Armed and dangerous fugitive Brian Keith Freeman wanted for murder of Arkansas fiancée
05/25/2018 12:47 pm PDT
In Arkansas, a beautiful mother is murdered. Then her alleged killer goes on the run. The manhunt is on. The U.S. Marshals Service vows to capture him dead or alive.
Lori Hannah, 35, worked from home in Ward, Arkansas as a medical biller, the perfect job for the single mother raising a young daughter.
The two were inseparable, but the mother daughter duo becomes a trio when Lori meets and falls in love with Brian Keith Freeman.
"I really liked him," said Lori's daughter Selena Harry. "He treated me like I was his own daughter."
Freeman quickly becomes one of the family.
"He had been over at the house several times," said Lori's mother Judy West. "We had been out to dinner several times. We had Christmas together, we had birthdays together."
"I worked with him for about three or four months doing handy work," said Lori's mother Randy West. "He was easy to talk with. He had a funny side. He just seemed like a good kid."
About a year and a half into dating, Freeman proposed to Lori. But over the next several months, the once-shiny relationship starts to tarnish.
"He was a little controlling," said Selena. "He drank sometimes."
Lori eventually calls off the engagement.
"There was stuff that she had found out he was doing," said Lori's sister Amber McMunn. "And my sister was like 'This is not for me. This is not who I want to be with,' and then they were trying to work it out, and they kept going back and forth, then finally she had kicked him out and told him that she was done."
But Freeman refuses to let go.
"He would call me just kind of desperate, 'What can I do? Tell me what to do to fix this?' Until finally I just was tired of it, and I was like 'There's not anything that you're gonna do,'" said Amber.
It's late March 2017 when Amber gets a bizarre message on social media from Freeman's sister.
"She said 'When's the last time you talked to your sister?' And I said 'It's been a couple of days, why? What's up?'" said Amber. "And she said 'We've gotten some messages, some disturbing messages.' I said 'What do you mean disturbing messages? Like from my sister disturbing messages?' And she was like 'No, not from Lori, about Lori,' and I said 'OK, like disturbing enough I need to go check on her?' And she said 'Disturbing enough that my mom has called a welfare check in.' I said OK, left and went straight to her house."
When Amber arrives at Lori's house, cops are already there.
"They told me that Keith, I call him Keith, had messaged his mother and told his mother that he had killed Lori the night before," said Amber. "I was just thinking 'This can't be true, like, this is not happening.'"
But it is. Cops climb through a window and make a gruesome discovery. Lori Hannah was found lying in her bed, murdered.
So where is Brian Keith Freeman?
Crime Watch Daily teams up with the U.S. Marshals Service, hoping to get an armed and very dangerous suspect off the streets.
Single mother Lori Hannah was murdered. Her ex-fiancé Brian Keith Freeman allegedly confessed to killing her. He is now a fugitive wanted for capital murder.
While U.S. Marshals conduct an all-out manhunt for Freeman. Investigators are keeping many details about the murder close to the vest. Lori's family doesn't even know how she was killed.
"All we know is that she didn't suffer," said Lori's mother Judy.
"Our number one goal is to bring justice to families and victims. We have to be really careful about what we share so that we don't taint a jury pool or do anything that would jeopardize ultimately bringing people that need to be brought to justice to justice," Arkansas Eastern District U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland tells Crime Watch Daily.
But there are some facts they are willing to share. They say Freeman had help that day.
"We do know that there were other parties that participated in assisting him to get to the location and to also leave the location," said Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Kevin Sanders.
But the Marshals believe Freeman kept the killing to himself, and his motive could have been the recent breakup.
Seven days after Freeman goes on the run, a possible break in the case. Freeman's truck was found about 300 miles away near Royse City, Texas.
"His truck was found abandoned in a large open field with the windows rolled down, keys were still in the ignition," said Sanders. "There were miscellaneous items found in the vehicle that I can't discuss, but one of the items that we found was his wallet and his driver's license. There were items found that indicated to us that Brian Freeman had actually left his vehicle and walked towards a highway and picked up a ride with someone, or he had somebody there waiting for him."
Or did he take his own life?
"We had heard through some family members, some friends, that he had indicated that he was going to commit suicide," said Sanders.
"Brian was known for, everyone we have talked to, that he likes to embellish. He likes to fabricate things. Is it a possibility that he is dead? It's always a possibility," said Deputy U.S. Marshal Jeremy Hammons.
It's now been an agonizing year with still no sign of Brian Freeman.
Has Freeman's family been cooperative?
"They were," said Hammons. "They were very forthcoming, very willing to assist. As the investigation continued, they have become, the last time I spoke with some of the family, they said they retained counsel and would no longer be speaking with law enforcement."
Some family members are no longer talking with the authorities, but we wanted to see if Freeman's mother had anything to say.
We wanted to come to you because some people are saying that you know where your son is, that you helped him and that you know his whereabouts. Is that true?
"I do not," said Freeman's mother Alice Reed. "Ma'am, when he drove off this property the day before everything happened, that was the last time any of us saw him. We have not talked to him, we don't know where he is. If you want my honest opinion, I think it's very possible he took his life that day. That's my conviction. I can't fathom that he could be alive and never reached out to us."
The U.S. Marshals believe someone is helping Brian Keith, that he couldn't be on the run this long with no help.
"I don't believe he could be on the run this long either, so that's why I circle back to I believe that he took his life," said Reed.
But investigators have wondered if the whole suicide story isn't just a ruse to throw them off further.
Some say you haven't been cooperative.
"Did I commit a crime? Did I commit a crime?" said Reed.
You're not accused of murdering Lori.
"OK, I did not do anything to harm Lori in any way," said Reed. "I am the one who called and asked for a welfare check."
Do you believe your son killed Lori?
"I don't have the evidence. Do you have the evidence? Who has the evidence? The Marshals feel like that he did," said Reed.
If Brian Keith calls you from Texas, if Brian calls you from Mexico, what would you do?
"I would tell the authorities," said Reed. "If he committed a crime and if he took a life, then he has to pay the penalty for that, ma'am."
No penalties for Brian Keith Freeman yet. But there have been two arrests in the case. Melissa Brock and David Counts have been arrested for providing false statements to authorities. Brock allegedly concealed from U.S. Marshals that "she located blood in her vehicle after Lori Hannah's murder." And Counts allegedly "lied about his contacts with Brian Freeman," stating he did not have contact with Freeman when he actually did.
Both Brock and Counts have pleaded not guilty.
"They lied to the federal government about the information that they had, and what resulted from that, which is someone continuing to be at large that we consider to be the suspect in this case," said U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland.
The U.S. Marshals Service needs the public's help in apprehending their suspect.
"He's got multiple tattoos," said Hammons. "He'll have black star tattoos on his elbows. On his right forearm he's got the name 'Jackson,' and on the back of his left forearm he's got the name 'Kiwi.' He's also got a moon and stars tattooed on his upper arm, it's got the name 'Makayla.' He's also got the name 'Justin' tattooed on his upper arm. He's also got a chain, he's got praying hands, and I believe there's a tattoo on his calf."
"He had a firearm with him. He's to be considered armed and dangerous," said Kevin Sanders.