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Body found in woods identified as suspect in Independence crime spree, police say

A body found in a creek on Sunday is that of a suspect sought in an Independence manhunt after a bizarre string of crimes last week, according to police.

The body was discovered in Lee’s Summit, on the border with Blue Springs, in a wooded area near the Family Golf Park on U.S. Highway 40. Police had been searching for a suspect in that area after three home burglaries, an auto theft and an aggravated assault with a firearm were reported in neighboring Independence eight days ago.

Police have said no foul play is suspected in the death. The cause was not immediately known.

On Thursday afternoon, Officer Jack Taylor of Independence police said the body, which had begun to decompose, was confirmed to be connected to their manhunt. The identity of the suspect was still unknown, and police investigators were working with the medical examiner’s office to figure out who he was.

The suspect was believed to have committed three home burglaries all on the morning of Aug. 30. A vehicle was stolen from one of the homes.

He also was believed to have fired a gun at a stranger who was jogging late Wednesday morning in the 15300 block of East 42nd Terrace.

A home surveillance video shared by area TV news stations showed a man run up behind the jogger before firing a single gunshot near her head. She appeared terrified and fell to the ground as the man ran off.

On Aug. 30, police conducted a large search operation through the woods on the borders of Independence, Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit. A perimeter was set up off U.S. 40 Highway and Little Blue Parkway when the suspect was believed to have been contained to the area, but police ultimately left without finding the suspect.

The search came after a shirtless, sweaty, bloody man showed up at an Independence business on Arrowhead Drive and asked for water. He left when a person at the business said they were calling the police.

In the parking lot of the business, responding officers located a vehicle with blood inside it. Police said the vehicle was the same one that had been stolen that morning.

Surveillance photographs were shared publicly by police in the following days as detectives sought help from area residents to locate and identify the man.

In connecting the dots between the discovery of the body on Sunday and the suspect in the Aug. 30 crime spree, police said they relied on physical evidence. That included a handgun and ammunition found near the body.