Officials, expert believe Jason Bales still in Atoka area

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ATOKA COUNTY, OK -- Jason Bales is spending his fourth night as a free man. The convicted murderer escaped early Monday morning.

And 4 days later, not a single person has seen him.

"It's pretty spooky if you've got kids," said Atoka resident Anthony Henderson.

Philip Ray, a criminal defense attorney and Austin College alumnus, has dealt with fugitives before. He said fugitives commonly wait until the search wanes - then they bolt.

"It depends on how clever the fugitive is," he said. "You could have somebody who will hide out forever, in one spot that's very difficult to find."

He thinks it's likely Bales is still close, and said that's the tactic officials are likely relying on in this manhunt.

"Set up your circle. Search within that circle. While at the same time, search any large travel areas - highways and such - at the same time," he said. "So you've got two different teams running."

Officials believe Bales is still in the area. And while local residents' opinions differ, they're not taking chances.

"You sure leave your wife and kids home with loaded guns," Henderson said.

Windil Hilliard said she feels nervous walking around at night.

"I got knives, and things I could use. I'm pretty good," she said.

Ray said an inmate like Bales, serving life without parole, has nothing to lose - and is extremely dangerous.

"He's already in there for life - and they're coming to get him," he said. "Why wouldn't he respond with deadly force?"

Ray advises people to check their surroundings, lock their doors and be overall smart and safe.

If you have any information or tips on Bales' whereabouts, contact your local law enforcement.

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