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Convicted Murderer Captured After Three Months of Freedom

December 19, 1991 GMT

HUGO, Okla. (AP) _ An escaped murderer under investigation for four killings in New Mexico, Kentucky and Tennessee during three months of freedom was captured early Thursday at his brother’s home.

Michael St. Clair was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and hiding on the second floor of the home when dozens of FBI agents and state police served a search warrant shortly after midnight, the FBI said.

Authorities negotiated with St. Clair for about half an hour before he surrendered, said Bob Ricks, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oklahoma. He broke out a back window and went onto the roof, but went back inside when he saw police guarding the rear of the house, Ricks said.

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St. Clair’s brother, Hansel, was arrested for harboring a fugitive.

St. Clair, 34, and Dennis Reese, 31, overpowered a guard and escaped from the Bryan County, Okla., jail in a deputy’s pickup truck Sept. 19. Reese, who faces trial for allegedly strangling and beating a woman to death last summer, is still at large.

″I’m so thankful that no more people were killed,″ said Bryan County District Attorney Theresa McGehee. ″As long as he was out there, he was a threat to anything that moved or got in his way.″

St. Clair and Reese are charged in Kentucky with the murder of a man who was handcuffed and shot in the head. Authorities want to question them about the death of a Denver paramedic and the deaths of two video store clerks in Tennessee.

″I believe he’s the most dangerous of the two and we’re extremely relieved that he’s in custody,″ said Kentucky State Police detective John Carr.

Carr said Kentucky officials will try to have St. Clair extradited.

St. Clair telephoned reporters at the Durant (Okla.) Daily Democrat while on the run, boasting about his prowess with guns and promising not to be taken alive.

He claimed to be related to the outlaw Jesse James, and accompanied one call to the newspaper with a recording of the theme song from ″The Dukes of Hazzard,″ a 1980s television series about rural Southerners who dodge corrupt, dim-witted lawmen in a souped-up car.

St. Clair was awaiting transfer to the state prison when he escaped. He had been convicted of the death of his uncle and a hitman he hired to kill his uncle.

Kentucky authorities have filed murder charges against St. Clair and Reese in the death of Francis Brady, 55, whose body was found near Elizabethtown, Ky., on Oct. 8.

They also are under investigation in the death of Timothy Wayne Keeling, a 22-year-old paramedic from Denver who was found shot to death in New Mexico on Sept. 27, a day after vanishing from Denver, authorities said.

Keeling’s pickup was found on fire south of Louisville on Oct. 7. Witnesses said two men were seen leaving the scene in Brady’s stolen truck.

The men also are wanted for questioning about an attack that night on a Kentucky state trooper, who was fired on but uninjured.

In addition, authorities want to question St. Clair and Reese about the deaths of video rental store clerks Kathy Stoots and Tammy Tidwell, killed in separate robberies Oct. 12 in the nearby Tennessee towns of Milan and Atwood.

St. Clair, who had grown a beard and dyed his hair and beard red, was jailed pending a detention hearing Monday.

Hansel St. Clair was being held in lieu of $25,000 bond. As he left a courtroom, he told reporters he didn’t know his brother was in the house.