A tow truck driver abducted by two fugitives in a wild getaway attempt says the shoot-out that killed one of the kidnappers and a hostage was "a lifetime in two hours." Authorities said the drug-using young abductors were suspected in a four-state crime spree dating back at least to Jan. 14, and were wanted for crimes in their home state of Wisconsin. A suspect who survived Sunday morning's shoot-out remained in serious condition today with a gunshot wound in the neck, said a spokeswoman at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. "I saw a lot of lead fly," said Bob Matchett, 48, owner of Bob's Towing in Morton and driver of the last of at least four vehicles commandeered by the two men. Matchett escaped unscathed after grabbing a gun from the floor of the truck, jumping out and firing what witnesses said may have been the last shot. Lewis County Sheriff Bill Logan said Sunday night that the two gunmen opened fire on the deputies, but it was too early to sort out what else had happened. He refused to identify the hostages or say which of the gunmen had died, what weapons were seized, whether drugs were found and what weapons his deputies were carrying. Matchett said the other hostage was Dana Bridges, 29, of Morton. She was dead on arrival at St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, said Becky Cant, a nursing supervisor. Matchett said he didn't know who fired first, the men in his tow truck or the three sheriff's deputies who caught them when they stopped to seize more hostages. Matchett said the shoot-out ended a chase in which he was forced to drive up to 85 mph through the Cascade Range foothills and hilly logging country. He called it "two hours of sheer agony ... a lifetime in two hours." He said the abductors were smoking marijuana, and authorities in Oregon said those abducted earlier reported the pair drank beer and took a white powder, possibly cocaine or methamphetamine. Before the chase, authorities had identified the two being sought as Robert Gerald Knott, 23, and Jeffery Duane Frost, 22. Knott was flown to the Seattle hospital, said nursing supervisor Marilyn Adair. Frost apparently was the gunman who died at the scene, about 3 1/2 miles east of this southwest Washington town. In Wisconsin, Portage County sheriff's Lt. Bob Pallen said Frost was wanted for a probation violation, Knott was sought by Stevens Point police on a burglary warrant and both were wanted for failing to return a rental car in Plover earlier this month. "We've crossed paths with these two individuals many times," Pallen said. "They've been incarcerated in this facility more than once." Matchett said his ordeal began when a friend, Cecil Bridges Sr., called him and said there were two men who needed a tow. When he arrived, he found his friend's family being held by the gunmen, who ordered him and Bridges' daughter-in-law into the truck. Matchett said pursuing deputies caught up with his truck when the gunmen _ "really in hysteria" _ stopped to seize more hostages. "That's all they could think of: hostages," Matchett said. The deputies were uninjured in the shoot-out, except for one whose eye was treated for bits of glass after a bullet pierced his windshield. Police and FBI agents had been searching for the gunmen around Morton after a 42-year-old innkeeper, his 34-year-old wife and their 18-month-old daughter were abducted late Thursday from their coastal inn in Yachats, Ore. All three were released before their abductors fled on foot Saturday morning in Morton, said acting Morton Police Chief Jim Fuller. The man and child apparently were uninjured, but the woman was raped, said sheriff's Sgt. Dwight Withrow. Oregon State Police Lt. Dennis Dotson said Knott and Frost had been sought for questioning in the Jan. 18 abduction of Lyndon Horn, 67, of La Pine, Ore. Horn was found unharmed Friday outside Florence, about 25 miles south of Yachats on the Oregon coast. Winnemucca, Nev., police Detective Mike Allen said Knott and Frost also were sought for questioning in the abduction of Garna and Thomas Flowers of Quincy, Wash., during a motel room robbery Jan. 14 near Beatty, Nev.
