Tennessee cop killer arrested after manhunt, police say
Authorities had put a public plea on May 31 to help them find the suspect who had been accused of gunning down Sgt Daniel Baker, a deputy wih the Dickson County Sheriff's Office
A man who is a suspect in the fatal shooting of a sheriff's deputy from Tennessee was captured Friday after a three-day dragnet, officials said. A picture of Steven Joshua Wiggins, 31, was posted on Twitter by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation after his capture.
The authorities had put a public plea on May 31 to help them find the suspect who had been accused of gunning down Sgt Daniel Baker, who is a deputy wih the Dickson County Sheriff's Office, during a traffic stop.
The deputy's body was found in the woods in the Dickson County area on May 30.
Wiggins has a long arrest record and was charged a day before, on May 29, for hitting a woman and then stealing her car. According to court documents, the woman was in the car with Wiggins when he shot Sgt Baker. She is currently behind bars on a murder charge for the death of the deputy.
The body of Sgt Baker was discovered inside his patrol car in a wooded area that is a few miles from where he stopped the suspicious car. While he was on the run, a total amount of $46,000 was offered as a reward for any information relating to the whereabouts of Wiggins.
Authorities had warned the public that he should not be approached and should be considered armed and dangerous.
Susan Niland, a spokesperson for TBI, spoke at a press conference on May 31 and said: "It's very imperative for everyone to keep their eyes, their ears open for this individual. He could be in Dickson County. He could be in a neighboring county. But the fact is, we don't know where he is."
The agencies who joined the massive manhunt for Wiggins included federal, state, and local authorities.
According to previous reports, the suspect was last seen wearing blue jeans and a black polo shirt. Niland also said that he could have changed his outfit to get by without anyone noticing.
Dickonson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe said that he believed the suspect might have fled on foot.
Niland reported that Sgt Baker was not responding to calls from the sheriff's office for some time after he got a call about a suspicious vehicle on May 30. Using GPS, the authorities tracked down his vehicle to a wooded area that was about two miles away from where he responded to the 911 call. His body was found inside the patrol car.
A video recording from the incident was used to help in identifying Wiggins as the suspect who gunned down Sgt Baker. Sheriff Bledsoe said that he was more devastated after viewing the "disturbing" footage and realising what his deputy would have gone through at the time. Due to an on-going investigation into Sgt Baker's death, the sheriff said no more information could be disclosed.
The suspect already has charges against him for assaulting the woman and stealing her car, according to a report that was obtained from the Kingston Springs Police Department.
The TBI said that 38-year-old Erika Castro-Miles was charged with first-degree murder on May 30 after the investigators for the case realised that she had been involved in Sgt Baker's death. According to the police report, Castro-Miles told them that, early on May 29, Wiggins had allegedly slapped her on the face and then pulled out some of her hair. He had then allegedly held a gun to her head and told her that he would kill her if she told the police.
She told the investigators that Wiggins then grabbed her keys and took her car without taking her permission. According to Castro-Miles' statement to the police, the suspect had allegedly been "doing meth all night and smoking marijuana". The report also said that she was planning to press charges against him.
A local news report has said that an affidavit that was filed at the Dickson County Court showed that Castro-Miles was, in fact, sitting inside the car with Wiggins when he shot down the deputy. The affidavit also says that she ran away after that and hid underneath a house.
The woman is currently being held at the Dickson County Jail. It is not known at the moment if she has an attorney to represent her case in court. Sheriff Bledsoe said that Wiggins, on the other hand, will be held accountable for the death of Sgt Baker. He will also be facing the maximum penalty that the law will allow in this case.
Sheriff Bledsoe said that 32-year-old Sgt Baker was one of the best that the departmen had. He also said that the deputy was a supervisor who had, in the course of his 10 years with the office, worked his way up the ladder and reached the level of sergeant on patrol.
Sgt Baker has left behind a wife and a daughter. Sheriff Bledsoe said that the Dickson County Sheriff's Office has lost a brother and that the community in general has lost a hero. He said: "Our heart's shattered with this."