Capital Murder Charge For Suspected MS Highway Shooter

(Tunica County, MS) For investigators, the arrest of a man in the north Mississippi highway shootings, is a job well done and for the people of Mississippi, it’s a relief.
 
“We are already getting calls and Facebook messages so it’s a great relief to everyone,” said Tate County Sheriff Brad Lance.
 
James Willie has been charged with capital murder for killing Lori Ann- Carswell and soon, Panola County plans to tack on another murder charge for the death of Nebraska native Tom Schlender.
 
“The motive is drugs and robbery,” said Tunica County Sheriff KC Hamp.
 
Authorities say the known crack addict was arrested Tuesday for another crime.
 
A woman in Tunica County reported Willie raped her and then shot at her.
 
\When police later searched Willie’s, car, they found a gun; 
 
Lab tests showed it’s the same gun used in the highway killings.
 
“He didn’t have a violent past,” said Tunica County District Attorney John Champion.
 
While Willie doesn’t have a violent criminal record, Champion says he served eight years in prison.
 
Three years in 2002 for burglary and then he was sentenced to five more when he threatened to kill his probation officer in 2005.
 
“Has he committed any violent offense? No,” said Champion.  “Has he talked about c omitting violent offenses? Yes.”

Sheriff Hamp told us Willie hasn’t confessed to the crimes, but investigators have more than enough evidence to convict him.

In fact, the sheriff said detectives interviewed him all day Thursday and a few hours Friday morning.
 
While Willie didn’t confess, they say he did provide some information about the crimes.
 
Champion says he may very well be seeking the death penalty for Willie.
 
That decision will be made in the coming weeks.

Information from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation follows:

The Mississippi Highway Patrol’s Bureau of Investigation, along with the Tunica Police Department and the Tunica County Sheriff’s office, has charged a man in connection with the north Mississippi highway murders.

“Hundreds of man hours have been devoted to tracking down and arresting this individual,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “Public safety is of paramount concern to us. Just as a week ago, with the resolution of the kidnap/murder case in north Mississippi, again we see the effective results of a unified effort of several law enforcement agencies working together.”

James D. Willie, 28, of Sardis, Mississippi was arrested at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 15th. Tunica police responded to a reported disturbance at 2661 Old Highway 61. Authorities found Willie with a woman who alleged he had raped her and he was taken into custody.

At the time of his arrest, a Ruger 9mm, semi-automatic handgun was found in Mr. Willie’s possession. It was determined after a testing by state Crime Lab scientists, the weapon matched the weapon used in two murders in northwest Mississippi last week.

Tuesday, May 8th, Thomas K. Schlender, 74, of Raymond, Nebraska was found in his 1999 Ford F-150 pick-up truck in the median of southbound Interstate 55 shortly after 1:30 a.m. Friday, May 11th at about 2:15 a.m., Lori Anne Carswell, 48, of Hernando was found beside her 1997 Pontiac Grand Am. The car was on the shoulder of MS 713.

Schelnder’s car was found in the median of Interstate 55 near the Pope exit in Panola County and Carswell’s car was located in Tunica County near the intersection of MS713 and Interstate 69.

“The Bureau of Investigation and Crime Laboratory dedicated all resources available to this investigation,” said Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz. “Our citizens have been terrorized by these murders and we worked tirelessly to resolve them.”Click HERE for complete coverage of this story

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