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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2001

Fingerprints matched for at-large suspect

August 11, 2001

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— A match has been found for the fingerprints of one of the two fugitives sought in connection with the abduction of a teen-age girl held at knifepoint during a northwest Kansas crime spree, Thomas County Sheriff Tom Jones said Friday.

Authorities have been looking for a man and a woman, described as white and in their 20s. Thomas said the prints were that of the man, but he would not identify him or say where he was from.

The sheriff said there had been no match of fingerprints for the female fugitive but that investigators had some leads they were working on.

"These two folks are not smart," Thomas said. "They've just been lucky, and as of today, their luck is dwindling."

The sheriff said a Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent took the prints from a pickup truck the fugitives had been using before abandoning it and taking two other vehicles. He said the prints were taken to Topeka and on Friday a match was found through use of an automated identification system.

The man is described as being about 5-foot-7, slender, with brownish-blond hair and neck tattoos of oriental writing. The woman is said to be 115 to 120 pounds, with shoulder-length blond hair and a noticeably freckled face.

The suspects were last thought to be driving a Jeep Cherokee stolen Wednesday in Hoxie, about 30 miles east of Colby. That theft followed the theft of a Ford Escort from a 17-year-old girl at a farmhouse near Colby.

The girl was held at knifepoint and left tied up as the suspects stole her car, Jones said, but was able to free herself and contact authorities.

The girl had returned to her home shortly after lunch Wednesday and stepped into the grasp of the man, who held a steak knife to her throat.

"I tried to run away, but didn't have much of a chance," she said.

For the next half-hour, the girl sat at the kitchen table with the woman, who tried to calm her as the man roamed about the house.

"She seemed like she didn't want anything to do with it," she said. "He kept pacing back and forth. He seemed real erratic. He looked scared. They thought the cops knew where they were."

The phone, ringing incessantly, went unanswered.

"Everyone was calling to tell us that they were in the area," the girl said of the couple who were the subjects of an ever-widening search.

Eventually, the couple tied the girl up on the couch, changed clothes, took the phone off the hook and left with her car and a book of checks. She quickly freed herself and called 911.

Wednesday's crime spree began with a report of a gas drive-off in Grinnell, about 25 miles southeast of Colby on Interstate 70. A sheriff's deputy pulled over a pickup truck believed to be involved in the fuel theft, but the truck sped off.

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