Authorities Hunt For Killer After Linking 6 Midwest Slayings
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Authorities began a nationwide manhunt Monday after concluding that the same gun was used to kill six store clerks in a string of robberies stretching from Indiana to Kansas.
The clerks - five women and a man - were killed in five separate incidents in Indianapolis; Wichita, Kan.; Terre Haute, Ind.; St. Charles, Mo.; and Raytown, Mo., said Kansas City police detective Rick Pilgrim. Each time a .22- caliber handgun was used.
Officials from the FBI and police departments in each of the cities have compared notes on the case, Pilgrim said. The Kansas City police are involved because Raytown is a suburb of that city.
″We’ve linked all five events and six murders,″ Pilgrim said. ″We’ve been able to come up with common denominators in all the cases.″
He said the FBI had launched a nationwide search.
Police released a composite sketch of a suspect Saturday that showed a white man about 35 to 40 years old. It produced several anonymous tips, Pilgrim said.
Besides ballistics tests linking the gun, Pilgrim said police have other evidence connecting the crimes.
″The mode of operation appears to be the same,″ he said. ″They all occurred in strip-mall type developments. The clerks were in the store by themselves. They were all shot in the head.″
They were also all women, except for Michael McCown, 40, who was killed in a Terre Haute ceramics store. Pilgrim said the killer could have mistaken McCown for a woman because his hair was in a ponytail and he wore an earring.
Although the killer robbed each store, he only got away with a small amount of money each time. Pilgrim said the FBI had been asked to determine if other motives might have been involved.
If one killer is involved, he began the shooting spree at an Indianapolis shoe store on April 8 and moved along a southwest path for more than 600 miles to Wichita.
The most recent killing occurred Thursday at a Raytown herbal specialty store.
The other killings took place at a shoe store in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles and a bridal shop in Wichita. Two clerks were killed in the Wichita shop.
Most of the killer’s route, across 450 miles from Indianapolis to Raytown, closely followed Interstate 70. The one exception was the shooting in Wichita, which is 180 miles southwest of Raytown.