Federal fugitive discovered in Alton, Mo. after his death
ALTON, Mo. (KY3) - Authorities in Oregon County, Mo., will hold a public auction to sell about 80 guns and the ammo to go with them, after discovering a federal fugitive was living just a few miles from the sheriff’s office.
In fact, Oregon Sheriff Eric King, at the request of a neighbor, checked on Larry Cooper about a month before he died a few months ago. He had no idea he was talking to a federal fugitive who had a houseful of guns.
“It just kind of goes to show, even though this is rural area, small town America, as law enforcement you just never know whose door you’re knocking on, said King. “Being a federal fugitive, that could have been a very interesting situation when I went out to do the well-being check.”
For the past four years, Cooper, 87, lived in a small house, off the beaten path on a dirt road off State Highway AA in Alton, Mo. Nobody seems to knows where he lived the previous 20 years.
King said Cooper told him how much he enjoyed living in Alton, and they discussed everything from politics to weather. Little did Sheriff King know, Cooper had a stash of 60 pistols and 20 rifles on the property.
Becky Granger, Oregon County’s public administrator, was the first person to notice something suspicious about Cooper. After a utility worker found him dead at his home, she was called in to handle his estate. When she was going through the paperwork at his house, she noticed he had used a lot of aliases. She and the sheriff, who with help from the Missouri Highway Patrol, was able to identify Cooper as a federal fugitive who had walked away from a halfway house in 1997. Prior to that, he spent several years in federal prison on weapons charges.
“He pretty much lived under the radar,” said Granger. “He had been wanted a number of years, he didn’t have a checking account, he paid his bills by money order, he didn’t have a checkbook, anything of that nature.”
Granger discovered Cooper had four surviving children in Arkansas, who had him declared dead in 2006 so they could sell real estate that had been in his name. They told her they had not heard from him after escaped from the halfway house in 1997, and did not know if he was alive or dead. Their mother passed away several years ago.
All of the guns found on the property, unless they were discovered to be stolen along with the house and ten acres, and a Jeep Cherokee will be sold at a public auction at 10 a.m. on July 10, at the volunteer fire department in Alton. The adult children will share the proceeds of the auction, which the sheriff said easily could net $40,000 just for the guns. With the recent shortage of ammunition, he said there’s no telling how much it will bring.
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