Durant (Okla.) Daily Democrat, Sunday, May 14, 1978

Trail Cold In Search For Dennis And Lancaster

Texas and Oklahoma law enforcement officials were on a cold trail Saturday, waiting for prison escapees Claude Eugene Dennis and Michael Lancaster to surface again.

Already convicted of three killings, Dennis is now wanted for a fourth in the Wednesday night shooting of Denison storekeeper Bobby Lee Spencer, 29. Grayson county wants both Dennis and Lancaster on murder warrants. Lancaster was doing time for armed robbery.

The pair escaped from McAlester prison April 23 - three weeks ago today - and hadn't been seen or heard of until late Thursday. At least three persons have identified them from photographs since then.

Officers think they fled west in a blue and white Ford pickup truck stolen from Roff, near Ada, early Friday.

But Bryan county officers aren't betting on it, since Dennis once lived just off US 70 near lake Texoma and still has a wife and other relatives living at Caddo and near Mead. They've been staking out their homes periodically since the escape.

"You wouldn't believe how many blue and white ford pickups there are around here," a sheriff's office spokesman said. "We hear about one almost every time the phone rings."

Nor are they taking any chances. Deputy sheriffs Joe Paul Johnson and Tim Roberts, lake deputy Don Payne and highway patrolman Roy Brown made high-speed runs too Hendrix just before 1 a.m. Saturday.

They came after James Brinkley called to report someone had tried to steal a pickup from his home.

He said he heard someone open the door of his truck, and that's when he looked out and saw two men trying to start it.

Brinkley fired three shots at the pair and they fled in their blue and white pickup. He said he didn't get a good look at the two, and couldn't tell the make of the truck they escaped in.

The officers asked Texas authorities to set up roadblocks at Red River crossings and searched the area about an hour before giving it up.