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Murder, arson charges filed against Myrtle man

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leona Maxine Vaughan
A 32-year-old Myrtle, Mo., man, Michael Edward Amick, is in the Oregon County Jail at Alton facing first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony arson charges. He was arrested Dec. 5 at his home on State Route 142 in Myrtle. His bond has been set at $1 million.

The charges were filed in connection with the death of Leona Maxine Vaughan whose body was found in a house fire around noon on Dec. 2.

According to a probable cause statement written by Oregon County Deputy Eric King, the Oregon County Sheriff's Department received a report of a fire at the Jackie Risner residence on County Road 278 at 11:45 a.m., Dec. 2, and that Risner's mother, Vaughan, was still inside the house. As the fire was extinguished, a badly burned body was located on the west side of the residence. The body was turned over to Oregon County Coroner Tom Clary who transported the body to Springfield for an autopsy.

Preliminary autopsy results indicated that Vaughan died from multiple small caliber gunshots to the head.

According to King, a neighbor of Vaughans filed a written statement at the fire scene stating he saw Amick's truck at the Risner residence as he drove from his home to the store at Myrtle. At 11:20 a.m., he made purchases at the store then returned toward his home. As he drove past the Risner residence, he stated he saw smoke coming from the roof of the residence. When he realized there was nothing he could do, he drove to his house to speak with his dad, then drove to the Myrtle Bar where Jackie Risner worked. The neighbor and Risner returned to the home and contacted the sheriff's office for help.

According to King, Amick denied he was at the Risner residence. The probable cause statement says that Amick claims that during this time frame, he dropped his son off at his mother's residence at around 10:25 a.m., then drove to the Myrtle Post Office and then to his home approximately five miles north of Myrtle. He said he changed a tire on his truck, checked on an e-mail issue, returned to his parent's residence for a chainsaw and then met his brother and another man for lunch at the cafe in Myrtle.

Amick is married to Vaughan's granddaughter which is Jackie Risner's daughter. Reports show that Vaughan had received a loan at a local bank in the amount of $20,637.80 on March 7. The collateral for the loan was a 2007 Honda van titled in Mike Amick's name. The loan had a credit life insurance policy purchased with the loan. The last payment on this loan was due Nov. 6 and has not been paid. The latest payment made on the loan was made Oct. 15.

According to King, a search warrant was requested on Dec. 5 to search the residence and real estate of Amick.

The probable cause statement says that on Dec. 4, Oregon County Sheriff Tim Ward had been by the residence of Amick after receiving information that Amick was seen loading things in his truck in a possible effort to move from the area. Ward said he observed an oxy-acetylene torch in the back of Amick's truck.

During the search conducted Dec. 5, what appeared to be evidence of something being cut-up with a cutting torch was found along the edge of a pond on land owned by Amick. Authorities say a cut-up .22 caliber pistol was found in the pond.

According to family members, an account has been opened at the Bank of Thayer/Howell County Bank to help Jackie Risner and Risner's four children who where living in the home that burned. Vaughan was the only one home at the time of the fire.

The family had no insurance and lost all their possessions in the fire. Donations to the fund will also help the family with Vaughan's funeral expenses.

The Bank of Thayer has branches in Thayer, Alton and West Plains.

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