Couple suspected to have been squatting in South Routt County cabin

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— A couple who claimed they were being chased and needed a place to hide were arrested after authorities thought they were squatting in a cabin.

Summer L. Johnson, 34, and Daniel Standingbear, 49, were arrested on suspicion of felony first-degree criminal trespassing and tampering with a motor vehicle.

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Daniel Standingbear

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Summer Lehua Johnson

Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called Monday morning to the 7700 block of Trailhead Lane near Toponas. A man called to report he thought a man and woman were squatting in a cabin that was supposed to be empty. The owner wanted to press charges.

As deputies approached the cabin, Standingbear came out of the cabin and said, “Thank God you are here,” according to an arrest affidavit filed in Routt County Court.

The couple said they were traveling from California to South Dakota, they thought someone had been chasing them and they got turned around in the mountains.

The couple said they stopped at a residence the previous night and asked the homeowner for directions. Deputies later contacted that homeowner, and he confirmed the couple said they were being chased, and he gave them directions to Yampa. They did not follow the directions.

The couple told deputies that “as soon as they got back on the roadway, they observed a person on a four-wheeler, blacked out and wearing an infrared helmet camera and chasing them,” the affidavit states.

The couple stated they then got their car stuck in the road.

“We were in an emergency situation last night,” Standingbear told Routt County Judge James Garrecht during a hearing Tuesday to set bond.

Standingbear repeated in court that they had been chased by someone. After getting their car stuck in the snow, he said they would have frozen to death had they not gotten into the cabin.

“We intended on leaving a note for whoever's house this was (saying) thank you for saving our life,” Standingbear said.

According to the affidavit, the couple had moved many of their things from their car into the cabin, and it appeared to the deputy as though they were going to stay for a prolonged period of time.

The couple told deputies they used two all-terrain vehicles at the ranch property to move their things to the cabin, and they tried to free their car from the snow.

After being arrested, Standingbear started sweating profusely and was faint, so he was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center. There, a doctor told deputies that Standingbear had an unknown amount of methamphetamine in his urine, according to the affidavit.

Routt County Deputy District Attorney Eliot Thompson in court said Standingbear had multiple felony convictions and had served multiple prison sentences. He asked for Standingbear’s bond to be set at $5,000, which Garrecht allowed.

Johnson’s bond was set at $1,500.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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