“Luther can breathe again,” Town relaxes as manhunt ends

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LUTHER, Okla. - Halloween downtown figures to be a lot less scary than it was shaping up to be.

That's not a bad thing.

With suspected killer Michael Vance dead, the town of Luther is exhaling.

"I think, there’s a big feeling of relief," said Councilman Andy McDaniels. "This is a community. Everybody here is like family and, so, we all watch out for each other. This has been very, very rough. There’s a lot of healing to do."

For a week, Luther was on edge, after police said Vance murdered his relatives, Ron and Kay Wilkson at their home.

Investigators said Vance had a hit list of other people in the area he wanted to attack next.

"We were scared to death," McDaniels said. "I’ve never seen it like this. Everybody was just kind of being cautious."

On Halloween, things have changed.

A Trunk-or-Treat event in Luther, which the town once considered cancelling, is expected to have a strong turnout knowing Vance is no longer a threat and, as McDaniels put it, "I don't have to bring my pistol."

"I think people will put their guns away and breathe a sigh of relief," he said. "It’s going to be more like Luther should be and the way it always has been."

Across the Lincoln County line in Wellston, those closest to where the crime spree started feel the same relief.

"I slept better," said Steve Pittman. "I feel good that they finally got the man, because he’s not right."

Pittman never knew Vance, but living a couple doors down from where he shot two police officers is reason enough.

"I don’t know if he’s got a grudge against them," he said. "He may want to come camp out in my front yard to get the neighbors. I don’t know."

One door over, Colby McElroy woke up more relaxed.

"I feel like there could have been some kind of danger coming my way," he said. "Knowing that he’s going around and just killing people, it seems like it’s not something you want to mess with."

McElroy held his gun closer this week, with Vance on the run but said, even with his death, it's hard to feel completely at ease.

"I feel a little bit better but, the way the world is going now, you can’t be 100 percent feeling protected," he said. "I can’t say I feel all the way relieved, because you don’t know when it could happen again."


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