South Carolina murder suspects, on the lam nearly 3 weeks, arrested early today in Sterling

DIXON – Suspected murderers Jorden E. Johnson of Sterling and Latisha D. Evans of Rock Falls were arrested in Sterling early this morning, Lee County Sheriff John Simonton said in a news release.

The Lee County Joint Operations Group took the two into custody in an unoccupied house in the 1500 block of East Fourth Street; they are being held in Whiteside County jail pending extradition to South Carolina, where they are charged with bludgeoning a man to death in a motel where the two were staying, and of critically injuring a woman who was staying with him.

The two have been fugitives in that case for nearly 3 weeks.

A task force with members of the Lee and Whiteside County sheriffs departments, Sterling, Dixon and Rock Falls police departments and state police, with assistance from the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service, was formed to focus on their apprehension.

Evans, 20, and Johnson, 28 – who had shaved off his long hair and thinned his beard in an effort to avoid detection – are charged in Georgetown County Court with murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and grand larceny.

They are accused of killing 66-year-old Jack Kendree Jr. in the Rodeway Inn in Georgetown on June 28. His body was found in his room the morning of the 29th – Johnson's 28th birthday.

Kendree died of blunt force trauma to the head; a bloody wrench was found in the nearby room Evans and Johnson were renting, according to the Georgetown police incident report. A woman staying with Kendree was found critically injured and bleeding outside the room.

Kendree's Ford Taurus was found east of Harmon 6 days later, on July 4; it had been set on fire.

Johnson has an extensive felony history, and also is wanted in Whiteside County, where a man was stabbed in an argument after a party on Aug. 17.

He is charged with being a felon using or possessing a weapon, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison, and four counts of aggravated battery, punishable by 2 to 5 years.