Cops: Suspect Wanted in 5 Killings Captured
(CNN)– An accused killer was captured Monday at a bus station more than 250 miles from where police say he killed five people, including two teens, in a rural Georgia town.
Thomas Jesse Lee, 26, surrendered to police in Tupelo, Mississippi, without any resistance, authorities said. Lee had been on the run since Saturday from LaGrange, Georgia, where he is accused of killing his wife, her parents, a family member and a friend.
“It makes us feel very good he’s in custody,” said Stewart Smith, the spokesman for the Troup County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia. “This was a crime where there were five murders. We’ve never had anything like that around here. For us to have him in custody that quick is a great relief to us and the family.”
His arrest came after a bizarre, almost surreal turn of events.
Authorities said Lee attended a church service at Crossroads Baptist Church in a small town near Tupelo on Sunday. According to authorities, Lee got along with members of the congregation and they chipped in to purchase him a bus ticket to Opelika, Alabama. Smith said the bus wasn’t set to leave until Monday morning.
The church members didn’t know the 6-foot, 3-inch man with red hair and a matching beard was sought in gruesome murders two states away. It was sometime Monday morning, Smith said, when the pastor saw a news report and realized the man his church helped was wanted in the killings.
The pastor called local authorities, and Tupelo police found Lee still at the bus stop. “I believe he did identify himself as Jesse Lee,” Smith said.
The killings had shaken the community of Lagrange, with some residents fearful Lee might return, Smith said.
Police found the bodies of William Burtron, 69, Sheila Burtron, 68, Christie Lee, 33, Bailey Burtron, 16, and Iiaonna Green, 18, late Saturday night at a home in the Water’s Edge subdivision of LaGrange, about 70 miles southwest of Atlanta near the Alabama border, CNN affiliate WSB reported.
Deputies forced their way into the home after receiving a call that one of the victims hadn’t been to work in days, the station reported. The suspect was married to Christie Lee.
Four of the five victims had been shot, and each of them was found in a different room of the house, WSB reported. No gun was found in the home.
Smith said it was not immediately clear how Lee got to Mississippi. Authorities believe he may have ditched his olive green Mazda Tribute, but have yet to find the vehicle.