April 24, 2012 / 12:10 AM / 8 years ago

Two arrested for booby trapping Utah hiking trail

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Two men have been arrested on suspicion of setting a couple of crude but potentially deadly booby traps made from sharpened sticks and rocks along a popular Utah hiking trail, police said on Monday.

A U.S. Forest Service officer on foot patrol discovered the devices earlier this month after spotting a trip wire on the ground. The traps were crafted from sharpened tree limbs, rock and rope near a fort-like shelter on the Big Springs Trail in Provo Canyon, about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City.

“This looks like something done just for the sake of hurting someone ... it’s like something just out of someone’s evil mind,” Utah County Sheriff’s Sergeant Spencer Cannon said. “This was not something just done as an afterthought. They took a lot of time to carve those sticks.”

A spike with a rock center and sticks — was hung from a tree and set to swing toward any unsuspecting hiker if contact was made with its trip wire, Cannon said. The rock was about the size of a football and weighed nearly 20 pounds (9 kg).

The second device was a cluster of about six sharpened sticks protruding from the ground, just inside an entrance to the shelter. A wire was set up near the sticks that could have triggered a fall onto to the sticks, he said.

“There was a potential for this to be deadly,” Cannon said.

Kai Matthew Christensen, 21, and Benjamin Steven Rutkowski, 19, were taken into custody on Saturday and will likely face reckless endangerment charges, Utah County Sheriff’s Sergeant Spencer Cannon said.

Both men posted bail and were released, he said, and ordered back to court on May 21.

Investigators arrested Christensen and Rutkowski after using Facebook to track down people familiar with the fort site, Cannon said. Based on statements the men made to investigators, police believe the traps were set on April 15, he said. Police have not determined a motive.

Cannon said it’s fortunate that no one was injured before police found the traps.

“The trip wires were not that hard to see for somebody who was aware, but I think there’s a very good chance that somebody would have walked into them and been victimized,” he said.

Editing by Dan Whitcomb, Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler

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