A man walked into the Billings Police Department last week and confessed to the murder of a county commissioner in Oklahoma nearly 25 years ago.
Clifford William Eagle, 54, is being held at the county jail as a fugitive from justice on a no-bond warrant out of Haskell County, Okla., accusing him of first-degree murder.
Billings Police Lt. Kevin Iffland said it happened as an officer was on his way out of the police station, 220 N. 27th St., at about 10:30 p.m. on April 18.
“He was approached by a couple of people and one of them indicated that he wanted to confess to a homicide that had occurred in Oklahoma,” he said.
The confessor was Eagle, Iffland said, and the officer and detectives interviewed him and contacted authorities in Oklahoma.
He stayed at the police department voluntarily until Haskell County sent over a warrant and officers arrested him. Iffland said he didn’t know what inspired Eagle to confess.
A transient living in Billings since 2008, Eagle recently had a federal conviction for failing to register as a sex offender dismissed after court rulings clarified the law’s effective date.
Eagle, who was convicted in Oklahoma in 2003 of rape involving a child, was released in 2007 after serving a sentence for that crime and was required to register as a sex offender. Eagle spent another three years and eight months in federal custody before the reporting conviction was dismissed.
Steve Babcock, Eagle’s assistant federal defender, said Monday that he had not heard about Eagle’s murder confession until informed by The Gazette.
“That’s a shocker to me,” he said.
According to charging documents out of Haskell County, Eagle is facing a first-degree-murder charge for the shooting death of County Commissioner Leo Boyd Reasonor on June 25, 1987.
Reasonor’s son and son-in-law found him lying in his pickup truck in a field about four miles outside Lequire, Okla., with a fatal bullet wound to the head.
The documents go on to say that, last week, Eagle approached Billings Police Officer Mike Yarina, said he “wanted to get something off his chest” and confessed to the murder.
During the confession, Eagle allegedly told Yarina that he and another man, Vince Allen Johnson, met up with Reasonor, who accused Johnson of stealing from him.
Johnson yelled that Reasonor was going for a gun and he and Eagle began firing their own handguns in his direction, the court documents say.
“After Reasonor was shot, Johnson looked inside Reasonor’s pickup and said he saw a gun inside the truck,” they said.
Eagle told investigators that he had a Ruger .357 handgun and Johnson had a Smith and Wesson .38 handgun. At the time of Reasonor’s death, investigators determined that he had been shot with a .38 caliber slug.
Johnson was executed in 2001 for another Oklahoma killing.
Eagle remains in custody at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility and is awaiting extradition to Oklahoma. He appeared in Justice Court on Friday on the no-bond warrant issued out of Oklahoma the day before.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.