5-26-04 - On the 26th anniversary of the end a deadly crime spree, a Denison man who was one of the victims speaks out.
On May 26th, 1978, lawmen shot and killed escaped killers Claude Dennis and Michael Lancaster in Caddo, 34 days after they escaped from the state prison in McAlester. But before they died, the escapees gunned down three state troopers and murdered eight other people during their killing spree.
Chris Bowling of Denison was on the first people to come in contact with the men. He was 16 years old at the time and mowing a neighbor’s yard when one of the men stuck a gun to his head and demanded the keys to his car. The killers tied Bowling up with electrical cord, but spared his life because he reminded one of the escapees of a relative.
The night before that attack, the same men had killed a Denison convenience store clerk and held his wife hostage. Bowling has since lived with the twist of fate that spared his life.
Today he describes himself as a loner who suffers from sporadic anxiety attacks. He only feels safe inside his locked home. When Bowling hears word of an escape in the Texoma area, he immediately goes into what he calls a ‘panic mode’.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is making a 30-minute training video for state troopers that will focus on the manhunt and how it ended. It was scheduled to be ready today but its release has been postponed until next month.