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Fugitive Found Dead in Kentucky

July 16, 1998

OLIVE HILL, Ky. (AP) _ The search for an Ohio fugitive wanted for questioning about the deaths of three men near a cave on a remote trail ended when the man apparently shot himself to death.

Ronnie Sparks, 40, died Wednesday night, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, Carter County Deputy Coroner Ernie Holbrook said.

A passerby found Sparks’ body, with a shotgun nearby, in an open field near where the three men were shot after riding all-terrain vehicles Sunday.

Police had been searching the rugged, remote area for Sparks, an Olive Hill native wanted in Richland County, Ohio, on a probation violation stemming from a February burglary conviction.

Witnesses reported seeing Sparks in the area after the bodies of Randy Stevens, 19, Douglas Middleton, 21, and Scotty Middleton, 27, were found Sunday night by other ATV riders. The site near Tarkiln Cave, 85 miles east of Lexington, is along a popular trail for horseback and ATV riders.

Investigators believe Sparks may have been hiding out in caves in the area for months.

``There are miles on end of heavy foliage and cliffs where people could hide,″ Olive Hill patrolman Larry Tackett said. ``With dogs after him, he could possibly hit a creek and go six to 10 miles in the water away from them.″

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