Suspect in eight murders arrested in Illinois, United States

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nicholas T. Sheley
Image: Illinois State Police.

Following a manhunt in two states, police have arrested Nicholas Troy Sheley whom authorities suspect in eight murders in the United States. The FBI launched the manhunt on Tuesday after four victims were discovered on June 30, 2008.

Sheley was arrested without incident after being recognized in a bar in Granite City, Illinois. Two regular customers, Gary Range and Samantha Butler, and bartender Jennifer Lloyd recognized Sheley who had entered and ordered a glass of water. Range told the Associated Press that he then found a police officer parked nearby.

"I told [the police officer] the description and the officer said, 'That's him.' He got on the radio and eventually there were police all over the place," Range said.

According to Sgt. Thomas J. Burek, Illinois State Police, the FBI, and the St. Louis Major Crimes Task Force, Sheley was apprehended without a struggle. He was arrested when he stepped out of the bar to have a cigarette and found himself surrounded.

"He was desperate and he gave up without a fight," said Tim Lewis, police chief in Festus, Missouri. "He looks rough. He's had a rough two days."

Sheley is being held at Madison County Jail in Edwardsville. He appeared before County Judge Edward Ferguson and was charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery and vehicular hijacking in the case of Ronald Randall. The 65-year old victim was beaten to death in Galesburg, Illinois on Saturday and found on Monday. Sheley is being held on US$1 million bail, which he indicated he would be unable to post.

Sheley's cousin, Eric Smith, is being held on obstruction of justice charges, while Sheley's brother, Josh Sheley, is being charged with concealing a homicidal death and obstructing justice.

Sheley's wife and uncle have both told reporters that Sheley, 28, is addicted to drugs and alcohol and prone to violence when under the influence of these substances.

Nicholas Sheley will also be charged with the murder of 93-year old Russell Reed in Sterling, Illinois, said the Whiteside County prosecutor. Medical examiners estimate that Reed was killed on June 23.

On Monday, the bodies of Brock Branson, 29, and Kenneth Ulve Jr., 25, of Rock Falls, Illinois along with Kilynna Blake, 20, and Dayan Blake, 2, of Cedar City, Utah were found. Police say that Sheley knew both Branson and Ulwe. The two were found in an apartment in Rock Falls and are believed to have died late Saturday or early Sunday.

Tom and Jill Estes of Sherwood, Arkansas were found in Festus, Missouri at a Comfort Inn, also on Monday. They were found after another guest at the hotel reported two dogs covered in blood in the parking lot. The couple had been visiting the area for a graduation and family reunion. Although 250 miles (400 km) away, this case was linked after Sheley's fingerprints were found in Randall's truck which was abandoned in Festus.

All eight victims succumbed to blunt force trauma.