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Taste for Topless Topples Michigan Fugitive

Fugitive militia member Paul Darland was apprehended after being recognized by a stripper in a Fort Wayne, Ind. topless nightclub.

For four years, one of Michigan's "Ten Most Wanted" eluded authorities seeking to apprehend him for the murder of a fellow militiaman. But in the end, Paul Darland's well-known taste in entertainment did him in.

He faces extradition to Michigan after a stripper with whom he was comparing tattoos recognized him from an FBI poster that was placed in Fort Wayne, Ind., adult nightclubs.

Darland, a one-time bodyguard for militia figure Mark Koernke, had returned to his hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, after allegedly shooting Michael Gleason in the back of the head. At the time of the shooting, in October 1994, both Darland and Gleason were hiding out at the southeastern Michigan farm of another militia member, John Stephenson, after failing to appear in court on felony weapons charges.

According to police, Stephenson and Darland began to suspect Gleason was spying on them for Koernke, with whom they'd recently had a falling-out. As a ruse, they allegedly enlisted Gleason's help in carving out a crude final resting-place for Koernke. Gleason met his end while digging what turned out to be his own grave.

Stephenson was sentenced in 1998 to a total of five to seven years after being convicted on charges of accessory after the fact to murder and felony firearms possession. Darland, 28, faces charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and firearms possession in Michigan, along with a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Darland, who was living in Fort Wayne under an assumed name, has already been convicted in Indiana of false informing, a misdemeanor. He produced false identifications when police picked him up at the Fort Wayne nightclub and was arrested when they later recognized the sleight of hand.

The police apparently weren't the only ones Darland fooled. His wife and father-in-law, both government employees, said they were totally unaware of Darland's past and his true identity.