Chance encounter with felon at restaurant leads to arrest by US marshal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A chance encounter at a high-end Kansas City restaurant on Sunday night led to the arrest of a felon who had eluded police in two states for years, when a deputy United States marshal said he circled the salad bar for confirmation the man he’d been hunting for five weeks was seated across the restaurant at Fogo de Chao.

“I had been looking at the guy’s picture every day for weeks,” explained the deputy, who said he couldn’t believe the man he’d been searching for since February was sitting just across the dining room.

That man, 30-year-old Virgil Tillman, had been on the run from police in Oklahoma and Kansas off-and-on since 2011 on an array of weapons and drugs charges. His trail had gone cold and US marshals were asked to help search for him in February.

Marshals’ deputies conducted interviews with numerous relatives and associates of Tillman’s without success until one deputy’s Sunday night dinner with his wife.

We're not reporting the deputy marshal’s name at his request, to protect the privacy of him and his family while the investigation of this case is ongoing.

The deputy marshal said when he thought he recognized Tillman, he went to the salad bar, which he circled slowly, overloading his plate along the way.

“I don’t even know what I put on my plate,” the deputy said in an interview Wednesday.

But he did know, seated several tables away with a woman and infant: “That was my guy.”

The deputy marshal excused himself and stepped outside. He called Kansas City Police and asked for assistance. Acting Deputy U.S. Marshal for Kansas Matt Cahill credited the city police for arriving quickly on scene. A few minutes after they did, first the woman then Tillman emerged from the restaurant.

Tillman attempted to duck back inside the restaurant, but KCPD officers arrested him quickly. The deputy marshal said Tillman asked him if he’d been following him all day. The deputy marshal said no, he’d just gone to church that morning.

With Tillman in KCPD custody, the deputy marshal returned to his dinner.

“I walked back in, sat down and this being Fogo, flipped the little coin over and here comes the meat.”
Tonight Tillman is in Wyandotte County custody awaiting a hearing next week.

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