included officers from the Utah Division of Wildlife, Utah Highway Patrol and St. George Police Department.
Because the 44-year-old Knapp is considered armed and dangerous, many officers wore camouflage and bullet-proof gear.
The search was conducted four days after detectives in Iron and Kane counties announced that Knapp was their long-sought suspect in dozens of cabin burglaries in the backcountry near Zion National Park.
For over five years, the ex-convict is accused of using remote cabins for sustenance and warmth during winter, and retreating to makeshift camps deep in the forest during summer.
He is believed to have set off on a solitary life some nine years ago after his release from a California prison. He has a lengthy criminal record that includes assault with a dangerous weapon, theft, and breaking and entering.
He has managed to avoid being seen all but twice before retreating into the forest.