A manhunt continued at press time for an “armed and dangerous” suspect who led authorities earlier this week on a chase from Los Angeles to Bakersfield in a motorhome with his two children inside the vehicle.
Stephen Houk, a 46-year-old registered sex offender from Oregon, was wanted out of Santa Clarita for various crimes, including child abduction, assault with a deadly weapon, and making terrorist threats, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff’s Lt. Eddie Hernandez said Houk and his wife repeatedly got into arguments and he threatened her on multiple occasions, forcing her to panhandle outside a Starbucks store at Bouquet Canyon and Newhall Ranch roads in the Santa Clarita area.
On Tuesday, the fighting escalated.
“That argument escalated to the point where he stops at the Best Buy, points a gun at her, tells her to get out of the motorhome and threatens to harm their 3-year-old,” Hernandez said.
Police spotted the motorhome in the Los Angeles area, prompting the chase.
“`At that time we knew the suspect was armed,” Hernandez said. “We knew he had his 3-year-old in the vehicle, and his 11-month-old daughter.”
The chase ended about 6 p.m. Tuesday in an orchard at Merced Avenue and Zerker Road in Bakersfield, where he managed to elude California Highway Patrol, Kern County Sheriff’s and Bakersfield Police Department personnel, who conducted an “extensive” search of the orchard before giving up about 11 p.m.
“The children kidnapped by suspect Stephen Houk were located unharmed inside the pursuit vehicle shortly after the pursuit came to an end,” according to a sheriff’s statement. “Both children have since been reunited with their mother.”
A dog that was seen in video footage during the pursuit was also located safe inside the RV.
The Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau began the pursuit about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles, with the California Highway Patrol taking over the chase when the motorhome entered the northbound Golden State (5) Freeway, through the Newhall Pass and into Santa Clarita and north of Castaic. The suspect then headed on state Route 99 into Kern County and traveled on surface streets in Bakersfield.
Authorities circulated a photo of Houk, who is described as a White, 5 feet 11 inches tall and 190 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes. He has a cow skull tattoo on his right forearm.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts was urged to call the sheriff’s Santa Clarita Station at (661) 255-1121, or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.