Kidnapper in RV pursuit case sentenced to 88 years in prison


A man who kidnapped his two young children and fled from law enforcement in a motorhome last year was sentenced Wednesday to more than 80 years in prison, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Stephen Merle Houk, 48, was sentenced to 88 years and four months in prison.

Last month, jurors found Houk guilty of 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 and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Houk pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of failing to register as a sex offender prior to trial, according to a news release issued Wednesday by District Attorney spokesman Greg Risling.

Deputy District Attorney Tal Kahana of the Child Abduction Section prosecuted the case.

On May 1, 2018, Houk attacked the mother of his children in the family’s RV parked in Malibu, then pointed a loaded firearm at her and threatened to kill her. 

The two children, a 10-month-old and a 3-year-old, were awakened by the attack on their mother, Kahana was quoted as saying in the news release.

Houk drove away and stopped at a gas station before going to a Santa Clarita coffee house where he forced his wife to panhandle. 

The victim eventually asked for help from a passerby who called law enforcement. Houk fled when Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies responded and a pursuit ensued.

The defendant eventually fled from the RV after stopping near Bakersfield, the prosecutor said. He was later found in Barstow and arrested.

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