Durant (Okla.) Daily Democrat, Monday, May 15, 1978

                         Scores of 'Sightings' Reported, But...
Escapees Continue To Evade Officers

Officers from here and Texas continued chasing down reported sightings of murder suspects Claude E. Dennis and Michael Lancaster, but so far have only frustration to show for their efforts.

Sheriff O.W. Highfill started mounting a manhunt this morning after a man was seen in a gravel pit south of Yuba. That one multiplied after another resident reported his dog had carried in a can of beans from the area.

While officers gathered in a call put in for a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter, they found their man - he was a hay-hauler.

"People are really afraid of those two and rightly so," Highfill said. "We have to get them soon."

"It's also necessary to check out all leads we have along with possible sightings," he said. "Dennis is smart and can live in the woods indefinitely.

"What we need right now to end this thing is a little luck."

Dennis and Lancaster are wanted for the murder last Wednesday night of Denison store clerk Bobby Spencer - among other things.

A full-scale manhunt was staged just northwest of Caddo under the 90-plus degree sun Monday afternoon; Choctaw county officers were checking out burglary of the Roff Watts residence southwest of Boswell, discovered late Monday night. Missing were shotgun shells, soft drinks, meat and bread.

Descriptions of the fugitives, who escaped from McAlester prison less than a month ago, have varied.

Information on file with the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Dennis 35 years old; five feet, eight inches tall (other descriptions show him up to 5-11); weight 147 pounds; brown hair and blue eyes.

Lancaster is listed as 25; five feet, seven inches tall; heavily built weighing 165 pounds; dark brown hair and brown eyes.

When last seen by the murder victim's wife, one was wearing brown hunting clothes, the other hunting clothes with a camouflage pattern.

Dennis is serving sentences for murder and manslaughter, Lancaster for armed robbery.

Resident FBI agent Roscoe Hatfield said the pair should be considered extremely dangerous.

District attorney Jack McGahey said the "first thing you notice about Dennis is his eyes. They're set back in his head a little way. He has bushy brows, and his eyes look real mean, and hard.

"Most of the people who have seen him say he looks a little taller than he is. He used to be real slim, but according to the pictures taken at the prison he has gained weight and looks heavier."

Monday afternoon's hunt on the Stewart ranch near Caddo was triggered when Mrs. Cindy Wright, wife of a ranch employee, reported seeing two men run from a barn at the rear of their home.

She and her young daughter were playing in an outdoor wading pool at the time.

"All I saw was the backs of the two men as they ran from the barn off into the bushes. One was tall and thin and one was short and husky - not fat just stout."

FBI file pictures of Dennis and Lancaster are on page eight of today's Democrat

Grayson county sheriff Jack Driscoll said deputies located a campsite Sunday afternoon on the banks of the Red river where kidnap victim Loretta Spencer, whose husband had been killed Wednesday night at the Rodgers Sport Center south of Denison dam, had been held.

Driscoll said they found three guns, food, a raft taken from the store and the chain the men had used to hold Mrs. Spencer.

Page eight photos
dennis1.jpg (7207 bytes)      lancaster1.jpg (5933 bytes)
Dennis Lancaster
MURDER SUSPECTS sought in Oklahoma and Texas are Claude
Eugene Dennis (top) and Michael Lancaster. Dennis, taller and
thinner of the two, is 35 years, 5-8 in height, weighs 147, has brown
hair and blue eyes. Lancaster, 25, weighs 165, has dark brown hair
and brown eyes. Both likely are unshaven and have longer hair than
shown in these photos.