Cold Case Solved After 17 Years

Friday, February 8th 2008, 5:51 pm
By: News On 6

A Tulsa family finally has some peace of mind.  Seventeen years after their loved one was murdered, Tulsa County investigators say the case is solved and the man who did it died seven years ago.  News On 6 anchor Terry Hood reports the man avoided capture while criss-crossing the country. 

Investigators say they knew who killed Victor McCormick shortly after he was shot to death in a Tulsa County bar.  But finding the man who did it turned out to be quite a challenge.

Crime scene photos show what investigators found inside Barbara's Longbranch Saloon, August 11, 1991.  Inside 41-year-old Victor McCormick was shot and killed.

Early on detectives focused on Lawrence Durand as the triggerman, after he and his nephew had been kicked out of the bar.

"Mr. Durand went out to the car they were in, opened the trunk, and pulled out a nine millimeter pistol," said Reserve Deputy Jim Hardin.

Durand and his nephew took off, going back to their hometown in Georgia.  The nephew was caught and spilled his story to investigators.

"Mr. Durand left Georgia not long after that and that's where the trail went cold for several years," said Hardin.

Seven years later detectives learned how Durand had disappeared.  He had stolen the identification of a former Tulsa resident. Now that they had a new name, detectives began a new search.

They learned Durand had lived in nine states and was arrested at least three times, including a murder charge in Arizona.

"Mr. Durand ran afoul of the law more than once while he was on the run and was always booked into the jail under the other man's name," said Hardin.  "Nobody ever made the connection."

Finally, this past Christmas, investigators tracked Durand to Wisconsin.  Only to discover he had died in 2002 of liver cancer.

That meant case closed, 17 years later.

"It would have been nice to put handcuffs on him and bring him back to Tulsa. But at the same time, we know now that he's dead, the case is closed, and the family has been notified. So there will be some closure for the family on that," said Hardin.

Durand's nephew was never charged in connection with the case.

The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office has 39 other cold cases it's still investigating, with the oldest from 1971.

Investigators say most are solved when someone comes forward, so they're asking who may have information on a cold case to give them a call.