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UPDATE: Overnight manhunt ends with suspect's suicide

Saturday, May 10, 2014 | 10:03 p.m. CDT; updated 9:02 a.m. CDT, Monday, May 12, 2014
At Trowbridge Livestock Center at MU, a body was found Saturday that matched the description of the man law enforcement had been pursuing Friday night.

This article has been updated to include the suspect's name and age.

COLUMBIA — MU students on Saturday found the body of the man whom police said led them on an overnight manhunt through the woods after a series of violent break-ins and sexual assaults.

Police identified the man as Zane S. Black, 36, of Columbia. He was reported missing May 8, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol's missing persons list.

His death appears to be a suicide, and no foul play is suspected, according to an MU news release.

Around 11:45 a.m. Saturday, students working at Trowbridge Livestock Center at MU called police because they had found a body in a hallway, said Capt. Brian Weimer, an MU Police Department spokesman. The body matched the description of Black, whom law enforcement had been pursuing Friday night.

On Friday afternoon, the Columbia Police Department issued a news release detailing a series of break-ins and sexual assaults that occurred in Columbia beginning on May 1 that were believed to be related.

Later Friday, police received a report of a peeping Tom incident that had taken place on May 1 in the 2500 block of Bluff Boulevard, said Latisha Stroer, a spokeswoman for the Columbia Police Department. The woman said a man had looked through her bedroom window as she was getting dressed after a shower. She was able to identify the man for police.

Columbia police made phone contact with him Friday afternoon and told him the police wanted to speak to him about that incident and others in the area, according to a Columbia police news release Saturday. Stroer said the man knew officers were looking for him but made no further contact with police after the phone call. 

Later Friday, police received a call about a suspicious man near the 3100 block of Rock Quarry Road shortly before 8 p.m., Stroer said. Police believed he was the man they had spoken to on the phone earlier. When officers responded to the area, the man ran into the woods, and police pursued him on foot.

This set off a large-scale manhunt that involved a series of public alerts, K-9 tracking teams and a helicopter search of the area.

Law enforcement established a perimeter around the wooded area the suspect ran into. MU police, the Boone County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol aided in the mass search, which lasted for four hours.

Abdullah Arish, a resident of The Grove, said he saw police with handguns and flashlights combing the woods behind his complex's parking lot as he walked to his car between 9 and 10 p.m. Friday night.

As he and his friend Hassan Almajed drove out of the parking lot toward downtown, they saw six or seven Columbia Police Department cars parked along Rock Quarry Road.

"When (Arish) told me that he saw police officers with guns, we thought it was serious," Almajed said.

Around 10 p.m., MU police released a notice that said the suspect was last seen near the Hinkson Creek area south of campus and was headed toward campus. By midnight, law enforcement had scaled back the search, though both MU police and Columbia police continued to search for him in reduced numbers.

The man was described as wearing a black shirt and khaki shorts or pants, Stroer said. According to the release from MU police, he was in his 30s and stood 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall. He had an athletic build.

Around 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Columbia police said in a release that the search for the suspect was over after they confirmed that the man whose body had been discovered Saturday was the same man they were looking for. The livestock center is about 1.5 miles away from the area the man originally fled from.

Police released Black's name Sunday afternoon after they contacted his next of kin, according to a release. 

He was being sought in connection with the series of increasingly violent break-ins in southeast Columbia. The most recent occurred early Friday morning, when a man with a knife entered a residence through an unlocked door and sexually assaulted a woman.

Police said the incidents are similar to the nine break-ins that happened between June and November of last year, according to a release. In some of those incidents, the suspect entered unlocked homes while the residents were sleeping. One of the victims said he jumped on her bed and hit her in the chest; another said he threatened her with a sharp object then sexually assaulted her. 

The Police Department's investigation is still ongoing, Stroer said Sunday in a text message.

Supervising editor is Edward Hart.


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