Man stops policeman, confesses to Oklahoma murder 25 years ago

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 23, 2012 8:43 PM
Man stops policeman, confesses to Oklahoma murder 25 years ago

By Steve Olafson

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - A homeless man walked up to a policeman in Montana last week and confessed to involvement in the murder of an Oklahoma county commissioner 25 years ago, authorities said on Monday.

"He just said he wanted to get something off of his chest," said Stan Florence, director of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. "I think it was just one of those things he carried with him for 25 years and wanted to talk to somebody about it."

The man, Clifford W. Eagle, 53, told police he and another man were involved in the death of Leo Boyd Reasoner, a commissioner in Haskell County, Oklahoma, who was found lying across the seat of his pickup truck with a single bullet wound in his temple on June 25, 1987.

The sudden turn in the long-dormant case caught people in Haskell County by surprise, including the slain commissioner's widow, who has remarried, and his daughter, who both attended the announcement of the break in the case, said Florence.

Eagle told police he and the other man, Vince Allen Johnson, were driving along a rural Oklahoma road when they met the county commissioner, who accused Johnson of stealing from him, court documents show.

When Johnson jumped out of his vehicle and yelled that the county commissioner was reaching for a gun, Eagle said he and Johnson both drew pistols and fired, records of Eagle's confession show.

Johnson was executed in Oklahoma in 2001 for the murder of a woman in 1991 in what police called a murder-for-hire plot.

Eagle was homeless but seemed to be in a "good mental state" when he approached a patrolman on April 18 to offer his confession, said Lieutenant Kevin Effland, a spokesman for the Billings, Montana police, where Eagle approached the officer.

He remained in custody in Billings on Monday.

(Editing by Greg McCune and Sandra Maler)