Man in custody in fatal Pike County fire

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 | 10:24 a.m. CDT

BOWLING GREEN — A Missouri man on the run after a fire killed a housemate was "yards away" from crossing into Mexico when border patrol agents captured him, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official said Monday.

The fire on Thursday in the northeast Missouri town of Gazette killed 56-year-old Larry Moore. Authorities say the fire began in the room where Moore's charred body was found. Arson is suspected.

Stephen Palmer, 33, had been living with Moore for about six weeks, Pike County Sheriff Stephen Korte said. He was sought for questioning soon after the fire but fled the area.

An autopsy showed Moore died before the fire was set. He was identified by medical records.

The Hannibal Courier-Post reported that Palmer is a registered sex offender who changed his address to Moore's on Feb. 6. He previously lived in nearby Middleton. Palmer was charged with second-degree statutory sodomy in 1996 in Montgomery County.

Late Saturday, Palmer was stopped at the remote Presidio, Texas, port as officers and border patrol agents were performing inspections of people leaving the U.S., said John Prewit, director of the port.


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