SEDALIA, Mo. – A man suspected of killing a former girlfriend and her teenage son, weeks after he was charged with restricting her to a crate in their western Missouri home, is likely still near his hometown, authorities said Friday.
Sandra Kay Sutton and her 17-year-old son, Zachary Wade Sutton, were found dead Thursday in a relative's home in Clinton. Authorities said both victims appear to have been shot.
Authorities have been searching for James Barton Horn Jr., 47, since he was charged with kidnapping Sandra Sutton three weeks ago. Investigators allege he kept Sandra Sutton in a wooden box off-and-on for four months at their home in Sedalia, about 45 miles from Clinton.
Clinton police Lt. Sonny Lynch said authorities believe Horn may still be in the Sedalia area and that someone may be helping him. About 30 investigators have been working to capture Horn, who police believe is armed.
On Thursday, police found a car that Sandra Sutton used outside a hospital in Sedalia. Surveillance video from the hospital showed a man authorities believe was Horn walking away from the car and toward nearby houses at 4:15 a.m. Police surrounded a home for hours before entering and finding it empty.
Lynch said said a reward would be announced later Friday, when preliminary autopsy results were also expected to be released.
"We do believe somebody is helping. Somebody's giving him a place to stay, a vehicle to use, and those are things we're very interested in," Lynch said. He said investigators have been interviewing Horn's family, friends and associates and have followed up on several leads.
Authorities also believe Horn may look a little "shaggier" than he does in a photo police provided after he was charged with kidnapping. He have more facial hair, a beard or goatee, Lynch said.
Police have also been providing security for the victim's family.
"Concerns for him on the loose are that he is a dangerous individual, no doubt," Lynch said. "He has at least basic combat training in the U.S. Marine Corps in the mid-1980s. So he has that skill set that would come from that type of training."
Sutton moved to Clinton to live with relatives after she escaped in late April from the Sedalia home she shared with Horn. Lynch said Thursday, however, that Clinton authorities weren't aware that Sutton had moved to the area and that she had not sought any extra protection from Horn.
"As far as I can tell from checking, she has never even sought an order of protection against James Horn," Lynch said. "By and large if you have an order of protection... and make us aware of that, we will do our best to extra patrol your premises."