A California man wanted in the abduction of a Vienna couple and the theft of their car last week has been arrested in Kansas after a dramatic standoff with police that forced closure of a major interstate highway for more than five hours.
The suspect, Paul Dana O'Haire, 29, was stopped at a police roadblock late Friday night on Interstate 70 near the prairie town of Colby in northwest Kansas after a highway patrolman discovered through a computer check that the car O'Haire was driving was stolen last Wednesday during a kidnaping of Todd and Margaret Palmquist of Vienna.
Kansas authorities said that at first O'Haire refused to get out of the car and warned officers not to come close because he was armed, but after about an hour he allowed Sheriff Lloyd G. Lunesway to enter the auto.
"We talked about everything" during the next four hours, Lunesway, 61, told a reporter in a telephone interview yesterday. "About his family and his past and just about anything I could think of. He said he was a chemist and was working too hard and that's how he ended up here." Lunesway said he was frightened as the two talked because the suspect kept a revolver pointed at him throughout.
Lunesway said that his deputies told him "I was crazy to try to talk [O'Haire] into surrendering -- which I guess I was."
Finally, O'Haire was persuaded to get into Lunesway's patrol car and "talks things over" in the sheriff's office. The sheriff said he agreed to O'Haire's demand that he be allowed to keep his gun and the two men got into the police car while a half-dozen police with handguns and rifles drawn watched and then followed them.
After three more hours of negotiation in the office, Lunesway said Colby Police Chief Gaylon Wilkerson finally diverted O'Haire's attention and another officer lunged for the gun, knocking O'Haire over and giving other officers a chance to subdue him.
"We were just lucky, I guess," Lunesway said. "Not a shot was fired and nobody was hurt."
O'Haire's arrest ended a week-long odyssey across the country and halfway back that began in San Francisco. According to law-enforcement officials, O'Haire left California for the East Coast last Monday, sharing the driving and expenses with a Massachusetts man in that man's van. On Wednesday afternoon, when the pair reached the Washington area, the owner announced he was stopping to visit friends and told O'Haire to get out of the car.
O'Haire allegedly pulled out a .38-caliber revolver and ordered the owner to "start driving," according to police officials. About 90 minutes later, the driver escaped on foot, taking the keys with him. O'Haire then allegedly approached the Palmquists at a Fairfax shopping center parking lot and forced them at gunpoint to drive him out of town.
After about two hours of driving, the suspect allegedly bound and gagged the couple in a motel room in Frederick and fled in their yellow Toyota.
The Palmquists freed themselves a short time later and notified police. Fairfax authorities issued a nationwide lookout for O'Haire and the car.
Palmquist said yesterday that he was happy to find out that his car had been found and in good shape. He also learned to his dismay that he must pay the cost of having the Toyota returned here.