Police kill man wanted in multistate crime spree

Published 6:52 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Florida authorities shot and killed a man believed to be the suspect in a string of deadly crimes along the East Coast.

A man believed to be William T. Ashby, 37, of Savannah, Ga., led police on a high-speed chase in Florida before he crashed his vehicle Monday night, said Chuck Mulligan, a St. Johns County sheriff’s spokesman.

He then began driving toward officers holding a gun, Mulligan said. Several sheriff’s deputies from St. Johns and Flagler counties opened fire, killing the man, Mulligan said.

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Authorities are awaiting an autopsy before positively identifying him as Ashby.

“From all indications, this is the individual,” Mulligan said, adding that the car, license plate, his description and his demeanor all matched information officials had received from other agencies.

The FBI had issued a warrant for Ashby’s arrest Monday because he was suspected to be involved in crimes from Virginia to Florida, including the death of University of Virginia graduate student Elizabeth “Lizzy” Hafter, 22. She was found dead in Waynesboro, Va., near a car Ashby is believed to have stolen in Effingham County, Ga.

Police say the suspect is believed to have shot a convenience store clerk before stealing the car. The clerk, Waynetta Toler, 58, remains in the hospitalized in Savannah, Ga.

Police believe the crime spree began Sept. 22 when Ashby stole a vehicle in Savannah and then stole a friend’s .38-caliber pistol.