The man charged with killing Northwest online student Allison Abitz and her daughter Jozee was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound Sept. 8.
Authorities say JT McLean shot himself in a stolen truck parked at a motel in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. Multiple agencies worked to locate McLean, eventually using the navigation device in the stolen truck to find his body.
After they found the truck, the Union County, South Dakota, Sheriff’s Office proceeded to use nonlethal measures to initiate a response from McLean, but he did not respond. A drone was then deployed over the vehicle and showed he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Boone County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed Sept. 15 that the murder charges and case will be dismissed after authorities found McLean, the sole suspect, deceased.
In addition to the double homicide of Allison and Jozee Abitz, McLean was a suspect in the killing of Miller County, Missouri, residents Daniel and Pamela Stephan and stealing their vehicle to flee the state. The Stephans were related to a former wife of McLean, authorities said.
At a press conference last week, Boone County Captain Brian Leer said the investigation would continue, and in a Facebook post, the department said it is still collaborating with the Miller County Sheriff’s Office and the Union County, South Dakota, Sheriff’s Office to complete the investigation.
“The investigation into the deaths of Allison and Jozee Abitz is still active and ongoing,” the Sept. 9 post read. “However, at this time we believe JT McLean, now deceased, was the person who murdered Allison and Jozee.”
McLean was a longtime boyfriend of Allison Abitz and was the last known person at her residence before authorities found her dead Aug. 22. Investigators determined by probable cause that Abitz was strangled to death, and her daughter drowned.
Leer said the Boone County Sheriff’s Office obtained video evidence showing McLean’s car entering Abitz’ subdivision at 11:22 p.m. Aug. 21. At 10:15 the following morning, it can be seen leaving.
Leer also said the department still believes Abitz and her daughter were killed sometime between 11:22 p.m. Aug. 21 and 10:15 a.m. Aug. 22. After that, they believe McLean made an attempt to flee, having found a burn pile containing cell phones at his Missouri residence.
A warrant was out for McLean’s arrest and a $1 million cash-only bond was posted by authorities. Authorities from multiple jurisdictions worked together in a search that spanned 15 days.
Allison Abitz was a Northwest online student pursuing her educational specialist degree. Both Abitz and her daughter were beloved by the Columbia, Missouri, and Fulton, Missouri, communities. A number of tributes and gatherings have been held in their name to honor and remember their impact.
As always, students are welcome to use Wellness Services for counseling by contacting 660-562-1348 during regular business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or contact the University Police Department at 660-562-1354 outside of business hours. Faculty and staff can call the University employee assistance program at 800-964-3577.