Meridian (Mississippi) Star, Tuesday, May 23, 1978

Cuba Murder Suspects
Search For Fugitives Intensifies


CUBA, Ala. - The search for a pair of "thrill killers" who apparently killed an elderly Cuba woman intensified today, with law enforcement authorities focusing their search between here and Kewanee, Miss.

The two suspects, fugitives from Oklahoma, apparently killed Stacy Beavers, about 69, who was found in her home off U.S. 80 early today.

Earlier reports indicated Mrs. Beavers had been shot, but the Sumter County Sheriff's Department said later she had been hit on the head from behind and her throat was slashed with a knife.

The search for Claude Eugene Dennis, 35, and Michael Lancaster, 25, moved west toward Lauderdale County, Miss., today after a woman reported seeing a car matching the description of Mrs. Beavers' car heading west from Cuba.

Authorities believe the woman's car, a 1976 Mercury station wagon described as yellow or cream in color, was stolen by the suspects after the slaying.

Mrs. Beavers was apparently killed about 10:15 p.m. Monday, the sheriff said, but her body was not discovered until this morning after relatives became alarmed when they could not reach her by telephone.

Her body was found just inside the door of the home, he said.

The elderly woman was last seen about 9 p.m. Monday after she attended a church service.

More than 100 law enforcement officers, including officers from the Lauderdale County, Miss., Sheriff's Department joined in the search, which began last week. The car believed stolen by the suspects had an Alabama license plate, DSJ 148.

Earlier today, authorities were using teams of dogs in an attempt to flush the men from wooded areas where they have been suspected of hiding since the manhunt began more than a week ago.

Before the latest slaying, the two were believed to have been hiding in the woods six to seven miles south of Cuba. A man fitting the description of one of the suspects was reportedly seen Monday when he came out of a wooded area near a store, crossed a road and entered the woods on the other side of the road.

The suspects are wanted in the shooting of a Butler policeman, Larsen Dean Roberts, who was wounded by five blasts from a shotgun after stopping two men on a traffic violation.

The two are also wanted in connection with the assault on an Alabama state trooper and in connection with a number of other incidents including the murder of a Texas bait shop owner.

The men are escapees from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. They are also suspects in the robbery of a Kewanee, Miss., service station.

Authorities from Oklahoma and Texas were reportedly en route to Alabama to aid in the manhunt.

Officials said the men are known to stay close to wooded areas and said if the suspects are seen, residents should "use caution" and call law enforcement officials immediately.

An earlier report that the men had been apprehended at the Cloverleaf Shopping Center in Meridian, Miss., was discounted by Meridian police who said they had stopped a car matching the description of the stolen vehicle but had released the two white males in the vehicle after questioning.

Dennis is described as 6-foot, weighing 145 pounds, slim, with a ruddy complexion, a heavy beard and shoulder-length brown hair.

Lancaster is described as 5-foot-9, weighing 150 pounds, blue eyes and a fair complexion, medium beard, and shoulder-length brown hair.