Tony Barnes

Tony Barnes, wanted on a charge of first-degree murder in connection with a Friday morning homicide in Howard County, has taken his own life.

The suspect in a Howard County homicide case shot and killed himself on Saturday afternoon.

Lawmen had been searching for Tony Barnes, 56, of Nashville, since the Friday morning murder of Betty Renee Burgess, 50.

Sheriff Bryan McJunkins said in a statement that his office started receiving calls at noon Saturday that Barnes’ vehicle was seen traveling from the New Hope area and on Arkansas 369, south toward his home on Muddy Fork Road.

Deputies and other officers from several agencies started to arrive on Muddy Fork Road near Barnes’ house and learned that the suspect had arrived at his house just a few minutes prior to law enforcement.

Officers observed that Barnes was near a pond bank on property near his house. They could see Barnes and noticed he had a long gun, later determined to be a shotgun.

Lawmen safely positioned themselves to make contact with Barnes, and continue to observe him. At approximately 1:10 p.m. officers heard a single gunshot fired and cautiously approached Barnes.

Barnes had used the shotgun to kill himself.

The search for Barnes began after the Howard County Sheriff’s Office received a 9-1-1 call at 8:37 a.m. Friday reporting that someone had just shot Burgess at her home at 108 Arkansas 246 in the Athens community.

Athens is in northeast Howard County, and is roughly midway between Glenwood and Wickes.

The Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that Barnes stood at the back door of Burgess’ house and shot her twice with a shotgun. Barnes left Burgess’ residence with a shotgun in his orange-colored Ford Ranger.

Burgess was pronounced dead at the scene. The Arkansas State Police investigated the scene while the Sheriff’s Office and other agencies started to look for Barnes.

“Barnes has a criminal history and local law enforcement officers are very familiar with him,” said the statement from Sheriff McJunkins.

A warrant for first-degree murder was issued for Barnes. A search warrant was executed Friday at Barnes’ home on Muddy Fork Road north of Nashville, but he was not at the residence at that time.

The body of Burgess has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where a manner and cause of death will be determined.

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