A man sought in a series of abductions was killed along with one of his hostages today in a gun battle with the police. A second suspect was wounded. The incident occurred about 10 A.M. when the suspects, riding in a tow truck with two hostages, stopped on a rural road about three and a half miles east of here in southwestern Washington. The truck was being pursued by sheriff's deputies. The gunmen were ''really in hysteria,'' said Bob Matchett, who said he was forced to drive the suspects in his tow truck until they ordered him to stop near a home where more hostages could be taken. ''That's all they could think of - hostages,'' Mr. Matchett said. The other hostage was identified as Dana Bridges, 29 years old, of Morton. She was dead on arrival at St. Peter Hospital, in Olympia. Mr. Matchett was not injured. The authorities earlier had identified the two men being sought as Robert Gerald Knott, 23, and Jeffery Duane Frost, 22, both of Wisconsin. Sheriff Bill Logan of Lewis County declined to say which of the suspects had died. But Marilyn Adair, nursing supervisor at Harborview Medical Hospital in Seattle, confirmed that Mr. Knott had been wounded. He was listed in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the neck. Mr. Matchett, 48, of Morton, said he was driving at more than 80 miles an hour when the gunmen ordered him to stop. The sheriff's car pursuing the truck quickly caught up. The two gunmen opened fire on the deputies, who immediately returned fire, Sheriff Logan said. The police and Federal agents had been searching around Morton, 24 miles east of here near Mount Rainier, for the heavily armed kidnappers of three residents of Yachats, Ore. The three were freed Saturday. Lieut. Dennis Dotson of the Oregon State Police said Saturday that Mr. Knott and Mr. Frost were wanted for questioning in the abduction last Monday of a LaPine, Ore., man. He was released unharmed Friday near Yachats. Mr. Dotson said the two suspects also were wanted for questioning in the earlier abduction of two men in Nevada. Those men were released unharmed in Winnemucca, Nev.
Two men sought in kidnappings in three states tried to shoot through a police roadblock Sunday, and the gun battle left a suspect and one of their two hostages inside a stolen tow truck dead, police said. The shootout near this southwestern Washington town took place as authorities were setting up the roadblock, said Lewis County Sheriff Bill Logan. One of the suspects was critically wounded. Two hostages, a man and a woman, were in the truck, Logan said. The woman was dead on arrival at St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, said nursing supervisor Becky Cant, who identified her as Dana Bridges, 29, of Morton. The other hostage, Bob Matchett, owner of the tow truck, apparently was uninjured. Police and FBI agents had been searching farmland and woods Sunday around Morton, about 24 miles east of Onalaska in the foothills near Mount Rainier, for the heavily armed kidnappers of a couple from Yachats, Ore., and their 18-month daughter, who were freed Saturday. Authorities identified the two men they sought as Robert Gerald Knott, 23, and Jeffery Duane Frost, 22, both of Wisconsin, where police wanted them on outstanding warrants. Knott was in serious condition in Harborview Medical Hospital in Seattle with a gunshot wound to the neck, said Marilyn Adair, nursing supervisor. The men were believed to be armed with two .45-caliber automatic pistols, a .38-caliber revolver, two belt knives and possibly a hunting bow and arrows, said Jim Fuller, acting Morton police chief. Logan said the tow truck and the new hostages were taken from a residence just east of Morton early Sunday, but others at the house were able to call police. The truck stopped and two men inside opened fire on deputies, who immediately returned fire, hitting three of the four people in the truck, Logan said. Broken glass from a windshield was sprayed in the face of one sheriff's officer. Matchett's wife, Cindy, said her husband was called by a friend, Pete Bridges, early Sunday "to come over for something. All my husband told me was a tow." Mrs. Matchett said police told her that when he arrived at Bridges' house, he found Bridges and others in the house were being held by two gunmen. "They wanted a (police radio) scanner, mainly that was what they wanted, and they knew a tow truck would have a scanner," Ms. Matchett said. She said she was told her husband and Bridge's daughter-in-law were seized and that Matchett was told to drive the truck. Ms. Matchett said police told her Matchett was only slightly hurt, if at all. Fuller said the three kidnapping victims from Yachats _ a 42-year-old man, his 34-year-old wife and their 18-month-old daughter _ were abducted late Thursday. The man and child apparently were uninjured, but the woman was raped, said Lewis County sheriff's Sgt. Dwight Withrow. The family had rented a room in their inn on the Oregon coast to the men who kidnapped them, police said. A few hours later, Fuller said, the husband and wife "were in bed and woke up to have guns stuck in their head." The abductors and the family rode in the couple's van about 200 miles to Morton, spending Friday night at a hotel in nearby Elbe. The group left early Saturday, and tried to go to Packwood but were halted by snow and ice, police said. The husband was left on a road near Mount Rainier National Park and had to walk 10 miles to find help. The others continued to Morton, where the woman and her daughter were released at a municipal park when the kidnappers fled from police, officers said. Knott and Frost were wanted for questioning in the Jan. 18 abduction of Lyndon Horn, 67, of LaPine, Ore., who was found unharmed Friday near his pickup truck on a road outside Florence, Ore., said Oregon State Police Lt. Dennis Dotson. The two also were wanted for questioning in the abduction of two Washington men in Nevada, who were released unharmed, Dotson said. He did not identify the two victims. In Wisconsin, Lt. Bob Pallen of the Portage County Sheriff's Department said both men came from Portage County. He said Frost was sought for a state probation violation, Knott was sought on a burglary warrant and police wanted both for renting a car and failing to return it.
