Murder Suspect James Kempf Kills Himself in Arkansas, Ending Manhunt

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James Kempf killed himself in Arkansas, police say. - COURTESY ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE
James Kempf killed himself in Arkansas, police say.

A Fenton man wanted for shooting his estranged wife and killing her dad committed suicide as police closed in on him in northwest Arkansas, authorities say.

James Kempf, 45, had been on the run since January 23 following the double shooting in Fenton.

He and his wife had been in the midst of a divorce, and she had taken out an order of protection against him last fall, court records show. He had also been forced to move out of the couple's home in the 1800 block of Charity Court and ordered by a judge to participate in a "batterers intervention program."

Shortly before 6 p.m. on January 23, the wife called 911 after Kempf showed up at the house and attacked her, police say. Her father, 66-year-old John Colter, tried to intervene, but Kempf shot him in the head, police say.

The wife was shot in the leg, but she managed to escape and call for help. When officers arrived, they initially thought Kempf was holed up inside. A police tactical team spent hours trying to negotiate with him before realizing that he had already fled.

Police had been searching for Kempf ever since, focusing at one point on wooded areas around Fenton. Today, St. Louis County police said he had been located in rural northwest Arkansas where law enforcement officers tried to take him into custody. He killed himself before that could happen, police said.

Arkansas State Police are now conducting an investigation into his death.

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