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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2 Mississippi drivers shot to death; fake officer may be to blame

Two motorists, fatally shot, are discovered on ribbons of asphalt in two adjacent Mississippi counties with shell casings nearby -- but with no apparent signs of robbery, no witnesses and no motive.

This is the unsettling mystery Mississippi law enforcement officials are trying to crack Tuesday morning. So far, they seem to have more questions than answers, but they're not ruling out one chilling theory: that the shooter pulled the victims over while impersonating a police officer.

The details of the two shootings and the investigation are detailed in an Associated Press report. According to the wire service, Thomas Schlender, 74, of Nebraska, was fatally shot in Panola County, in northwest Mississippi, as he was on his way to Florida to pick up a grandson. Police found his body on May 8 in his Ford F-150 pickup truck, which had crashed into a median divider.

Three days later, in Tunica County, they found another body at the intersection of a state road and Interstate 69, with the car parked on the shoulder. The victim was identified as Lori Anne Carswell of Hernando, Miss. She had been returning from work at a local casino.

There is nothing to indicate that Schlender and Carswell knew each other, officials said.

ABC news reports that investigators believe the shooter may have been driving a white Ford Crown Victoria, which for years was the model preferred by police departments.

Numerous agencies, including the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, are involved in the hunt for the perpetrator. In the meantime, officials are warning drivers to call 911 if they're worried about the legitimacy of the car trying to pull them over.

"The last thing we want to do is to create a panic out there," DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion told the wire service.

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