Two Idaho State Police employees have been recognized with a prestigious national award for their outstanding efforts in rescuing a kidnapped child from the remote Idaho backcountry in May 2022.
On May 11, Corpoeral David Wesche and Communications Center Supervisor Raymond Shute were presented with the Heroes’ Award by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The award serves as a tribute to Wesche and Shute for their work in rescuing 11-year-old Gabriel Daugherty, who had been unlawfully taken to Idaho by his father, Addam Daugherty, without the consent of his custodial mother.
Exactly one year before the ceremony, Wesche first noticed the unfamiliar and suspicious vehicle in Idaho County, which set in motion the remarkable rescue operation for young Gabriel.
While patroling U.S. 12 on May 10, 2022, Wesche observed a car with Georgia license plates parked near the remotely-situated Canyon Creek trailhead — roughly 40 miles from any town. He had previously seen the same vehicle in that location on multiple occasions, which struck him as unusual since it was primarily frequented by “die-hard hunters.”
“Only the most experienced hunters, primarily locals, visit that part of Canyon Creek, and only during daylight hours,” Wesche said, referring to the presence of dangerous animals such as bears, wolves and mountain lions.
Recognizing the peculiarity of the situation, Wesche requested assistance from Raymond Shute, asking him to gather information about the vehicle.
It was subsequently discovered that the car was a rental that Addam Daugherty had acquired in LaGrange, Georgia, eleven days earlier.
Gabriel and his father were reported missing after Daugherty informed Gabriel’s mom that they would be visiting the Atlanta Six Flags. Georgia law enforcement had also issued a public plea for help in locating Gabriel.
Wesche promptly shared this information, along with the fact that Addam Daugherty had an outstanding felony arrest warrant for violating custodial interference laws, with the relevant authorities.
Wesche then collaborated with Idaho State Police, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies to initiate a search and rescue operation.
Meanwhile, Raymond Shute played a pivotal role as the liaison between the Idaho team and law enforcement in Georgia. Shute worked diligently, even on his day off, to maintain communication channels between the remote search team and various agencies. He was also responsible for facilitating the allocation of essential resources such as helicopters and a search dog.
A search team eventually deployed a drone which led them to the Daughertys’ campsite several miles up the trailhead. The terrain was described by Wesche as treacherous and physically demanding.
Upon reaching the camp, officials discovered deplorable conditions and scarce resources, including limited food and water, as well as a lack of appropriate gear for the cold and rainy weather.
It was reported by responding deputies that Gabriel and his father were consuming plants, snails and insects in order to survive. When found, Gabriel was in a weakened state and in need of medical attention.
He was promptly taken to a local hospital in Idaho before being reunited with his mother in Georgia. Medical authorities said that Gabriel was two days away from perishing.
Addam Daugherty was then extradited from Idaho back to Georgia on charges of interstate interference with custody.
LaGrange police commended Idaho officers for their diligent work.
“It’s still hard to believe [the Daughertys] were found alive that far from their vehicle in those conditions,” LPD Detective Duncan said.
“I’ve been on search parties in good weather and know how hard it is to keep the faith and push forward. Those involved are truly heroes — and 100% responsible for saving Gabriel’s life.”
In addition to the national recognition they received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, both Shute and Wesche were commended by the Idaho State Police for their exemplary actions. A commendation ceremony was held by the department to honor their dedication and outstanding performance.
The Idaho State Police, in their news release, expressed their gratitude to Wesche and Shute.
“Out of hundreds of nominations, the (center) honored Corporal Wesche and Shute, among others, for their bravery and courage to go above and beyond to protect our youth. Thank you for your tireless efforts and willingness to overcome challenges.”