ROYSE CITY, TEXAS. — The US Marshals called off the search in the small Texas town of Royse City late Thursday afternoon after heavy rainfall made conditions even worse in the 5.7 square mile search area.
Brian Keith Freeman is wanted for capital murder and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution for murdering his ex-fiancee, Lori Hannah inside her Ward, Arkansas home back in March of 2017.
Four days after the murder, authorities found his truck abandoned in a wooded area in Royse City. For the past two-and-a-half years, Marshals have followed up on hundreds of leads, all of them resulting in a dead-end.
But Deputy Jeremy Hammons with the Eastern Arkansas Fugitive Task Force tells KARK on Wednesday that Freeman’s last known phone call to a female friend of his was revealing and very specific.
“He told her he had done a horrible thing and that he was somewhere in Texas and that he had abandoned his truck,” Deputy Hammons says. “He said he had walked away from it and walked into a wooded area and that he intended to kill himself. He then asked this person to say a prayer with him which they did and then he made the comment, ‘I hope God forgives me for this.'”
The search included 20 cadaver dogs from around the nation along with their handlers. Also on hand, a team of anthropologists from the University of North Texas who assisted search teams in identifying any skeletal remains that might be recovered as either human or animal.
Plenty of bones were found over the course of the search, but none of them human.
“Of course it’s disappointing,” Hammons says. “When you are hunting someone, this is part of it. You have to take every step to track this person down. The leads that we’ve got and everything we’ve got right now says that he should be here.”
But after searching nearly 3,700 acres of woods, swamplands, open fields, and streams produced negative results Deputy Hammons brought the search to a halt.
“This just tells me we know where he’s not,” Hammons said. “Royse City has always been a big question mark of whether he did leave these woods and did actually commit suicide like he said he was going to do. I have now answered that question. I know he’s not here (in the woods), so we will regroup.”
Deputy Hammons is refusing to give up the hunt. He did say that he is now confident Freeman did not die in this section of woods. So the next step for him and the rest of the US Marshals is to figure out how Freeman got out of Royse City and where he went.
“I’ve got 13-and-a-half years left until I retire and I fully intend to not have this case on my desk when I do,” Hammons.
So the search for Freeman is far from over.