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Comanche Co. Sheriff Speaks on Kemp's Surrender

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COMANCHE CO., Okla_ After eluding the law for 14 years, David Lee Kemp, the man charged with the murders of his ex-wife and her boyfriend in 1998 has surrendered and is back behind bars.

Posters were posted across the country, even landing Kemp on America's Most Wanted list.

A truck driver said Kemp knocked on his window and asked him to call law officials to a rest area on I-44, near the Sterling-Fletcher exit. When they arrived, Kemp told them who he was. He was one of nine inmates who made their escape all those years ago but the only one to get away for so long until last night.

Hundreds of inmates have come and gone from the jail since the day Kemp made a run for freedom. The day he escaped along with eight others, Comanche County Sheriff Kenny Stradley said time almost seemed to stand still, as several agencies dropped everything in the search for the accused murderer.

He was an accused murder who managed to slip away.

"Well it was probably the worst day of my life, being here at the Sheriff's Department and being Sheriff," Stradley said.

Comanche County Sheriff Kenny Stradley said though Kemp was able to make his escape along with several others, he wasn't the mastermind behind it. Instead, the idea belonged to another inmate who learned he was headed to prison.

"One of the trustees was told he was going to pull the chain, that mean you're going to prison the next day," Stradley said.

Stradley said the inmate was too afraid to go and decided to make a desperate escape. He said the kitchen is where to escape attempt began.

"The guy got the fork, and knew he was going to prison," Stradley said. "He didn't want to go. He went back, caught the correctional officer and stuck it to his stomach. He said, ‘Give me the keys', went around and started unlocking gates."

One of those gates belonged to fellow inmate David Lee Kemp. Since David Kemp escaped in 1999, Comanche County Detention Center has undergone a complete overhaul. The storage room was once used to house jail cells. Sheriff Stradley said that's where David Kemp once slept.

Stradley said Kemp's taste of freedom was bitter sweet.

"It's miserable," Stradley said. "It's a miserable life, looking over your shoulder, worrying about the knock on the door, always looking for an exit to get out of a place just incase."

As the jail changed over time, Stradley realized, so did Kemp. He is now heavier with no hair and is now back in Comanche County's custody.

"This has weighed on my mind for 14 years," Stradley said. "When I recognized him, it was like winning the lottery."

Stradley said Kemp's surrender puts an end to his run and to an open chapter he'll be glad to see complete.

"Everyday, I looked at that picture, and I would think, ‘Where was he? ‘Did he do something to himself? Was he in Canada?'"

Though Kemp is back in custody, there are still several unanswered questions: where has he been all these years, and what has he been doing?

Those are all questions Stradley said Kemp has yet to answer. He only said running was taking a toll on his health.

Kemp is expected to be arraigned next week.

 

 

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