Law enforcement agencies throughout mid-Missouri continued to search Thursday afternoon for a suspect in the killings of a woman and her teenage son in Clinton, Mo.
Officers looking for James Barton Horn Jr. spent most of the day Thursday surrounding several houses in Sedalia, Mo., where they thought he could be holed up. But police did not find Horn during searches of those houses late Thursday afternoon.
“He is at large and he is extremely dangerous,” said Clinton Assistant Police Chief Sonny Lynch.
Clinton police identified Horn as a former boyfriend of 46-year-old Sandra Sutton, who along with her 17-year-old son, Zachary Wade Sutton, was found dead inside a Clinton house Thursday morning.
Authorities in Sedalia had already been looking for Horn since late April when Sandra Sutton reported that he had held her captive for months, at times locked in a wooden box, inside a home they shared there.
Relatives of the Suttons found their bodies and called police about 4:20 a.m. Thursday. Police said they died from apparent gunshot wounds.
Lynch said a car used by Sandra Sutton had been taken from the homicide scene and was found Thursday morning outside a hospital in Sedalia.
Surveillance video showed someone walking away from the car in the direction of the house where Horn had formerly lived with Sandra Sutton, according to Lynch.
A large contingent of officers surrounded that house and two vacant residences nearby. Throughout the day, officers using a bullhorn could be heard ordering Horn to surrender.
Finally, in mid-afternoon, heavily armed SWAT officers entered the houses and cleared them without finding anything.
A warrant for Horn’s arrest had been issued earlier this month after he was charged with holding Sandra Sutton against her will. He is charged in Pettis County Circuit Court with kidnapping, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon.
Sedalia and Clinton are about 45 miles apart.
The Suttons were found dead in a Clinton house at 716 East Franklin St., police said. They had been staying there with her brother and his wife, who discovered the bodies when they arrived home from work Thursday morning. Police said the relatives worked at the Tyson Foods plant in Sedalia where Horn also worked.
Clinton police said they had been unaware that Sutton was living in their city. Lynch said that after the Sedalia incident, Sandra Sutton had been advised by victim advocates to obtain an order of protection, but she apparently did not seek one.
Even if she had, Lynch said it may not have helped.
“He’d done these things and he was on the run,” Lynch said.
Police have learned that Horn “knew where that (Clinton) house was.”
Some neighbors said Thursday that they had seen the woman at the house shortly after the Sedalia incident but didn’t know she was the woman from that incident.
“If I’d known her name, I might’ve put two and two together,” said one neighbor.
That neighbor said she didn’t hear any gunshots or commotion overnight. But she did hear dogs barking.
On Thursday morning, animal control officers took three dogs from the home.
Authorities removed their bodies from the house about 2 p.m. Thursday. They were being taken to Jackson County, where autopsies will be performed.
Members of the Sutton family were gathered together Thursday afternoon at another relative’s home in Clinton.
A sign on the door said they would have no comment and asked that their privacy be respected.
Sandra Sutton’s son was a junior at Clinton High School, according to a posting on the school’s Facebook page.
“Zachary was a wonderful young man and a pleasure to be around,” the school tweeted Thursday. “He will be missed dearly.”
Sandra Sutton and Horn had lived together at a house in the 800 block of East 15th Street in Sedalia since September.
On April 30, Sandra Sutton ran from the 15th Street house to a neighbor’s house and reported that Horn had been holding her captive.
By the time police went to the house, Horn was gone.
Inside the home they found a wooden box made of plywood, 4 feet high and wide and 8 feet long. The woman told police that since January, Horn had refused to let her leave without him. When he left, he would confine her in the box, she said.
Horn is listed on the Missouri sex offender registry, which says he was convicted in 1992 in Tennessee of crimes involving a 22-year-old woman.
Shelby County, Tenn., court records show that Horn was charged with rape and aggravated kidnapping. In September 1993, he pleaded guilty to sexual battery and kidnapping and was sentenced to four years in prison, according to court records.
In 1996, Horn was charged by federal prosecutors in Mississippi with interstate kidnapping.
According to court documents filed in that case, Horn broke into the home of a woman he formerly had a relationship with and raped her after locking the woman's 8-year-old daughter in a bathroom.
He then took the woman and forced her to withdraw money from an ATM. She was locked in a car trunk and driven to Springfield, Mo. The documents say he threatened to kill her and repeatedly abused her during the drive.
Eventually they ended up in Kansas City, where an FBI tactical team rescued the woman from a motel room where Horn was holding a knife to her throat.
In 1997, he pleaded guilty to interstate kidnapping and was sentenced to nearly 13 years in federal prison.
He was released in December 2011, according to U.S. Bureau of Prisons records. His parole, called supervised release in the federal system, was transferred to Missouri in 2012, according to court records.
He is approximately 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs approximately 175 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information about Horn’s whereabouts is asked to call Clinton police at 660-885-2679.