Manhunt story to air on 'Unsolved Mysteries'
Copyright 1999 The Durango Herald. All rights reserved.

Courtesy of FBI
ARTISTS RENDERINGS and computer-generated images as well as dated photos show what Jason McVean, top line, and Alan Pilon may look like 10 months after killing a Cortez policeman.

April 8, 1999

By Joshua Moore
Herald Staff Writer

Authorities searching for two suspected cop-killers will be at the ready this weekend in case more leads arise after a television re-enactment of the shooting is broadcast Friday evening.

CBS television’s "Unsolved Mysteries" will air the eight-minute re-enactment of the May 29 shooting of Cortez police officer Dale Claxton and the manhunt that followed at 8 p.m. Friday. Locally, CBS is viewable on Channel 6, KREZ-TV (cable Channel 13 in Durango).

Authorities hope the program will bring forward new information about the whereabouts of Jason Wayne McVean, 27, of Durango, and Alan "Monte" Pilon, 31, of Dove Creek.

Pilon, McVean and a third man, Robert Mason, 26, of Durango, are suspected of killing Claxton when he stopped them in a stolen water truck in Cortez. Todd Martin and Jason Bishop, two Montezuma County Sheriff’s deputies, were also wounded in the gunbattle and chase that followed Claxton’s shooting.

Mason was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound June 4 near Bluff, Utah, but Pilon and McVean have remained at large for more than 10 months, despite a manhunt that included more than 500 officers at its peak.

"Unsolved Mysteries" will include a toll-free hot line in the program so that people can call authorities if they have new information on the fugitives’ whereabouts. The program has helped solve 280 cases in its 10-year history, roughly a 30 percent success rate, said Stuart Schwartz, a supervising producer of the program.

Dot Graham, an FBI agent based in Durango who has been working on the manhunt since it began, went to California on Wednesday so that she could be on hand in case any leads turned up as a result of the program.

In Cortez, extra officers will be on hand in case any of the leads require an immediate response, said Calvin Boggs, a detective lieutenant with the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Department.

The re-enactment was filmed in Cortez this fall, using a combination of local actors and actors brought in by "Unsolved Mysteries." Pat Kelley, a Durango actor, played the role of Montezuma County sheriff’s deputy Jason Bishop, who was wounded while pursuing Pilon and McVean.

Tony Schweikle, a Durango film producer, helped coordinate the locations for the filming and helped cast Kelley as Bishop.

Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane said Wednesday that he and his officers watched an advance copy of the re-enactment and said it was "terribly realistic."

"There’s no dramatization; it’s just facts," Lane said. "It was really tough to watch."

Lane said Claxton’s widow, Sue, had watched the re-enactment with him.

Lane said he believes that the men are still hiding in the desert west of Cortez.

Graham spends three days a week working at the Cortez command post, and Cortez Police Sgt. Jim Shethar has been working full-time on the investigation into Pilon and McVean’s whereabouts since the shooting occurred, Lane said.