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PRISONER'S 10-year escape ends

Updated:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A convicted drug offender who fled the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno nearly 10 years ago was found in Texas with a new identity and a baby on the way, authorities said.

U.S. marshals and Milam County, Texas, deputies arrested Dennis Lee Sells, 52, at his Cameron, Texas, home last week.

Sells had taken the name Michael Griffin and was working in the oil business. He had managed to keep his real identity secret from everyone he knew, including his pregnant fiancee.

Federal authorities received a tip on Sells' whereabouts a month ago, then closed in on him last Thursday. Law officers arrested him without incident.

The former Hominy resident was serving a 97-month sentence for manufacturing, and possession and distribution of methamphetamine. On Nov. 1, 1991 _ just over a year into his sentence _ he escaped with another inmate, Kenneth Wayne Denley, while working as a trustee at the El Reno prison.

Authorities found Denley in Georgia in 1999, then focused on Sells.

``He just kind of dropped off the face of the earth for 10 years,'' Deputy U.S. Marshal Chuck McNeil said Monday. McNeil was among the agents who arrested Sells.

Marshals learned that Sells initially lived in the Waco, Texas, area, then in Snook, Texas, a small town near College Station, Texas. He eventually settled in Cameron, Texas, a town of 5,000 people northeast of Austin, Texas.

Milam County Sheriff Charlie West said he knew Sells and was as surprised as anyone when he heard about his hidden past. Sells had been living in a small trailer home west of town for six years.

``He never caused us any problems; never been arrested here,'' West said.

West said telling the parents of Sells' fiancee was awkward.

``This was all news to them,'' West said. ``He (the woman's father) said it was a bigger shock to them than having been told that he died.''

West said Sells has to serve his time.

``He's been out of jail for years and hasn't done anything wrong, but his life has been a lie,'' West said.

Sells is being held at a federal jail in Austin. He is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday on pending escape charges, McNeil said.

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