- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - Authorities believe they have finally caught up with Dennis “Slick” Lilly, a fugitive who slipped out of a Missouri prison while posing as a guard nearly 30 years ago.

Turns out Lilly apparently was living in Gold Bar under the alias Dave Murray. It also turns out that Lilly likely is dead. His wife told detectives that Lilly, 64, died from pancreatic cancer in 2012.

She admitted to burying him in the back yard.

Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives last week found human remains under a woodshed behind the woman’s Gold Bar home.

The medical examiner has not officially identified the remains and the case remains under investigation, sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said Wednesday.

“The investigation will continue until the medical examiner has confirmed the identity and cause and manner of death,” she said. “If it’s not who we think it is or if the death is not natural, we’ll go from there.”

Somewhere between Missouri and Gold Bar, Dennis and Mary Lilly became Dave and Amanda Murray, court papers say.

The couple settled into a home at the end of a dead end street in the century-old town of roughly 2,000 people. Amanda Murray bought the property in 1993, according to Snohomish County Assessor’s Office records.

They became respected business owners, running The Mail Station out of a beige A-frame building just off U.S. 2 on the east outskirts of Monroe.

Over the years, Dennis Lilly posed as Santa Claus with children from across the Sky Valley who ventured into the family business each Christmas. He could grow an impressive white beard.

“Heck, his photo is probably in hundreds of homes,” said Mitch Ruth of Ruth Realty, which is next door and leases out The Mail Station building.

Lilly became secure enough in his new persona to call police when he had concerns about crime. In 2010, he reported to the Monroe Police Department that someone sent a child pornography catalog to his business from the Virgin Islands.

“I guess you never know,” said Ruth, who was a corrections sergeant at the Washington State Reformatory before going into real estate. He spent just shy of 15 years working behind the bars of the Monroe prison. Along the way, he monitored and studied thousands of inmates.

It’s hard for him to imagine that Dave Murray - Lilly - and his wife ever could have run afoul of the law.

“They were always honest and professional working with us. He never presented himself as anything other than a calm, mild-mannered business owner. Neither did she. I have nothing but kind words and memories of both.”

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