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When Royce Edward Beck was ready to surrender Saturday, he wanted a trooper who previously arrested him sent to the house, troopers said Monday.
Beck’s girlfriend, who lives with him at 5454 West Ava Road, called troopers Saturday and said Beck would surrender to Trooper Jamie Gallagher of the state police in Lee, said Trooper James Simpson, public information officer for Troop D.
Gallagher and Investigator Michael Fayle went to Beck’s home, and he was taken into custody without incident, Simpson said.
Beck was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal incident without reporting it, a felony, in connection with a hit-and-run accident Wednesday that killed Debra Royce of Holland Patent, state police said. Royce died of massive cranial trauma, said Leanne Moser, the Lewis County coroner and district attorney.
Beck had been living in the woods behind his mobile home, Simpson said.
For many residents, the end of the search for Beck meant they could return Sunday to their regular ways of life.
A three-day police search that included dogs, helicopters and foot and car patrols made the rural community near Beck’s home on West Ava Road seem like a scene out of a movie, said Deborah Platt, who lives on West Ava Road down the street from Beck’s house.
The news that Beck, 41, turned himself in Saturday night and was in jail Sunday will allow Platt to sleep a little easier, she said.
“Everybody got a sigh of relief,” she said. “It was crazy here for a few days.”
Beck was arraigned in Lewis Town Court and sent to Lewis County jail without bail, police said.
Residents in the area surrounding Beck’s home described where they live as a close-knit, family-like community, where many people don’t find it necessary to lock their doors and parents don’t feel afraid to let their children walk the streets at night.
But the town’s relaxed atmosphere was put on hold during the search. Platt said she brought her dogs in her house at night, kept a gun by her bed and made her kids call her once per hour no matter where they were.
“Everyone around here loaded their guns and started locking their doors,” she said.
Beck is next scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 15, state police public information officer Jim Simpson said. Simpson said he didn’t know whether Beck would face additional charges.
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said there is no indication at this time that Beck will face any charges in Oneida County related to the recent incident.
There has been a warrant out for Beck on a charge of failure to pay fines for second-degree criminal contempt in Trenton Town Court, according to the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office Web site. Beck’s criminal history includes several years spent in state prison, and he is registered as a Level 2 sex offender.
Charlena and Jeff Gifford, who live near West Ava Road on Creek Road, grilled hamburgers outside with their children Sunday – an activity they’ve abstained from in recent days; during the search, they avoided doing outside chores related to their horse and dogs and confined their kids to the house.
“Today’s the first day they’ve been able to go outside and play,” Charlena Gifford said of her kids.
Jeff Gifford said he skipped work Saturday because he was afraid to leave his family alone. Before going to bed at night, he looked around his property, he said.
If someone had strong survival skills, that person could hide in the area woods for a long time, he said.
“All of us around here hunt and know these woods, and that’s where he was travelling,” Jeff Gifford said.
Charlena Gifford said she was glad the “chaotic” chase was over.
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