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Manhunt for Savage ends with capture

by Alan Lewis Gerstenecker
| September 6, 2013 4:18 PM

Troy Police, working with law-enforcement officers in Portland, Ore., have arrested fugitive Dan James “DJ” Savage at a laundry.

Sandra Laffoon, the woman Savage is charged with assaulting, told police Monday she went with Savage willingly.

The process in which the couple was found is the kind of police work of which movies are made.

“We got a ping on his cell phone,” said Troy Police Chief Bob McLeod. “We were tracking his cell-phone use, and finally it came up in Portland.”

With that, McLeod and Troy police officer Lori Faulkner began the work of contacting the cell phone company and the Portland, Ore., Police Department, which moved in on the couple.

The “ping” led police to get within within 200 yards of the couple before they moved in.

“Their car was parked at the hotel, and they were actually found at a laundromat about 15 blocks away,” McLeod said of the two 36-year-olds from Troy.

Police moved in and arrested Savage at about 3:05 p.m. Monday for partner-family assault for the attack on Laffoon of Aug. 29, McLeod said.  He also is charged with tampering with a communication device.

According to police, on Sept. 2, Laffoon left to go to the grocery store, and when she did not return family members became concerned.

The Western News photographer Paul Sievers witnessed Savage on Stein’s Market parking lot last week and exchanged greetings. Sievers said he noticed Savage was with a woman and both seemed happy.  Sievers said he thought nothing more of the meeting until reports that Laffoon was missing and Savage was a suspect.

About 4:30 p.m. Monday, two-plus hours after McLeod announced Savage’s capture, Laffoon’s mother, Sandra Stapley, announced on her Facebook page that she was leaving the area to head to Portland to retrieve her daughter.

“I am on my way to pick Sandy up. She is not wanting to talk to anyone right now, except mom,” Stapley wrote.

Laffoon and Savage went missing on Sept. 2, a week to the day before Portland Police found them.

Among the people to miss Laffoon and Savage is Louie Garrison, Troy VFW Post manager.

Garrison said Laffoon has worked as a substitute bartender since walking in and asking for a job, and he admits he has no complaints with Laffoon’s work performance, while he said he knows Laffoon and Savage had a relationship, but he “tends to stay of of his employees’ personal lives.”

As for Savage, “he has been the karaoke guy since getting out of jail,” Garrison said. “DJ really has a good personality. I knew of his legal issues, but I was never concerned with him working at the VFW. I’ve bumped heads with the county a few times myself.”

Before Savage’s arrest Monday, McLeod hinted that an arrest might be imminent.

“She called to say she was OK,” McLeod said. “Yes, I talked to Savage as well.”

McLeod was cautious to not tip the media about the advances police were making, but it was that phone call that helped to narrow the couples’ location.

“Oh, he’s pretty good,” McLeod admitted. “He kept trying to get me to say something that might give him a heads-up as to where we were in our investigation. I told him, ‘I know what you’re doing, trying to get me to tell you.’ He tells me, ‘Yeah, I got a master’s degree.’” 

However, it was McLeod who was narrowing in on Savage during that conversation.

Portland Police moved in on Savage and Laffoon, ultimately finding the couple at a laundry mat about 15 blocks from the hotel where their car was parked.

While stapley is en route to bring her daughter back to Troy, McLeod hopes Savage will not be far behind.

“He may waive extradition. We hope he does,” McLeod said. “They’ll have charges there, and then we can get him here.”

On Friday, Troy Police issued a missing and endangered person advisory for Laffoon. That brief advisory to media named Savage as the assailant. The release identified Lafoon as standing 5-foot, 7-inches tall, weighing about 140 pounds. Savage was described as being 6-feet, 1-inch tall, weighing 180 pounds.

The release indicated Laffoon was driving a blue Dodge Caravan with Montana license plate No. 56 21592.

Savage’s run-in with the law is not his first. On Jan. 10, he was acquitted in 19th Judicial District Court of three counts, the first being assault of a partner or family member; the second of tampering with a witness and a third count of stalking.

About 18 months ago, Savage was beaten severely and left bleeding in the snow outside the Troy VFW. Savage’s brain swelled as a result of that beating, and he spent time recovering in a Kalispell hospital. Coincidentally, both he and Laffoon have worked at the VFW where Savage served as a deejay and provided karaoke.

Also, Savage was charged for felony partner or family-member assault on July 11, 2010. The charge was dismissed without prejudice on Sept. 10, 2010, by the Justice Court of Lincoln County.

In December 2008, Savage pleaded no contest to partner or family-member assault. 

The Western News called Portland, Ore., Police Department Public Affairs Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson who said Savage was arrested without incident.


Troy Police, working with law-enforcement officers in Portland, Ore., have located DJ Savage and Sandra Laffoon.

Both Laffoon and Savage are well, Troy Police Chief Bob McLeod said Monday. McLeod acknowledged Portland Police played a key role in the arrest of Savage and rescue of Laffoon.

The couple's vehicle was parked at a hotel, but police actually apprehended the pair at a laundry mat about 15 blocks from their hotel.

McLeod said the arrest was just completed, at that time — about 2:05 PDT Monday.

Charges are pending in the case, McLeod said.

McLeod said he is hopeful Savage will allow extradition back to Lincoln County.

Earlier post:

Troy Police have issued a missing and endangered person advisory for a 36-year-old Troy woman who has been missing since Monday, Sept. 2.

Police are searching for Sandra Laffoon, 36, of Troy, a victim of a violent crime involving an alleged assault by Dan (DJ) Savage, Jr., the advisory states. Laffoon is described as standing 5-foot, 7-inches tall, weighing about 140 pounds.

She may be driving a blue Dodge Caravan with Montana license plate No. 56 21592.

After the alleged assault, Laffoon left Savage indicating she was going to a grocery store. However, she never returned, prompting police to issue the advisory.

Police believe Laffoon may now be with Savage.

“We don’t know whether she went willingly,” Lincoln County Sheriff Roby Bowe said. “She may have. Perhaps, she did not.

Savage, also 36, is described as being 6-feet, 1-inch tall, weighing 180 pounds.

Police caution that Savage is now considered a fugitive, and people are urged if they see them to not approach or have any contact with the couple.

If located, police urge people to call 911 or call local law enforcement.

“We do believe they are out of the area,” Bowe said.