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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 03:50 GMT
US extradition bid for 'Odd Bob'
Kleasen at his trial
Kleasen (seated) pictured at his trial with the band saw
Bob Kleasen was convicted of the murder of two Mormon missionaries in Texas in 1974 but freed on a technicality and later came to England. In February Kleasen, now 69, will appear in court in London to face extradition proceedings from Texas, which wants to retry him. BBC News Online's Chris Summers tells the extraordinary story of "Odd Bob".

Bob Kleasen told one tall tale too many and it found him out.

Kleasen timetable
28 October 1974: Mormon missionaries Gary Darley and Mark Fischer go missing in Austin, Texas
1975: Kleasen is convicted of murder and sentenced to death
1977: Kleasen is freed on a technicality, but is soon jailed for firearms offences
1990: After serving his sentence he moves to England
June 2000: Kleasen is jailed for three years for firearms offences
Nov 2001: Texas seeks to extradite him
The American, known to many as "Odd Bob", would regale members of his gun club near Barton-upon-Humber, Lincolnshire, with tales of how he had won the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Korean War.

He claimed to have been a pilot and to have shot down 34 Chinese MIG jets.

Gunsmith Tony Fox said: "A lot of his temperament was put down to him being American."

But after a confrontation in 1999 Mr Fox followed up his suspicions.

He checked and discovered that whatever bauble Kleasen had worn when he married his fourth wife in Barton in 1991, it was not the Congressional Medal of Honor, America's highest military accolade.

Mr Fox tipped off the police and his local MP, Shona McIsaac, who told BBC News Online: "Many of my constituents were very worried and frightened about his history and his behaviour."

Online inquiries

The fourth Mrs Kleasen, Marie Longley, was already seeking to escape her husband's possessiveness and temper.

Her friend, Liz Butterfield, asked her son Chris, an internet buff, to check Kleasen out on the web.

What he discovered was shocking and terrifying.

Mr and Mrs Kleasen Mk IV
Bob Kleasen pictured with his fourth wife, Marie Longley
Kleasen had originally struck up a pen pal relationship with Ms Longley in the late 1980s and explained his prison address by saying he was a college professor who taught inmates.

Chris Butterfield found out he had actually spent more than a decade in jail for assault and firearms offences.

Most alarming of all, he had been convicted in 1975 of the gruesome murder of two Mormon missionaries in Texas.

He had been sentenced to death but was later freed on a technicality.

The bodies of Gary Darley, 20, and Mark Fischer, 19, who had vanished after agreeing to have supper with Kleasen, have never been found.


At his trial prosecutors said Kleasen, a fanatical deer hunter and poacher, had dismembered them using a band saw in a friend's taxidermy shop to which he had access.

Human remains belonging to Mr Darley and Mr Fischer were found on the saw.

When he came to England Kleasen was given a shotgun licence by Humberside Police, who also allowed him to become a registered firearms dealer and amass an arsenal of weapons.

He even gave occasional advice to the force about guns.

After the Dunblane massacre firearms legislation had been tightened considerably.

But it took the Kleasen case to highlight a loophole by which foreigners could get guns after lying about their criminal convictions.

Inspector Paul Griffiths, of Humberside Police, told BBC News Online: "If a foreigner said on his form that he had no convictions, it was pretty much taken as read."

Forgiven

Kleasen has long ago been forgiven by the parents of Mr Darley and Mr Fischer, who share a deep Mormon faith.

But the authorities in Texas now have DNA evidence which was not available at the first trial.

They have promised to waive the death penalty at a second trial but Kleasen's British lawyer, James Scobie, said guarantees were not legally binding and his client feared Texas would "dishonour those assurances".

Claire Dawson-Brown, from the Travis County District Attorney's Office in Texas, said the authorities often waived the death penalty to get suspects extradited from Mexico and had never gone back on such a promise.


Many of my constituents were very worried and frightened about his history and his behaviour.

Shona McIsaac MP
She said many of the exhibits at the first trial - such as the band saw - had been preserved.

She told BBC News Online they had been in contact with the Darley and Fischer families and said: "We would never do anything like this without talking to the victims' families.

"You have to be aware of their feelings and they have been very supportive."

'Faith shaken'

Mr Fischer's sister, Melissa Pietrzak, told BBC News Online: "When it first happened it shook faith in God.

"But I met my husband and converted to Catholicism and we are now very strong religiously."

She said she was not a "vengeful" person but believed Kleasen to be very dangerous and would happily testify if it meant keeping him behind bars.

Shona McIsaac MP
Shona McIsaac MP: Many constituents "frightened"
Ms Longley divorced Kleasen when she discovered his background.

He was later convicted of firearms offences and jailed for three years.

But while on bail he married again, this time to a German woman, and police suspect he was hoping to use her to secure a German passport and avoid deportation to the US.

'Still afraid'

She too has divorced him and he is waiting to find out if he will have to go back to face a second trial for the Texas missionary murders.

Mrs Butterfield said Marie, 70, still lived in fear of Kleasen and would not rest easy until he had been extradited back to the US.

She told BBC News Online: "She still thinks he will either be released and will come after her, or that he will put somebody up to kill her."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Ken Driggs
"I believe Kleasen is mentally ill and his delusions may be a function of his illness"
Ken Driggs, lawyer and author of Evil Among Us
"The mothers of both victims visited Kleasen in jail but he did not confess to either of them"
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