Two elderly men found slain in Idaho during fugitives’ 36 hours on the run

By Thomson Reuters Mar 22, 2024 | 5:09 PM

By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) – Two people found slain in Idaho during the manhunt for an escaped prison inmate and his armed accomplice have been identified as elderly men the fugitives encountered, and in one case abducted, while on the run, police said on Friday.

Skylar Meade, serving time for aggravated battery, and Nicholas Umphenour, shot their way out of a hospital in Boise and were taken into custody 36 hours later on Thursday about 130 miles to the southeast near Twin Falls, Idaho.

State police revealed on Friday that a third suspect, a 52-year-old woman, was arrested along with Meade as he and Umphenour attempted to flee in separate vehicles from a residence where they had taken refuge. Umphenour was caught nearby.

Authorities have not publicly identified the woman or specified what role she played in Meade’s getaway attempt.

But state police disclosed new details about Meade and Umphenour’s day-and-a-half on the loose, including two homicides linked to them.

Police said James Mauney, 83, was abducted by the fugitives while walking his dogs early on Wednesday near his home in Juliaetta, in northern Idaho, and driven in his own minivan to a remote site where authorities later found his body and the original getaway car.

In a secluded area about 30 miles to the east, authorities discovered the body of 72-year-old Gerald “Don” Henderson in his home near Orofino. They also found the shackles Meade was wearing when he first escaped, and Mauney’s dogs, who were later returned to his family. Police said they believe Henderson may have been acquainted with the fugitives.

Investigators following various leads and tips later tracked the stolen minivan to a safehouse in the town of Filer, adjacent to Twin Falls, near where the suspects ultimately were captured, police said.

The episode began Tuesday night when Meade was taken by prison personnel from the Idaho Maximum Security Institution to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise for emergency treatment of a self-inflicted injury.

His three-man security team was ambushed at the hospital by Umphenour, who opened fire on the corrections officers, wounding two of them, as they prepared to escort Meade back to prison.

A third corrections officer was injured by gunfire from a Boise police officer who arrived on the scene as Meade and Umphenour, a former cellblock acquaintance and fellow member of the Aryan Knights neo-Nazi prison gang, made their getaway in the chaos, according to authorities.

The head of the Idaho Correction Department, Josh Tewalt, called the breakout a planned and unprecedented escape, and said a review was underway to determine if prison protocols for hospital transfers should be revised.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by David Gregorio)