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Report: Republic of Texas fugitive alive, threatening revenge

June 26, 1997
Web posted at: 2:21 p.m. EDT (1821 GMT)

In this story:

(CNN) -- Republic of Texas militant Richard Keyes III, who evaded capture nearly two months ago and was thought by some law enforcement personnel to be dead, is alive and predicts more anti-government violence by supporters of the separatist group, Mother Jones magazine reported on its Web site.

In an article titled "On The Run," Keyes reportedly told a freelance writer that militia members in New Mexico helped in his escape to a place outside the United States "that's armed to the teeth."

Quote from Keyes

The article is said to be based on a series of telephone interviews with Keyes, who bolted from the separatist group's West Texas mountain hideout on May 3, the day Richard McLaren and five followers surrendered to state troopers after a weeklong standoff.

McLaren photo

Another separatist, Mike Matson, fled with Keyes and was killed in a gunbattle with troopers two days later.

Officials hunted for Keyes until May 7, then called off the search. They speculated he was probably dead in the remote, sparsely populated mountains near Fort Davis, Texas.

Keyes is wanted on charges stemming from the brief hostage-taking of a neighborhood couple that began the stalemate on April 27.

'Random acts of revenge'

"I'm past the point of no return," the Mother Jones article quotes him as saying, adding that Keyes "promises random acts of violence" in revenge for the standoff.

"If the United States is comfortable with going to war with people who have nothing to lose, then so be it," Keyes reportedly said.

In the article, the 22-year-old Keyes describes how he evaded Texas Rangers, bloodhounds, and search aircraft after the others surrendered. "Sometimes the helicopter blades were just over my head," he said. "I had to stay right there in the rocks."

Author had met Keyes before

The writer, Joel Dyer, who is editor of the "Boulder Weekly" in Boulder, Colorado, said he met Keyes last fall while studying the growth of militia movements. Dyer said Keyes contacted him on June 17.

Keyes said militia members from New Mexico helped him escape. "They sent in a special operations team and extracted me from the area," he said.

"They moved me from safehouse to safehouse. I was in a total of six. Eventually they were able to get me out of the country."

Last week, U.S. News and World Report magazine quoted an unidentified law enforcement source as saying he has spoken on the telephone with Keyes.

Various Republic of Texas groups seek independence from the United States, contending that the annexation of Texas in 1845 was illegal.


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