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UPDATE: Convicted Oregon Sex-Offender Arrested after California RV Chase

Authorities say that 46-year-old Stephen Houk fled on foot, leaving the RV and his young children behind. He disappeared for two days before capture.

Posted: May 3, 2018 5:35 PM

UPDATE (AP): - Motorhome-driving sex offender in custody 2 days after escaping capture following hours-long chase on California freeway.

(This is a developing story and will be updated as more information emerges)



By AMANDA LEE MYERS , Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A paroled sex offender driving a motor home gave police the slip after a 3 ½-hour chase through California by turning into an almond orchard and disappearing into a cloud of dust kicked up by his vehicle.

The parolee, 46-year-old Stephen Houk, was still missing on Wednesday following Tuesday's chase and is considered armed and dangerous, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

Houk, who was on parole for felony sodomy in Oregon, began leading police on a chase Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles after deputies tried to talk to him about a report that he had threatened his wife, said sheriff's Capt. Darren Harris.

Houk fled with his young children inside the motor home.

Police followed Houk from narrow surface streets in Hollywood more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) north to the agricultural heartland of California.

In Bakersfield, Houk repeatedly exited and re-entered the freeway and at times drove through the city and a busy Walmart parking lot, all with his 3-year-old son and 11-month old daughter in the vehicle.

Eventually Houk turned on a dirt road to the orchard, where both the motor home and police vehicles kicked up blinding dust, said Officer Robert Rodriguez, a spokesman with the California Highway Patrol.

When the motor home stopped with its front end under a thick canopy of trees, officers pulled back for safety, Rodriguez said.

"Officers had zero visibility," he said.

Police eventually surrounded the motor home with armored vehicles and patrol cars, guns drawn, waiting for Houk to emerge. Instead, his 3-year-old son walked out about 45 minutes later.

Police then found the baby inside and Houk nowhere in sight.

"He got lucky," Rodriguez said. "All the forces came together and temporarily, they were on his side."

Houk is now wanted for assault with a deadly weapon, making terrorist threats, kidnapping, child endangerment and evading police.

The sheriff's department initially tried to talk to Houk after a customer at a Starbucks in Santa Clarita called police Tuesday morning to report that a woman outside said she had been threatened by her husband, that he had a gun, and she needed help, Harris said.

Later, Houk's wife told deputies that her husband had assaulted her earlier that morning and had loaded a gun and pointed it at her.

Preliminary information indicates that the family had recently traveled to California from Oregon but it's unclear whether they were living in the motor home, which has an Arizona license plate, Harris said.

Most police chases end with immediate arrests, often after officers force cars to stop by puncturing tires or hitting vehicles in precision maneuvers.

Officers didn't do that with Houk because of the children, who were unharmed and reunited with their mother, Rodriguez said.

"We were treating this with kid gloves because we didn't want to agitate the driver," Rodriguez said.

In a 2002 case in Oregon, Houk pleaded guilty to sodomy involving a child and served eight years in state prison.

"We've got to find him," Harris said. "I have no doubt we'll catch up with him but we just want to do that before anyone else gets hurt."

___

Associated Press writer Steven DuBois in Portland, Oregon contributed to this report.


(Note: According to Oregon court records, Houk plead guilty to Sodomy 1 in Lincoln County in 2002. Two charges of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree were dismissed)

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 352026

Reported Deaths: 4185
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55306692
Washington38321316
Marion36352445
Clackamas29350304
Lane27309299
Jackson22783304
Deschutes19886124
Umatilla14286144
Linn12617120
Douglas11918241
Josephine9292195
Yamhill8584111
Klamath7765111
Polk719680
Malheur552774
Benton537630
Coos492593
Columbia375743
Jefferson366351
Union316247
Lincoln313338
Wasco282640
Crook277646
Clatsop240729
Baker199228
Tillamook194929
Hood River190137
Morrow183023
Curry178723
Harney110225
Grant98012
Lake89711
Wallowa67312
Gilliam1494
Sherman1463
Wheeler1031
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 4825708

Reported Deaths: 70829
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147768626443
Riverside3704095008
San Diego3649124169
San Bernardino3574215597
Orange3234075528
Sacramento1584372283
Fresno1451192063
Santa Clara1450041895
Kern1449141615
Alameda1202831381
San Joaquin1022501721
Ventura1008011165
Contra Costa99612995
Stanislaus856421319
Tulare79513958
San Francisco54220644
San Mateo53970622
Monterey50772583
Solano45898340
Santa Barbara45005522
Merced42047579
Sonoma40822402
Placer39118420
Imperial35794764
Kings32587315
San Luis Obispo29797331
Madera23680281
Butte23649265
Shasta23544341
Santa Cruz20928218
Yolo20240248
Marin17644243
El Dorado17083149
Sutter13847172
Napa12855100
Yuba1000882
Tehama9406107
Humboldt9171108
Nevada909490
Mendocino757686
Lassen749946
San Benito741372
Tuolumne680893
Lake6565104
Amador540364
Siskiyou445842
Glenn433632
Calaveras385180
Del Norte357141
Colusa302818
Inyo203540
Mono16565
Plumas16046
Mariposa130815
Trinity86711
Modoc6758
Unassigned1820
Sierra1810
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