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Dial Pronounced Dead At Oklahoma Penitentiary

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A convicted killer who spent more than a decade on the run with a former prison warden's wife died Wednesday in a prison infirmary, officials said.

The cause of death was not released, but Randolph Franklin Dial had suffered from a lengthy illness, said Margaret Sexton, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

During a December 2006 court hearing, Dial, 62, had said his heart was failing and doctors had given him a year to live.

Dial had been convicted in 1986 of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for the 1981 slaying of a karate instructor.

He disappeared from the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite in 1994 with Bobbi Parker, the wife of the prison's deputy warden.

He remained on the run until 2005, when he and Parker both were found at a chicken ranch in east Texas.

Greer County District Attorney John Wampler, who prosecuted Dial for escape, described Dial on Wednesday as a ``con-man deluxe.''

``He was certainly very colorful and had a way about him that seemed to capture everyone's attention,'' Wampler said. ``He was good at making himself the center of attention and directing all the media interest upon him.''

Wampler also did not rule out the possibility that Parker could still face charges in connection with Dial's escape.

``(Dial's death) doesn't mean that we could not proceed with any charges against her,'' Wampler said Wednesday. ``It probably will impact the decision in the long run, but how it will impact it, I really don't know.''

A sculptor and painter with a master's degree in art, Dial had obtained trusty status at the Oklahoma State Reformatory, meaning he could stay in minimum security housing outside the prison walls.

Dial ran an inmate pottery program with Parker, used a kiln in the Parkers' garage and had full access to their home during the day. The morning of Parker's disappearance, her husband saw Dial working in his garage as he left.

Law enforcement officers acting on a tip found Dial in a mobile home near Campti, Texas, in April 2005. Parker was found nearby unharmed, working on a chicken farm. After she was interviewed by investigators, she was reunited with her husband, Randy Parker, and their two daughters, who were 8 and 10 when she disappeared.

Randy Parker, who still works for the Department of Corrections in McAlester, did not return a phone message left at his office on Wednesday. There was no telephone listing for Randy or Bobbi Parker in McAlester.

After his capture in 2005, Dial said he kidnapped Parker at knifepoint then forced her to live as a hostage. Parker told investigators she stayed with Dial because she feared he would hurt her family.

Oklahoma prosecutors never charged Dial with kidnapping or filed any charges against Parker in connection with the escape.

In a jailhouse interview with reporters shortly after his capture, Dial, then 60, said he took Parker at knifepoint when he escaped.

``I was a hostage-taker and will probably live to regret it,'' Dial said. ``But now I don't. Doing a life sentence, at my age, I wouldn't trade it for the past 10 1/2 years.''

Dial said their relationship was never romantic and that they lived in separate rooms. He likened Parker's relationship to him as ``Stockholm Syndrome,'' where kidnapping victims become sympathetic to their captors over time, often out of fear of violence.

``She was living under the impression if she ever tried to get away, I would get away and I would make her regret it, particularly toward her family,'' Dial said. ``I didn't mean it, but she didn't know that.''

Related Stories:

11/2/2006 Randolph Dial To Be Tried On Escape Charge

2/1/2007 Randolph Dial Sentenced On Escape Charge
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