Authorities in Mississippi have arrested a Sardis man for two deadly highway shootings.
28-year-old James Willie was originally arrested in Tunica on Tuesday, May 15 for sexual assault. At the time of his arrest he was in possession of a handgun, which was matched to the weapon used to kill two people on north Mississippi highways earlier this month. Tom Schlender, 72, was gunned down May 8. Days later on May 11, Lori Carswell, 47, was murdered as she drove home from work at a Tunica casino.
In both cases the victims' cars were pulled over to the side of the road. Mississippi law enforcement agencies had warned motorists that someone may be posing as an officer because the shooting victims had no obvious reason to be stopped on the interstate where they were found. But, Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain says Willie was not posing as a police officer in the shootings as authorities previously suspected.
"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."
At a May 18 news conference, Tunica County Sheriff K.C. Hamp stated that James Willie has been charged with the murder of Lori Carswell, in addition to his current charges of rape, kidnapping and felon in possession of a weapon. Charges for the murder of Tom Schlender are still pending. He's being held at the Tunica County jail in north Mississippi.