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Republic of Texas fugitive arrested

Published Oct. 2, 2005

Republic of Texas fugitive Richard Frank Keyes III was arrested Friday afternoon while walking along a country road, more than four months after he slipped away from an armed standoff in the mountains of west Texas, 500 miles away.

FBI agents picked up Keyes in New Waverly, about 55 miles north of Houston.

"Thank God he's alive," his grandfather, Dr. Richard Keyes, said in Bicknell, Ind. "That's all I care. We'll take all the knocks we have to take."

Keyes was taken to a Houston courthouse, where he was denied bond and placed in a cell on three outstanding charges: engaging in organized criminal activity and two counts of aggravated kidnapping with a deadly weapon.

Federal officials also have charged him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

The charges against Keyes, 22, stemmed from the hostage-taking of a neighborhood couple that began the separatist stalemate on April 27.

Keyes bolted from the separatist group's mountain hideout on May 3, the day Richard McLaren and five followers surrendered to Texas troopers.

Another separatist, Mike Matson, fled with Keyes and was killed in a gun battle with troopers two days later.

Officials hunted for Keyes until May 7, then called off the search. They speculated he was probably dead in the remote, sparsely populated region.

But Keyes resurfaced in a Mother Jones magazine interview this summer. He said New Mexico militia members aided his escape.

"Now I'm in a place that's armed to the teeth," he told the magazine. "If we have to make a stand, we can."

Joe Rowe, who was held hostage with his wife by a group that allegedly included Keyes, said he was glad Keyes had been caught, but added he won't feel safe until the separatists are brought to trial.

"We feel a whole lot better, but it's not over yet," he said.