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Multistate murder suspect killed

A man suspected of four murders in three states is gunned down by Florida deputies after a chase.

Published October 4, 2006

ST. AUGUSTINE - Florida sheriff's deputies shot and killed a man considered a suspect in a string of recently deadly crimes in the South.

William T. Ashby, 37, of Savannah, Ga., led police on a chase before crashing his vehicle Monday night, said Chuck Mulligan, a St. Johns County sheriff's spokesman. When he began driving toward officers while holding a gun, deputies from St. Johns and Flagler counties opened fire, killing him, Mulligan said.

Sheriff David Shoar said Tuesday an autopsy confirmed the gunman was Ashby.

William Kirkconnell, the FBI's supervisory senior special agent in Savannah, said the agency issued a warrant for Ashby's arrest Monday alleging he fled Georgia to avoid prosecution for armed robbery.

Authorities also think Ashby killed University of Virginia graduate student Elizabeth "Lizzy" Hafter, 22, who was found dead in Waynesboro, Va., near a car Ashby is believed to have stolen in Georgia.

Authorities think Ashby shot a convenience store clerk before stealing the car. The clerk remains hospitalized in Savannah.

The string of crimes began Sept. 22 when Ashby stole a vehicle in Savannah and then stole a friend's .38-caliber pistol, police said.

He also has been linked to the double murder Thursday of Ralph Hopper and Julie Maiden, employees of a package liquor store in Cumberland Gap, Tenn.

And authorities in South Carolina suspect Ashby killed Steven Hodge, 51, who was found shot Sept. 25 in his fruit stand in Beaufort County.

[Last modified October 4, 2006, 00:11:55]

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