Homicide has links to Barry County

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The decomposed body of a man discovered earlier this month in Newton County has ties to Barry County, according to Sheriff Mick Epperly.

Authorities are investigating the death of the man now identified as Ger Lee. An autopsy indicated the 40-year-old had been shot in the head.

Lee's cousin first reported him missing to Barry County authorities on Feb. 21. Epperly said Lee had built a residence on Washburn Prairie and had been associated with John's Country Store in Washburn.

"He travelled all over everywhere," said Epperly. "He had a residence here but he was travelling back and forth to Minnesota (when he disappeared)."

Newton County is currently working the case as if the murder occurred in their jurisdiction.

A car registered to Lee in Minnesota was found at a wrecker service in Lawrence County this week, and law enforcement officers are currently processing the vehicle for evidence.

Lee was last seen driving the black Acura in Barry County around Jan. 10. The abandoned vehicle was discovered at the Talbot Conservation Area in Lawrence County.

Investigators are still looking for a Hmong man with tattoos on his hand who was seen with Lee in Barry County in early January. A man fitting that description was with Lee on June 27, 2007, when he was arrested in St. Paul, Minn., and charged with possession of opium. Lee had also been linked to a shooting incident that occurred in St. Paul.

Recent news reports indicate that Lee was known to have been visiting a woman in the Cassville area and listed his residence as rural Washburn when arrested in Minnesota.

Lee's skeletal remains were found in a field near Granby on May 5. A gold necklace found around the neck of the skeleton was identified as belonging to Lee by Lee's cousin. Dental records were used to confirm Lee's identity.

Newton County authorities say they are looking into the possibility that Lee's death was drug related.

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