Woman escapes captivity only to be murdered weeks later

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(Missouri State Highway Patrol)

(CNN)A Missouri woman kept captive in a wooden box for four months escaped in April, only to be shot to death this week along with her son, police said.

The same ex-boyfriend who allegedly confined her in the box is suspected in the killings, authorities said Friday.

James Barton Horn Jr. has been charged with kidnapping, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon for allegedly keeping Sandra Sutton in a box at a home in Sedalia, Missouri.

Horn, 47, has remained on the run in the kidnapping case, and is considered armed and dangerous, police said.

He’s now wanted in connection with the double homicide.

Freed, but in hiding

Authorities were called to a house in Clinton on Thursday, where they found two victims shot to death. They were identified as Sutton, 46, and her son, Zachary Sutton, 17.

The two were staying with Sutton’s relatives after she fled from her alleged captor, who’d held her hostage from January to April 30, police said.

Sutton’s body was in the bedroom, while her son’s was found on the stairs. They were discovered about 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

“They were discovered by family members who were working on the overnight shift,” said Lt. Sonny Lynch of the Clinton Police Department. “They had been away working when this happened.”

Why didn’t she have police protection?

The fatal shootings sparked questions on why Sutton didn’t have police protection while the man who allegedly kept her captive was still on the run.

The two moved in with Sutton’s brother, and local authorities didn’t know that she lived in Clinton, Lynch told CNN affiliate KSHB.

“We did not know she was living in our community,” Lynch said. “We’re still investigating those details. We were not notified that she was in our community.”

Victim advocacy groups urged Sutton to get protection from police, but she said she felt safe, Lynch told the affiliate.

The suspect knew her relatives, where they lived and what shifts they worked, according to Lynch.

Police have searched various homes linked to the suspect, including the one in Sedalia where she was allegedly kept in a box.

Sutton’s escape

In Sedalia, authorities have searched for the suspect since Sutton’s ordeal surfaced.

She escaped at 6 p.m., April 30, and ran to a neighbor’s house, who helped her notify authorities, KSHB reported.

When police arrived, a “hysterical” Sutton told them Horn had kept her in a wooden box on and off for four months inside a house they shared, according to the affiliate.

She was allowed to get out of the box when the suspect was home in the evenings, police said.

Authorities went to the home and found a box that matched the victim’s description, the affiliate reported. Details about her kidnapping case were not immediately available.

While there is no evidence there is a second suspect in the killing, authorities believe Horn is getting help from someone.

A search for him has extended nationwide.