By JONATHAN MATTISE and ADRIAN SAINZ, Associated Press
DICKSON, Tenn. (AP) — After a two-day manhunt, a trooper came across the suspect in the slaying of a sheriff’s deputy not far from the scene of the crime, authorities said Friday.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation tweeted photos of a handcuffed Steven Joshua Wiggins, grimacing as he was placed into the back seat of a law enforcement vehicle Friday morning. His clothes were muddy and his jeans were ripped open.
Dickson County sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Baker was killed after responding to a call about a suspicious car on Wednesday, the state police agency said. Baker couldn’t be contacted for some time, but the deputy’s car was eventually tracked by GPS to a wooded area 2 or 3 miles (3 to 5 kilometers) away. The deputy was found dead inside of it.
The TBI said a video recording enabled them to identify the 31-year-old Wiggins as the suspect. Federal, state and local authorities searched for Wiggins over two days, checking into hundreds of tips. The TBI promised more information at a Friday news conference.
Wiggins was found by a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper not far from where the shooting occurred, the Tennessean reported, citing Hickman County Sheriff Randal Ward.
“From my understanding he was laying on the side of the road,” Ward said.
Rewards totaling $46,000 had been offered for information leading to his arrest.
Wiggins had been already wanted on charges that he assaulted a woman and stole her car when he was pulled over Wednesday, according to a report from the Kingston Springs Police Department.
That woman was in the car with Wiggins when he pulled the trigger, and is now jailed on a murder charge in Baker’s death, according to court documents.
The report says 38-year-old Erika Castro-Miles told police early Tuesday that Wiggins had slapped her in the face and pulled out some of her hair, then put a gun to her head and threatened to kill her if she called police. She said he then grabbed her keys and took her car without her permission.
Castro-Miles also told police Wiggins had been “doing meth all night and smoking marijuana.” She told police she planned to press charges, the report said.
The next day, she was sitting in the car with Wiggins when he shot the deputy, according to local news reports, citing an affidavit filed in Dickson County court.
She fled the shooting scene Wednesday and hid under a house, the affidavit says. Now she’s in the Dickson County Jail.
Dickson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe said Baker, 32, was one of their best, working his way up to sergeant on patrol during 10 years with the department.
Baker survived by his wife and daughter. Bledsoe said his agency lost a brother, and the community lost a hero.
“Our hearts shattered with this,” he said.
Sainz reported from Nashville. Other contributors include Bruce Schreiner in Louisville, Ky.