Man in Utah highway standoff linked to Louisiana murder
A man accused of taking a 2-year-old boy hostage and leading police on a high-speed chase in Iron County was wanted in connection to a murder in Louisiana.
Zeland Adams was charged Tuesday with first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping and other charges in connection to a chase and stand-off that shut down Interstate 15 for hours Sunday near Cedar City.
The chase began after a Utah Highway Patrol trooper identified Adams as a suspect in a Louisiana murder who was reportedly in the Cedar City area, the trooper wrote in court documents. Adams has been accused in the killing of Jamary Quincy Wafer, 27, of Kent, Wash., who was shot and lit on fire before his charred body was found April 14 near a motel in Tallulah, La., said Louisiana State Police spokesman Albert Paxton.
The trooper had spoken with Adams and a California man and woman who were in a car at a Cedar City gas station along with the woman’s 2-year-old son, troopers wrote. Adams was in the backseat of the car and provided a fake ID to the trooper, charges state.
The trooper later received a photo of Adams, 28, from investigators in Louisiana and caught up with the car farther down the road. The man and woman who were in the car with Adams got out after the trooper pulled the car over, but Adams hopped into the driver seat and fled with the 2-year-old, leaving the mother behind, investigators have said. Officers followed in a 18-mile chase at speeds that "were on average 120 mph," troopers wrote in court documents. Troopers placed spikes on the road, which forced the car to stop near State Road 20. The car hit a pickup during the chase, but no injuries were reported.
"Adams yelled out the window that he had a gun and he would kill the child if we approached," troopers wrote. Negotiators eventually talked Adams into surrendering after he called family members from multiple cellphones, telling them he was willing to shoot at police, Utah Highway Patrol Capt. Barton Blair said. The boy was not harmed.
Adams is the fourth of five suspects in the Louisiana homicide to be arrested. Three others were taken into custody in Tacoma, Wash., and San Antonio, Texas,
Authorities believe the men have ties to a Mexican drug cartel and the group retaliated against Wafer after he stole drugs, Louisiana State Police said in a statement to The Associated Press. The day before Wafer was killed, the six men had checked into a Days Inn in Tallulah, about 180 miles northeast of New Orleans, police said.
The two adults in the car with Adams are not suspected in Wafer’s death, troopers have said. They are unlikely to face charges related to the standoff, and their connection to Adams is not known.