Crime & Courts

Kansas troopers catch murder suspect after nationwide manhunt

Alex Deaton
Alex Deaton Courtesy photo

Authorities arrested a man Wednesday suspected of shooting a Pratt convenience store clerk and kidnapping two hikers in New Mexico while on the run after his girlfriend and another woman were killed in Mississippi.

Alex Bridges Deaton, 28, was arrested after a chase and fiery crash near the town of Wilson, about 80 miles from where the store clerk was shot, according to a tweet from Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Tod Hileman. He said neither Deaton nor the involved officers were seriously hurt.

Pratt police Sgt. Edward Gimpel said Deaton was being chased by authorities in a white Honda he stole in New Mexico on Tuesday when he evaded a roadblock at the edge of Pratt around 4:30 Wednesday morning.

While police kept looking for him, Gimpel said, Deaton ran to a Kwik Shop, shot the clerk and stole a black Cadillac SUV.

The chase resumed on I-70 near the town of Dorrance when authorities tried to stop a vehicle matching the description of the one stolen from Kwik Shop’s parking lot, Hileman said.

Authorities used tire-puncturing devices before the suspect took the Wilson exit off I-70 and began driving toward the Ellsworth County town but stopped before entering it. The chase ended around 8 a.m. with a crash and the vehicle catching fire. Deaton was arrested.

The Kwik Shop clerk was flown to a Wichita hospital, Gimpel said. His condition was unclear.

Authorities say Deaton’s nearly 2,000-mile trail of violence began in Mississippi. Officials there have accused him in the strangling death of his girlfriend, 30-year-old Heather Robinson, who was found dead Friday in her suburban Jackson apartment.

He also is suspected of carrying out a drive-by shooting in the SUV he stole from Robinson that injured a jogger and has been charged in the Thursday shooting death of 69-year-old Brenda Pinter, who was found dead at a rural church near Philadelphia, Miss.

Deaton sent a series of texts – some incriminating, including one confessing to a murder in a church – to friends and family before he went silent Saturday, Mississippi authorities said. He resurfaced late Tuesday in New Mexico, where authorities say he carjacked and briefly abducted two hikers at gunpoint near Albuquerque before coming to Kansas.

Mississippi authorities have said they will seek Deaton’s extradition.

Contributing: Bryan Horwath of The Eagle and Associated Press