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This 1984 image shows "mountain man" Don Nichols, right, being taken into custody near Bozeman,...
HELENA, Montana -- A notorious "mountain man," who abducted a world-class athlete in 1984 to keep as a wife for his son, once wrote that blame for the "incident" lies with her and a would-be rescuer whom he shot and killed. Don Nichols undoubtedly will need to be more contrite later this month in front of the historically stern Montana Parole Board.
Nichols gained international notoriety for the bizarre crime and prolonged manhunt in the wilderness northwest of Yellowstone National Park that ended when a sheriff stormed his camp. He is now a frail, 81-year-old convict whose 150 pounds stretch over a six-foot frame.
Nichols and his son, Dan Nichols, were known to spend long stretches in the mountains living off the land. Prior to the abduction, they had lived for a year poaching game and growing hidden gardens at various camps they set up -- earning them both a "mountain man" moniker they embraced.
The elder Nichols comes up for parole April 27. He has a good track record in prison, where he has worked on the yard crew, and over the years has reportedly become a bit more apologetic for taking Kari Swenson.
But for years after the crime, he wasn't.
"We more or less only intimidated Kari into coming with us. We were only going to keep her with us for a few days if it didn't work out," Nichols wrote in a collection of letters, journals and lengthy manuscript dating from the late 1980s and early 1990s now housed at the University


of Montana library. "Also, we treated her very humanely all the time, in fact cordially, except for the unusual circumstances. I did not hit Kari. The chain involved was a real lightweight chain. One end was fastened comfortably around her waist and other end around a tree."
Nichols sent the manuscript, which had previously been released in hopes of publishing a book, along with his personal collection of letters and notes to the library, intending for them to be preserved.