Friday, March 19, 2004

McCoy may be in Ohio soon

Family supportive of highway shootings suspect

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COLUMBUS - The sister of suspected highway shooter Charles McCoy Jr. on Thursday thanked Conrad Malsom, the Las Vegas man who spotted her brother Wednesday in the Stardust casino and called police.

"You are a friend to me for the rest of my life," Amy Walton said in a news conference called by her brother's lawyer. "You, along with God, answered my prayers because I was imagining the worst."

McCoy, 28, of Columbus, remains jailed in Las Vegas on an Ohio charge in the interstate highway shootings that gripped the region in fear for months. He will have a hearing this morning on that felonious assault charge and could be returned to Columbus as early as tonight. He likely will face additional charges related to the 24 shootings - one of which killed Gail Knisley, 62, of Washington Court House, on Nov. 25.

Malsom, 60, recounted to reporters Wednesday how he recognized McCoy as he was reading a newspaper story about himself, but Malsom declined requests for interviews Thursday. "I am reclaiming my life now," he said. "I think we are all glad the suspect has been apprehended."

Since McCoy's arrest, his lawyer, Andrew Haney of Columbus, and his family have spoken to him in brief telephone conversations.

"After having the chance to speak with Charles they remain very devout in their affection and support of Charles," Haney said.

Walton showed reporters pictures of her brother with his nieces during birthdays and Christmas.

"This last several days has been very difficult on this entire community and this family has had a difficult time," Haney said Thursday in a press conference with Walton and her husband, Tye.

Walton also thanked police in Nevada for acting professionally. "This came to a peaceful resolution to getting Charlie back here."

The last several days have been a "living nightmare,'' she said.

McCoy is expected to waive extradition this morning in Las Vegas, clearing the way for his immediate return to Franklin County, where he will be jailed until a grand jury hearing in about 10 days, Haney said.

Haney would not discuss McCoy's mental state or confirm that he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Haney also declined to discuss the conversations or his client's mood during four phone calls he has had with McCoy, or to say when he was hired to represent McCoy.

McCoy has been charged in the Dec. 15 shooting at an occupied house in Columbus. No one was hurt.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien declined Thursday to speculate about additional charges McCoy may face.

Authorities also said Thursday it remains unclear if Malsom or a relative of McCoy's who reportedly initially tipped police to him will get the $60,000 reward offered in the case.

On March 11, McCoy's aunt contacted police about her nephew. The next day, McCoy's father, Charles McCoy Sr., gave authorities four guns he had taken from his son more than a month earlier, authorities said. By Monday, authorities had named him as their suspect.

Tests indicated that one of those guns - a 9 mm Beretta - was the weapon used in at least nine of the shootings, including the one that killed Knisley, authorities said.

The person who gets the money won't be known until McCoy Jr. is indicted, said Kevin Miles, director of Central Ohio Crime Stoppers, which will help determine its distribution. He said there are other candidates for the reward, but he would not elaborate.

O'Brien said Malsom would be a candidate, along with "certain members" of McCoy's family, whom he would not identify.

According to the task force investigating the shootings, the reward would go to "anyone that provides information that leads to the arrest and indictment of the person ... responsible for the shooting death of Mrs. Gail Knisley."

The task force will determine who's eligible, and the Crime Stoppers board will decide how to divvy it up. Miles said he'll meet with the task force and O'Brien in the next few days.

Miles said he hoped to give out the reward, the largest ever for Central Ohio Crime Stoppers, within two months.

The Associated Press contributed. E-mail

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