Two men charged in death of 29-year-old man found in river

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Justin Michael Emmerton

HENRY COUNTY, Mo. – Two men have been charged with murder in the death of 29-year-old Justin Michael Emmerton, who was found floating in the Grand River on June 5, 2013.

Blake Jamison, 24, of Garden City, Missouri, and Phillip Hayduke, 19, of West Plains, Missouri (formerly Creighton, Missouri), were arrested on Tuesday, and charged Wednesday with first degree murder.

According to court documents, about 6 p.m. on June 5, 2013 Emmerton was found floating in the river near the Urich Boat Ramp, located in the 500 block of NW Highway K, just south of Urich, Missouri city limits. His body was found bound to a chain with a cinder block attached.

The next day an autopsy performed by the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that Emmerton had been shot three times and had died as a result of at least one of those gunshot wounds. Two bullets were removed from the body and determined to be consistent with expended .22 caliber long rifle bullets.

Blake Jamison, 24

Blake Jamison, 24

According to the probable cause statement, it is believed Emmerton had left a party the night of May 30, 2013, and while on the way to his girlfriend’s house, crashed his vehicle and went to a nearby residence to obtain a ride to an nearby convenience store in Kingsville, Missouri, where he was dropped off. While at the store, Emmerton requested the clerk contact his girlfriend and provided her phone number. He was later seen by the clerk getting into a dark colored vehicle with at least two other people. This was believed to be the last time Emmerton was seen alive.

Hayduke, 19

Phillip Hayduke, 19

During months of investigation the names of the two suspects, Jamison and Hayduke, were identified through witness statements, phone conversations and phone records, however attempts to locate the two were unsuccessful until Friday, December 5, 2014, when police obtained an address for Hayduke in West Plains, Missouri.

According to the probable cause statement, the arrests occurred after a witness told police that Hayduke and Jamison were told by an unidentified source back on May 30, 2013, that Emmerton was physically abusive towards his girlfriend, and abusive to his girlfriend’s young daughter. The probable cause statement indicates that during a confrontation with Emmerton over the alleged abuse, the three men got into a fight and during that fight, they are accused of shooting Emmerton.

Bond for Hayduke is currently set for $100,000, while bond for Jamison is set at $250,000. Both suspects are in custody at the Henry County Detention Center.

According to the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, two other persons of interest in Johnson County, Missouri have been questioned in the past two days regarding the homicide, however no additional charges have been issued at this time.