Sandra Kay Sutton, 46, and her 17-year-old son, Zachary Wade Sutton, were found dead early day before yesterday morning Thursday May 21st in a relative’s home in Clinton. Both victims appear to have been shot overnight, while Sutton’s relatives were at work, Clinton police Lt. Sonny Lynch said.
Police have been searching for her former boyfriend, James Barton Horn Jr., since he was charged with kidnapping 3 weeks ago. Investigators allege he kept Sandra in a wooden box off-and-on for 4 months at the same home they searched yesterday in Sedalia, about 45 miles northeast of Clinton.
Horn, who served time in prison for a kidnapping and sexual attack, disappeared before police could arrest him on the kidnapping charge. Lynch said Horn is “absolutely” a suspect in the deaths.
They surrounded a home they thought Horn was in for hours, calling to Horn to come out and deploying a robot to search the area, but officers found no one once they went inside, said Sgt. Bill Lowe of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Sutton told police in late April that Horn had threatened her in a car with a “tire jack” after an argument in January. When they returned home, he began building a wooden structure, and she had to help with its construction, according to a probable cause statement filed by Sedalia police.
Sutton was allowed to leave the box in the evenings when Barton returned home from work, according to court documents.
Police said the box was kept in a bedroom and contained a bucket full of urine and feces. The box, which investigators said was 100 inches long, 48 inches wide and 52 inches tall, also contained several layers of insulation, padding and sleeping bags, and a small air hole.
Sutton escaped April 30 and ran to the home of a neighbor who called police — but Horn was gone by the time police arrived.
A neighbor, Roeanna Wright, said she saw Sutton crouch down after running from the couple’s home in April. Her husband, Lloyd Wright, said she looked panicked, adding: “She was crouched down like she was trying to hide when she ran.”
Horn served about three years in prison in Tennessee in the early 1990s in connection with a kidnapping and sexual attack. Records also show he pleaded guilty in 1997 in Mississippi to unlawfully kidnapping and abducting his estranged wife. He was sentenced in that case to 12 years and 11 months in prison, plus five years supervised release.
Lynch warned that Horn was an “extremely dangerous, violent person,” and that anyone providing him shelter could face charges if they were aware of the pending kidnapping charges. He said Clinton authorities were unaware Sutton was staying in the area, and that court documents don’t indicate she sought any protective orders again Horn.