Murder Fugitive Michael Vance Dead after Butler Shootout

For nearly a week after Michael Vance shot two Wellston police officers, murdered two relatives, and committed one car jacking and attempted another, law enforcement agencies across Oklahoma conducted an extensive manhunt for the murder suspect, activating the state's first "Blue Alert" to help apprehend suspects in police shootings.

Last night, that manhunt came to an end, after a sighting of Vance near Hammon, Oklahoma, led to another law officer's shooting and a final shootout near Butler. That incident, which Oklahoma Highway Patrol Chief Ricky Adams calls "pretty dramatic," ended with the death of fugitive Michael Vance.

Michael D. Vance, Jr., 38, of Chandler, was recently released from jail after being arrested on a sexual assault complaint involving a 15-year-old girl. The girl told a family member that she had been asleep when Vance came in and began rubbing her back before he put his hand down her pants and began kissing her. The family member reported the alleged assault to police, and Vance was arrested. However, he swore that he was "set up."

On Sunday, October 23, police in Wellston responded to a call about shots fired. When they arrived at the scene, they reportedly discovered a group of people displaying guns in the back of a truck. When the three Wellston officers approached, Vance began shooting, injuring two officers and sustaining a gunshot wound himself before stealing a police pickup and fleeing the scene. Both officers are expected to make full recovery.

From there, Vance drove in the stolen vehicle to a trailer park, where he carjacked another vehicle and shot a trailer before driving to the Luther home of his relatives Ronald Wilkson, 55, and his wife Valerie Wilkson, 54. There, he killed the couple, apparently attempting to sever Ronald's head and Valerie's arm. He stole the couple's vehicle and fled again.

A sister of Vance told police she believed her brother had a "hit list" of people that he felt wronged him, and that several of those, including the Wilksons, may have been expected to testify in the molestation case against him. A former boss who fired Vance was also believed to be on the list.

At approximately 2:30 Monday morning, police received a report that Vance shot a person in Sayre while attempting to steal his RV. However, he was unable to gain access to the vehicle and again fled. The vehicle's owner is expected to recover from his injury.

After Monday morning, the trail went cold until yesterday, when a farmer reportedly saw Vance camping near the Wachita River in Hammon. Law enforcement descended on the area, but Vance had run again.

At approximately 9:30 p.m., Dewey County Sheriff Clay Sander observed a vehicle dragging a chain in Leedey, Oklahoma. Sander did not know that the vehicle, which was not the one stolen from Vance's relatives, had the fugitive inside. When the sheriff stopped the vehicle, Vance got out and began firing, striking Sander in the arm and shoulder. He is reportedly in the hospital recovering from his injuries.

After the sheriff's shooting, a chase ensued, continuing for about 20-25 minutes before coming to an end about a mile west of Butler. During an exchange of gunfire, Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers shot and killed the fugitive.

For many Oklahomans, the death of a murder suspect described as having "nothing to lose" comes as a relief.

Image credit: Lincoln County Sheriff's Office