GRANITE CITY, Ill. An exhaustive, two-state manhunt for an ex-convict suspected in eight grisly slayings, in which a woman and her child formerly from Cedar City, Utah, were victims, has ended with the man quietly arrested outside a bar known as a police hangout.
Nicholas T. Sheley's capture was only a matter of time because of the intense publicity surrounding the case, said Tim Lewis, police chief in the St. Louis suburb of Festus, Mo. Police knew from a number of witness reports that Sheley was in the area, he said.
"He was desperate and he gave up without a fight," Lewis said Tuesday night. "He looks rough. He's had a rough two days."
Sheley was taken into custody around 6:40 p.m. Tuesday while smoking a cigarette outside Bindy's, a bar in Granite City about 10 miles north of St. Louis, witnesses said.
He ordered a glass of water and went to the bathroom before an employee and customer recognized him, bartender Katie Ronk said. The customer, Gary Range, said he left the bar and notified a police officer parked in the lot outside.
"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.
The 28-year-old was arrested without incident, state police Sgt. Thomas J. Burek said. He was being held at the Granite City police department, according to a department spokeswoman, who said she was not aware of Sheley having a lawyer.
It was not immediately clear when or where Sheley would appear in court, because authorities are deciding whether he will stay in Illinois or go to Missouri to face possible charges.
The FBI on Tuesday launched a manhunt for Sheley, who they warned was considered armed and dangerous. He is suspected of killing, among others, a 93-year-old man, a toddler and a couple whose blood-soaked dogs were found roaming a motel parking lot.
Sheley has only been charged in the death of two of the eight deaths. Law enforcement agencies declined to speculate on a motive.
He faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated battery and vehicular hijacking in the death of Ronald Randall, 65, whose body was found Monday behind a grocery store in Galesburg, in northwestern Illinois, police said.
Sheley also is charged with murder in the death of 93-year-old Russell Reed in Sterling, according to the Whiteside County State's Attorney.
Investigators said all the victims appeared to have died from blunt force trauma and that evidence linked to Sheley was recovered at each scene. The FBI and Illinois State Police declined to elaborate.
Authorities said the killings began with the beating death of Reed, a Sterling man whose body was found stuffed 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 nearby Rock Falls. Investigators believe they likely died late Saturday or early Sunday.
Sheley was acquainted with the male victims, Brock Branson and Kenneth Ulvey, both in their 20s, said Illinois State Police Region Two Commander Mark Maton. The Whiteside County coroner identified the remaining victims as 20-year-old Kilynna Blake, 20, and Dayan Blake, 2, both of Cedar City, Utah.
Cedar City police officers notified Blake's family in Utah of her death late Tuesday.
"She grew up here in Cedar," Cedar City Police Sgt. Jerry Womack told the Deseret News. "I don't know what the circumstances were but she ended up there."
News reports from Illinois said that Blake was living with her fiance, Brock Branson. Dayan Blake was Kilynna's son from a previous relationship.More than 250 miles away, the bodies of Tom and Jill Estes of Sherwood, Ark., were found Monday behind a gas station in Festus, said Lt. Bill Baker of the St. Louis Area Major Case Squad.
The couple had checked into a Comfort Inn in Festus on Friday and were last seen late Sunday. Their dogs were found in the hotel parking lot, unharmed but covered with blood.
Public records show Sheley has multiple convictions for robbery, drugs and weapons charges and has spent three years in prison.
On Wednesday, two of Sheley's family members also were being held in Whiteside County on charges connected to Reed's killing.
Eric Smith, Sheley's cousin, was being held on $100,000 bond on an obstruction of justice charge. Sheley's brother Josh Sheley was being held on a $750,000 bond and was charged with concealing a homicidal death and obstructing justice, according to the state's attorney.
Both were scheduled for July 11 court appearances.
Sheley's uncle, Joe Sheley, 47, of Sterling, said 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 served nearly three years for aggravated robbery between 2000 and 2003 and another 17 months on parole, which ended in April 2005, IDOC spokesman Derek Schnapp said.
Federal prosecutors in northern Illinois charged Sheley on Tuesday with fleeing the state to avoid prosecution for a June 14 felony home invasion in Sterling.
At one point Sheley was in Iowa, and stopped to call his wife Saturday from a rest area between Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, an FBI agent said in an affidavit.
William Monroe, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago field office, said he believes Sheley also traveled last week to buy drugs in Chicago, where authorities recovered two handguns taken from Reed the first man killed.
Deseret News writer Ben Winslow and Associated Press writers Daniel Yovich in Sterling, and Sophia Tareen, Ashley M. Heher and Don Babwin in Chicago contributed to this report.