ST. LOUIS -- A murder suspect who led authorities on a manhunt and chase across Missouri after allegedly killing four people in Kansas City, Kan., and one more in Missouri in 2016, was found dead in a jail cell early Tuesday morning. The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office says that Pablo Serrano-Vitorino was found alone and unresponsive in a jail cell just after 2 a.m., and pronounced dead at a hospital just after 3 a.m.
The sheriff's office says that Serrano-Vitorino had been jailed in St. Louis. His murder case in Missouri was moved from Montgomery County, where his alleged fifth and final killing took place, to St. Louis.
Serrano-Vitorino was also charged with four counts of first-degree murder in Wyandotte County for allegedly shooting Clint Harter, Austin Harter, Mike Capps, and Jake Waters at the beginning of March in 2016.
After the killings in Kansas City, Kan., police began an intense manhunt for Serrano-Vitorino, ultimately finding him in Montgomery County about a day later, and after he allegedly killed one more victim, 49-year-old Randy Nordman in New Florence, Mo. Nearly 100 officers, including K-9 units and SWAT teams worked on the manhunt. He was reportedly armed with an assault rifle at the time of his capture.
Shortly after his arrest, he unsuccessfully attempted to take his own life in jail. The news release on Tuesday from Montgomery County doesn't elaborate on his cause of death.
Serrano-Vitorino's status in the United States was a source of controversy and an eventual lawsuit. He was in the country illegally after being deported in 2004 due to a felony conviction, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided this statement around the time of his arrest:
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) previously deported Pablo Serrano-Vitorino, an illegal alien from Mexico, in April 2004, based on final orders of removal from a federal immigration judge. Mr. Serrano-Vitorino illegally re-entered the United States on an unknown date."
While it's unknown when he re-entered the U.S., he had two incidents with police before his alleged killing spree. He was in the Wyandotte County jail in June of 2015 for an alleged municipal charge of domestic battery. Three months later, the Johnson County Sheriff's Office says he was fingerprinted in Overland Park, but he was released because of an error by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE says it erroneously issued a detainer to the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, instead of to the Overland Park Municipal Court.
The incidents led to a lawsuit filed in Kansas City, Kan., alleging that officials didn't follow proper procedures. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the widow and two children of Clint Harter, one of the four Kansas men killed, and the widow of Randy Nordman.
The scope of his case also presented a challenge for prosecutors, who had discussed possible extradition from Missouri to Kansas so he could face his Wyandotte County charges. Ultimately he never returned to Kansas, and had a jury trial scheduled in St. Louis at the beginning of October. He was facing the death penalty, despite multiple motions to strike