Man suspected of killing Oklahoma woman disappears in Missouri Ozarks

Thursday, December 30th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(STOCKTON, Mo. (AP) -- A man suspected of killing a woman in Oklahoma disappeared into the dense woods of the Missouri Ozarks after allegedly stealing a car with an elderly woman and a toddler inside. The woman and the 2-year-old girl were released unharmed before the man, believed to be Steven Ray Thacker, vanished into the woods in southwest Missouri.

Thacker had not been seen since he eluded a Polk County deputy during a car chase Wednesday afternoon, Sgt. Terry Moore of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Thursday. Between 40 and 50 officers were manning checkpoints, patrolling the area and checking on people and abandoned buildings. But the terrain provided plenty of places to hide if the man was still nearby, Moore said. Thacker was suspected in the slaying of Laci Dawn Hill of Bixby, Okla., but he had not been charged by Thursday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the Pryor County, Okla., district attorney's office said.

Ms. Hill, 25, had been missing for more than a week when her partially clad body was found Wednesday under debris inside an outbuilding near Chouteau, Okla. Search dogs had found her purse nearby earlier. Thacker has no ties to southwest Missouri, and Moore said authorities were unsure why he apparently traveled from Oklahoma to the Springfield, Mo., area where he met a 27-year-old woman who was offering her car for sale.

The woman met a man believed to be Thacker in the parking lot of a drug store. She was talking with Thacker outside of the car when it became apparent that he intended to steal it, Moore said. There was a scuffle between the woman and Thacker before he go tinto the car and drove off with a 79-year-old woman and the toddler inside, Moore said. The woman and the girl were let out of the car near Ash Grove before a Polk County deputy spotted the car and gave chase. Thacker lost control of the car as he attempted to turn onto a Cedar County road from Missouri 32. The deputy who was pursuing him skidded past him. By the time he backed up to the intersection, the driver had disappeared.