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Crime

Miller County victims connected to homicide suspect by ex-wife

JT McLean
Boone County Sheriff's Office
JT McLean
20210909_130140
KMIZ
A Miller County sheriff's cruiser sits outside a home where two people were killed on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021.
20210909_130800
KMIZ
A Miller County deputy looks into a wooded area outside the home where two people were killed on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021.

UNION COUNTY, S.D. (KMIZ)

The Boone County Sheriff's Office said Thursday two people found dead in Miller County on Wednesday are connected to JT McLean through one of his ex-wives.

McLean is accused of killing four people, including a Boone County mother and her 11-year-old daughter and two people in Miller County. McLean has been found dead in South Dakota.

According to the Union County Sheriff's Office, J.T. McLean, 45, was found in the area near Dakota Dunes late Wednesday night in a vehicle parked at a motel. That was after the Miller County Sheriff's Office says it found the bodies of a male and female in the 300 block of Route D in Kaiser. The sheriff identified McLean as a suspect in those killings.

Watch an update on the case and Boone County Sheriff's Office news conference in the player below.

The sheriff's office later identified the Miller County victims as Daniel Stephan, 74, and Pamela Stephan, 64. Authorities did not release how the Stephans died.

Deputies said OnStar helped investigators find McLean after he stole the vehicle from one of the victims.

A drone was used to fly over the vehicle to make contact with McLean, according to the sheriff's office. Deputies said he was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Union County, S.D., Sheriff Dan Limoges said he's confident McLean's death was a suicide and that he will not order an autopsy. Missouri authorities can take custody of McLean's body once South Dakota officials release it, he said.

Limoges said he wasn't sure why McLean was in the area but noted a family connection to the area.

ABC 17 News obtained a copy of a search warrant the Union County Sheriff's Office served on the truck to gather information on the Boone County homicides. The inventory includes a "wooden cross, length of white chord, two rubber straps, mens belt and flashlight all smeared with blood." The inventory also listed a range finding scope, assorted mens clothing and a "green backpack with cans of tuna, crystal orb and toiletries."

Union County Chief Deputy Chris Halm would not comment on the specific pieces of evidence seized but told ABC 17 News that it would be "very useful" for the investigations in Missouri. Halm said the department served a second search warrant on Thursday for items McLean had on him at the time of his death.

Click on the text windows in the timeline below for more details.

The U.S. Marshal's Office in Sioux City, Iowa also reported McLean has family in the area. According to the sheriff's office, those family members were moved from their home to a more safe location.

McLean is accused of killing Allison Abitz, 43, and her daughter, Jose Abitz, 11, at their home south of Columbia on Aug. 22.

Allison (left) and Jozee Abitz.

He is also wanted in Miller County in two other homicide investigations.

During the investigation in Miller County, deputies found a motorcycle not registered to McLean in the woods near the Stephans' residence that authorities believed McLean used to leave the crime scene two weeks ago.

Capt. Brian Leer, Boone County Sheriff's Department, said the department is using technology to figure out what McLean was doing for the past two weeks. Capt. Leer says there were indications that McLean was in Mid-Missouri this week.

Boone County prosecutors charged McLean last month with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of the Abtizes. Investigators say witnesses and surveillance video tie him to the home where they died the night before their bodies were found.

Court documents show McLean was ordered to stay away from his ex-wife and child in August 2017.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Boone / Columbia / Email Alert – Breaking News / Homicide / Miller / News / Top Stories / Video

ABC 17 News Team

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