One fugitive dead, another in custody after eight-hour police standoff

Monday, March 26th 2001, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

EDMOND, Okla. (AP) _ Mildred Tuepker feared for her life when two escaped murderers took her and her husband hostage and refused to surrender to police during an eight-hour standoff.

``Just come in and get us,'' she recalled one of the men saying to an officer. ``We'll shoot it out.''

Tuepker, 72, was on the phone with a daughter in Delaware when fugitives William Davis and Douglas Gray barged into her home Saturday.

``Call the police,'' she said, then hung up the phone as her daughter heard a man say ``We're running from the police. Get inside.''

Police were at the Tuepker home within minutes of the hostage-taking, evacuating neighbors and attempting to negotiate with the fugitives by telephone.

Mildred Tuepker said she and her husband, Gilbert, managed to stay calm as Davis and Gray bathed, ate and watched a film as more than 100 police officers gathered outside.

``We were kind of speechless,'' she told The Associated Press Sunday. ``We didn't do any screaming.''

The Tuepkers said Davis and Gray had agreed to kill themselves rather than return to prison. After they released Mildred Tuepker, they asked her husband for the best place to shoot themselves.

He suggested the kitchen and went to wait in a bedroom, Mildred Tuepker said.

Davis' failed suicide attempt apparently left him writhing in pain. Police said Gray told them he used a handgun to help Davis carry out his attempt.

The state's second major prison break this year ended with Davis dead of a gunshot wound to the head, police said. Within half an hour, Gray decided against killing himself, walked out and surrendered. Neither of the Tuepkers were injured.

``Everybody is going to think I'm a coward,'' Gray said after his arrest, according to sheriff's Capt. Rick Barrow.

Police had been hunting for the fugitives since March 16, when the men allegedly hid in a mail cart that was being hauled by truck to a post office from the medium-security Mack Alford Correctional Center in Stringtown in southeastern Oklahoma.

The pair allegedly used a knife to overpower the prison worker driving the truck, and later stole and abandoned two other vehicles, one of which contained firearms.

The escaped convicts hijacked a rancher in southeastern Oklahoma Saturday and drove him and his truck more than 150 miles northwest to the Edmond area, where they released him unharmed, authorities said.

Following the hostage-taking, Gray was booked on several felony charges and transferred to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, a maximum security institution.

In January, three inmates fled the Oklahoma State Penitentiary by removing toilets from their cells to gain access to a service corridor.

One was caught on razor wire trying to get beyond the prison walls. The other two inmates were captured three days later at a rural home about 40 miles from the prison.


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