Authorities received a fake report of an armed kidnapping late Wednesday night and are now set to receive reimbursement for the costs incurred while searching for two non-existent gunmen.
Beau Justin Heyser, 22, called 911 at about 10:30 p.m. saying two men had flagged him down on Little Wolf Creek Road off of Highway 200, kidnapped him at gunpoint in his rental moving van and drove him up into the mountains, according to documents filed in Justice Court.
Heyser told sheriff’s deputies one man drove the moving van while the other followed in a Chevy pickup. He said the van eventually got stuck and the men told him to take off his shoes and run, court documents say. Deputies responded to the area, where they found Heyser and the van.
After a 16-person SWAT team and a 12-person Department of Homeland Security aircraft had been called to respond along with Helena police and Montana Highway Patrol troopers, Heyser admitted he made up the story of his van being stolen at gunpoint, court documents allege.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said authorities kicked into high gear due to the fear that the “two men” were actually the two of the most wanted fugitives in America – John McCluskey and and his fiancé and cousin Casslyn Welch – who are suspected to possibly be in Montana.
“I don’t know if they’re here or not. We thought ‘oh geez,’ I hope this guy is right and its two males and not a male and female,” Dutton said.
The SWAT team and aircraft were canceled after Heyser came clean.
Heyser told authorities he heard there was a shortcut to get from Interstate 15 to Highway 200 and he took the wrong road. While driving, he got the moving van stuck in a ravine.
“He stated he was not going to be able to pay for a wrecker to get him out, so he made up the story to get him out of trouble,” court documents state.
Heyser was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of giving false reports to law enforcement authorities. After posting $310 bond, he appeared in Justice Court Thursday morning, where he was ordered to pay a $335 fine and received a six-month suspended jail sentence.
Heyser also is responsible for restitution of at least $1,500 to pay for the costs to the responding law enforcement agencies. The tally includes $1,200 for the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office for the eight deputies who worked three hours each on the case and $330 for the Helena Police Department for the time of three officers who assisted. The total cost incurred by the Montana Highway Patrol has not yet been compiled.
Reporter Angela Brandt: 447-4078 or email@example.com