Durant (Okla.) Daily Democrat, Tuesday, May 23, 1978

Elderly Woman Killed In Alabama By Fugitives

Fugitives Claude Dennis and Michael Lancaster may have added another killing to their string in Alabama early today. An Alabama Sheriff's department employee termed them "thrill killers."

Here in Durant, sheriff O.W. Highfill said he'd been asked to go to Alabama to help authorities to identify the pair, wanted for the murder of a Denison convenience store clerk less than two weeks ago.

"I can't go, but I'm sending undersheriff Doug Clark," Highfill said. "He will take the complete Dennis file with him, with pictures, fingerprints and a lot of information that would help them identify him and Lancaster."

Highfill said Clark would fly to Alabama later today and remain "until this thing is cleared up or they lose their trail."

Alabama authorities are convinced Dennis and Lancaster are in an area on the Alabama-Mississippi border.

The sheriff's department in York, Ala., said Stacy Virginia Beavers, in her 70's, was found shot to death early today at her home in a rural area north of Cuba, Ala. Cuba is two miles from the state line, and 30 miles north of Butler, Ala., where city policeman Dean Roberts was wounded by a shotgun blast a week ago today.

More than 100 law enforcement officers have been searching two western Alabama counties for the suspects since then, and more were being brought in today.

This morning's killing "was the same MO," said sheriff's department spokesman Barbara Stephens. "They did take her vehicle, a 1976 Mercury station wagon.

"They are determined at this time to be thrill killers," she said. The dead woman's station wagon was described as a cream colored Mercury with 1978 Alabama tag DSJ148.

Dennis and Lancaster escaped from the McAlester prison a month ago today.

The Alabama search began Friday night with discovery of a stolen car matching the description of one used in the wounding of the Alabama policeman.

Highway patrolman John Christenberry stopped a stolen car in Sumter county, north of York, last Wednesday. The driver opened fire with a shotgun. Christenberry wasn't hurt, but his patrol car was disabled and the car and its occupants escaped.

Dennis has been convicted of three killings - one in Bryan county and two near Marlow. He was doing 10 years to life sentence for second degree murder in the death of Arthur Lake, Bokchito, and 50 years for manslaughter in the deaths of a Marlow couple.