Child taken from Patton shooting scene found safe; Amber Alert canceled

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An Amber Alert issued earlier this morning for a missing child and suspect connected to the shooting death of a Patton, Mo., woman has been canceled.

According to the Amber Alert website, said the victim was recovered safely and the suspect, John Wilfong, is in custody. Both were foster children at a residence where the foster mother was found dead Tuesday.

Police are investigating the shooting death of the Patton woman, Bollinger County sheriff-elect chief deputy Leo McElrath said on Tuesday.

Sheriff's deputies received a call around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday from the victim's husband, McElrath said. The man returned home from work to find his wife dead in their residence off Highway 51 in Patton.

The cause of death appeared to be a gunshot wound, said Bollinger County Coroner Charles Hutchings, who pronounced the victim dead at the scene. An autopsy has been scheduled for today in Farmington, Mo., he said.

The residence did not appear to have been burglarized or ransacked, nor was there sign of forced entry, McElrath said.

The two children, both fostered by the victim and her husband, were reportedly at home with the victim at the time, and they were missing, McElrath said. The victim's gold Yukon sport utility vehicle, was also gone.

"I think the key is going to be in finding the SUV. That will tell us if it was a kidnapping or something else," McElrath said.

Authorities have not released the name of the adult victim pending notification of family members, McElrath said.

The Cape Girardeau County-Bollinger County Major Case Squad was activated immediately to investigate the homicide. Members of the case squad convened Tuesday night at Meadow Heights High School in Patton, using the Sikeston Department of Public Safety's Mobile Command Center to help with communication in rural Patton.

It was the first time the major case squad has been activated since April, when it was called to investigate a fatal arson in Cape Girardeau.

Southeast Missourian reporter Brian Blackwell contributed to this report.


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