A Mexican national accused of killing four people in Kansas and one in Missouri in 2016 died Tuesday after being found hanging from a light fixture in his St. Louis jail cell.
Pablo Serrano-Vitorino was found alone in his cell at 2:02 a.m. He was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour later, said Koran Addo, spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.
Addo declined further comment but St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Serrano-Vitorino hanged himself and left a note written in Spanish. Edwards was out of town and didn’t know if Serrano-Vitorino was on suicide watch or when jailers had last checked on him.
Serrano-Vitorino, 43, who was in the U.S. illegally, was accused of fatally shooting four men at a home in Kansas City, Kansas, on the night of March 7, 2016. He was arrested a day later and 170 miles away in Montgomery County, Missouri, where he was accused of killing Randy Nordman of New Florence. He was charged with first-degree murder in all five deaths.
He was being held in St. Louis awaiting an October trial in Nordman’s death on a change of venue. Missouri prosecutors were seeking the death penalty.
He had tried to take his own life before, with a safety razor, shortly after his arrest while jailed in Montgomery County. After a hospitalization he was returned to the jail.
Authorities say the shooting spree began when Serrano-Vitorino gunned down his Kansas City, Kansas, neighbor, 41-year-old Michael Capps, and three other men at Capps’ home — brothers Austin Harter, 29, and Clint Harter, 27, and 36-year-old Jeremy Waters. Before dying, one of the victims managed to call police.
Authorities have not disclosed a possible motive.
Serrano-Vitorino then allegedly fled in his pickup truck into Missouri. Authorities say he killed Nordman, 49, at Nordman’s rural home near Interstate 70 about 70 miles (113 kilometers) east of St. Louis. He was captured hiding face-down in a ditch a few miles from Nordman’s home, and had a rifle with him, the Missouri State Highway patrol said at the time.
A lawsuit filed in Kansas City, Kansas , by the father of one of the victims accused U.S. immigration officials of missing two chances to detain and deport Serrano-Vitorino.
Serrano-Vitorino was deported to Mexico after he was convicted of a felony in 2003 but illegally re-entered the U.S. He was arrested in 2014 and 2015.
After his 2014 arrest in Kansas for battery, Wyandotte County jail officials notified ICE he was in custody. But Serrano-Vitorino was released after the federal agency didn’t send an agent to the jail, according to the lawsuit.
Serrano-Vitorino was fingerprinted in Overland Park, Kansas, Municipal Court in September 2015 after he was cited for traffic infractions. ICE officials asked that he be held in custody but sent the paperwork to a different jail in Johnson County, Kansas, the lawsuit contends. He was once again released from custody.