The federal government swore out federal arrest warrants Friday for two brothers indicted in the Wilmington shootout with police last weekend, allowing FBI agents nationwide to join in the manhunt.
Police think brothers Chevie O'Brien Kehoe, 24, and Cheyne Christopher Kehoe, 20, might still be on the run in a white 1977 Dodge Executive motor home with green trim and Montana license plates.
The motor home is registered to Chevie Kehoe's wife, Karena Gumm. The FBI considers the brothers armed and extremely dangerous. They're believed to be traveling with Ms. Gumm and Cheyne's wife, Tanna Kehoe, and four young children.
Cincinnati FBI spokesman Ed Boldt declined to discuss what specific actions the FBI would
take in the nationwide search for the Kehoes, who have links to white supremacist groups.
The warrants issued Friday simply give the agency the authority to involve as many agents as necessary to catch the men, Mr. Boldt said.
Police said Chevie Kehoe, who has ties to the Aryan Nations white supremacy group, is a suspect in a February 1995 theft of guns from William Mueller, a licensed gun dealer in
Arkansas with suspected ties to militia groups and the white supremacist Christian Identity movement.
The bodies of Mr. Mueller, 53, his wife Nancy, 28, and her daughter Sarah, 8, were found in June 1996, six months after they disappeared.
''He's a suspect, the focus,'' Arkansas state police Lt. Chuck Lambert said of Chevie Kehoe. ''Not in the murder itself ... but the burglary.''
Police also say the first direct link to Chevie Kehoe came six months after the Muellers' bodies were found, when Sean Michael Haines, 19, a self-described Aryan Nations youth leader also from Spokane, was stopped for parking in a handicapped zone in Sioux Falls, S.D.
A check of the 1978 Chevrolet Suburban he was driving yielded two guns, a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle and a Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum revolver, that was stolen from the Muellers' home along with 17 others.
After being charged with two counts of grand theft, Mr. Haines spent 10 days in jail on $50,000 bond, which prosecutors argued for because he had no job and no ties to the area, and was therefore a significant risk to flee.
On Dec. 20, Mr. Haines was released on his own recognizance, with a promise to reappear at trial, which is now set for March 24, Minnehaha County district attorney Dave Nelson said.
The Enquirer has learned through a source close to the South Dakota investigation that Mr. Haines implicated Chevie Kehoe as the source of the stolen guns.
The Kehoe brothers' troubles here started Saturday. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Chevie Kehoe was driving a blue Chevrolet Suburban in Wilmington when a state trooper pulled him over for a registration violation.
Cheyne Kehoe, the passenger in the Suburban, pulled a semi-automatic handgun and shot at the trooper and a Clinton County sheriff's deputy, then ran, investigators said. The officers weren't hurt.
Chevie Kehoe drove off, but a Wilmington police officer caught up with him later. He shot at the officer and ran off, abandoning the Suburban, police said. A passing motorist was shot and wounded slightly during the incident.
Investigators suspect one or both men stole a car in Wilmington and drove back to Frankfort, Ohio, near Chillicothe, where they were staying at a campground.
Chevie Kehoe told the trooper who stopped him initially that he was camping near Chillicothe, but Ross County officials weren't notified until Tuesday that the gunmen might be in their area.
Police also want to question Jacob Myron Settle, 39, a white supremacist friend of Chevie Kehoe who is the registered owner of the Suburban.
Anyone with information about the Kehoes or the case should call (800) 525-5555 or (614) 466-2660, police said.
In a lengthy interview with the Colville Statesman-Examiner several years ago, Chevie Kehoe explained what the Christian Identity movement meant to him.
''As a white person, I'm able to be proud of my ancestry, to celebrate it without being persecuted for it,'' he told the paper. ''Other ethnic groups are allowed to voice their information about what their ancestry represents. But if we do, it makes national news.''
Despite the headlines the Kehoe brothers are making, their hometown of Colville is not a place overflowing with white supremacy groups, said Jan Feiler, who lives about 30 miles outside of Colville and doesn't know the Kehoes.
The strongly Republican town of 9,000 got a Wal-Mart a couple years back, she said. There are many churches there, but most are Baptist, Methodist or other mainstream religions, not Christian Identity or the like, she said.
''It's a quiet little town, and everybody gets along with everybody,'' Ms. Feiler said. ''I think they would be the exception.''
BROTHERS INDICTED, SOUGHT IN SHOOTOUTS Feb. 21 1997
TWO GUNMEN TRACKED TO CAMPGROUND Feb. 20 1997
INVESTIGATORS, SUPREMACISTS APPEAL TO PUBLIC Feb. 19, 1997
FBI JOINS HUNT FOR GUNMEN Feb. 18, 1997
SHOOTOUT MAY BE LINKED TO KILLINGS Feb. 17, 1997