There is no suspect in the shooting deaths of an elderly Ivy Bend couple that police believe occurred Monday evening, Dec. 3, but the Morgan County Sheriff's Office did make a separate arrest in the Ivy Bend area Tuesday evening.
Morgan County Sheriff Jim Petty refused to call the young man who was taken into custody a suspect in the double homicide of Wayne Louis and Mable Irene Wells, but did say that officers will be interviewing the man to investigate a possible connection.
"We do not have a suspect at this time," Petty said. "We don't know yet if there's a connection. You still want to be concerned and lock your doors and be careful."
Anyone who might know or have seen something is asked to call the sheriff's office at 573-378-5481.
The homicides were reported to Morgan County dispatch around 11 a.m. Tuesday morning after a friend went to check on the Wells at their home at 34024 Oak Hill Rd., located off of Ivy Bend Rd. in the extreme southwest part of the county.
The friend reportedly found Mae Wells, 71, lying face down in a pool of blood and called 911, Petty said.
Upon arrival, officers found both Mae and Wayne Wells dead from what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds, according to Petty.
Wayne Wells, 82, was reportedly found in his wheelchair in a separate room.
From the appearance of the wounds, Petty said it did not look like a large caliber gun or a shotgun was used.
The murders are believed to have occurred between dusk and 7 p.m. Dec. 3.
According to Petty, all the lights in the house were on including the porch light when police arrived. Based on information from Mae Wells' daughter, Petty said the couple made popcorn every night at 7 and went to bed at 9, but the couple were not in their sleeping wear and no popcorn had been made.
A neighbor in the vicinity also told police their dogs were barking around 6 p.m. Monday night.
The sheriff's office is treating the crime as a burglary turned homicide at this time.
At the Wells' residence, police found a door had been pushed or kicked in, Petty said, and the home was in some disarray inside. A couple of mattresses appeared to be disturbed but were located separate from the bodies, according to Petty.
A footprint was also found at the scene, he said.
The Wells were full time residents at their large second tier home near the lake. The house is fairly isolated this time of year as the couple were some of the few winter residents in the neighborhood, Petty said.
Police cleared 15-20 homes in the area this afternoon and found most of them vacant. There were no signs of forced entry at any other residence, according to Petty.
Page 2 of 2 - The arrest of the unidentified man was made after a report of a stolen gun was made Tuesday evening in the general vicinity of the Wells' home.
Police received a call after 5 p.m. Dec. 4 from a resident in the area - around a mile from the scene of the double homicide - that a small caliber pistol had been stolen from their home about a week before but had not yet reported it, according to Petty.
Officers went to a neighboring house to ask questions. As they approached the young man, he was reportedly stabbing himself with a knife and ran into the woods when he saw the police, Petty said.
The man was arrested and taken to the hospital for treatment of the non-life-threatening wounds to ensure he was fit for confinement. Police had not yet interviewed the man at the time of an 8 p.m. press conference by the sheriff's office.
A search warrant has been obtained for the man's house and vehicle.
No gun had yet been found in either incident, Petty said at 8 p.m.
At the time of the press conference, the bodies of Wayne and Mae Wells were being removed for an autopsy at 11 a.m. at Capital Region Hospital in Jefferson City, and with assistance from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, officers were still processing the crime scene. The investigation is being conducted by Morgan County deputies, Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. More than 20 officers are investigating the crime.
"We're still in the collecting of evidence process," Petty said.