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Residents Celebrate After McFadden’s Capture

July 12, 1986

GILMER, Texas (AP) _ A brass band played, fire truck sirens whooped and a cheering crowd packed the courthouse lawn Saturday to salute a woman who freed herself after being held hostage by an escaped convicted rapist, and to celebrate the fugitive’s recapture.

″God has heard us all. He’s heard us all,″ Upshur County sheriff’s Deputy Rosalie Williams told the crowd of about 500 as she stood on the bandstand and accepted the key to the city from Mayor Jake Dupree.

Mrs. Williams, a jailer, was taken hostage by Jerry Walter McFadden, a murder suspect and three-time convicted rapist who calls himself ″Animal,″ when he broke out of jail Wednesday night.

Mrs. Williams escaped unharmed Thursday night after spending 16 hours in a boxcar with her captor.

McFadden, 38, who was armed with a .38-caliber revolver, surrendered quietly Friday night when police found him in a vacant house in the community of Big Sandy near this northeastern Texas town.

″He knew that he was a loser, and he wanted to surrender as peacefully as he could,″ said Chief Deputy Rick Allen of Collin County, whose men surrounded McFadden.

Convicted of three rapes to which he pleaded guilty, McFadden has been charged with capital murder in the rape and strangulation of Suzanne Harrison, 18, of Hawkins.

Her body and the bodies of another young woman and a young man were found in May after the three disappeared during a lake outing.

″Jerry is a very dangerous man,″ Mrs. Williams said Friday. ″I believed he might kill me at any time.″

On Saturday, she and her husband, state Trooper Eddy Williams, and their 4- year-old son rode around the courthouse square in a convertible in a small parade.

Yellow ribbons and balloons fluttered from trees and businesses and many people wept as Mrs. Williams made a few tearful remarks that were mostly inaudible above the noise of the crowd.

″I have a lot to do here,″ she said. ″Thank you, thank you so much.″

Lifetime Gilmer resident Nancy Hendrix said the celebration was the community’s way of expressing relief over Mrs. Williams’ safe return.

″We want to give her honor and to show her that we was all praying and thinking about her in her time of trial,″ Mrs. Hendrix said.

She and her husband, Buddy, who ride with the Upshur County mounted patrol, were among those who searched for the three missing Hawkins youths two months earlier.

″We were hoping we wouldn’t have to ride and look for Rosalie,″ Mrs. Hendrix said. ″We care about everyone in our community and when the times are rough, we’ll pull together.″

McFadden, who wears a tattoo that says ″Death before dishonor before the Lonesome Loser,″ was charged Saturday with aggravated kidnapping, attempted capital murder, escape and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, said his lawyer, Vernard Solomon.

Bond was denied on two charges and was set at $60,000 on the other two. McFadden was returned to the Upshur County Jail.

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