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Fugitives on run after jail break caught in Troy

by Canda HarbaughWestern News
| January 26, 2009 11:00 PM

Two federal fugitives who escaped from Mineral County Jail made it about 150 miles away before they were caught Monday afternoon in Troy. As of Tuesday, they were sitting in Missoula County jail.  

Donald Joseph Schwindt, 42, and William Newhoff, 26, were being held in Superior on federal firearms charges before escaping Sunday, according to federal court documents. They had been arrested in separate incidents for being felons in possession of firearms, and were awaiting sentencing in the U.S. District Court in Missoula. 

A Montana Highway Patrol officer pulled over Schwindt and Newhoff in Troy at about 1:30 Monday afternoon after observing them traveling in a pickup that was allegedly stolen, according to reports by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshal’s Service.

Officer Bryce Ford arrested Newhoff during the traffic stop, but Schwindt took off on foot, triggering a three-hour manhunt that involved seven local and federal government agencies.

Schwindt was arrested about a quarter-of-a-mile from where the pickup was stopped, according to Officer Jim Sweet of Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.

“He was hunkered down up against a tree,” Sweet said. “At one point, we had a border patrol airplane and helicopter over him. We pretty much had him surrounded – it was just a matter of flushing him out.”

Schwindt was captured with help by officers from Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Troy Police Department, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Marshals Service and air support from the Department of Homeland Security.

Newhoff and Schwindt were transported to Missoula County jail after capture and are facing federal, and possibly state, escape charges, according to the U.S. Marshal’s office.  

How the men escaped is unclear, although it is suspected that Newhoff and Schwindt had help, possibly from family, according to the U.S. Marshall’s office and

Sweet. Mineral County Sheriff’s staff sent all inquiries related to the case to the county attorney’s office. County Attorney Shaun Donavan would not comment.

(The Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell contributed to this story).