July 2, 2008

Captured Man Suspected in Eight Deaths


By Daniel Yovich

The Associated Press


An ex-convict who police believe killed eight people in two states and who was the subject of a multistate manhunt was found Tuesday evening in southwestern Illinois, authorities said.

Illinois State Police caught Nicholas T. Sheley, 28, in Granite City, about 10 miles north of St. Louis, said FBI spokeswoman Kelly Brennan. She didn't elaborate on the arrest.

A spokeswoman with the Granite City Police Department said Sheley was in custody there, but she declined to give details.

The FBI on Tuesday launched a manhunt for Sheley, who they warned should be considered armed and dangerous. Authorities said they linked Sheley to the killings of eight people in Illinois and Missouri, including a 93-year-old man, a child and a couple whose blood-soaked dogs were found roaming a motel parking lot.

Sheley has been charged in the death of one of the eight. He faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated battery and vehicular hijacking in the death of Ronald Randall, whose body was found Monday behind a grocery store in Galesburg, in northwestern Illinois, police said. An autopsy showed the 65-year-old died from blunt-force trauma to the head.

Investigators said the other victims all appeared to have died in the same manner and that evidence linked to Sheley was recovered at each scene. The FBI and Illinois State Police declined to elaborate.

Public records show Sheley has multiple convictions for robbery, drugs and weapons charges and has spent three years in prison.

The killings began with the beating death of 93-year-old Russell Reed, a Sterling man whose body was found in the trunk of a car Thursday. Sheley also is from Sterling, a town of 15,000 about 100 miles west of Chicago.

On Monday, police discovered the bodies of two men, a woman and a child in an apartment in Rock Falls, a town near Sterling. State Police Sgt. Thomas Burek said Sheley was an acquaintance of one of the people found inside the apartment.

Also Monday, the bodies of a man and woman were found behind a gas station in the St. Louis suburb of Festus, Mo. Investigators were looking for the couple's pickup truck.

Sheley's uncle, Joe Sheley, 47, of Sterling, told The Associated Press before his nephew's capture that Nicholas Sheley recently struggled with drugs and his rap sheet includes arrests for home invasion.

"He's been in trouble many times over the years, but something like this, yeah, it's out of character," Joe Sheley said. "He's got a temper like anybody else. Just doesn't want to be messed with. Won't back down. But to go looking for a fight, looking for trouble, no."

Sheley spent nearly three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for aggravated robbery between 2000 and 2003 , spokesman Derek Schnapp said.

Originally published by BY DANIEL YOVICH.

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