Suspect Arrested in Fatal Highway Shootings in Mississippi

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Authorities in Mississippi say they've arrested a suspect in two fatal highway shootings that happened late at night along desolate stretches.

Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain says 28-year-old James D. Willie of Sardis, Miss., will be charged with two counts of capital murder in the shootings.

Strain says Willie was not posing as a police officer in the shootings, as authorities previously suspected.

Willie was arrested at 9 a.m. May 15 when Tunica police responded to a reported disturbance at 2661 Old Highway 61, Apt. D-2. Authorities found Willie with a woman who alleged he had raped her and he was taken into custody.

Officials say at the time of his arrest, a Ruger 9mm semi-automatic handgun was found in 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.

Mississippi law enforcement agencies had warned motorists that someone might be posing as an officer because the shooting victims had no obvious reason to be stopped on the interstate where they
were found.

Tuesday, May 8, 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 11 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.

Schlender’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.

Willie is charged with aggravated assault, kidnapping and rape, as well as two counts of capital murder.

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