Heatherington ran off with man: attorney

Dar Heatherington wasn't kidnapped, but ran away to Las Vegas with a married man, authorities in Montana say.

Dar Heatherington wasn't kidnapped, but ran away to Las Vegas with a married man, authorities in Montana say.

In the latest twist of her bizarre disappearance, Cascade county attorney Brant Light says the married alderman admitted she had driven voluntarily from Great Falls to Las Vegas with a man she had met.

Dar Heatherington arrives in Great Falls Wednedsay, with her husband Dave.

The mother of three went missing from Great Falls on Saturday, then turned up in Las Vegas Tuesday night, claiming to have been kidnapped and possibly drugged and sexually assaulted.

On Thursday, Heatherington's husband Dave made his first public comments since his wife was found.

Dave Heatherington says his wife did travel to Nevada in a private car, but he did not identify who was driving. Dar Heatherington's rental car was found in Great Falls on Saturday.

"Darlene left Great Falls and ended up in Las Vegas. The way it happened is not fully determined," he said. "Something happened while enroute and she received medical care while in Las Vegas.

"I'm not going to allow any more speculation on what that medical care is. We'll be following up with her family doctor here in Lethbridge."

Dar Heatherington (AP Photo)

Dave Heatherington says there is a lot he still doesn't know about how his wife ended up in Las Vegas, but he says he stands by her and they'll work through any difficulties as a family.

Heatherington has been charged with making a false statement to police and is to appear in Great Falls court May 14. The maximum penalty for making a false allegation to police is a $500 fine, six months in jail, or both.

Light says Heatherington was charged because her story kept changing. She first repeated to Great Falls police her claim of being abducted, but when that story fell apart she had another version, Light said.

"Basically she told us she met a man here in Great Falls. He was, I think she said, from Alberta. She wanted to get away, she wanted to get to Los Angeles, she knew a mayor there. She took a ride with this individual. They drove straight to Las Vegas and then, of course, her story got a little hazy and she did not explain what happened to the guy and how she contacted security and so forth," Light said.

He says Heatherington has serious problems and he hopes she gets some help.

Heatherington left Las Vegas without speaking to police there about her allegations, despite saying she wanted to press charges. The Great Falls charge was laid after a four-hour interview with police there.

Lethbridge Mayor Bob Tarleck says there's nothing to prevent Heatherington from sitting on city council while the charge is pending, but he will be talking to her about taking a leave of absence until any trial is over. Dave Heatherington says his wife plans to return to her council job.

The curious case has taken a number of twists and turns since Dave Heatherington reported his wife missing Saturday night. Lethbridge Police Staff Sgt. Jeff Cove says "the case certainly has its oddities."

She had been in Great Falls on council business, along with Tarleck and other aldermen, and had stayed an extra day for additional meetings.

She called her husband Saturday morning to say she would miss their daughter's piano recital that night. Heatherington then cancelled a meeting she'd arranged for that morning, shopped for gifts for her children and bought a bike from a pawn shop, saying she wanted to ride along the river trail.

Her rental car, with her purse and shopping bags inside and the keys near the back tires, was found six blocks away from the pawn shop in a downtown parking lot.

On Tuesday night, a woman was found wandering and disoriented in the valet area of the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The officers who attended the call were told by Heatherington that she had been taken from Great Falls against her will, that she may have been given something and that she had possibly been sexually assaulted.

Las Vegas police spokesman Jose Montoya said Heatherington was argumentative, refused to be examined at hospital and told officers she was too tired to speak to them. She left the city without doing so.