John Trochmann, cofounder and leader of the Militia of Montana, appeared Oct. 10 at a Spokane hearing on charges of attempted kidnapping, a felony, and misdemeanor assault stemming from a September 2004 dispute with a family member.
According to a police affidavit, Trochmann and his wife, Carolyn, went to the Spokane store where his niece, Vanessa Sulpizio, was working in September 2004 and accused her of stealing a gun from his home days before. Sulpizio told police that Trochmann grabbed her by the arms and tried to force her into his car, and that her arms were scratched and bruised in the process. Witnesses at the scene confirmed that Trochmann yelled at Sulpizio about a gun theft and say Sulpizio was screaming for help in the parking lot. They helped break up the dispute, and the Trochmanns left the scene before police arrived.
Trochmann, who lives in Noxon, says he did confront his niece, but that he wasn’t trying to kidnap her. He says Sulpizio and her boyfriend had visited his home a few days before the Spokane incident for a family wedding and had stolen a Colt .45 from his wife, which he reported to the Sanders County Sheriff’s Department.
Trochmann, who was arrested in July 2005 but released on his own recognizance, says he thinks the charges against him are linked to his pending divorce from Carolyn—Sulpizio’s aunt—though he declined to explain further since both cases are unresolved.
It was news to Mark Lindsey, deputy prosecuting attorney in Spokane County, that Carolyn was even involved in the incident, though she is mentioned four times in the affidavit.
Lindsey says a record check found that Trochmann does not have a criminal history. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to four years for the kidnapping charge and up to one year for the assault charge. His trial has been scheduled for Dec. 12.