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Convicted Rapist Accused Of Two Slayings Is Recaptured

August 20, 1988 GMT

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) _ A convicted rapist who escaped while awaiting trial in a double slaying was recaptured early Saturday, worn out after making his way only 13 miles from the jail, authorities said.

Peter J. Piper, 41, was arrested while walking along a road near Big Rapids, said Mecosta County sheriff’s Deputy Barry Bechler.

″We had a lady call in saying she saw a man on the side of the road,″ said Bechler, who went out with another officer and picked up Piper. The man surrendered without a struggle.

″He’d been out in the bushes all day with little more than shorts on,″ the deputy said. ″You could just tell that he wanted to run but he was too blame tired.″

Piper’s escape Thursday with another inmate from the Osceola County jail in Reed City scared people in the northern Lower Peninsula area.

″They’re going to sleep a lot better tonight,″ Bechler said.

Piper was sentenced to life in prison in 1966 for raping and stabbing a 17- year-old girl, then escaped in 1983. He was recaptured in November 1985 in a Grand Rapids suburb where he was staying with a sister.

While on the run, police allege, Piper killed a couple from Manton in Wexford County and sexually assaulted three prostitutes in Grand Rapids. He was convicted of the assaults and was awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges when he escaped Thursday. Police say they never determined a motive for the May 1984 killings.

Piper had been moved Wednesday from the Michigan Reformatory at Ionia to the Osceola County Jail for a preliminary hearing on the killings. The hearing was postponed after a witness failed to show up.

Piper escaped with another inmate, Mitchell A. Lund, 24, a convicted burglar, who was arrested without incident Friday just northeast of Big Rapids, Mecosta County Sheriff Henry Wayer said.

Authorities had feared Piper was armed with a handgun taken from one of three homes burglarized while he and Lund were at large, but he wasn’t carrying a weapon when arrested, authorities said.

Piper, of Grand Rapids, and Lund, of Cadillac, escaped by allegedly beating and tying up a guard, authorities said. The guard was in stable condition at Reed City Hospital.