Southern California

Children Safe, Registered Sex Offender Accused of Leading Motor Home Chase at Large

After the initial call there was a brief pursuit, which was terminated for reasons that are not immediately clear

A registered sex offender from Oregon accused of leading a motor home chase Tuesday across Southern California freeways ended the hourslong chase in a standoff with police in Bakersfield, but was still on the loose, authorities said.

Stephen Houk, a 46-year-old parolee from Oregon who was possibly armed, was still at large Tuesday night after a standoff with deputies. His children, a 3-year-old boy and 11-month-old girl, were safely removed from the RV, authorities said.

Houk reportedly ran into an orchard at some point before or during the standoff, and his children were eventually taken safely into custody. It wasn't clear when the suspect ran from the vehicle. 

Stephen Houk-side-by-side
Marion County Sheriff's Office

The chase began earlier Tuesday when Houk and his wife were involved in a possible domestic dispute in the Lost Hill area, authorities said. The initial call involved "criminal threats."

Police began reporting a possibly armed kidnapping suspect leading a police pursuit with two children inside a motor home out of the Santa Clarita area shortly thereafter.

After the initial call there was a brief pursuit, which was terminated for reasons that are not immediately clear.


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Then, another police agency spotted the motor home Tuesday afternoon and the chase was on around the streets of Hollywood and onto the 101 Ventura Freeway.

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The chase transitioned to the 170 North which turns into the 5 Freeway, before continuing north to the Bakersfield area. 

Houk was accused of driving the RV north on the Golden State Freeway through Santa Clarita about 55 mph with police cars trailing behind. The RV was a Dolphin 2740, complete with bicycles clamped on the back.

CHP Officer Siara Lund said it was believed that two children were inside the vehicle and the driver was possibly armed.

After many hours, the RV came to a stop on a rural road and Houk was accused of engaging in a standoff with deputies. His children were rescued by authorities by 7:30 p.m.

The children's mother was said to be on her way to Bakersfield to be reunited with them. 

Houk was on parole after being convicted of sex with a child under the age of 14, deputies said. The circumstances of that conviction were "too egregious to discuss," Capt. Darren Harris said.

It wasn't immediately clear why Houk and family members were in the Southern California area. 

Authorities called off the search for Houk around midnight Tuesday. It was unclear if the search would resume Wednesday. 

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