Metro-East News

6/20/2006: Family says suspect wants to surrender, but police continue search

Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the Belleville News-Democrat on June 20, 2006

Police waited to see Monday afternoon to see whether the teenager charged with a Belleville triple murder would surrender to police.

After a three-day manhunt, Belleville Police Chief Dave Ruebhausen said 17-year-old Darrell M. Lane’s family members called and told him Lane was ready to surrender.

“That’s what we had been told, but he isn’t here,” Ruebhausen said. “We aren’t just waiting for him to show up, though. He’s a fugitive. We are looking for him.”

Calls to Lane’s sisters were not returned.

On Friday, police charged Lane with three counts of first-degree murder for the March 2, 2005, stabbing deaths of Doris Fischer, 79, Dorothy Bone, 82, and their hairdresser Michael Cooney, 63, at Cooney’s home-based hair salon 7813 W. Main St.

Lane may not have surrendered, but he’s shopping for an Illinois lawyer to defend him against the triple murder charges.

Belleville attorney Phillip Rice confirmed that he had been contacted about representing Lane, but had not been hired.

Samuel L. Johnson was convicted last year of attempted burglary for kicking in Cooney’s back door and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Former police chief Terry Delaney has called Johnson the “prime suspect” in the murders.

In October, two pieces of physical evidence could not be linked to Samuel Johnson — an unidentified fingerprint in Cooney’s blood and a bloodstain containing a mixture of Cooney’s DNA and an unidentified person’s DNA.

News reports stated that a thumbprint found in blood inside Cooney’s Nissan Pathfinder belonged to a 16-year-old boy who police questioned for hours the day after the murders. Ruebhausen debunked that claim earlier, but declined to elaborate on Friday.

Lane lives only blocks from where Cooney’s Pathfinder was originally abandoned at Page Boulevard and North Sarah Street in north St. Louis.

The Nissan was later stolen and police discovered it the day after the murders parked in the 900 block of Maple in St. Louis near Wellston.

Lane did provide DNA and fingerprints to police, said his sister Staci Lane.

Under Illinois law, Lane cannot face the death penalty if he is convicted, because he was only 16 at the time of the killings.

When Lane is in custody, he will be housed at the St. Clair County Jail, not the Juvenile Justice Center, said Superintendent T.J. Collins.