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Residents take to streets to cheer officers who recaptured Ohio cop killer

Associated Press Writer

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio- Cheering residents took to the streets Thursday as police returned an inmate who escaped from jail almost three months ago while held on charges of killing a police officer.

A tip led police to John W. Parsons, who was found sleeping in a storage shack where he apparently had been living for a while. Parsons, in good health, was arrested without incident.

The shack, in a wooded area near a lumberyard, was less than two miles from the downtown county jail he escaped from July 29.

Steve Thornton, co-owner of Eastern Avenue Lumber, said he called police Thursday after checking on the shack and seeing freshly opened cans of food. Thornton said his brother had heard about the shack the day before from a hunter.

Police, without giving details, said it was clear Parsons had a lot of help over the past few weeks. Ross County Sheriff Ron Nichols said the investigation continues into those links.

"He had to stay around with people that was going to help him," Nichols said.

Nichols said Parsons had made himself comfortable in the shack and appeared ready to stay for some time.

A caravan of police officers from several departments brought Parsons back Thursday afternoon to the Ross County jail as people poured out of businesses cheering, applauding and waving.

Parsons was taken later to the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, about 20 miles south of Columbus.

He is charged with killing Chillicothe officer Larry Cox, 44, in April 2005.

Off-duty and unarmed, Cox had joined a police chase of a bank robbery suspect in his leafy neighborhood when he was shot in the neck. He died a few houses away from the home of his parents, whom he had just visited.

Parsons, 35, had fled from a rooftop recreation area by crawling through two rolls of razor-sharp concertina wire, shimmying up a chain link fence and slipping through a gap between the top of the fence and the roof.

A report on the escape determined that no guards were watching the recreation area when Parson slipped away in the middle of the day.

Last month, Parsons was added to the FBI's Most Wanted Fugitives list, and $125,000 in reward money had been offered for information leading to his capture.

Cox's mother was elated by news of Parsons' capture. "I'm just praising God," Joy Cox said.

Parsons' attorney David Stebbins said he knew only the publicly reported details of Parsons' capture. He said a judge still has to set a new date and location for Parsons' trial.

Stebbins had no information on possible charges related to the escape and said he planned to meet with Parsons soon.

Documents filed with search warrants issued after Parsons' escape say he called his mother from jail and told her to prepare for his arrival. She was indicted last month on two counts of obstruction of justice related to his disappearance and pleaded not guilty.

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