Kenneth Henry Sumner was 48 years old the last time he was seen on April 24th, 1978. He was a strawberry blond, green eyed prankster.

He lived in Oklahoma City, but was headed to Gentry to his ranch that he and his wife raised horse and cattle on.

At 2 pm, Kenneth dropped by a female friends home. His comment to her of “This is the last time you will ever see me.” was not taken seriously by the friend due to his prankster personality. Once he left him nor his Brown 1975 Ford F150 was ever seen again. Kenneth was known to carry 2 guns with him, these never have turned up either.

There is two theories on the Kenneth’s disappearance. One theory the police inquired about was a possible fight he was in with some neighbors over a fence.

The other theory, even though is only based on circumstance, it is quite interesting and very possible. The theory is that Kenneth could have been the first victim of two escaped convicts from the Oklahoma Department of Correction, Claude Eugene Dennis and Michael Charles Lancaster.

Lancaster was serving a 25 year sentence for Armed Robbery, while Dennis was serving a 50 year sentence for killing three people. They escaped on April 23rd, only one day before Kenneth was last seen. They escaped using an abandoned utility tunnel.

Once the escaped and where outside the prison walls, they went to the nearby home of Lt. Sam Keys, a guard at the prison. He was not home and actually at work but his wife and daughter where. Dennis and Lancaster robbed the family stealing food, guns and the family’s yellow Datsun. They attempted to kidnap the daughter but her mother fought them and they left without her, and actually without hurt this family. But unfortunately this was not the case for most of the people they came across for the next 34 days.

Dubbed thrill killers, they went on a multi state crime spree. they stole cars and robbed homes and stores. The worst was they took eight lives in the process.

They first left Oklahoma and went to Texas, killing three people. Then moved to Alabama killing two more and injuring a Sheriff. Then they returned to Oklahoma. Three of the lives they took where Oklahoma State Troopers, one of which they shot point blank after already inuring him in a shot out that took the life of his partner. They were finally killed in a shot out in Caddo.

One month later Lt. Keys yellow Datsun was found in densely wooded area behind a barn in Gentry near Kenneth’s ranch.

The theory is that Kenneth somehow encountered Dennis and Lancaster, by unfortunate fate I am sure. They kidnapped Kenneth or killed him, taking his truck to Texas, where they killed a fisherman in Farmsville. It is possible they waited for Kenneth outside his friends home. It is possible Kenneth’s comment to his friend was his way of trying to communicate under duress.

With nothing being directly tying the killers to Kenneth his disappearance is still considered unsolved and he is considered an endangered missing person.

In 2007 the declared Kenneth legally dead.

If you have any information on this case please contact Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Troop Z 405-425-2137.

Information Resource(s):

NamUs #MP33987

Kenneth Henry Sumner – The Charley Project

I Escaped : Real Prison Breaks -Trooper Tragedy on Vimeo

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