Sometimes police catch a lead early in a criminal investigation and the perpetrator is behind bars within hours. In other instances, detectives can comb through clues and re-interview witnesses multiple times over years or decades before that amazing moment when all of the pieces finally come together. It’s rare, though, that a cold case is solved by the offender simply walking up to an officer and admitting his deed. This is what happened last week in Montana.
A homeless man residing in Billings, Clifford Eagle, approached a police precinct and announced that he had participated in the murder of Oklahoma County Commissioner Leo Boyd Reasoner back in 1987. Reasoner’s body was found slumped over in his pickup truck with a single bullet wound in his head. Until Eagle’s confession, the case had been without closure for nearly twenty-five years.
Eagle shared that he had a partner in his crime, which took place along a rural Oklahoma road. That man, Vince Allen Johnson, was executed in Oklahoma just over a decade ago as a result of his participation in a murder-for-hire plot. Now, Eagle sits in a Billings prison and awaits the next step in determining his fate for the life he took so many years ago.
It seems evident that Eagle could have gotten away with his crime, but he chose to confess and relieve his conscience. While he likely will experience this lightening of his emotional load while serving a lengthy sentence for first degree murder, more importantly the family of Mr. Reasoner now can get a sense of peace that they have been lacking for so long.
What do you think of this story?
Does Mr. Eagle deserve some leniency for admitting to a murder that may have forever remained unsolved without his unexpected confession?
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