JEFFERSON CITY — A former rural Missouri sheriff's deputy suspected of killing an ex-lover and her boyfriend has been charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer, after police said he fired on officers following a high-speed chase that ended at a hotel near the state Capitol.
Marvin R. Rice, who was wounded in the Saturday night shootout, also faces an armed criminal action charge stemming from the incident in Cole County, and further charges were expected.
Dent County Prosecutor Sid Pearson said he plans to file charges later Monday against Rice in the Saturday slayings of Annette Durham, 32, and Steven Strotkamp, 39, at their home in Salem. The fatal shootings precipitated a high-speed chase that ended in the shootout 70 miles to the northwest at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, which was packed with hundreds of medical personnel attending a Christmas party and the families of a youth hockey team. None of the guests were injured.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol has described Durham as Rice's ex-wife. But Dent County Sheriff Rick Stallings said Monday that the two were never married. Stallings said the shootings occurred as Rice was demanding custody of a 2-year-old son from Durham. He described Durham and Strotkamp as girlfriend and boyfriend.
The motive for the slaying "had to be in reference to the child they had in common — that's about it," Stallings said.
Rice was in fair condition Monday at University Hospital in Columbia and was considered to be in the custody of the Cole County sheriff's office. There was no indication that he had an attorney yet. A woman who answered the phone at a number listed as Rice's residence declined to comment Monday and then hung up.
The charge of first-degree assault of a law officer carries a punishment of up to life in prison. Felony armed criminal action is punishable by at least three years in prison. Stallings said he expects Rice also will face murder charges in Dent County.
The Dent County sheriff's office said that after the shootings of Durham and Strotkamp, Rice fled with the 2-year-old boy while Durham's 6-year-old daughter ran to a neighbor, who called authorities. The 2-year-old was dropped off safely before Rice took off again in his vehicle. Law officers tracked Rice's vehicle heading north on U.S. 63 by tracing his cell phone signal, and a chase ensued at speeds up to 100 mph. Police placed spikes on the road that punctured a tire on Rice's vehicle. As it deflated, the vehicle pulled into the hotel parking lot.
A probable cause statement by the Jefferson City Police Department said Rice fled on foot into the hotel and fired his gun first at a police officer, who then returned fire. An armed off-duty Cole County sheriff's deputy, who was providing security for the Jefferson City Medical Group party, also engaged in the shootout.
Stallings said Rice was employed as a Dent County sheriff's deputy from 2004 until he was terminated for disciplinary reasons on July 28, 2009. The sheriff declined to elaborate on the reasons for Rice's firing. Rice subsequently was employed as a correctional officer at a state prison.