Divers search for evidence in Deere case

Published 6:00 am Friday, February 11, 2005

The investigation of a year-old Lincoln County homicide focusedon a north Pike County lake Thursday as divers searched the waterfor evidence.

Divers from Alexandria, La., searched Lake Dixie Springs forevidence in the death of Airport Pik & Pak owner John Deere,who was shot in the parking lot of his convenience store Jan. 16,2004. Officials would not elaborate on Thursday’s searchactivities.

“We had some divers in the water,” said District Attorney DeeBates. “They searched until late yesterday.”

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Citing a gag order that has been issued in the case, Bates didnot say what the divers were seeking. A cash box that taken in therobbery was found along I-55 near the Lake Dixie Springs exit, butthe gun believed to have been used has not been recovered.

Bates did not say whether the dive produced any newevidence.

“I can’t comment on that. I can’t have that in the newspaper,”said Bates, again mentioning the gag order.

Bates said he appreciated the patience of property owners aroundthe lake and motorists along Highway 51. He said there may be somemore inconvenience, indicating the possibility of additional divingactivity in the future.

The district attorney said he also appreciated professionaldiver Bill Gregory and his team, who volunteered their services inthe search. He said it was “blessing” that they came over fromLouisiana.

A suspect, Kenneth Baggett Jr., 22, of 2471 Lake Lincoln Drive,was arrested in June and charged with capital murder in connectionwith the case. He remains in the Lincoln County jail.

Although there have been several grand jury session sinceBaggett’s arrest, he has not been indicted. In addition to the gagorder, the court file on the case has been sealed.

Bates had no comment on the status of the case. While notaddressing the Baggett case specifically, he said investigationscontinue and authorities always search for additional evidence.

“Just because there is an arrest made, it doesn’t mean aninvestigation stops,” Bates said.