Kari Swenson, Don Nichols: ‘The Abduction Of Kari Swenson’ Montana ‘Murder On The Mountain’


Kari Swenson’s abduction by Don & Dan Nichols and the Montana murder of Alan Goldstein is recounted on ID’s crime show ‘Murder on the Mountain,’ in the episode titled by the same name. Bronze medal winner and biathlon runner Kari Swenson was abducted as she jogged in the mountains at Big Sky. The two mountain men held her captive in the woods until she was finally rescued.


Murder on the Mountain episode “Murder on the Mountain” on Investigation Discovery

A 22-year-old runner’s path is interrupted when she’s snatched by two shabby men on the mountain.

Kari Swenson had goals: training for the upcoming biathlon. Her runs usually took her to amazing places, like the beautiful Montana mountains, where she worked on a ranch during the summer of 1984. Sadly, it was the last place she ran, the Daily Mail reported.


On July 15 of that year, Don Nichols had his own plans. He needed a pretty wife for his son, Dan Nichols. And since his Dan Nichols had trouble “getting girls,” they figured the best way to obtain a new love was to steal one right off the street. Unfortunately, that street, for Kari Swenson, was the dark wilderness of Yellowstone National Park.

Don and Dan Nichols accosted Kari Swenson and abducted her at gunpoint before latching her to a tree for over 17 hours. Would-be-rescuer Alan Goldstein found the campsite but was shot to death. Kari Swenson was also injured but lived to tell her story.


A woman who was kidnapped while running in Big Sky in 1984 then chained to a tree and shot testified at a parole hearing…

Posted by Shawn Casey on Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A court record found at Leagle describes the event.

“Kari [Swenson] was then [attached] by a chain to a tree. [During a search] on the morning of July 16, 1984, Jim Schwalbe and Alan Goldstein located the Nichols’ camp. They entered the camp in an attempt to rescue Kari, [which] culminated in the death of Alan Goldstein and the fleeing of the Nichols. Kari, who had been wounded, was abandoned by the Nichols and [released] later that day.”


For five months, Don Nichols and Dan Nichols lived off the grid in a grungy campsite until the tenacious Madison county sheriff found them in December of 1984. Criminals Don and Dan Nichols were both convicted and given time in prison. Dan Nichols left prison in 1991 and married in 1996. His father, Don Nichols, was released on parole in 2017 after serving 32 years of his 85-year sentence. He was 86 years old at the time of his release.


Posted by The Abduction of Kari Swenson on Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Abduction of Kari Swenson, a fact-based true story movie, starring Tracy Pollan, premiered on March 8, 1987, under the direction of Stephen Gyllenhaal. Where is Kari Swenson now? According to Investigation Discovery’s Your Worst Nightmare: “Into the Wild” episode, she is now a veterinarian. Watch Murder on the Mountain tonight at 9/8 p.m. on ID.





[Image via Bonnie’s Blog of Crime]

Traciy Curry-Reyes

Traciy Curry-Reyes is the founder and editor-in-chief of TV Crime Sky. She began her career as a true crime & entertainment freelance writer in the 1990's for her website, The Movies Based on True Stories Database/Archives. She has contributed content to other websites, such as Examiner.com and Inquisitr.com. Traciy also appears as a true-crime expert and commentator on TV One's Fatal Attraction, For My Man, and Justice by Any Means; Investigation Discovery's Murder Calls and Scorned; Oxygen's Snapped; FOX's Crime Watch Daily; and Lifetime Television's Killer Kids.