‘Key witness’ in murder case killed in Independence; suspect in custody after manhunt

Independence homicide investigation on Sterling Avenue

Police investigated a double shooting early Sunday in Independence. One person was killed in the shooting at a home in the 3800 block of South Sterling Avenue.
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Police investigated a double shooting early Sunday in Independence. One person was killed in the shooting at a home in the 3800 block of South Sterling Avenue.

An accused murderer free on bond was charged with a second killing Sunday after police say he entered an Independence home and shot and killed a woman who was a key witness in the 2017 murder investigation.

Michael T. Dumas, 27, of Pleasant Hill, was charged in the new case with first-degree murder in the death of Sarah E. Simms.

Dumas is also charged with first-degree assault in the wounding of man who was also in the home, and two counts of armed criminal action.

The charges came after an 11-hour manhunt in which police sent out public alerts with Dumas’ picture asking for help finding him — warning that he should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

Witnesses in the home in the 3800 block of South Sterling Avenue said Dumas fired on Simms with a silver-barrelled, sawed-off shotgun wrapped in black electrical tape.

The witness shouted, “Don’t pull it! Don’t pull it!” as both he and Simms held their hands up, court records showed. But he said Dumas shot Simms, then fired at him as the witness fled.

Police rushed to the house about 5:30 a.m. after the shooting. The suspect had fled from the house.

Simms was lying on the kitchen floor with a wound to the head, unconscious but breathing. The man who was shot was sitting on a couch in the living room. He was shot on the underside of his right arm.

Simms died of her wounds at a hospital. The witness declined medical treatment.

The witness said Dumas and been at the home as recently as Saturday night. He awoke about 2:30 a.m. Sunday and heard Simms arguing with Dumas in her bedroom.

Around 5:30 a.m. he entered the kitchen from the basement and saw Dumas with Simms. Dumas had a large butane torch in his hand, he said. He then held up the shotgun and began shooting.

Police found the suspect’s vehicle still parked behind the house. Police saw through the window a box of shotgun shells and shells on the floorboard that matched spent shotgun shells in the kitchen.

Police announced that they had taken Dumas into custody shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday.

Dumas and another man were accused in the Sept. 29, 2017 fatal shooting of Phillip J. Anderson, whose body was found in the parking lot of a Quiktrip at U.S. 40 and Sterling Avenue, less than a mile from the scene of Sunday’s shooting.

Surveillance video distributed by Independence police Monday shows two people who are “persons of interest” in the fatal shooting Friday of a man at an Independence QuikTrip. Police said the investigation into the killing continues after a Pleasan

In the 2017 killing, Jackson County prosecutors charged Dumas with second-degree murder and armed criminal action. He was awaiting trial when he was released on bond in November 2017.

Dumas’ bond had been set at $150,000 cash. He was released after a bond reduction hearing, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records.

The records say Dumas was released on Nov. 4, 2017.

Prosecutors requested a $750,000 bond for Dumas Sunday.

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