DAKOTA DUNES, SD (KTIV) - A man wanted in Missouri for the murders of four people has been found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota.
Wednesday night, the U.S. Marshal's Service was looking for 45-year-old J.T. McLean, who was accused of murdering four people, including his former girlfriend and her 11-year-old daughter.
McLean was believed to be in the vehicle of one of his victims, and authorities knew he had family in Dakota Dunes. The Union County Sheriff's Office alerted the family, and they were evacuated from their home as authorities searched for McLean.
With the help of OnStar, authorities were able to find McLean parked outside the Country Inn and Suites in Dakota Dunes.
"Once we determined, or were notified the vehicle was located, it was a matter of minutes that we had people, officers, detectives all around the area," said Union County Sheriff Dan Limoges.
Sheriff Limoges says after using a drone, they determined McLean was already dead inside the car from what, authorities say, was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"The drone, you know, it keeps everybody safe. We were able, the operator swooped in with the drone. Was able to lower down to the level of the windows of the vehicle. Because we were giving commands, and he wasn't following any commands. But, this drone made it safe for us, so we could approach the vehicle," said Limoges.
Limoges added officials cleared the area around 4:30 a.m. Thursday. He said in situations, like these, it's vitally important to be able to work with different agencies to keep everyone involved safe.
"It goes to show the cooperation between law enforcement and different agencies. Yeah, we have boundaries, state boundaries, whatever. But in a time of essence and safety of our public those boundaries kind of melt away. We do what has to be done to get it done," said Limoges.
Authorities say McLean was wanted for the murder of four people in Missouri. KY3 TV reports two of those homicides were McLean’s girlfriend, Allison Abitz, and her 11-year-old daughter Jozee Abitz. They were killed on Aug. 22 in Boone County, south of Columbia. Evidence indicates Abitz, who was an elementary school teacher in Fulton, Missouri, was strangled, and her daughter was drowned.
The other two victims were found dead in Miller County on Sept. 8 by local sheriff's deputies. The bodies of Daniel and Pamela Stephan were found after deputies were dispatched to a residence located north of the Lakes of the Ozarks State Park for a well-being check. Authorities have confirmed Daniel and Pamela were related to McLean's ex-wife, but they have not released what that relationship is.