The Reporter covers Miller, Morgan and Camden County in Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks and is published once per week on Wednesdays.
Published September 15, 2021
Suspect in four murders found dead in S. Dakota
MILLER COUNTY – A suspect in two double murders has been found dead in South Dakota.
Last Wednesday (September 8) deputies from the Miller County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) were dispatched to an address in the 300 block of Route D in Kaiser, MO, for a “Check the Well-Being” call.
Upon arrival, deputies located two deceased individuals, one male and one female. The victims’ have been identified as Daniel Stephan, 74 and Pamela Stephan, 64, both of Kaiser. The case is being investigated by detectives as a homicide.
The preliminary investigation had identified a male, JT Mclean, 45, as a suspect. McLean was also a suspect in a double murder in Boone County, MO, that occurred in late August.
The Boone County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) has supplied details of that incident and the link to Miller County.
On August 22, 2021 at about 10:58 p.m., Boone County Joint Communications received a call from a concerned subject reporting they had been unable to contact Allison Abitz, 43 and her daughter Jozee Abitz, 11, who both resided in the 7500 block of Lavender Drive south of Columbia.
Boone County deputies responded to the residence on Lavender Court and once inside, located Allison, and her daughter Jozee, deceased.
According to the BCSO, evidence suggested that Allison had been strangled and Jozee had been drowned.
Investigators soon identified McLean as the long-term boyfriend of Allison and developed probable cause to believe McLean murdered Allison and Jozee. The motive for the murder of these victims is still unknown.
Boone County Investigators soon discovered a burn pile at McLean’s last known address in Callaway County and within that burn pile they found electronics which included cellular phones and computers.
All the vehicles known to belong to McLean were accounted for but McLean’s whereabouts were unknown.
At that point it was apparent to police that McLean was attempting to evade apprehension and not be tracked.
On August 25, the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney charged McLean with two counts of Murder in the 1st Degree. A warrant for the arrest of McLean was then issued in the 13th Judicial Circuit Boone County, Missouri.
McLean’s bond for these charges was set at $1,000,000 cash only.
Due to the murders of Allison and Jozee, as well as the allegations of prior threats of violence, the BCSO believed McLean could be a threat to anyone; however, they knew of no current specific threats or details regarding danger to the public or any specific individuals.
During the investigation of the homicides of Allison and Jozee, investigators received information that McLean had recently acquired a dark colored motorcycle which was not titled or registered in his name and the make, model and type of motorcycle was unknown.
Based on that information, they believed McLean fled the area on the motorcycle so the BCSO released that information on social media on September 8.
That same day around 7:45 p.m., the BCSO received information from the Miller County Sheriff’s Office that they were investigating a double homicide at a residence that was possibly related to the Abitz investigation.
Law enforcement then learned that the two victims in Miller County were related to one of McLean’s ex-wives. An unregistered motorcycle had been found near the victims’ residence and a vehicle belonging to the Miller County victims was missing.
Boone County investigators began collaborating with the Miller County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and agencies in the Sioux City area of South Dakota to include the Union County Sheriff’s Office, in Elk Point, South Dakota.
With the assistance of OnStar, the vehicle belonging to the Miller County victims was located and disabled in a hotel parking lot in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, which is an unincorporated community just outside of Sioux City.
Authorities were concerned as they learned that relatives of the Miller County victims were also somewhere in the greater Sioux City area and could be in danger.
Law enforcement personnel contacted the relatives and they were moved to a safe location.
Local South Dakota law enforcement personnel were also able to locate the vehicle in the hotel parking lot. According to the Union County Sheriff’s Office, non-lethal means were used and officers received no response from McLean.
A drone was then deployed over the vehicle and TJ McLean was found deceased inside the vehicle from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
At this time, the BCSO said they will forward questions regarding the homicides in Miller County or the investigation into the death of McLean in Union County South Dakota to the Miller County Sheriff’s Office or the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
The investigation into the deaths of Allison and Jozee Abitz is still active and ongoing; however, at this time Boone County believes that McLean, now deceased, was the person who murdered Allison and Jozee.
Autopsies were scheduled last Monday (September 13) for Daniel and Pam Stephan at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Results of those autopsies may not be available for several weeks, the MCSO said.
The Union County Sheriff's Office has executed a search warrant and obtained several items of interest.
Miller County detectives will be traveling to South Dakota this week along with Boone County and Highway Patrol Investigators.
“Out of respect to the family, limited information is being released until the investigation is complete,” said a MCSO spokesman. “We want to thank the Boone County Sheriff's Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Union County Sheriff's Office for their assistance in this joint investigation.”
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