UPDATE: Body found in truck leads to standoff in Missouri

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 | 1:20 p.m. CST

LADDONIA — A truck driver wanted for questioning after a body was found in the refrigerated compartment of a tractor-trailer has been arrested after a nearly daylong hostage situation ended in eastern Missouri.

Audrain County Sheriff Stuart Miller said the standoff ended peacefully Wednesday morning when 38-year-old Chester Harvey Jr. released his 14-year-old son, who was his last hostage, and surrendered.

The Audrain County Sheriff's Department said the Missouri State Highway Patrol received a tip Monday night about a possible homicide and contacted the Sheriff's Department. The investigation led law enforcement to a tractor-trailer parked on the east side of Vandalia, where they found the body Tuesday.

Miller said authorities didn't know the identity of the body and were awaiting an autopsy to determine the cause of death. He said the tractor had been leased to Harvey and the trailer belonged to an undisclosed company.

Later Tuesday, officers cornered Harvey in a house in Laddonia, where he's accused of holding his four children and his wife hostage.

Miller said Harvey was charged Tuesday night in a warrant with kidnapping and abandonment of a corpse. The kidnapping count stems from claims that he held his 9-year-old son hostage. Miller said the boy who was in a wheelchair wasn't released until 2 a.m. Wednesday, even though he is on dialysis and was overdue for a treatment.

Authorities said Harvey had released his first two hostages, ages 7 and 16, Tuesday. He released his wife, identified as Angela Dawn, 34, around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Miller said Harvey was being transported to the Audrain County Jail, where he would be held without bond. The court clerk did not immediately respond to a call about whether Harvey had an attorney yet.

Authorities are offering a $1,000 reward for information.


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