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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Fugitive makes U.S. Marshals’ ‘Wanted’ list

Fred Russell turns to the court audience as his father puts a hand on his shoulder during a court appearance in 2001.  
 (File/ / The Spokesman-Review)
Staff writer

A former Washington State University student who has been a federal fugitive for more than three years is being added to the U.S. Marshals Service “Top 15 Most Wanted” list, the U.S. Marshal for Eastern Washington said Friday.

Frederick David Russell fled to Canada in October 2001, a few days before he was to stand trial in Whitman County on three counts of vehicular homicide – charges related to the deaths of three WSU students four months earlier.

It is only the second time a federal fugitive from Eastern Washington has made the federal agency’s “Top 15” list.

“Our job is to find this fugitive,” Mike Kline, the U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Washington, said at a press conference where he released the wanted poster of Russell that includes photos, a physical description and an “armed and dangerous” warning.

By next week, the listing is expected to be posted on the U.S. Marshals Service Web site,

Adding Russell to the agency’s “Top 15” list is significant, Kline said, because that designation means “more resources and manpower will be available to aid us in the search.”

At the U.S. Marshals Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., a special team works full time tracking the “Top 15” fugitives, and additional manpower can be brought to Eastern Washington if needed, Kline said.

Additionally, the listing makes funds available to pay confidential informants who could provide information about Russell’s whereabouts.

The classification doesn’t specifically put a reward on the fugitive’s head, Kline said, but it would provide a “fairly substantial” cash payment for information leading to his arrest.

The U.S. Marshals said investigators believe “people between Spokane and Pullman” probably have information about Russell but may consider it inconsequential.

“We wanted anyone with information about him to come forward and share it with us,” Kline said. “If it leads to his arrest, we now have funds to pay for that sort of information.”

Investigators believe the 26-year-old fugitive is still in Canada, but there have been possible sightings of him in Alaska, Kline said.

“Our first focus is still Canada,” he said. Canadian authorities have issued their own nationwide arrest warrant for Russell.

Shortly before Christmas, Canadian authorities believed they had identified and located the fugitive near Calgary. Two deputy U.S. marshals from Spokane flew to Canada to join RCMP Mounties in questioning the man.

“It had to be to Fred Russell’s identical twin,” Kline said of the man who was cleared.

Without giving specifics, Kline disclosed that investigators now have established suspected links between the fugitive and international drug smugglers.

“Russell has known associations with cross-border drug smugglers and is known to drink heavily and use marijuana,” the fugitive’s wanted poster says.

Kline also said there is “no doubt” Russell has received financial and other assistance in his effort to remain a fugitive from justice.

“We are convinced he has some means of assistance,” the U.S. marshal said.

Russell was driven to Calgary, Alberta, in October 2001 by Bernadette Faith Olson, who at the time was earning a doctoral degree in criminal justice at WSU. She pled guilty last year in U.S. District Court to a federal charge of lying to investigators about assisting Russell flee the country.

The fugitive’s father, Gregory Russell, supervised the criminal justice program at WSU when his son fled Whitman County. He now is a professor at Arkansas State University.

Other than Olson, Kline said, investigators haven’t developed enough information at this point to charge anyone else with aiding and abetting the fugitive.