Idaho Man Sentenced to Prison for Hostage Taking
COEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO - On June 26, 2018, Chad Lee Vonk, a 22-year-old resident of Lenore, Idaho, was sentenced to a term of incarceration of 10 years followed by 5 years of supervised release by U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Lodge on felony charges of Hostage Taking and Strangulation. Mr. Vonk pled guilty to both crimes on November 30, 2017. Vonk’s guilty pleas were related to two different indictments for a pair of consolidated cases in Northern Idaho.
On March 14, 2017, following a 17-hour standoff with law enforcement, a heavily armed suspect was taken into custody. Chad Lee Vonk, an enrolled member of an Alaska tribe, was extracted from his residence through a joint operation that included officers from the Nez Perce Tribal Police, the Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Office, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, the Idaho State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Nez Perce Tribal Police initially responded to reports of battery and domestic violence involving several victims at a residence in Lenore, ID. Upon arrival, they determined that Vonk had taken members of the residence hostage. After negotiations with law enforcement, the hostages were released and received medical treatment. Mr. Vonk, however, remained barricaded in the residence. An FBI S.W.A.T team from Montana and Idaho continued negotiations with Vonk in an attempt to have him leave the residence peacefully.
At 10:00 a.m. on the morning of March 14, the S.W.A.T. team forcibly removed Vonk from the residence. No shots were fired. According to a family friend, Vonk was transported to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center for injuries.
Mr. Vonk was then taken into the custody of the Nez Perce Tribe and was charged with domestic battery, resisting arrest, kidnapping, and a weapons offense. Vonk was later federally indicted for hostage-taking and kidnapping.
The Nez Perce County Sheriff, the Idaho State Police, Nez Perce Tribal Police, the Lewis County Sheriff and the FBI were able to peacefully resolve this highly volatile situation, according to Mary Jane Miles, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. “All of the officers involved should be commended for the professional nature of their work in ensuring the safe release of the hostage and capture of the suspect.”
In a second, unrelated matter, Vonk also pled guilty to charges of strangulation in a case involving his domestic partner. In November 29th, 2016, Vonk strangled his then wife in Lenore, Idaho. The victim in that case survived the assault.
The United States Attorney for Montana Kurt G. Alme stated, “We are grateful to the Idaho US Attorney’s Office, the Idaho FBI, the members of the S.W.A.T. team, local and tribal law enforcement and the FBI Victim Witness Coordinators in the Coeur d’Alene Office for their cooperation in this case and support for the victims of these crimes.” This case was prosecuted by AUSA Adam Duerk from the District of Montana who was appointed by the United States Attorney General’s Office as a special prosecutor.