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UPDATE: Mississippi drivers can rest easy.
Police said Friday they had arrested a suspect in the two roadside murders that left authorities warning drivers to be wary of their fellow highway drivers, including police officers.
The Associated Press reports that James D. Willie, 28, was actually arrested Tuesday morning after police responded to an apparently unrelated 911 call from an apartment, where a woman said Willie raped her. There, police recovered a 9mm Ruger, which they linked to the two highway murders. Police said Willie will face charges of capital murder, rape, kidnapping and aggravated assault.
They also said, that despite this week's warning, Willie had not been impersonating a police officer as previously suggested.
The strange case garnered national attention after local authorities issued warnings to motorists that a gunman may be impersonating a police officer on north Mississippi freeways.
Wednesday, May 16: Motorists in Mississippi are getting some unusual advice from the authorities: If an officer tries to pull you over, call 911.
The Associated Press reports that the police’s instructions came after two late-night murders a few days apart that both occurred after drivers pulled off the road, possibly after being approached by a vehicle with flashing blue lights. Thomas Schlender, 74, was found shot dead in his car on May 8; three days later, Lori Anne Carswell, 48, was found dead near her car along another northern Mississippi freeway.
Though there have been no witnesses, police believe they may have stopped in response to a vehicle impersonating a police cruiser. Puzzled police have pored over hundreds of leads, but no arrests have been made. So far, they have offered no motive and have declined to confirm that the two murders are even related.
Still, local police have suspended the use of unmarked cars in routine pullovers and urged motorists not to stop for anyone without calling 911 and finding well-lit, highly-trafficked areas to park. They emphasized that the circumstances surrounding the murders remained murky, including their belief that a police impersonator was involved. "There are only two people who could tell us about that and unfortunately, we cannot talk to them," a local sheriff told the AP.