Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay Sheriff Not at Fault in Suicide Prosecutor Closes Case in 2 Hunters' Slayings

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay Sheriff Not at Fault in Suicide Prosecutor Closes Case in 2 Hunters' Slayings

Article excerpt

Jimmie Ray Beagle stalked two hunters in November 1993, talked

with them, then shot them and took their guns and wallets,

according to tapes released by prosecutors yesterday.

Even though Beagle said he was scared about the murders, he

later returned to the scene to watch deputies gather evidence,

taped negotiations between Beagle and police during a nine-hour

standoff revealed.

The 40-year-old security officer delivered most of the

information while barricaded in the bathroom at the sheriff's

Middleburg station, where he asked God to to forgive him before

shooting himself in the chest with a .357 handgun.

Prosecutors said yesterday that evidence shows that Beagle was

the man who killed Don Hill, 63, in Osceola Forest, and Gregory

Allen Wood, 35, in Camp Blanding.

Beagle was the only suspect who knew both the victim's belts

had been cut in the back; he could identify who bought the

victims' guns; and he described the shot patterns in the tree

when asked how close he was to the victim.

The murder investigation followed 30 suspects across 11 states

and earned national attention on Cold Case, a CBS series on

unsolved murders.

Authorities officially closed the case with a news conference

yesterday in which State Attorney Harry Shorstein announced that

Clay deputies weren't at fault for Beagle's suicide but in fact

showed "unbelievable restraint" in handling the situation.

Sheriff Scott Lancaster said he regretted that Beagle wasn't

searched when he entered the station for his interview.

Lancaster has since posted a sign notifying suspects that they

may be searched.

Beagle didn't become a suspect until August, when the handgun

he stole from Wood turned up in a pawn shop in Palatka. The gun

had been sold 14 times. …

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