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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Triple-murder suspect walked away from halfway house

From the Associated Press:

Police: Man charged in Missouri killings linked to Texas triple homicide
PINEVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A man charged with a double homicide in Missouri was linked to the slayings of a Texas family after a name tag belonging to one of the Texas victims was found in a truck he was driving, authorities said.
The bodies of Orlie and Dawn McCool were found by a relative in the couple’s rural Pineville, Mo., home on Sept. 30, the same day that authorities in the Texas Panhandle discovered Brian Conrad, his wife, Michell Conrad and her 14-year-old son Zach Doan slain in their home south of Pampa. Michell Conrad was six months pregnant.
Levi A. King, 23, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder after he was caught the evening of Sept. 30 trying to re-enter the United States at the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas. He was driving Orlie McCool’s pickup truck.
“During the course of our investigation, we learned about a triple homicide in Texas,” McDonald County Chief Deputy Gregg Sweeten said. “The information we gathered so far links Levi King to those killings.”
King has not been charged in the Texas slayings. James Egan, King’s public defender, could not be reached by telephone for comment Wednesday.
Investigators with the Texas Rangers and the Gray County Sheriff’s Office were en route late Wednesday to the McDonald County Jail, where King is being held without bail, Prosecutor Steve Geeding said.
Besides the name tag, Sweeten said the caliber of bullets recovered from the bodies of the victims in Texas matches the caliber of one of the weapons King is accused of stealing from his father’s home.
King has not said why he tried to return to the United States, authorities said.
“We’re guessing that he was out of money, couldn’t speak the language and simply couldn’t handle it in Mexico, so he headed home,” Sweeten said.
Authorities believe the McCools were killed on the afternoon of Sept. 29. Investigators then believe King traveled Interstate 40 on his way to the Mexican border. The Conrad home is about 10 miles north of the interstate.
Michell Conrad’s 10-year-old daughter called 911 Sept. 30 to report the shooting deaths. Texas authorities have not released any details about how she survived or what she might have seen.
There was no immediate connection apparent between the two murder scenes, which are about 375 miles apart.
King was released in July from prison to a halfway house in St. Louis, Sweeten said. He had served 17 months of a 14-year sentence for second-degree arson and burglary in 2003.
King left the halfway house on Sept. 23, saying he was going to work, Sweeten said. He never came back and no one at the halfway house called to notify authorities in King’s hometown that he was in violation of his parole, he said.
“They should have called,” Sweeten said. “That could have saved all these people.”

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