Columbus Gun Suspect Caught; Fear Of Moving Cited


Charles A. McCoy Jr., suspected in two dozen sniper shootings that have terrorized Columbus, Ohio, area motorists, was arrested at a Las Vegas motel early today. The Associated Press quoted Las Vegas police Lt. Christopher Van Cleef as saying that police were tipped off to McCoy by someone who recognized him from media reports.

McCoy lives amid a cluster of the targets – and he disliked the idea of moving away from there, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. That fits a pattern common among serial criminals, an expert on such cases said.

Shortly before police McCoy, 28, as their prime suspect, his mother filed a police report saying that she had last seen her son around 4 p.m. Friday, when he left their home “upset over a possible move.”

As of yesterday, he remained at large. He has a history of mental problems and might be armed with a semiautomatic handgun. He is accused of firing into a house south of Columbus; no charges have been filed in the other 23 shootings, one fatal.

If McCoy turns out to be the serial gunman, his reluctance to leave the area makes sense, said Maurice Godwin, a North Carolina professor and scholar. Godwin has devised a computer program that helps pinpoint where serial criminals are most likely to live. “My research on 54 serial killers found a distinctive wedge-shaped pattern -and 80 percent lived within that wedge,” Godwin said.

The Columbus-area shootings form a wedge on a map, excluding the last documented shooting Feb. 14, and McCoy’s home is located within that wedge. The idea of moving outside that familiar territory would be disturbing, Godwin said. “If you had shot at that many people, and killed one – and were able to live in the middle of that with anonymity, how much confidence would that build up in you? A lot,” he said.


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