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America's Most Wanted arrest shocks neighbors

He was a high risk criminal, featured on America's Most Wanted, and it turns out he was hiding here in East Texas.  

Duane Beard Jr. is accused of shooting 2 women in Kansas City. One of them died. That crime happened over 3 years ago, and ever since, Beard had escaped capture until now. He was found hiding out at one of his cousins' home in Big Sandy.

As KLTV 7's Courtney Lane explains, neighbors had no idea a criminal was sleeping next door.

America's Most Wanted called it a deadly debt. Authorities say Beard loaned two female friends money, but when they were late repaying him, he showed up and shot them in their Kansas City apartment. Now more than 3 years later, Upshur County gets a tip that leads them here. But Big Sandy Police say as authorities swarmed in, Beard tried to hide in the attic.

"As soon as the officers started pulling in he put the chair under the little trap door in the ceiling, and as she met the officers at the door he went bailing up into the ceiling," said Sgt. Scott Randell with Big Sandy Police.

Sherry Ross watched from across the street.

"I thought something bad had happened."

Ross says she met Beard on several occasions and never suspected anything.

"[He was] just real nice, real respectful," said Ross.

Beard blended in so well, one neighbor told KLTV 7 News that he'd even taken him to church with him a few times. They all say they'd never suspect he'd be capable of murder.

"Oh, I did not know that and I thought he was a good kid. Just the two times I met him he was a good kid. He would yes ma'am, no ma'am, you know. My kids even went and played," said Ross.

But, Beard was listed as a dangerous predator on America's Most Wanted. It's a scary thought for Ross and her young children.

"I go on the computer and find registered sex offenders and make sure my kids stay out of those areas and then something like this, you can't see it coming," said Ross.

Big Sandy Police say Beard had been here for at least several weeks, maybe more than a month, and was armed with a 9 millimeter.

"We recovered one weapon that has now been sent to the KC police department in reference to find out whether it was the murder weapon," said Sgt. Randell.

Until his extradition to Kansas City, Beard is calling the Upshur County Jail his new home. Big Sandy police says Beard's cousin denies knowing about his criminal past. They're not sure yet if charges will be filed against her.

Courtney Lane, reporting. clane@kltv.com

 

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