Mississippi authorities arrest highway shooting suspect

James Willie

By:  Newsroom

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

Mississippi State Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain said 28-year-old James D. Willie has been charged with two counts of capital murder in the shootings.

On May 8, Thomas K. Schlender, 74, of Raymond, Neb., was found shot to death in his car in the median of southbound Interstate 55 in Panola County shortly after 1:30 a.m., the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said. Schlender, who was on his way to pick up his grandson from college in Florida, was shot through the door of his car, his family said.

On May 11 at 2:15 a.m., Lori Anne Carswell's body was discovered lying in Highway 713. She, too, had been fatally shot. She was on her way home from her job at Fitzgerald's Casino in Tunica, authorities said.

Willie was arrested Tuesday in Tunica County in connection with the kidnapping and assault of a woman, authorities said.

During his arrest, police discovered a 9 mm handgun. Police decided to compare ballistics from that gun to shell casings found at the scene of the highway killings. Authorities said there was a match.

Police initially had suspected that the person involved in the highway shootings may have been posing as a police officer. Strain said that turned out not to be the case.

Source:  WAPT/Jackson, MS