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Triple-murder suspect still at large

Triple-murder suspect still at large

October 28th, 2010 in News
The Missouri Highway Patrol's Crime Scene Unit passes the Callaway County Sheriff Department on its way to the residence at 1495 Heart Nut Road at Holts Summit on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010.

The Missouri Highway Patrol's Crime Scene Unit passes...

Photo by Julie Smith

The manhunt for a Mid-Missouri gunman believed to have targeted and killed three Callaway County residents and wounded a fourth continued Wednesday night.

The Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad continued Wednesday night to seek Joshua William Maylee, 23, in connection with the shootings Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Maylee is described as a white male, about 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, blue eyes and balding.

Officials identified the dead as Eugene Allen Pinet, 48, and his wife, Jackie Lee Pinet, 57, and Jeff J. Werdehausen, 46, all of rural Holts Summit.

Werdehausen's wife, Gina Werdehausen, 41, also was shot, but her injuries are not believed to be life threatening and she was listed in stable condition, Wednesday night.

Jackie Pinet worked as a custodian at Simonsen 9th Grade Center, and previously had worked at other schools in the Jefferson City school district, said spokesman David Luther.

At a Wednesday afternoon news conference, Sgt. Robert Bruchsaler, a Cole County sheriff's deputy and spokesman for the Major Case Squad, said the shootings are believed to be targeted, not random.

"We have followed over 60 leads in this case," Bruchsaler said Wednesday night. "We've talked with friends, business associates and family members who may have connections to Mr. Maylee and all have been cooperative."

Burchasler said the first victims were found around 1:40 a.m. and the second set of victims were found around 10:30 a.m.

Anyone who has had negative contact with Maylee in the past is asked to contact Bruchsaler at 573-592-2442 regarding their safety.

Investigators said Maylee may be driving a silver 2000 Pontiac Bonneville SE four door with Missouri plates SC1-S5S.

He might be in Callaway, Cole or Morgan counties.

He is believed to be carrying a high-powered rifle and a handgun.

Authorities have spoken to Gina Werdehausen about the shootings.

Bruchasler said Maylee had numerous business ventures, including a landscaping service

The Major Case Squad consists of about 70 officers from 10 area law enforcement agencies. Its pursuit of the suspect included setting up roadblocks in three area counties. Bruchsaler said he personally fielded more than 100 calls about the shootings on Wednesday.

• • •

Prosecutors this month charged Maylee in two different stealing cases.

He was charged Oct. 4 with stealing property or services worth more than $500, but less than $25,000 on March 23, 2009.

Case.net, the state court system's Internet website, indicates the Highway Patrol was the arresting agency.

The record does not show what bond was set in the case, but he was scheduled to appear before Associate Circuit Judge Carol England on Nov. 12 for a bond hearing. The record shows the second case was filed Wednesday, again charging Maylee with the Class C felony, for an Oct. 15, 2009, incident.

Bond was set at $25,000, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The arresting agency wasn't listed on the second case.

No other details of either case were available.

• • •

The Werdehausens were found at their property, 3682 County Road 488, nearly four miles from the Callaway Hills Elementary School, east of Route AA and near the intersections of Route TT and County Roads 488 and 484.

Gina Werdehausen was taken to University Hospital in Columbia, where she had surgery during the day.

The hospital locked down Wednesday afternoon as a precaution, requiring patients, visitors and staff to be screened upon entering and leaving.

"We have reason to believe a violent individual may seek access to University Hospital," administrators explained in a news release.

Callaway Hills and North elementary schools also were locked down Wednesday afternoon.

"We put (both) elementary schools into lockdown as a safety precaution," Luther said. "We have been in contact with the Callaway County sheriff and while we were advised that students are safe, we wanted to take extra precautions."

But, Luther added, both schools already were taking precautions even before district administrators decided to do the formal lockdown.

"Callaway Hills was on what we've called a low-level lockdown," Luther said, "and North School was on alert."

Officials at the South Callaway school, Mokane, and Blair Oaks school, Wardsville, locked the outside doors to their buildings, but students were able to walk freely from classroom to classroom.

• • •

Friends of Jeff Werdehausen describe him as a hard-working businessman who would do anything for a friend.

Werdehausen, along with his wife, Gina, owned Ideal Hardware and Critics Choice Rental and Tanning, both housed at one location in the Summit Plaza.

People who knew him also said he was a contractor who built houses, leased apartments, and raised cattle on his nearby farm.

Scott Walker, who has worked for the Werdehausen family for close to two decades, was eating lunch Wednesday at Cameron's Country Cafe, Holts Summit, with a few other people who knew Werdehausen.

"He was a great businessman, and very easy to get along with," Walker said. "The whole family was tight knit.

"There was a lot in this community that he owned or built. I just can't believe something like this would happen to him."

Mike Weed agreed: "He was a good fellow. He was always a hard worker and would help out anybody who needed a hand. I've known him for years, and I've never had a problem with him."

Weed said Werdehausen once loaned him a can of gas when his vehicle ran out, just asking him to return it when he got a chance.

Sam Robinett added: "I've never heard anyone say a bad word about him."

Aaron Branch, manager of American Auto, located near the Werdehausens' Summit Plaza businesses, said Werdehausen previously owned a car body shop and that he has been a customer at the auto store for the past 20 years.

"Jeff was a great person, outgoing and always full of life," Branch said. "He was always getting ready for the next project he was going to do."

• • •

Just over two weeks ago, on Oct. 12, the Werdehausens' home was destroyed by fire.

Scott Brooks, Holts Summit Fire Protection District chief, said his agency responded about 2:30 p.m. and found the home engulfed in flames.

The master bedroom was the only room in the home that didn't burn, Brooks said.

He said the fire may have originated at a vehicle in the garage, but it could have started in the structure itself.

Brooks said the fire's cause was labeled as "undetermined," and that Werdehausen never said anything about the possibility of someone intentionally setting it.

A friend said the Werdehausens were living at another structure on their property when the shootings took place, and that a recently divorced friend of Gina Werdehausen had been staying at a third building on the property.

No funeral arrangements had been announced as of Wednesday evening.