When police arrested James D. Willie, 28, for allegedly trying to rape a woman, they found that the gun he fired during that altercation was linked to two highway murders in northwest Mississippi. Investigators initially thought they were looking for someone who had been posing as a police officer, but that turned out not to be the case.
Willie, who already had a record of felonies, will be charged with capital murder for the shooting deaths of Tom Schlender, 74, and Lori Anne Carswell, 48. The two slain motorists were killed 55 miles apart, according to the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
Police initially had another suspect in custody, 45-year-old Yazoo City, Miss. resident James Lucas. Police arrested Lucas Wednesday, after he pulled over two motorists with his retired police cruiser, which still had flashing blue lights behind the grille. When they searched his house, Humphries County Sheriff's deputies found fake handcuffs and badges.
By the time Willie was arrested, police knew they had the wrong man in Lucas. Crime lab testing confirmed that the semiautomatic Ruger handgun Willie allegedly fired during his failed rape attempt was the same weapon used to kill Schlender and Carswell. The motive for the murders is thought to be drugs and money.
Photo credit: Google Maps/Mississippi Highway Patrol