Local authorities search for escaped anti-abortionist fugitive

03 Mar 2001

From the (Springfield IL) State Journal-Register--

Local authorities searching for anti-abortionist fugitive

Sangamon County sheriff's deputies have been driving rural roads, and Springfield police have been searching city parking lots looking for a pickup an anti-abortionist prison escapee is believed to have stolen last week in DeWitt County.

"In the last 24 hours, we've been going down every single county road," Sheriff Neil Williamson said Friday. "There's only two townships left to go in the southwestern part of the county. We're looking in every barn and abandoned building to eliminate the chance he may have driven his truck here and abandoned it."

Clayton Lee Waagner, 44, escaped from the DeWitt County Jail in Clinton, about 45 miles northeast of Springfield, Feb. 22 while awaiting sentencing on federal weapons and vehicle theft convictions. He is described as 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, with brown hair, green eyes and scars on his right knee, right ankle and nose.

He was arrested Sept. 12, 1999, after crossing into Illinois from Indiana with his wife and eight children in a stolen motor home. Four stolen handguns were found under the driver's seat.

Waagner said during his trial that he'd received messages from God to kill abortion providers.

Last Saturday, a man matching his description and wearing brown coveralls stole a pickup from a Clinton gas station. The truck is described as a 1993, two-tone gray Ford F-150.

The U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force has been searching for Waagner since his escape, reportedly through a ventilation duct. Authorities do not believe the Pennsylvania resident has any personal ties to Illinois, but Williamson said there may be other anti-abortion sympathizers who would help him elude capture.

"They may have a network where they'd protect someone," the sheriff said.

The task force has provided wanted posters and vehicle descriptions to local authorities and is asking police in Sangamon, Christian, Menard, Logan, Mason and Macon counties to keep a lookout for Waagner or the stolen truck.

Springfield police Cmdr. Bill Pittman said city officers are canvassing the airport parking lot, parking garages, mall lots and other places.

"They expanded their search to other counties outside where they were initially looking and have asked us specifically to look at used-car lots, shopping malls and anywhere where a car parked long term wouldn't appear suspicious," Pittman said. "We haven't found it yet."

Christian County Sheriff Bob Kindermann said two investigators searched the northern townships of the county Thursday.

"No, there's been no sightings of him. No one suspects he's in Christian County, but (DeWitt County) Sheriff Roger Massey, the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI, we just want to do a thorough search of the area where he might possibly be."


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