Suspect arrested in deadly Miss. highway shootings

James D. Willie
James D. Willie

**A news conference will be held regarding this arrest at 12 p.m. CST.  Watch it live online right here at WMCTV.COM or on Action News 5.

TUNICA COUNTY, MS - (WMC-TV) - A suspect has been arrested in connection with two North Mississippi highway murders.

Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain said 28-year-old James D. Willie will be charged with two counts of capital murder later today.

Willie is being held at the Tunica County jail on charges of aggravated assault, kidnapping, and rape. Tuesday morning, police in Tunica responded to a disturbance in the 2600 block of Old Highway 61. There, authorities found Willie with a woman who alleged he raped her and he was taken into custody.

Strain said authorities were able to match ballistics from the shootings to a 9mm Ruger found in Willie's possession when he was arrested.

"Hundreds of man hours have been devoted to tracking down and arresting this individual," said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. "Public safety is of paramount concern to us. Just as a week ago, with the resolution of the kidnap/murder case in North Mississippi, again we see the effective results of a unified effort of several law enforcement agencies working together."

Strain said Willie was not posing as a police officer as authorities previously suspected.

Mississippi law enforcement agencies had warned motorists that someone may be posing as an officer because the shooting victims had no obvious reason to be stopped on the interstate where they were found.

Last Tuesday, 74-year-old Thomas Schlender of Raymond, Nebraska was found shot to death in his truck in the median of southbound I-55.

Last Friday, 48-year-old Lori Carswell of Hernando was also found shot to death in her vehicle near the intersection of MS713 and I-69.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. The AP contributed to this report.