MALIBU—The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office revealed on Monday, May 7 that the suspect who kidnapped his two kids and fled from police in a RV has been charged.
Stephen Merle Houk, 46, was charged in case BA467774 with two counts each of kidnapping, child abuse, injuring a spouse and child detention, and one count each of assault with a firearm, criminal threats, fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle, possession of a firearm by a felon, fugitive from justice and transient’s violation of registration, a misdemeanor. Deputy District Attorney Tal Kahana of the Child Abduction Section is prosecuting the case.
On May 1, at 8 a.m. Houk and his wife got into a fight in the family’s RV which was parked in Malibu. He is accused of pointing a loaded firearm and threatening to kill her. The two children, ages 3 and 1, were awakened by the commotion, the prosecutor noted. Houk drove away and stopped at a gas station. His wife asked for help from a passerby who called for assistance. He fled when Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies responded and a pursuit commenced.
The suspect fled from the RV after stopping near Bakersfield. He was located at around 2:30 p.m. by authorities in Culver City. He did not comply with police requests to surrender and a second pursuit transpired. He was later found located in a rail yard at 200 North Avenue H, in the city of Barstow. He was hiding inside a compartment of an empty rail car where detectives from the Fugitive Task Force took him into custody without incident. Houk was transported to the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station.
LASD Sheriff Jim McDonnell indicated during a press conference that Houk threatened to harm the 3 year-old child, and head-butted his wife during the incident before letting her out of the vehicle at a parking lot of a Best Buy. Houk was a parolee at large wanted for sex crimes out of the state of Oregon (WNO #14556869).
Greg Risling of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spoke to Canyon News via email about the defendant. Risling indicated that Houk could face a possible maximum sentence of 75 years in state prison. Houk used a .357 Magnum Revolver to threaten his wife during the incident.
“The safety and retrieval of the children was the most important factor weighed during the pursuit,” said McDonnell. The family had been traveling between Oregon, Arizona and California. Prosecutors recommended bail be set at $1 million. The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Bureau.