Tue | Oct 16, 2018

Woman held in box for months found dead, man sought

Published:Friday | May 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM
James Barton Horn Jr., of Sedalia, Missouri. Police are searching for Horn after finding Sandra Kay Sutton, 46, and her son, Zachary Wade Sutton shot to death yesterday, at a relative's home in Clinton, Missouri


Police surrounded a house yesterday looking for the ex-boyfriend of a woman found dead, along with her teenage son, less than a month after the man was charged for allegedly holding her captive in a wooden box for months in western Missouri.

Sandra Kay Sutton, 46, and her son, Zachary Wade Sutton, were found dead early in the day in a relative's home in Clinton. Both victims appear to have been shot overnight while Sutton's relatives were at work, Clinton police Lieutenant Sonny Lynch said.

Police have been searching for her former boyfriend, James Barton Horn Jr, since he was charged earlier this month with kidnapping. Investigators allege that he kept Sandra Sutton in a wooden box off-and-on for four months at the home they shared in Sedalia, about 45 miles northeast of Clinton.

Horn, a registered sex offender who served time in prison for a kidnapping and sexual attack, disappeared before police could arrest him in that case. Lynch said Horn is "absolutely" a suspect in the deaths.

Lynch said Sedalia police have surrounded a home where they believe Horn may be hiding, but that authorities have not made contact with anyone inside. The Sedalia school district cancelled all outdoor activities and evacuated an alternative high school nearby.

'extremely dangerous'

Lynch warned that Horn was an "extremely dangerous, violent person," and that anyone providing him shelter could face charges if they were aware of the pending kidnapping charges.

Sutton told police in late April that Horn had threatened her in a car with a "tire jack" after an argument in January. When they returned home, he began building a wooden structure and she had to help with its construction, according to a probable cause statement filed by Sedalia police.

Sutton was allowed to leave the box in the evenings when Barton returned home from work, according to court documents.

Police said the box was kept in a bedroom and contained a bucket full of urine and feces. The box, which investigators said was 100 inches long, 48 inches wide and 52 inches tall, also contained several layers of insulation, padding and sleeping bags and a small air hole.