By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A man is facing life in prison for holding another man at knifepoint in Yellowstone National Park last week.
Gregory Michael Samuel Toth was charged this week in federal court with assault with a dangerous weapon and kidnapping, both felonies. The kidnapping charge comes with a maximum penalty of life in prison.
He was also charged with: misappropriation of property, possession of marijuana, driving under the influence and having an open container of an alcoholic beverage.
In total, Toth faces up to life in prison, up to $520,000 in fines, up to five years of supervised release and $240 in special assessment fees.
According to court documents, around 6:20 a.m. on Oct. 1, law enforcement officers were dispatched by Yellowstone staff for a report of an assault. The victim called dispatch from the Fishing Bridge RV Park (where the assault occurred), and was told to drive to the West Thumb Junction along the Grand Loop Road.
The victim, who was with a co-worker, was worried the assailant (later identified as Toth) was following them and would confront them before law enforcement arrived on the scene.
Park ranger Jill Paxton arrived the on the scene and met with the victim and his co-worker. The victim told the ranger that he had known Toth for about 32 years and that Toth had recently been released from prison for assaulting and kidnapping an ex-girlfriend.
The victim had vouched for Toth to get a job at Triple A Construction Company and the two men shared a trailer at the RV park in Yellowstone.
The victim noted that Toth was normally talkative, but on the afternoon of Sept. 30, he’d become quiet and was watching the victim “unusually” close. When the victim would ask Toth questions, he would reply with one-word answers, which was abnormal.
That evening, the victim and another co-worker drove to Cody to go to the Walmart there. While at the store, Toth called the victim and began to accuse him of sleeping with Toth’s ex-girlfriend.
Toth told the victim that he knew where he was and that he would come to Cody to “find the car and deal with [them] properly.”
As the victim and his co-worker drove home, they encountered Toth parked in a travel lane going toward Cody with his bright headlights on. The victim and his co-worker avoided the truck and drove back to the trailer at a high rate of speed to avoid Toth.
The victim got home and fell asleep. He was awoken around 5:20 a.m. to Toth calling his cell phone. The victim did not answer, but soon after hear someone banging on the door of the trailer. This alternated with Toth calling the victim’s phone.
As the victim went to open the door of the trailer, Toth pushed on the door and rushed into the building. Toth threw the victim down to the ground and wrapped his hands around the man’s neck, choking him.
While doing this, Toth took out a knife and pressed it against the victim’s neck and told him he would kill him “for what [the victim’s] done.” Toth did this several times, calling the victim a liar and saying he knew the truth, meaning that he knew the victim was sleeping with Toth’s ex-girlfriend.
It should be noted that the victim said he has never met Toth’s ex-girlfriend.
After a few minutes, Toth let the victim up and made him sit in the victim’s room and said “Don’t worry, I’ll give you a chance before I kill you. I’ll let you try and fight me, then I’ll shoot you in the head.”
Toth went through an old phone of the victim’s to find evidence of a relationship between him and the ex-girlfriend, but was unable to do so. He then accused the victim of deleting all messages between him and the ex-girlfriend.
The victim said Toth drank a large amount of vodka that night and that he used marijuana. He noted that Toth’s most recent arrest included a charge for methamphetamine, but couldn’t say whether or not he had taken any of that drug that night.
Toth also accused everyone at their construction company with helping the victim to cover up the relationship between him and the ex-girlfriend.
Toth began grabbing items belonging to the victim and an old roommate, telling the victim to get into Toth’s truck.
Once allowed outside of the trailer, the victim ran toward a co-worker who was driving to work at Old Faithful. The co-worker did not see Toth, but confirmed the victim told him he’d been strangled and that Toth threatened to kill him.
During this time, other park rangers located Toth, who was driving his truck in the RV park. He was detained around 8 a.m., but tried to tell police that he saw his “girl’s” number in the victim’s phone and that he did not hurt the victim, but that the two had an argument.
He also said he did not hold the victim at knifepoint, but affirmed he pushed the victim onto the couch. He insisted he did not hold a knife to the victim or choke him.
While talking with law enforcement, Toth did admit to probably being guilty of battery, but that he didn’t go to an extreme.
“It’s my bad,” he told police.
Toth consented to a blood draw, but told police that his blood would be “hot” and that he had “used dope,” but did not specify as to what that meant. Police could smell alcohol on Toth’s breath and noted his eyes were glassy and bloodshot.
Police later found three marijuana joints on Toth’s person.
While searching his truck, police found a black folding knife that matched the victim’s description, a nearly empty vodka bottle and a metal baton.
The co-worker that took the victim to Walmart the night prior overhead a conversation between the two men in which the victim asked Toth why he was behaving in such a strange way and that they had been friends for 30 years.