Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Families Grieve over Three Deaths Authorities Hunt for Killer in Ozarks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Families Grieve over Three Deaths Authorities Hunt for Killer in Ozarks

Article excerpt

On Easter Sundays in the past, Sandra Voyles of Sappington would take her family 150 miles southwest to Richland, Mo., where her children hunted Easter eggs on the farm of her father, Leonard Voyles.

Voyles, who for nearly 30 years built houses and apartments in the St. Louis area, had retired to the rocky Ozark hills where Camden County joins Pulaski County.

A different kind of hunt is under way at the farm this Easter Sunday. With the bedroom of Voyles' farmhouse serving as the command center, police are searching for Alis Ben Johns, a man charged with one murder and suspected of two others, including the shooting death of Leonard Voyles. "It comes to my mind all the time that my dad's been murdered," said Sandra Voyles. "He was just a pillar. Whenever we needed him, whenever we needed help, he was there." Leonard Voyles, 69, was robbed, forced to kneel and was shot twice in the back of the head in his farmhouse bedroom. His body was found Feb. 28. His was the second of three killings connected to Johns, who has eluded county sheriff's deputies since Oct. 1. That's when Tommy Stewart, 31, of Dixon was gunned down on the way home from Lake of the Ozarks. On March 9, deputies in Newton County found the body of Wilma Bragg, 57, in the bedro om of her home in Stark City, Mo. Like Voyles, she had been shot twice in the back of the head, just behind the left ear. As the manhunt for Johns continues, members of victims' families wonder if it's true what police are saying, that friends and family may be hiding Johns and Beverly A. Guehrer-McComb, 37, a woman said to be traveling with him. "If they think he's innocent, then they should have him turn himself in and prove his innocence," said Sandra Voyles. "If he's not innocent, then he's to be out of society so he can't do this anymore." An Easter Dress On the day before she was killed, Wilma Bragg gave to her 2-year-old granddaughter Rachel Guinn a flowered dress with matching hat, white purse and ruffled socks. …

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