Neldon H. Neal is photographed Monday as part his arrival at the Fulton Reception and Diagnostic Center in Fulton.

Texas County’s longest manhunt ended with Neldon Harrison Neal hopping into a patrol car Monday morning headed to Fulton for processing into the Missouri Department of Corrections.

It’s a routine that Neal, a Roby native, knows well. For most of his adult life, Neal has been incarcerated. The end of the 62-day saga -which Texas County Sheriff Carl Watson admits is more like a made-for-TV movie -ended on a note fitting for the drama.

“He actually thanked me,” Sheriff Carl Watson noted on Monday afternoon with a chuckle, saying Neal shaked his hand as part of the send-off. Watson said Neal -who has a long history with county officers – told him he appreciated the way officers treated him upon his arrest late Saturday morning on the banks of the Gasconade River in Laclede County. “He was absolutely cooperative from the time he landed in jail,” Watson, a retired criminal investigator with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said. “I’ve never seen someone cooperate as much as he did in such a serious case.”

By nightfall Saturday, two officers had retrieved the weapon believed used by Neal – based on information provided by the murder suspect.

“I think he was glad for it to be over, too,” Watson said while describing Neal’s primitive quarters that included a tent and a couple of sleeping bags.

With nine years remaining on an earlier prison sentence and a murder charge awaiting him, Neal knew he would probably never come back to the county as a free man.

“He knows he’ll never leave prison again.”

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