Kidnapper released after serving 32 years behind bars
Self acclaimed “mountain man” Don Nichols has been released on parole after serving 32 years for kidnapping a world-class athlete out on a training run in 1984 and killing her would-be rescuer – an attack that drew widespread media coverage and became the subject of a made-for-TV movie,’ the Guardian post reports.
Nichols, 86, according to the report, ‘was sentenced to 85 years in prison for kidnapping biathlete Kari Swenson in the mountains near Big Sky and killing Alan Goldstein, a friend helping to search for Swenson when she failed to return home from her run,’ on that faithful day.
According to Swenson, she was chained during the ordeal and once she spotted her would-be rescuers before her abductors did, she yelled at them to leave because Nichols had threatened to shoot anyone who tried to help her.
Straight ahead, Nichols pulled the trigger, shooting Goldstein, and Nichols’s son Dan apparently accidently shot Swenson. Swenson added that she was left dead with a chest wound for hours as Goldstein’s body lay nearby.
Following the incident, Don and Dan Nichols fled and were arrested five months later after a manhunt in the mountains of south-western Montana.
During a parole hearing this April, Don Nichols, who kidnapped Swenson to be a bride for his then 19-year-old son, told the board members they would not regret their decision and he felt bad about his crimes. Board members noted Nichols’ clean record in his more than 30 years in prison and his completion of educational programs, including anger management and life skills.
Swenson recalled the trauma she went through while under the cast of Nichols. The Guardian post reported that Swenson said she had spent years ‘in counselling and still had shrapnel in her chest that hurt her and brought back haunting memories of the ordeal that ended her athletic career.’
“I endured being grabbed by both wrists, hit in the face, thrown to the ground, chained to Dan, threatened with knives and guns, marched through the woods, secured like an animal to trees and spent a terrifying night chained next to Dan.”
Correspondent: Ridwan A Olayiwola