ST. GEORGE — Authorities in Beaver County have arrested a Nevada fugitive who allegedly had been camping outdoors with his 3-year-old daughter in subfreezing temperatures for approximately one month and had even resorted to eating roadkill.

Shawn Ashdown, 50, was arrested Thursday afternoon following a traffic stop along 2500 South near Beaver. A 3-year-old girl identified as Ashdown’s daughter, who was reportedly riding in a car seat in the back seat of the vehicle, was safely taken into the custody of caregivers.

Ashdown was booked into Beaver County Jail on suspicion of multiple charges, including possession of a stolen vehicle, a second-degree felony, custodial interference, a third-degree felony, and child abuse with injury, a class A misdemeanor. He also reportedly has an outstanding fugitive from justice warrant out of Nevada.

According to the probable cause statement filed on Friday in support of Ashdown’s arrest, investigators with Beaver County Sheriff’s Office recently became aware Ashdown had a warrant of arrest out of Ely, Nevada, for taking his daughter from their residence and fleeing to Southern Utah in a red Hyundai Santa Fe allegedly stolen from the girl’s grandmother.

Shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday, law enforcement officers in Beaver were dispatched to the area after Ashdown allegedly was spotted driving an SUV matching that description away from a convenience store restaurant near the Interstate 15 interchange at the south end of town.

File photo of the Beaver County Public Safety Building where the jail is located in Beaver City, Utah, Oct. 19, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Kali Holyoak, St. George News

Although the SUV lacked a license plate when it was pulled over, a deputy was able to use the VIN to confirm it was the same vehicle that had been reported stolen from the residence in Ely. 

Inside the vehicle, officers recovered a .22-caliber Ruger pistol allegedly belonging to Ashdown.

When investigators later interviewed him at the jail, Ashdown reportedly said he had taken his daughter away from a dangerous environment.

“He stated that he believed that the mother of his 3-year-old daughter was exposing her to THC,” the arresting deputy wrote in the affidavit. “Shawn claimed that he gave his daughter a drug test which showed positive for THC. So he took his daughter and fled to Utah.”

Ashdown also reportedly told investigators he and his daughter had been staying outdoors in a tent for approximately one month and had only come into town as needed for food.

“Shawn told me that if it had been a few months later, when it gets warm, we would have never found him,” the deputy wrote.

The affidavit also alleges that during one trip into town for food, Ashdown had collected a dead deer that had been hit by a vehicle and had taken it back to the campsite.

“He harvested the meat that he believed wasn’t spoiled,” the affidavit states. “He and his 3-year-old daughter ate that meat.”

The arresting deputy also noted in the affidavit how cold the weather has been over the past few weeks.

“Temperatures in the area have been frequently below freezing,” he wrote. “That morning when I left home for work, the doors to my patrol vehicle were frozen shut with a solid sheet of frost across each window.”

Ashdown, who is currently being held without bail in the Beaver County Jail, has his initial court appearance scheduled for Monday before 5th District Judge Ann Marie McIff Allen.

This report is based on statements from court documents and law enforcement officials and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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