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Cold case suspect claims he was 'high' during confession

An Oklahoma man who confessed to the long-unsolved murder of a Haskell County commissioner said he admitted to the slaying when he was “drunk and high on painkillers” and that everything he told investigators was a lie.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: April 19, 2013 at 8:45 pm •  Published: April 20, 2013
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An Oklahoma man who confessed to the long-unsolved murder of a Haskell County commissioner said he admitted to the slaying when he was “drunk and high on painkillers” and that everything he told investigators was a lie.

Clifford Eagle was charged last April with first-degree murder after he told investigators in Billings, Mont., that he shot and killed former Haskell County Commissioner Leo Reasnor on June 25, 1987.

He implicated another man, Vince Allen Johnson, in the killing, but Johnson was executed for another Oklahoma murder in 2000.

Eagle wrote a letter to the judge presiding over his murder case in July, detailing the many reasons why he gave a false confession to Reasnor's murder.

“I confessed to something that I wasn't involved in ... because I was destitute, living on the streets and just had surgery at the Billings Hospital,” he wrote. “I needed a place to heal up for surgery.”

Eagle also wrote that he confessed so that a “lady friend” could collect a reward, but her name wasn't given and who exactly was offering the reward wasn't included, either.

In the letter, Eagle offered other explanations for his “falsified” confession. He claimed the “federal government” was harassing him because he was attempting to file a complaint after he was “wrongfully” convicted of failing to register as a sex offender.

Eagle spent more than two years in federal prison before confessing to Reasnor's killing. He was released March 2, 2012, and confessed to shooting Reasnor about six weeks later.

Court records show that Eagle was indeed wrongfully incarcerated and that he should never have been charged with failing to register as a sex offender.

“On April 17, 2008, defendant Eagle was indicted for traveling in interstate commerce and failing to register as a sex offender,” a motion filed in the case states. “At the time of the indictment, the law ... was unsettled.

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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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