Manhunt brings back memories of 1986 search

By Tim Schmidt, Record Managing Editor
Posted 10/3/16

As dozens of police officers descended on Montgomery County this week to search for a murder suspect believed to have killed five people, it had many residents on edge. It also had some residents …

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Manhunt brings back memories of 1986 search


As dozens of police officers descended on Montgomery County this week to search for a murder suspect believed to have killed five people, it had many residents on edge.It also had some residents recalling a similar scene nearly 30 years ago when a murderer was on the loose around Wright City.In 1986, Michael Wayne Jackson, a 41-year-old former mental patient, went on a three-state rampage that began in Indiana and ended in Wright City. During a 10-day manhunt, Jackson killed three and abducted several others.Jackson’s ability to elude police terrorized the city and forced residents to arm themselves and keep their doors locked at all times.“You were on heightened alert,” said Karen Girondo, who was city clerk at the time and now is the city’s economic development director/treasurer.Jackson was eventually found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in a barn outside of Wright City. The news brought a big sense of relief to the city and its residents.“When I woke up the next morning, we were the lead story on the ‘Today Show,’ ” Girondo said. “I thought, ‘This is something bigger than I thought.’ It does bring back memories, good and bad. The community came together, but you also didn’t know where he was at and what he would do.”A similar scene unfolded in Montgomery County Tuesday. Upwards to 100 officers, two helicopters, police dogs and at least one SWAT team responded to search for Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino, suspected of killing five people.The extensive manhunt came to a close early Wednesday morning when Serrano-Vitorino was found lying on a hill just north of Interstate 70 in New Florence. No shots were fired and he was taken into custody without resistance, police said.“He looked exhausted,” Sgt. James Hedrick said.Serrano-Vitorino, a Mexican national who authorities said was in the country illegally, is accused of fatally shooting four men late Monday night at his neighbor’s home in Kansas City, Kan. He was also wanted in connection with the shooting death of 49-year-old Randy Nordman at a home near New Florence Tuesday morning.The manhunt shifted Tuesday, when a truck Serrano-Vitorino was believed to be driving was found about 7 a.m. abandoned along I-70 near New Florence, about 20 miles west of Warrenton.About 25 minutes later, sheriff’s deputies responded to a shooting about five miles away at a Montgomery County home and found the body of Nordman, according to the patrol. Highway Patrol Lt. Paul Reinsch said a witness who called 911 reported seeing a man running from Nordman’s property, launching a manhunt of that area.Reinsch said investigators weren’t aware of any connection between Serrano-Vitorino and Nordman, whose home is near his family’s campground and a racetrack for remote-controlled cars.Authorities haven’t released the names of the four Kansas victims.Serrano-Vitorino was charged with four counts of first-degree murder in their killings, Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman said.As police searched for Serrano-Vitorino Tuesday, many schools in the area were on lockdown, including those in the Warren County R-III and Wright City R-II school districts, and after-school activities were canceled.There also was heightened police presence when students were dismissed. Students who lived in the western half of the R-III district near the Montgomery County line were required to be picked up, Superintendent Dr. Jim Chandler reported.U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement Tuesday night that Serrano-Vitorino had been deported from the U.S. in April 2004 and illegally re-entered “on an unknown date.” ICE said it would place a detainer on Serrano-Vitorino if he is taken into custody.The Associated Press contributed to this storyPablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino