A man on parole for aggravated assault against a police officer was arrested on Monday in connection with the death of a Shelbyville woman after a high-speed chase through three counties, according to authorities.
Shelbyville police late Monday afternoon identified the man arrested as Deven A. Barger, 24, and the deceased as Samantha Cushing, 22, whose body was found in a home at 112 N. Will St. in Shelbyville.
A 3-year-old child in the vehicle with Barger was recovered unharmed when Barger surrendered to police without incident in Christian County after a chase through Effingham and Shelby counties, officials said.
Online court and state prison records say Barger was paroled Dec. 27, 2018, from Shawnee Correctional Center, where he had been held since July 11, 2017, after convictions in Shelby and Christian counties for aggravated battery to a police officer, felon in possession of a weapon, and aggravated fleeing from police.
Barger has the name Samantha tattooed on his neck, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.
"On July 8, 2019, the Shelbyville Police Department initiated a homicide investigation of Samantha Cushing, age 22, at a Shelbyville residence," Shelbyville police said in a written statement. "Deven Barger, age 24, was developed as a suspect and after a lengthy, multi-county vehicle pursuit, Barger was taken into custody without incident.
"The Illinois State Police was contacted to assist in the investigation. The Shelby County Sheriff's Office, Shelby County Coroner's Office, and the Shelby County State's Attorney are also assisting in the investigation."
Shelbyville Police Chief Dave Tallman declined further comment. Shelby County State's Attorney GIna Vonderheide also declined comment.
Effingham Police Chief Jason McFarland said that just after 8 a.m. Monday, his department received reports of a person of interest in a homicide case in Shelbyville who was traveling through Effingham in an attempt to flee authorities.
McFarland said the driver refused to stop for his officers, leading police on a chase that continued through Shelbyville toward Taylorville. Effingham police ended their pursuit and turned it over to Illinois State Police.
McFarland said in addition to the driver, a 3-year-old child occupied the vehicle. Upon stopping the vehicle in Taylorville, McFarland said police spoke with the driver, who was arrested peacefully shortly afterward.
Taylorville Police Chief Dwayne Wheeler said his department assisted in the high speed chase that originated in Shelbyville following an alleged shooting.
Wheeler said once the suspect was within his city's limits, police stopped a male driver on Lincoln Trail, near the city water plant, where the suspect was taken into custody without incident.
Wheeler said he was told the driver is also a suspect in a homicide case.
In July 2017, the Shelbyville Daily Union reported that Barger, then living in Pana, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for kicking a Shelby County deputy in the chest and face after a lengthy pursuit. Barger and a passenger, Quinton L. Morrissey Jr., now 20, also of Pana, fled from Christian County deputies in a black Jeep on March 17, 2017 after they broke into a Lake Pana home, authorities told the SDU at the time.
Morrissey is scheduled for a September jury trial in Christian County, charged with the first degree murder of a 59-year-old man at Pana Lake in May 2017, according to online court records.
In the March 2017 chase, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to the area of 900 N. and 700 E. and were told that a shotgun may be aboard the vehicle. They joined Christian County deputies in the chase for the Jeep, which went off road multiple times and eventually got stuck, Vonderheide said at the time.
The two Pana men fled into a nearby wooded area on foot, authorities said. Morrissey was apprehended about 100 yards away from the vehicle, handcuffed and placed in the back of a Christian County squad car, authorities said.
Barger resisted arrest. He headbutted the rear window of a squad car and kicked deputy Jacob Washburn in the chest and above the left eye with the heel of his boot, Vonderheide said. Washburn didn't need medical treatment for his injuries.
Online court records on Monday evening did not yet show any charges related to Barger's latest arrest.