Stephen Michael Paris, before and after.
Stephen Michael Paris, before and after.

Mum’s obit leads police to son

PERSISTENCE just paid off for detectives digging for clues on a case that had long ago gone cold.

They had been searching for Stephen Michael Paris, a man who disappeared without a trace in 1981 following a daring escape from a prison in Oklahoma's Muskogee County.

Paris had served 19 months of a nine-year sentence at the facility he shared with almost 1200 other men. He was a drug dealer who had been busted for possession and distribution.

For decades he had been a fixture on the Oklahoma Department of Corrections' "Most Wanted" list alongside dozens of the state's worst criminals.

That all changed this week, 37 years after the 58-year-old broke out of the Jess Dunn Correction Centre, when his mother's death notice led police right to him.

According to the Associated Press, investigators were tipped off to his whereabouts when Paris' mother's obituary was published online and included a detail both she and her fugitive son had overlooked.

The US Marshals Service said the obituary referred to the deceased woman's son as Steve Chavez, the alias Paris had been using when living and working in the Houston area.

He was arrested without incident on Thursday local time and fingerprints confirmed his identity.

Stephen Paris on the ‘Most Wanted’ list for decades.
Stephen Paris on the ‘Most Wanted’ list for decades.

'WANTED FOR ESCAPE FROM DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS'

Paris was 22 when he escaped from the prison less than two years into a lengthy sentence for dealing drugs.

A young Paris with a thick moustache, full head of brown hair and brown eyes can be seen in a mugshot for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. The original photograph was dated August 6, 1980.

Now a new picture shared by the US Marshals Service on Thursday shows Paris with a rounder face, a grey beard and grey, receding hair. Plastered over his face, the service wrote the word "Captured" in thick, red letters.

Online, buried in a database of pages and pages of escaped former inmates is a record dedicated to Paris. It offers simple details including date of birth, height, weight, hair and eye colour and a request for anyone with information to contact the inspector general of the state's fugitive apprehension unit.

The "Most Wanted" list offers a stern warning to readers.

"CAUTION: We need your help in finding these people but, the people on these pages are wanted for serious and often violent crimes," it reads.

"If you believe that you know the location of one of these fugitives DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TAKE ANY ACTION ON YOUR OWN! Immediately call the Oklahoma Department of Corrections Fugitive Warrants Division."

It's believed Paris was arrested at his workplace. On social media, users suggested he had moved on with his life and the resources used to track him down could have been applied elsewhere.

"Rehabilitated, working and never been arrested again," one person wrote. "How 'bout spending that money going after murderers and child predators."

Another wondered why there was such a strong focus on bringing him back to prison.

"Drug possession? Did he kill anyone? If he hasn't got into any trouble since his escape, then let him go."

Stephen Michael Paris after his capture in Houston. Picture: Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Stephen Michael Paris after his capture in Houston. Picture: Oklahoma Department of Corrections

'SHE IS SURVIVED BY HER HUSBAND AND SON'

His mother died on Easter Sunday. Her obituary is short and simple but in the second paragraph includes a clue investigators had been searching for.

"Joann W. Rahimi was born on August 16, 1938 in Wichita, Kansas and passed away peacefully," it begins.

"She was a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, a grandmother, and a friend.

"She is survived by her husband of 41 years, Homayoun Rahimi, her son Steve Chavez, her sister Janie Ward, her brother Chris and his wife Candace Ward.

"Joann loved her family so much - she always loved having family gatherings, parties for every occasion. She had a love for travel and had a very creative side, but mostly she loved her husband and all 'HER' kids."

For all the years her son had been on the run, there is very little detail available about how he managed to escape from the minimum security prison and what he did with his life thereafter.



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