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Spree killing suspect held on $1 million bail

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Suspected spree killer described as meth addict
  • Nicholas T. Sheley, 28, did not enter a plea at first court appearance
  • Police say ex-con tied to eight killings over past week in Illinois, Missouri
  • All eight victims died of blunt-force trauma to head, authorities say
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EDWARDSVILLE, Illinois (CNN) -- A man suspected of bludgeoning eight people to death is a methamphetamine addict with a history of fighting with police, an investigator said as the suspected spree killer made his first court appearance.

Bethe Hughes of the Illinois State Police photographs a trash bin Monday after four bodies were found.

Suspected spree killer Nicholas Troy Sheley, 28, did not enter a plea during his first court appearance.

Nicholas T. Sheley, 28, is being held on $1 million bail in one slaying as police and prosecutors prepare additional charges in connection with a week-long killing spree in two states.

Sheley, 28, appeared in an Illinois courtroom on Wednesday via closed-circuit television, but did not enter a plea.

He was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ronald Randall, 65, whose body was found behind a grocery story in Galesburg. Other charges include aggravated battery, vehicle hijacking and vehicle theft. Video Watch Sheley's perp walk »

Sheley, who wore a green-and-white striped jail jumpsuit, said little except to answer "yes, sir," to a series of questions from Judge Edward Ferguson.

Authorities say Sheley's alleged burst of violence spanned 300 miles until he gave up without a fight when police confronted him as he smoked outside a bar in Granite City, Illinois, on Tuesday night. Map: See where the bodies were found »

Additional charges are being filed in a second Illinois county which encompasses two other towns where police believe Sheley killed five people, authorities said.

Authorities also suspect Sheley in connection with the slayings of an Arkansas couple in Festus, Missouri. All eight victims, which include a child, died from blunt-force trauma to the head, officials said.

Sheley's capture ended an intensive manhunt, which included a $25,000 reward offer.

Sheley had stopped at Bindy's bar, a popular cop bar in a Granite City shopping center. Two patrons who recognized him from news reports called police.

Bar owner Bill Watson told CNN Sheley came in, drank a glass of water and went to the restroom. When he returned from the restroom, Sheley asked for a lighter but was told he had to go outside to smoke. He was outside smoking when authorities arrived and arrested him.

As bar patrons celebrated Sheley's arrest, a family member of one of the victims called and thanked them for their assistance, Watson said.

"It really hit home and made us realize really what this guy was all about," Watson said.

New of Sheley's capture calmed nerves in small towns from the Chicago to St. Louis areas.

Police conducting a welfare check Sunday at an apartment in Rock Falls, Illinois, found four people dead, including the child. Sheley was a "known associate" to at least one of the Rock Falls victims, state police said. Rock Falls is across the Rock River from Sterling; both are in Whiteside County.

The following day, Monday, authorities found Randall's body in Galesburg, about 80 miles south of Rock Falls, and obtained an arrest warrant naming Sheley.

The couple found dead in Festus, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb, was in town for a graduation, authorities said, and were last seen at a Comfort Inn there. Sheley is not believed to have had a prior relationship with the couple, police said.

During the hunt for Sheley, the St. Louis County Police Department issued a bulletin describing him as an "extremely dangerous" methamphetamine addict.

"He has stated to his ex-wife that he has more killing to do," the bulletin said.

According to a Tuesday affidavit by FBI Special Agent Susan Hanson, Sheley invaded a home in Sterling, Illinois -- just a mile from Rock Falls -- on June 14. A woman inside the home told police the man was Sheley, it says.

Sheley then took off to Iowa where he made a phone call in Sterling on Saturday and then went to Missouri, according to the affidavit.


A gas station attendant in Galesburg, less than 60 miles from where the call was placed near Davenport, Iowa, told police that he saw Sheley, who appeared to have blood on him, at the gas station, the affidavit stated.

A stolen truck belonging to Randall, the victim in Galesburg, was recovered Sunday in Festus, near an Anheuser-Busch distribution plant, authorities said.

CNN's Ismael Estrada, Susan Roesgen and Lee Garen contributed to this report.

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