BOISE, Idaho — Idaho authorities have charged a Boise man with two felonies after they say he checked his two young kids out of school and fled to the Nevada mountains, leaving a burnt-out vehicle and scattered personal belongings along the way, authorities said Tuesday.
Nevada’s Eureka County Sheriff Keith Logan said 29-year-old Joshua Dundon was being held in Nevada for lack of $5 million bail.
Dundon is charged with two counts of child custodial interference, and Nevada officials said the case is still under investigation in that state by local authorities and the federal Bureau of Land Management.
Dundon’s daughters, Madison, &, and Jaylynn, 6, were found safe in a mountainous area of Nevada Monday evening. They were treated for exposure and reunited with family members that night.
Dundon and the girl’s mother have been in a dispute over custody of the kids, according to documents filed in court.
The girls were reported missing last weekend, and police said their father had checked them out of their elementary school on May 10, telling acquaintances that the family was going camping. On May 11, in Eureka County, Nevada, a couple called police to report they had heard a gunshot and came across a man near a burning car while out on a walk.
It took several days for investigators to recover a partial vehicle identification number that linked the burned Chevrolet Silverado to Dundon.
Investigators said they believe the truck was intentionally set on fire. They also found several sets of footprints at the site, as well as several used ammunition casings.
In the woods nearby, investigators kept stumbling on Dundon’s personal effects “hidden away in the woods,” Logan said. But they did not immediately find the girls.
Monday afternoon, Vera Baumann alerted authorities that a man she believed to be Dundon had walked up to her Nevada ranch, barefoot, cold, sickly and asking for help. Baumann had heard about the burned vehicle and seen news reports about the missing girls. She said that raised her suspicions when the stranger approached her home.
Baumann’s husband, 72-year-old Jim Baumann, went out to talk to Dundon while she grabbed a shotgun and called 911.
Baumann said Dundon offered the couple several hundred dollars if they would help him, and the girls were nowhere in sight.
“He said he left them behind,” Baumann said. “He knew they were not going to make it, so he walked in for help.”
Authorities arrived at the ranch a short time later, and the search for the girls began.
Logan later said Dundon tried to give them information about where the girls were located, but was suffering from hypothermia and could not provide detailed directions.
After several hours of searching, rescuers found the girls about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from the Baumanns’ home. The girls were taken to a Boise hospital for treatment of exposure and reunited with family. They are expected to make a full recovery, Logan said.
Dundon was also taken to a hospital for treatment. It was not clear when he will be returned to Idaho, said Boise police spokeswoman Haley Williams.
Williams did not know whether Dundon was represented by a lawyer who could speak for him while he is jailed.