STIGLER — A Haskell County cold case is heating back up after a man walked into a police station in Billings, Mont., and confessed his role in the June 1987 slaying of a well-known county commissioner in rural southeast Oklahoma.
Leo Boyd Reasnor, who was 49, was found dead inside his pickup on June 25, 1987, by his son and son-in-law. He had a single gunshot wound to the temple and was found slumped over in his truck on some land he owned about four miles southwest of Lequire.
The slaying confounded local authorities for decades before Clifford Eagle, a former resident of the area, walked into the Montana police station last week and told investigators he wanted to get “something off his chest,” court records show.
Eagle, now 53, told investigators that he and another man, Vince Allen Johnson, were on a county road in Haskell County when they encountered Reasnor. He said Reasnor accused Johnson of “stealing some of his property” a few moments before the county commissioner was shot dead.
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 — as well, court records show.
The bullet pulled from Reasnor’s head nearly 25 years ago was a .38-caliber slug, according to a state medical examiner’s report at the time.
Prosecutors are seeking to extradite Eagle from Montana on a murder complaint.
Haskell County District Attorney Farley Ward said Monday “it’s too early” to make a decision about whether to seek the death penalty in the case.
Johnson was executed by the state of Oklahoma in 2001 for the murder of Shirley Mooneyham, 44, of Pittsburg County.
Prosecutors say Ted Holt and John Crain hired Johnson to kill Mooneyham because she had incriminating evidence against the two men.
Holt, who was Mooneyham’s estranged common-law husband, was acquitted on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Prosecutors dropped the same charges against Crain.
Johnson also was convicted of killing his roommate in 1979, drawing a 15-year sentence on a manslaughter charge.
Eagle, who was listed on the sex offender registry in Montana at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty to a Pittsburg County rape in 2003. He also pleaded guilty to marijuana possession in 1998 and was convicted of escaping from an Oklahoma penal institute seven years before that.
Kim Stout, who was 21 when her father died, answered questions Monday at a news conference held by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. The OSBI had been working the case since the beginning, court records show.
Stout said she was familiar with Eagle and Johnson, who both grew up in the area. She said she was “shocked” at what has transpired since last week.
“When you’re going through this, you think of every human being you can imagine,” Stout said. “You never give up after 25 years. ... I’ve always thought it would happen. I never gave up that thought and I don’t think anybody in our family did.”
Stout said she regretted the her father never knew her as a grown woman, and that he never got to meet her children.
She said there is no sense of closure following Eagle’s confession, at least not for her.
“There’s no closure yet,” she said. “Until a trial occurs and all the evidence is presented, I don’t know that I’ll feel closure until that happens.
“And closure’s just that. I’m never going to have my daddy back. My kids never got to meet their grandpa. I never got to know him as an adult. ... I was always his little girl.”
Phyllis Arnett, who was married to Reasnor at the time of his killing, was at the news conference but didn’t answer any questions.
Johnson’s brother, Cardell Johnson, attended the news conference along with dozens of residents. He said he knew Reasnor and that he’d been “waiting to hear the news just like everybody else” through the years
Cardell Johnson, who described himself as a preacher, said he wasn’t surprised his brother has been implicated in Reasnor’s killing. Many others who attended the news conference had similar feelings about Vince Allen Johnson’s involvement.
“He had been questioned about this before, around the time it happened,” Cardell Johnson said. “But I haven’t seen what the evidence is, other than what this Eagle man is saying. Before I decide, I’d like to know all the facts.”
At one time, a multicounty grand jury had indicted Billy Ray Wilson, a political enemy of the commissioner, but a judge dismissed the murder charge against Wilson in 1998 at the request of the prosecutor.
Wilson, who owns a local survey company, could not be reached by phone to comment on this story.
CONTRIBUTING: Staff Writers Randy Ellis and Robert Medley