Oklahoma murder suspect returned from Montana

A man authorities say confessed to an unsolved slaying 25 years ago in Haskell County has been returned to Oklahoma from Montana.
by Andrew Knittle Published: August 9, 2012
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A man authorities say confessed to a 25-year-old unsolved slaying in Haskell County has been returned to Oklahoma from Montana.

Clifford Eagle, 55, had been jailed in Billings, Mont., since April, when police there say he walked into their station and confessed to the long-unsolved shooting of former Haskell County Commissioner Leo Reasnor.

Reasnor, 49, was shot dead in June 1987 near some property he owned in Lequire.

Danita Williams, assistant district attorney in Haskell County, said Eagle arrived in Stigler on Friday and made an appearance in court Tuesday. The longtime Oklahoma resident is charged with murder.

Williams said the judge entered a not guilty plea for Eagle and that the defendant is due back in court Monday for a bond hearing.

Court records show Eagle walked into the Billings police station in April and told detectives he wanted to get “something off his chest.”

Eagle said he and Vince Allen Johnson, who was executed in 2001 for a different killing, shot Reasnor after the county commissioner accused Johnson of stealing some of his property, records show.

Eagle said he fired his handgun — a Ruger .357 loaded with .38-caliber bullets — at Reasnor after Johnson indicated the victim was “going for a gun.” He said he thought Johnson “may have fired” his weapon — a Smith and Wesson .38-caliber — as well, court records show.

Reasnor was found slumped over in his truck by his son and another man. The state medical examiner said at the time that a .38-caliber slug was pulled from the former commissioner's body.

Williams said it's still not clear if her office will seek the death penalty for Eagle.

“We have not filed a bill of particulars … but we can still do so in this case,” Williams said.

Haskell County authorities had to seek the assistance of Gov. Mary Fallin's office to bring Eagle back to Oklahoma, despite his confession.

Man claims innocence

Since he was arrested by Billings police detectives in April, Eagle has written a letter to The Oklahoman, claiming his confession was “coerced.”

The letter, dated June 12, states that Eagle had contacted Billings police in an attempt to get help, not confess to murder.

“The confession was coerced by the Billings Police Department after I went to them for help,” Eagle wrote in the letter. “I just wanted to let them know that the federal authorities were planning to file false accusations against me in retaliation for trying to file a civil suit claim against the federal government.”


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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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