The Ghost

National Magazine Award winner Paige Williams follows the trail of the FBI’s most unlikely fugitive: a charming, handsome, onetime devout Mormon, on the run from a brutal murder.

  • Byliner Original
  1. The Man in the Woods

    Last winter, six days before Christmas, a man in full camouflage snowshoed out of the remote woods of southwestern Utah and past a pretty log cabin. Over one shoulder he carried a rifle, and at his right hip, sheathed in leather, hung a large hunting knife. Cabins are mostly for summer use in the lower counties toward the Arizona state line. Owners had installed motion-triggered surveillance cameras, because a stranger had been pulling Goldilocks jobs and no one had been able to catch him. The “mountain man” liked to break into people’s vacant houses and eat their food, wear their clothes, use up their propane, burn their firewood, and steal their camping gear and guns. Worse, he’d started firing bullets through doors and walls and blasting the homeowners’ religious art to pieces. In one house, he defecated in a kitchen pan. “Get off my mountain,” he wrote in a note, just in case anyone missed his point.

    Deputies had hiked the deep forests, searching. They once walked an entire day to reach the remotest cabin, only to find nothing but lights left burning. Several times they had come upon abandoned campsites where large tarps hung like tents over ropes between trees, overflowing with garbage. At one they found a stockpile of firearms. Whoever this guy was, he wanted to be left alone.

    For five winters, nobody had been able to get a good look at the mountain man. Yet on this Monday in December, at 3:02 in the afternoon, the surveillance camera outside this log cabin caught the...

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