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Woman who said she was held captive for months found dead

CLINTON, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri woman who authorities said had been held captive in a wooden box for months before being freed about three weeks ago has been found dead from what appear to be gunshot wounds, along with her 17-year-old son, police said Thursday.

Clinton police Lt. Sonny Lynch said Sandra Kay Sutton, 46, and her son, Zachary Wade Sutton, were found dead early Thursday in a relative’s home in Clinton where they had been staying recently.

Lynch said both victims appear to have been shot overnight when Sutton’s relatives were at work, but that autopsies were planned. Relatives found the bodies about 4 a.m., he said.

Sedalia authorities have been searching for Sutton’s former boyfriend, 47-year-old James Barton Horn Jr., Lynch said. Horn was charged earlier this month with kidnapping for allegedly keeping Sandra Sutton in a wooden box for four months at the home they shared in Sedalia, which is about 45 miles northeast of Clinton in western Missouri.

Horn, who had not been taken into custody since the kidnapping charges were filed, is “absolutely” a suspect in the deaths, Lynch said.

The Sedalia Democrat reported that police there have had a home surrounded since before dawn Thursday, and believe Horn is inside. Sedalia police did not immediately return calls seeking comment. The Sedalia school district canceled all outdoor activities and evacuated an alternative high school near that house.

The Pettis County prosecutor’s office did not immediately return messages seeking additional information about the case, including whether there had been any protective orders in place against Horn.

In late April, Sutton told police that Horn had threatened her in a car with a “tire jack” after an argument in January and that when they returned home he began building a wooden structure, and that she had to help with its construction, according to a probable cause statement filed by Sedalia police in the case.

The probable cause statement also said Sutton was allowed to leave the box in the evenings when Barton returned home from work.

Police said the box, which they described as 100 inches long, 48 inches wide and 52 inches tall, was kept in a bedroom and contained a bucket full of urine and feces. The box also contained several layers of insulation, padding and sleeping bags and a small air hole.

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