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Archive for Saturday, July 21, 2001

Suspect in women’s deaths captured after shootout, chase

July 21, 2001

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— "Cowboy Mike," a wandering ladies' man suspected in the disappearance or death of four women and the wounding of another, was captured Friday after a shootout and a desperate attempt to swim to freedom in the swift and murky Snake River.

Michael John Braae, 41, led officers on 13-mile gun battle and chase before police shot out a tire on his pickup. He stopped on a bridge and leaped 40 feet into the water. He swam and floated 2 1/2 miles downstream until a deputy sent in a dog on a long leash, and Braae surrendered.

Braae had last been seen late last week, in a bar in Yakima, Wash., with 50-year-old Marchelle Morgan, authorities said. On Sunday, she was found Sunday shot in the head in the bushes by the side of a road. She was in critical condition Friday.

Braae, who wears Western hats and boots, is also suspected in the disappearance or death of four other women in Washington and Oregon since 1997. All had been seen talking with him, authorities said.

"He's known as a womanizer, known to pick up women in taverns," Yakima County Sheriff's Lt. Dan Garcia said. "He's not from anywhere; he's from here and there."

The chase began after Braae was spotted at a truck stop along Interstate 84 in Idaho. Officers put spikes on the road, but Braae got past them. When the police dog was sent into the river, Braae tried to drown it, but it bit his clothing.

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