As a stranger with a gun fought her husband in their mid-Missouri garage Tuesday, Julie Nordman ran upstairs to hide in her attic while calling 911.
Moments later, she heard a single gunshot and saw the stranger running away to the east.
That man turned out to be Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino, 40, according to court records released Wednesday. Police believe he had killed four people hours earlier in Kansas City, Kan. Now, a fifth victim was dead.
On Wednesday, prosecutors in Montgomery County, Mo., charged Serrano-Vitorino with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and burglary in the shooting death of Randy J. Nordman, 49, of New Florence, Mo.
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Authorities captured Serrano-Vitorino in mid-Missouri shortly after midnight Wednesday morning after a more than 16-hour manhunt that involved police helicopters, K-9 units and nearly 100 law enforcement officers.
He was arraigned in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Wednesday afternoon and was held without bond. Online court records did not list a lawyer for him.
According to court records, investigators found a magazine at the Missouri homicide scene containing the same type of ammunition used in the Kansas City, Kan., slayings. When law enforcement officers captured him, Serrano-Vitorino was carrying a long rifle that matched the description of the weapon used in all five killings.
In his pocket, they found the keys to the truck driven away from the Kansas City, Kan., murder scene and abandoned along Interstate 70 in Montgomery County, between Columbia and St. Louis. Investigators used those keys to start the truck.
They took Serrano-Vitorino into custody at 12:18 a.m. after he allegedly accosted a man in an automobile near the junction of Interstate 70 and Missouri 19 in Montgomery County. The 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.
Officers found Serrano-Vitorino face down in the muddy ditch between the north outer road of the highway and the westbound on-ramp. The Missouri Highway Patrol, which led the manhunt, said no shots were fired and Serrano-Vitorino surrendered without resistance.
“He was exhausted,” said Sgt. James Hedrick of the highway patrol.
At least one gas station market at the junction had closed and locked its doors earlier because of the manhunt. The hunt 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.”
The Nordmans’ home was not far from where Serrano-Vitorino was arrested.
His pickup truck had been spotted on the side of the eastbound lanes of I-70, also not far away, at 7:02 a.m.
Julie Nordman’s call to 911 reporting the shooting was received at 7:20 a.m. She described a man wearing clothing associated with Serrano-Vitorino.
A search perimeter was established within minutes, White said.
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.
The search area had been concentrated south of I-70. Officials said he might have gotten to the other side of the highway through a 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.
Nordman and his wife had been preparing a New Florence racetrack for radio-controlled cars called Empire of Dirt RC Park and Campground.
In the incorporation papers, filed in September 2014, Nordman described the 32-acre campground as a “place to drive and race radio-control cars.…”
The park’s website launched in January. “One of our goals for our RC park is to bring RCers from mid-Missouri area together with RCers from St. Louis area,” the Nordmans wrote on the site.
This past February and March, the Nordmans posted several online updates as they prepared the site for competition. They also invited campers to pay $10 a night to sleep in tents or $15 to park a trailer.
Nigel Doerge, an enthusiast of radio-controlled cars, met the Nordmans last summer after they posted an online invitation to Columbia-area radio-controlled enthusiasts to visit the park as it was under construction.
Doerge spent several weekends at the site. He described the Nordmans as racing enthusiasts who had worked at an auto racing track before growing interested in the radio-controlled car hobby.
“I can’t stress enough about how nice Randy was,” said Doerge. “Very nice, very genuine. It was a really neat place that he was working on.”
The Star’s Brian Burnes contributed to this report.