Manhunt

Oklahoma murder suspect could be anywhere across continental US, sheriff says

Adam Housley reports from Los Angeles

 

The manhunt for a suspect accused of brutally killing two relatives and wounding two Oklahoma police officers last weekend could be far from over, according to the Oklahoma County Sheriff, who revealed the man could be "anywhere from California to Mexico to Florida."

The suspect, Michael Dale Vance Jr., also could have died if he never received medical treatment after the shootout that wounded him in Wellston, Okla., Sheriff John Whetsel told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

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The sheriff also described the murders of Vance's relatives as a "rage killing." He said the suspect apparently was riled up over a child sex abuse case against him. Investigators said the suspect apparently tried to behead the couple.

Whetsel said the last known sighting of Vance, 38, was around 2:30 a.m. Monday at a convenience store in the far western Oklahoma town of Sayre. Authorities say he shot a man in the leg while trying to steal a vehicle in the town that’s about 30 miles from the Texas border.

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The suspect has HIV/AIDS and may try to spread the disease, KWTV reported. The news station identified the two killed as Ronald and Valerie Kay Wilkson, Vance's uncle and aunt.

Vance "needs to be stopped immediately... this man has no regards for anything," the couple's son-in-law, Jim Sproul, told KWTV.

The suspect was accused of wounding the two Wellston officers with an AK-47 and stealing their patrol car Sunday night. Police said he appeared to have a hit list.

Vance referenced some potential targets in videos he posted live on Facebook on Sunday while on the run. Law enforcement is providing protection for those possible targets, Whetsel said.

In one of the videos posted to Facebook, Vance mentioned the name of a woman and said she knew that "I would get my guns, and I would come ... and you're so lucky this went down this way."

Whetsel said some of Vance's potential targets were connected to a case alleging Vance sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl. Court records show Vance has a court hearing scheduled Nov. 7 in Lincoln County on a felony charge of child sexual abuse involving the girl.

Wellston Officer Jim Hampton, who was shot in the foot Sunday during a gunbattle with Vance, told Oklahoma City television station KOCO that he shot the suspect twice.

"He fell to the ground again, laid there for a few minutes, got back up. The firefight was on again," Hampton said. "At one time, we was actually standing up facing each other, shooting at each other."

The FBI, which is coordinating the search for Vance, is being tight-lipped so he isn't tipped off to their efforts, spokesman Terry Weber said in a statement.

The search began Sunday night after Hampton and another police officer exchanged gunfire with Vance while responding to a report of shots fired in Wellston, 35 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. The other officer was also hurt but is expected to recover.

Vance is suspected of later shooting a woman and stealing her vehicle at a mobile home park near Wellston, then driving about 8 miles to his relatives' mobile home and killing the Wilksons.

Vance also is suspected of shooting a man in the leg in an attempted carjacking early Monday at a convenience store in Sayre, about 30 miles from the Texas border.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Vance is believed to be driving a silver 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse with an Oklahoma license plate of 943LQQ. Vance is described as Native American, standing 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 212 pounds.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.