Justin Swanson, the Belgrade man who kidnapped and held hostage a woman who insisted she had no interest in dating him, had an initial court appearance Wednesday before Bozeman District Court Judge John C. Brown.
The Belgrade News had already gone to press before details of the court appearance were available.
However, documents filed in the case outline a more detailed and sinister course of events than had previously been made public.
The documents listed dozens of witnesses to the April 29 incident in the Four Corners area on Norris Road.
It started April 29 at around 8:40 a.m., when the eventual hostage went to her own home. Swanson had earlier broken in and waited for her to come home for two days.
The hostage-to-be entered her home, found Swanson, and was tased by him. Law enforcement immediately showed up, and an all-day face-off ensued. By 3 p.m., Swanson attempted suicide by shooting himself under the chin. He was hospitalized in Bozeman and Salt Lake City.
The case had been on hold for a couple of months until Swanson was well enough to be transported back to Bozeman for trial.
He has “medical issues that make transporting him difficult,” said assistant county attorney Bjorn Boyer. “When he is discharged from the (Salt Lake) county jail, we’ll transport him back here.”
Swanson had been transferred back to Bozeman. He is being held in the jail on $1 million bail.
Previously, it was known that Swanson was charged with kidnapping, assault with a weapon and rape.
The recent documents detail additional charges, including aggravated burglary and various stalking charges, regarding both his ersatz girlfriend and other female neighbors of Swanson’s. Court documents also outline that he also put a GPS tracker on his girlfriend’s truck.
At the time he told law enforcement he had five gallons of gas and numerous firearms with him. By 3 p.m., he had let the hostage go. She said Swanson had tased her three times.
According to court documents, this mess started in February 2020, when the two met on the dating site, FarmersOnly.com. The woman states they talked on the phone and texted, but she was clear that that was all she wanted. He visited from Colorado in the spring of 2020; she again stressed she only wanted to be friends. He then said he needed to get away from Colorado and had always wanted to live in Montana, so he moved to Belgrade.
After Swanson shot himself, law enforcement officials went through his phone and found stalking photos taken of the hostage and other women who lived by Swanson. They also discovered that Swanson had managed to photograph the hostage in her shower, using a hidden cell phone.
This hostage situation created a lockdown of the Four Corners area for more than 12 hours.