Authorities arrest suspect in highway homicides investigation - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Authorities arrest suspect in highway homicides investigation

James D. Willie James D. Willie

Authorities have arrested a man in connection with the north Mississippi highway murders.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol's Bureau of Investigation, along with the Tunica Police Department and the Tunica County Sheriff's office contributed to the arrest.

"Hundreds of man hours have been devoted to tracking down and arresting this individual," Gov. Phil Bryant said Friday. "Public safety is of paramount concern to us."

James D. Willie, 28, of Sardis, Mississippi, was arrested at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Tunica police responded to a reported disturbance at a home on Old Highway 61. Authorities found Willie with a woman who he alleged had raped. He was taken into custody.

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

Willie is being held on charges of aggravated assault, kidnapping and rape. Authorities will formally charge Willie with two counts of capital murder later today.

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. Schlender's car was found in the median of Interstate 55 near the Pope exit in Panola County. 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. 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."

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