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West Virginia Fugitive Arrested in Oklahoma

February 26, 1992

HINTON, Okla. (AP) _ Authorities today captured one of three convicted murderers who escaped from a West Virginia prison last week after spending months digging a tunnel.

After an all-night search, Fred D. Hamilton, 34, was picked up shortly before sunrise outside a farmhouse near Hinton, 30 miles west of Oklahoma City.

Canadian County Undersheriff Mike Rutledge, who found Hamilton, said he told him to get on the ground. Hamilton told him his name was Fred, and when the officer asked what he did, replied, ″I’m the escapee you’re looking for.″

About 50 officers searched most of the night for Hamilton after an attempted holdup at a convenience store in nearby El Rino on Tuesday night.

A sheriff’s deputy spotted a car that matched the description of one used in the attempted robbery and gave chase. The car crashed near Hinton, and the driver ran away, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Lee Lamirand.

As searchers combed the wooded area along the South Canadian River bottom, uniformed officers knocked on doors, waking up residents to warn them that a fugitive might be loose nearby, Lamirand said.

The search was concentrated in a 16-square mile area near Interstate 40 and U.S. 281.

″It’s a real wooded area and real isolated,″ El Reno police Detective Mike Risenhoover said. ″There’s nothing out there.″

The abandoned car was reported stolen in Millcreek, Pa., where Hamilton was last seen Monday after abducting a man, driving 155 miles from Benwood, W.Va., and releasing him unharmed.

Hamilton, 34, was serving three consecutive life terms with mercy for murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping and armed robbery stemming from a 1977 case in which a state trooper was killed.

He escaped Feb. 19 along with two other convicted killers through a 32- foot- long tunnel built under the dirt-floor prison greenhouse.

Tomie Mollohan and David Williams remained free today despite a manhunt that expanded to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and New York.

West Virginia Public Safety Secretary Joseph Skaff said it took the prisoners ″several months″ to dig the tunnel. He still is trying to determine how the shaft could be dug without guards noticing it.

Update hourly