Suspects in Crab Orchard murder captured

By Gus Bode

Two suspects were arrested Wednesday by the Columbia Police Department of Columbia, Mo., and charged with the murder of Benjamin Slaughter, 26, of Carbondale.

Police have been searching for Terrance Vinson, 29, and Michael Thompson, 28, since the Oct. 16 abduction of three persons, including Slaughter. A statement released by Lt. Paul Echols of the Carbondale Police Department said the two have been charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department. Warrants issued by Jackson County Sheriff’s Department included unlawful restraint, battery and unlawful use of a weapon.

Slaughter’s body was found on Oct. 17 at the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge. Two other captives were found alive, though Slaughter had been shot.

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Capt. Brad Nelson of the Columbia Police Department said Carbondale and Williamson County detectives notified his department that Vinson and Thompson could have been staying with personal connections in Columbia. An officer from Columbia Police identified Vinson standing outside of the house the previous night. The two were arrested in a house at 8:33 a.m. by a SWAT team.

The SWAT team confiscated a handgun that police are not releasing details about at this time. Occupants of the house claimed the gun belonged to Vinson and Thompson, Nelson said. No direct connection between the gun and Slaughter’s murder have been made at this time, Nelson said.

Echols said the Carbondale Police would handle further investigation because charges are issued from both Jackson and Williamson counties. The suspect’s transportation from Columbia to Illinois would be taken care of by deputies in Williamson County.

Vinson and Thompson would stand trial to the more serious charges brought up by Williamson County first, Echols said.

Both suspects had previous records with Jackson County prior to the Oct. 16 abduction.

A third culprit, Trevis S. Thompson, 21, of Carbondale turned himself in to deputies at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department on Oct. 17 for allegedly being involved with the abductions. He is still in custody at the Jackson County Jail on a $250,000 bond, and appears in court on Friday.

Barton Lorimor can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 274 or [email protected]

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