By Associated Press
BOISE COUNTY -
A 16-year-old Idaho girl was tied up and scalped by an older woman in an attack motivated by revenge, police said.
Authorities are searching for Marianne Dahle, 26, who was visiting Kirkham Hot Springs in central Idaho Jan. 18 with the girl and a friend when Dahle allegedly tied the girl up and cut away the entire crown and back portion of her scalp.
A felony arrest warrant accuses Dahle of aggravated battery, though she has not been formally charged.
“When I say this gal was scalped, she was truly scalped,” said Boise County Chief Deputy Bill Braddock. “The top of her head, her hair, was completely cut off. The motive, as near as we’ve been told by witnesses, was retaliation for acting in a way that the adult perceived as being offensive to women as a gender.”
The girl is recovering at home. Police would not release many details -- including the victim’s name -- for fear it would harm the prosecution’s case. Braddock said he only agreed to discuss the incident because the public could help authorities find Dahle, who has been missing since the alleged assault.
Braddock said the victim, the suspect and the female teen witness were “long-term” acquaintances. No drugs or alcohol were involved in the attack, he said.
“It was an act of revenge. I view this as a case where an adult female is using predatory control -- both psychological and sexual -- toward juvenile victims. There are definitely sexual overtones to this crime,” Braddock said.
Police were alerted to the case after Dahle allegedly dropped the teen off at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise, perhaps fearing the girl would die, Braddock said. Though authorities were able to recover the scalp, which had been left behind at the hot springs, doctors were not able to reattach it, he said. After being hospitalized for several days, the teen was released to recover at home.
“I’ve been doing this for 32 years now and this is certainly a very unusual case,” Braddock said. “I’ve never even heard of another scalping. I really do think this is an aberration, of one very controlling female who preys on young juvenile females.”
The teens and Dahle had gone to the hot springs about 70 miles northeast of Boise, apparently just planning on a soak at the national forest campground, Braddock said.
The hot springs, made by a cascade of hot water forming small pools at the base of a cliff, are popular with campers and hikers. But during mid-week in the winter, Braddock said, visitors can count on near total seclusion.
“When I got there it was after midnight and very cold out, about 9 degrees. I found a lot of physical evidence consistent with information that we were given, including the scalp itself, which was near one of the hot pools,” he said.
The case has been difficult to investigate because it has taken deputies some time to win the trust of witnesses and friends of the victim. The teens and Dahle allegedly hang out with a counter-culture punk clique, Braddock said, and some witnesses are fearful of retaliation.
“Everybody in this case is very fragile and they’re worried about how they’re going to be judged by their peers,” Braddock said. “I have to be very protective of my victim and others who are cooperating.”
Authorities say Dahle is believed to be armed with a knife and staying somewhere in the Caldwell area, driving a four-door, white 1995 Mercury Tracer. Dahle was described as 5-foot-8, about 140 pounds and with brown hair. Police say Dahle may have shaved her hair except for her bangs.
Though Idaho’s mayhem law bans “depriving a human being of a member of his body,” Braddock said he expected Dahle would be charged with aggravated battery, which carries the same maximum sentence of 14 years but requires a lesser burden of proof in court.