Officials: Elusive squatter-burglar captured at last

A 34-year-old transient has been arrested in Columbia County, a possible end to months of searching.

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DAYTON -- A 34-year-old transient was captured by Columbia County sheriff's deputies Thursday afternoon when his hiding place was discovered in the basement of an empty home adjacent to the Blue Mountain Community Church, 203 S. Second St., officials said.

His capture and subsequent arrest may end a months-long quest for an elusive person who entered and occupied numerous vacant houses.

Daniel L. Baxter, 34, was held for investigation of two counts of burglary and third-degree assault.

Investigation into his possible connection with other burglaries in town is ongoing, according to a press release from the Columbia County Sheriff's office.

The first report of a burglary at the church was given to the Sheriff's Office on Monday. The subject involved had broken into the church, left lights on, turned up the heat and ate food from the kitchens. Deputies believed at that time the burglar had made entry to the church in the past.

When Baxter was caught Thursday, deputies were investigating a second report of burglary at the church.

Baxter is a transient with ties to several states including Montana, California and Pennsylvania, according to Dian McClurg, Sheriff's Offfice public information officer.

Law enforcement has been looking for a man since last summer, when real estate agents and property owners began to discover vacant residences had been broken into and used for shelter. The perpetrator also committed thefts of items such as heaters, books and generators.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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