Justice but no closure in notorious cold case murder


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Updated: 4/24/2012 10:00 am Published: 4/23/2012 7:37 pm


Almost 25 years after the murder, a suspect comes clean in the cold case killing of Haskell County Commissioner Leo Reasnor.

The case was a notorious cold case for Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations. The suspected killer confessed to Billings police in Montana.

"Being able to reach a conclusion on a case even 25 years later, it brings a lot of hope for people who haven't had their case solved,” said OSBI Director Stan Florence.

On June 25th, 1987 Reasnor was shot and killed on a rural road four miles southwest of Lequire. Reasnor owned land in that area.

Court records show on April 18th, 2012, Clifford Eagle, 53, walked into the Billings Montana police station and confessed.

Reasnor's family said Leo was a county commissioner for 13 years and he was ready to retire.

He was 49-years old when he was murdered.

"You don't ever expect a parent to get murdered but whenever your dad is bigger than life to you and it happens it is very destructive on the soul,” said Reasnor’s daughter Kim Stout.

The Reasnors show a scrapbook Leo’s mother made with newspaper clippings from his murder that had gone cold.

Leo’s son and brother-in-law found in shot in the head in his pickup.  "There is not a day that goes through my mind that I don't think of my daddy. Never,” said Stout.

Newspaper articles show early in the investigation authorities thought they had come close to finding the killer.

Instead, it took a quarter century and a conscience that finally caught up.

"It would have not taken me 25 years to be burdened to the point to confess but maybe it just took him that long,” said Reasnor’s Widow Phyllis Reasnor-Arnett.

OSBI agents said Clifford Eagle went into the police station in Billings, Montana and said he wanted to get something off his chest.

Eagle said when he was 28-years-old he shot Reasnor after he and another man got in an argument with Reasnor. Eagle said Reasnor thought they stole some of his property.

Eagle told detectives both men thought Reasnor had a gun so they both shot him.

"I’m still and shock and I can't wrap my mind around it right now,” said Stout.  OSBI agents said Eagle’s name had come up and family said Eagle was a witness in the grand jury investigation that happened 12 years ago. Agents said there wasn’t enough evidence to file charges.

"You don't prepare yourself for this kind of news but you always pray for it and anticipate it,” said Stout.

Reasnor’s daughter was only 21 when her father was killed and her daughter was only 20 days old.

"He was a funny guy,” said Stout.

His wife said the arrest brings up painful memories that have been buried for decades.

"You can't go on if you keep it in turmoil and wonder if anything will develop,” said Mrs. Reasnor.

Even with an arrest their hearts still hurt.

"Closure has never been a good word for me but justice is a good word,” said Mrs. Reasnor.

OSBI said Eagle is being held without bond in the Billings, Montana detention center.

Investigators are working to extradite Eagle to the Haskell County jail.

Eagle implicated Vince Johnson in the murder. In 2001, Johnson was executed in Oklahoma for the 1991 murder Shirley Mooneyham in Pittsburg County. This was a separate murder.

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