More Murders Linked to William Ashby - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/03/06

More Murders Linked to William Ashby

Investigators in Tennessee say Ashby killed two people in Cumberland Gap. Investigators in Tennessee say Ashby killed two people in Cumberland Gap.

We're getting more and more information about 37-year-old William Ashby, the man Florida deputies shot and killed Monday night near St. Augustine. Investigators from at least five states are considering him a suspect in killings across the Southeast.

Ashby may have gone on a surprisingly large killing spree, without garnering a lot of attention until after he led police on a high-speed chase and died in that shootout in St. John's County.

Add Tennessee to the list of states glad to see Ashby's string of shootings come to an end.

"The feeling I have? Relief," said Sheriff David Ray, from Claiborne County, Tennessee. He said Ashby is the man who killed two people, Ralph Hooper and Julie Maiden, during a package store robbery in Cumberland Gap.

"We have physical evidence and circumstantial evidence which places him near the crime scene," said Ray.

This newest accusation came after police in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida all started looking at him as a potential suspect. In Nassau County, Florida, deputies released a man they'd already arrested in one murder, and said they're taking a closer look at Ashby.

"You know about what occurred in St. John's County," explained Sheriff Tommy Seagraves. "We haven't said that's our suspect, but anything at this time can be ruled as a possibility."

Effingham County sheriff's deputies first started looking for Ashby after they say he shot a convenience store clerk in the head a week and a half ago in Eden. Murder investigations in both Pooler and Beaufort County are considering him a possible suspect, too, but investigators outside the region really didn't know about Ashby until this weekend.

Sunday, he was linked to the murder of 22-year-old Elizabeth Hafter in Virginia, where police say he shot her in the head and stole her car. He was driving that same car when he was shot Monday night.

"You've got an armed and dangerous homicide suspect who is not complying with commands of law enforcement," said St. John's County Sheriff David Shoar. "We don't give them a whole lot of time in those types of circumstances."

There's a lot of information coming in from a lot of different areas, and WTOC will be sure to report any more developments in this bizarre crime spree.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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