Suspect charged in Ohio shootings

Friday, April 2, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The man arrested in the deadly string of highway shootings that terrorized Ohio drivers for months was indicted Thursday on a murder charge that could bring the death penalty.

Charles A. McCoy Jr., 28, was also charged with numerous other offenses, including attempted murder, assault and vandalism, in half of the 24 shootings.

The murder charge covers the only death in the case, that of 62-year-old Gail Knisley, who was being driven by a friend to a doctor's appointment and shopping trip when a bullet pierced the driver's door and killed her Nov. 25. No one else was ever hit.

Other cases covered by the charges include an Oct. 19 shooting at a tractor-trailer on Interstate 270, a Nov. 11 shooting into an elementary school, and two shootings within minutes of each other Feb. 8 from an Interstate 71 overpass.

McCoy was identified in mid-March as a suspect. But up until Thursday, he had only been charged with assault in one of the shootings.

He was captured March 17 in Las Vegas, two days after investigators released his photo and a description of his car.

The aggravated murder charge says the offense was committed "as part of a course of conduct involving the purposeful killing of or attempt to kill two or more persons."

McCoy lives a half-mile north of the stretch of I-270 where the shootings were concentrated. Lab tests showed that bullets from nine of the shootings -- including the one that killed Knisley -- were fired from the same gun.

Police and relatives have said McCoy is mentally ill, and one of his attorneys has said McCoy's mental health could become a part of the case.

Investigators connected him to the crime after getting a call from a tipster and visiting McCoy's father, who gave them four of McCoy's guns.

He was captured after a Las Vegas man, Conrad Malsom, recognized McCoy from news reports and did a little of his own detective work to find McCoy's car parked at the motel.

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On the Net:

Franklin County Prosecutor's Office: www.co.franklin.oh.us

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