CRIME

Missouri Man Accused Of Keeping Woman In Crate Killed By Cops

05/23/2015 06:35 pm ET | Updated May 23, 2015

MARIA SUDEKUM, Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man accused of holding his former girlfriend captive in a crate at their home in western Missouri then fatally shooting her and her teenage son, was shot and killed Saturday, authorities said.

Law enforcement officers killed James Barton Horn Jr., 47, at a state wildlife area in western Missouri, south of Knob Noster, Henry County Sheriff Kent Oberkrom said.

Authorities have been searching for Horn since late April when he was charged in the kidnapping of 46-year-old Sandra Kay Sutton. Prosecutors said Sutton told police that Horn kept her in a wooden crate off-and-on for four months at their home in Sedalia, some 90 miles southeast of Kansas City, Missouri.

Sutton and her 17-year-old son, Zachary Wade Sutton, were found dead Thursday at a relative's home in Clinton, about 45 miles from Sedalia, where she had moved after escaping the home she had shared with Horn.

james barton horn jr
This photo provided by Missouri Police Department shows James Barton Horn Jr. (Missouri Police Department via AP)

Oberkrom said officers found Horn hiding in a closet in an abandoned building at the J. N. Turkey Kearn Memorial Wildlife Area, about 70 miles southeast of Kansas City. He said officers were led to the area by a tip they received Saturday morning.

When officers told him to surrender, Horn threatened the officers with a handgun, said Sgt. Bill Lowe, spokesman for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Lowe said it was unclear if Horn fired his weapon.

Lowe said the investigation will focus on matching the weapons Horn had with him with evidence taken from the scene of the Suttons' murders.

Horn's death was a relief for the community, Oberkrom said.

"A lot of folks are very scared of this individual," he said. "There's a huge amount of relief.

Police say Horn, a former Marine, locked Sutton inside the box whenever he was leaving the house. The box — 100 inches long, 48 inches wide and 52 inches tall — was kept in a bedroom and contained a bucket full of urine and feces along, with 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. Horn was gone by the time police arrived.

Police on Friday announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to Horn's arrest.

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.

Federal prosecutors sought to extend Horn's prison sentence by having him certified as a "sexually dangerous" person.

Under the Adam Walsh Act, for Horn to be civilly committed for more prison time, federal prosecutors were required to prove several factors, including that mental illness would make it difficult for Horn to refrain from sexually violent conduct if released, according to court documents filed in the case.

Horn was diagnosed in 1991 with explosive personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, as well as major depressive disorder.

U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt of the Eastern District of North Carolina, said prosecutors failed to reach that standard.

Horn was released from prison in December 2011, and his probation jurisdiction was transferred in 2012 to Missouri, according to online court records. He was still under federal supervision when he was charged with kidnapping Sutton.

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