. An FBI SWAT team searched house-to-house in the Cascade foothills Saturday night for two Wisconsin men believed to have kidnapped and released seven people in two states over a period of 10 days. Suspects Jeffrey Frost, 22, and Robert Knott, 23, believed to be armed, fled on foot through marshes and fields east of Morton after releasing a family of three kidnapped in Oregon, including an 18-month-old girl, as police closed in on them, officers said. An airplane, two canine units and about 20 officers from Morton Police, Lewis and Pierce counties and the Washington State Patrol searched for the pair and were joined at nightfall by an 11-man FBI SWAT team, said acting Morton Police Chief Jim Fuller. ''We think we've got them pinned down in a five-mile radius between Davis Lake Road and Highway 12,'' Fuller said. It was speculated the pair originally had been headed for the town of Colfax, Wash., 230 miles to the east where Frost's parents are believed to reside, officers said. Police and FBI agents were not sure what touched off the kidnapping spree, which began Jan. 14 when two Washington state men were abducted in Beatty, Nev., and were released unharmed the same day at a motel in Winnemucca, Nev., officials said. Last Monday, Lyndon Horn of La Pine in Central Oregon was abducted near his home. The 67-year-old heart patient was taken to the Oregon coast and left tied to a tree in woods outside Yachats. He escaped Friday, when the family of three was abducted, said Lt. Dennis Dodson of the Oregon State Police. Paul Plunk, 42, of Yachats was released Saturday morning on a logging road near Ashford, 20 miles northeast of Morton and near the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, Fuller said. As he was making his way out of the woods, a police officer in Morton spotted the family's stolen van, believed to be containing Katherine Plunk, 35, Mary Plunk, 18 months, and the two kidnap suspects, Fuller said. The van took off on back streets and when the officer caught up with it, it was parked near a restroom at a city park. ''The officer went by, he saw them, advised he had them spotted, but a Lewis County deputy advised him to back off since he was by himself (and) they were known to be armed,'' Fuller said. ''When he tried to turn around to get a better view, he saw the van driving off. He didn't know the two suspects had taken off walking out in the marshes and fields. The van was found up on Main Street with Mrs. Plunk and the daughter.'' Fuller said he could not confirm reports that Mrs. Plunk had been harmed but said ''at this time the wife is being checked at Chehalis Hospital.'' The fugitives were reported armed with two .45 automatic pistols, a .38 revolver and two knives, said acting Police Chief Jim Fuller of Morton, a lumber community of 2,500 people 20 miles north of Mount St. Helens. The pair vowed not to go back to prison, but police said they knew little of their background except that they had criminal records and that Knott was wanted in Stevens Point, Wis., for failure to appear on theft and disorderly conduct charges. ''It also has been stated that they said they would not go back to the pen. They have a criminal history,'' Fuller said. ''Colfax has been advised they may be on their way if we lose them here,'' he said, adding, ''for some reason they were trying to go over the Mount Rainier area and didn't want to stay on Highway 12.'' Deschutes County Sheriff Darrell Davidson said evidence discovered in a car found Thursday in La Pine led authorities to believe Horn was kidnapped by the same two men. The car belonged to the two Washington state men who had been abducted in Nevada. Horn's pickup truck was found early Friday near Florence, about 10 miles from where he was left tied to a tree. Authorities were concerned about Horn because he has a heart condition and needs constant medication, but they said he appeared to be in good shape after the ordeal.