Chainsaw massacre suspect opposes extradition

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The Independent Online

Lawyers for one of the most audacious fugitives in Britain made a final attempt to halt his extradition to America yesterday, claiming the Texan authorities might break their promise not to execute him.

New DNA evidence has allowed prosecutors to indict Robert Kleasen, 69, with the 1974 murders of Mormon missionaries – charges he evaded for 11 years by vanishing into the obscurity of Barton-on-Humber, Lincolnshire.

The bodies of Mark Fischer, 19, and Gary Darley, 20, were never found but investigators discovered blood and tissue on a saw in the taxidermy shop where Mr Kleasen worked. This led to the killings being called the Texas Chainsaw Massacres after the cult horror movie released the same year.

At Bow Street magistrates' court in London yesterday, Mr Kleasen heard James Lewis, prosecuting for the US government, say that DNA analysis of the suspect's trousers linked him to the crime.

Britain will usually only extradite to countries that use the death penalty if assurances are received that the suspect will not be executed.

However, Professor Thomas Rice, for Mr Kleasen, said Texas had always been "very aggressive about its death penalty". He said: "When he gets back to Texas, with the politics of the death penalty, if the prosecutors decide to go ahead with a death penalty, there really is no way to enforce the promises made here."

A jury has convicted Mr Kleasen of Mr Fischer's murder, but the verdict was overturned on a technicality.

Mr Kleasen had married a Barton woman with whom he had corresponded during an earlier sentence. He passed himself off as a former CIA officer who had shot down 34 planes during the Korean War. He was caught when he was charged with firearms offences.