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Suspect in Doctors’ Deaths Had Eluded Police Before

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

He was known to North Carolina authorities as “Weasel” for a series of escapes from police over the course of a lifetime in trouble.

So it didn’t surprise them that the man accused of killing two doctors execution-style on Ortega Highway was a fugitive when he landed in Orange County last year.

At the time of the November 1999 slayings, Dennis Earl Godley, 30, was on the run from detectives in North Carolina and Virginia on warrants for robbery and an assault on a sheriff’s deputy.

During a yearlong odyssey, Godley was arrested and placed in a Virginia patrol car. Even with his hands cuffed, he managed to escape, officials said.

Detectives raided a mobile home park in North Carolina where Godley was hiding, but he allegedly kicked one officer and escaped.

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“He had a knack of not getting caught,” said Pitt County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Smith, who spent a year hunting Godley.

This week, prosecutors charged Godley and a former girlfriend with two counts of murder in connection with the killing of Dr. Kenneth C. Stahl and Carolyn Oppy-Stahl.

Investigators believe Stahl paid Godley and Adriana Vasco about $30,000 to kill his wife. But the shooter--who investigators believe was Godley--turned the gun on Stahl as well.

Investigators say that when Godley landed in Anaheim last year, he lived near Vasco under the alias of Tony Satton.

Detectives investigating the killings learned of “Satton” from associates of Vasco and found a picture of the suspect, reputedly from North Carolina. Detectives faxed the photograph to North Carolina, and it eventually landed on Smith’s desk.

Smith and a team of officers captured Godley at his father’s house.


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