The man charged with four murders in Kansas City, Kan., and suspected in a fifth in east-central Missouri was captured early Wednesday in a muddy ditch, still holding a rifle.
Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino, 40, was taken into custody at 12:18 a.m. after he accosted, with a gun, a man in an automobile near the junction of Interstate 70 and Missouri 19 in Montgomery County.
The Missouri Highway Patrol, which led the more than 16-hour search, said no shots were fired and Serrano-Vitorino surrendered without resistance.
“He was exhausted,” said Sgt. James Hedrick of the highway patrol.
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A motorist told authorities a man with a gun approached him shortly before midnight at the busy highway interchange, which has a McDonald’s restaurant, a few motels and gas stations.
One gas station market had closed and locked its doors earlier because of the manhunt that had unnerved residents of New Florence, Mo., which has a population of less than 800.
“As law enforcement, we’re very relieved it ended the way it did,” said Sgt. Scott White of the highway patrol. “Certainly, the citizens are relieved. We have five people killed. We did not want any more injuries or deaths.”
Serrano-Vitorino was in the Montgomery County jail early Wednesday and was expected to appear in court later in the day.
Randy J. Nordman, 49, of Montgomery County, was found shot to death Tuesday morning at his home, not far from where Serrano-Vitorino was arrested.
The suspect’s pickup truck was spotted on the side of the eastbound lanes of I-70, not far away, at 7:02 a.m.
A call to 911 reporting the shooting was received at 7:20 a.m. A search perimeter was established within minutes, White said.
A witness said a man wearing clothing associated with Serrano-Vitorino was seen on foot just outside of the slain man’s yard.
As many as 100 law enforcement officers, including canine, helicopter and tactical squads, joined the search. It was complicated by nightfall with rain.
White said agents chased down at least 40 leads and checked numerous tips from the public.
Serrano-Vitorino was found at the north edge of the search perimeter, face down in a ditch between the north outer road and the westbound entrance to I-70.
The search area was concentrated south of I-70. Officials said he might have gotten to the other side of the highway through an underground culvert.
Matthew Schoo, chief deputy sheriff of Montgomery County, thanked law enforcement agencies across the state that offered assistance in the case.
People in Montgomery County and surrounding areas were abuzz on social media all day Tuesday about the search operation.
“We tried as best we could to keep the community informed,” Schoo said.