Stewart captured, found hidden in oilcan

ROCKFORD, Ill. -- Condemned double murderer Raymond Lee Stewart escaped the courtroom where he was on trial for one of four additional slayings and was found hiding in a 50-gallon oilcan.

Stewart, wounded in the shoulder during his scape, became the fourth prisoner to flee the Public Safety Courtroom complex this year.


As Stewart's defense prepared to present its case Thursday, Stewart, sentenced to death for two slayings, bolted from the courtroom, dodging shots from police.

Chief Deputy Richard Meyers said Stewart, who was being taken into the courtroom, was not in handcuffs because deputies are not allowed to bring handcuffed prisoners into the courtroom. He also said the guards inside the courtroom are not armed.

'Any situation like this is always a risk (of escape) especially when someone has been sentenced to death,' said Meyers.

Jurors were in the jury room and were unaware of the escape.

Winnebago Circuit Court Clerk Ron Kotche said downtown looked like a 'war zone' as police searched for Stewart.

Stewart, 30, 'was really moving' as he dashed from the courthouse toward a pedestrian mall, one shaken witness said.

Police fired two shots inside the courthouse, one on the third floor and one on the first floor. Both bullets hit glass fire doors, with one hitting Stewart in the shoulder.


Stewart is on trial for the slaying of Kevin Kaiser, a Rockford gas station attendant.

He is accused of killing six people in Rockford and Beloit, Wis., during a two-week period in 1981.

Stewart's second murder trial began late last week in Winnebago County Circuit Court for the Jan. 28, 1981, slaying of Kaiser, 18.

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