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Dead fugitive from central Indiana defrauded hundreds

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The son of an Indiana fugitive who apparently killed himself rather than surrendering to Oregon authorities last week said his father never once reached out after disappearing 12 years ago. The man, he said, has been dead to him for years.

Brian Ferguson told The Herald Bulletin of Anderson for a story published Friday that the FBI hadn't called him to confirm if the man killed was his father, but that he has already learned to deal with losing him.

"I had no idea where he was or if he was even alive," Ferguson said. "I had to create my own closure. He just vanished. No goodbye, nothing."

Oregon authorities say 62-year-old Phillip Ferguson died last week from a gunshot wound to the head soon after fleeing from two officers and an FBI agent who were tipped off about his presence. The confrontation happened in a remote area near Burns, Ore., where Ferguson was apparently farming alfalfa under the name Vernon Cox.

Ferguson vanished in 2000 while his Marion investment business was under a federal investigation. He was later charged with 90 counts of securities violations and accused of bilking more than 600 investors out of $30 million.

Phillip Ferguson's case had been featured on "America's Most Wanted."

Brad Skolnik, who was the Indiana securities commissioner back in 2000, said most of Ferguson's victims were elderly people who thought they were putting their money in safe investments. Many of his victims were from central Indiana, including Alexandria, where Ferguson grew up.

Brian Ferguson said he believed the same thing that caused his dad to run caused him to shoot himself — pride.

"He grew up in a small town," Ferguson said. "He did something he shouldn't have done, so he left. That's the only way I can fathom this happening. He left his family, his grandkids and didn't tell anyone. He just vanished. Who can stay away that long? What kind of a person could do that?"

Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings said fingerprint comparisons confirmed the identification of Phillip Ferguson.

An autopsy found he died Wednesday from a single gunshot wound to the head from a small-caliber weapon. Hastings said initial evidence indicated it was unlikely that shots fired by the Harney County sheriff and a sergeant hit Ferguson as he fled in a pickup.

Hastings told The Oregonian on Friday that the Harney County district attorney asked him not to disclose if Ferguson shot himself.

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  1. Great article and post scripts by Mike L (Great addition to IBJ BTW). Bobby's stubborn as a mule, and doubt if he ever comes back to IU. But the love he would receive would be enormous. Hope he shows some time, but not counting on it.

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  4. Jim, your "misleading" numbers comment is spot on. This is the spin these posers are putting on it. News flash, fans: these guys lie. They are not publicly traded so no one holds them accountable for anything they say. The TV numbers are so miniscule to begin with any "increase" produces double digit "growth" numbers. It's ridiculous to think that anything these guys have done has awakened the marketplace. What have they done? Consolidate the season so they run more races on consecutive weekends? And this creates "momentum." Is that the same momentum you enjoy when you don't race between August and March? Keep in mind that you are running teams who barely make ends meet ragged over the summer to accomplish this brilliant strategy of avoiding the NFL while you run your season finale at midnight on the East Coast. But I should not obfuscate my own point: any "ratings increase" is exactly what Jim points to - the increased availability of NBC Sports in households. Look fans, I love the sport to but these posers are running it off a cliff. Miles wants to declare victory and then run for Mayor. I could go on and on but bottom line for God's sake don't believe a word they say. Note to Anthony - try doing just a little research instead of reporting what these pretenders say and then offering an "opinion" no more informed than the average fan.

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