Escaped Idaho prisoner and suspected accomplice charged as possible homicide victims identified

Police have identified two men who were found dead in northern Idaho earlier this week amid a 36-hour manhunt for an escaped inmate and his alleged accomplice.

The bodies of James L. Mauney, 83, and Gerald “Don” Henderson, 72, were each found on Wednesday, more than a day after inmate Skylar Meade and Nicholas Umphenour allegedly ambushed police during a medical transport in Boise.

Investigators believe Meade and Umphenour may have been responsible for Mauney and Henderson’s deaths.

Mauney’s body was found in a secluded area near Leland, more than 250 miles from Boise.

After fleeing police in a stolen Honda Civic early Tuesday morning, Meade and Umphenour drove north and encountered Mauney while he was walking his dogs, officials said. They were taken and driven east in a different car. Officers found the abandoned Honda and Mauney’s body nearby on Wednesday.

That same day, Henderson’s body was found at his home in Orofino, about 30 miles from Leland, police said. Mauney’s dogs — along with a pair of shackles police believe Meade left behind — were also found in the home. Detectives believe Henderson may have known both suspects, but they do not think Mauney knew them.

In 2013, Umphenour stayed at a cabin with Henderson — and about a month ago, he returned for an hourlong visit, Clearwater County Coroner Dennis Fuller said Friday.

When a friend heard Umphenour’s name mentioned by police in connection with Meade’s escape from the hospital — and failed to hear back from Henderson — the friend became concerned and requested a welfare check, Fuller said.

Meade and Umphenour also seem to know each other. They were both incarcerated at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution south of Boise at the same time, and they were both members of the Aryan Knights prison gang. They also had mutual friends in and out of prison, officials said. Umphenour was released in January.

Manhunt ends

An affidavit filed Friday in support of the arrest of a third person, Tonia Dawn Huber, details the moments authorities spotted the fugitives in close proximity to each other on Thursday afternoon.

The two were in separate vehicles, and each became part of separate police chases in Twin Falls County, authorities said.

The document said an FBI agent in the Twin Falls County town of Filer spotted one of the fugitives — apparently Umphenour — in a stolen vehicle, and began to approach in an FBI vehicle, in the process passing a pickup that was behind the stolen car in order to get closer.

During the pass, the agent spotted Meade crouching low, as if to avoid being seen, in the passenger seat of a pickup driven by Huber, authorities allege in the affidavit.

The agent tried to stop the pickup in traffic only to be led on a pursuit, according to the affidavit.

Once in the city of Twin Falls, a city police vehicle intentionally hit the pickup and it stopped, allowing authorities to take Meade and Huber in custody, the document said.

Umphenour, in that separate stolen vehicle, was also arrested at roughly the same time after trying to flee, state police said. 

Boise Police Chief Ron Winegar said at the Thursday news conference that there was no “extensive use of force.”

Meade and Umphenour appeared before a judge in Twin Falls Friday afternoon, each facing $2 million bail and wearing prison jumpsuits. They said very little during their short arraignments.

Meade is facing one charge of felony escape. When asked if he had any questions about the case against him, he simply said: “No. Not at all.”

Umphenour was charged with aggravated assault, deadly use of a firearm and aiding and abetting an escape.

Huber was charged with harboring a fugitive, possession of a controlled substance and eluding police. 

Huber was allegedly carrying fentanyl and was clocked driving 100 mph before her arrest, a prosecutor told the judge. Her court-appointed public defender asked for leniency, saying that she takes care of her grandsons and has extensive ties to her community.

Bail was set at $500,000.

Meade and Umphenour’s violent pasts

Tom Bonner, who works as a paint manager at Best Built Builders Supply in Kamiah, said he’s known Umphenour since he was 12 years old. He has not seen Umphenour in three years. 

According to Bonner, Umphenour had a violent past, including breaking into a post office and a flower shop. 

“He was raised that way. He never had a chance in hell,” Bonner said. “Everybody was scared to death of him.”

A former prosecutor who handled two cases involving Meade described him as a “bright individual” who came out of a 2010 prison sentence bearing new neo-Nazi tattoos.

Meade has been in and out of prison since he turned 18, according to court records. At the time of his escape, Meade was serving a 20-year sentence for firing several shots at law enforcement officers during a high-speed chase while fleeing a traffic stop in 2016.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, methamphetamine possession, unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a shank in jail.

In 2010, Meade was charged with grand theft and fraud and sentenced to three to five years in prison.

Huber also has a criminal record

Meanwhile, Huber has an extensive criminal record for mostly minor offenses as well as felony drug-related charges, and had previously been in prison, according to court records.

She was charged with controlled substance possession, a felony, in 2015 and pleaded guilty; she then violated probation, Twin Falls County court records show. The sentencing included potential prison time, but it’s unclear how long she might have served.

The Idaho Department of Correction lists a discharge date for her of June 1, 2020.

Most recently, she was charged in May with misdemeanor theft and failed to appear at a hearing three months later. A warrant was issued for her arrest, according to court records. The status of that case is unclear.

She was also previously charged in 2022 with misdemeanor theft and a probation violation. The case was closed, court records show.

She has pleaded guilty to other misdemeanor theft and drug-related charges over the decades and also pleaded guilty to several driving violations going back to the 1990s.

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