A manhunt that involved officers from multiple law enforcement agencies last Thursday ended peaceably after the person of interest — naked, save for a towel — knocked on a resident’s door in northern Cape Girardeau County.
Myron Lee Tillman, 41, of Lilbourn, was taken into custody without incident early Friday morning after leading law enforcement on a 23-mile, wrong-way chase on Interstate 55 that resulted in a traffic accident and a death and a manhunt involving multiple law enforcement agencies, search dogs and a helicopter.
Tillman was charged with operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner involving an accident and leaving the scene of an accident. His bond was set at $10,000. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported that, during the chase, a Ford F-150 pickup hit a car near the 111 mile marker and the driver of the truck got out and fled on foot into the wooded area near the interstate. Deputies from both Cape Girardeau and Perry Counties spent several hours Thursday searching the area for a suspect described as a “black male in his underwear” before the active search was called off later that day. The search was focused primarily in the area near the Cowboy Church just off the Oak Ridge exit near Route KK, and Old Appleton, just across the creek from Apple Creek in Perry County.
“We had four or five guys down there assisting the search,” said Perry County Sheriff Gary Schaaf. “The guys were down there assisting Cape County as best we could, but nobody had any luck finding him. Then some person called in and said they had seen someone matching that description, and they thought they had got into a tan or gold four-door car and proceeded north but couldn’t verify that.”
Friday morning, just after 6 a.m., a local resident contacted law enforcement to report an individual matching Tillman’s description that had knocked on their door asking to be let in.
A probable cause statement filed by state police investigators said Tillman’s family told officers that Tillman had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had not been taking his medication.
According to reports, Tillman’s wrong-way run began Thursday morning when police received reports of a vehicle traveling north on I-55 in the southbound lane. Not long after, officers received reports of an incident involving Tillman’s vehicle and a death near the 88-mile marker in Scott County.
Schaaf said his deputies were on standby during the chase.
“We had a report that there was a vehicle traveling in the wrong lane of the interstate and northbound,” Schaaf said. “It involved some sort of an accident south of where I found that later was at about the 88-mile marker where somebody died. I found out later that he didn’t hit somebody else — somebody that was in his vehicle fell out of the vehicle and died.”
That person was later identified as Claude L. Nix Jr., 41, of Jackson, Tenn. Tillman later told officers that Nix, who reportedly suffered skull fractures and a broken neck, jumped out of the truck. Tillman has not been charged in Nix’s death, but state police say the investigation is ongoing.