CASSVILLE -- Authorities have linked a body discovered near Commerce to a murder across the state and have a "person of interest" in custody in connection with the crime.
At approximately 4:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, a fisherman traveling through a bushy area on his way back to his vehicle found a body adjacent to the riverbank north of Commerce. Scott County authorities were notified and an investigation began into a possible homicide.
At the area, they located the body of a white male believed to be in his 60s. The body was partially unclothed and there was obvious trauma to the head area, leading investigators to believe foul play was involved.
It appeared the body had only been there one or two days, and evidence at the scene indicated the body might have been dragged from a vehicle into the brushy area. The body had been partially covered with river driftwood and there was no evidence in the area to support the thought that the person reached his death at the location where the body was found.
Meanwhile in southwest Missouri, Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly and officers from his department were investigating a report of a homicide believed to have occurred late Sunday night or early Monday morning in the Shell Knob area.
Information indicated a Shell Knob man, who has been identified by authorities as William "Bill" Nance, was killed in his home north of Shell Knob.
"Investigators believe that the victim had been killed in his bedroom. Then the body was removed from the house and attempt was made to conceal and destroy the physical evidence at the scene," according to a news release from the Barry County Sheriff's Department in Cassville.
The victim's wife's car was located burned approximately 10 miles north of the crime scene by officers.
Investigators began searching for Dennis Ray Bisher, 37, currently living in Shell Knob and formerly of Southeast Missouri.
After law enforcement authorities learned Tuesday afternoon of the body recovered in Scott County, a preliminary identification was made and authorities believed it was the victim from Shell Knob.
Scott County Coroner Scott Amick turned the body over to Barry County authorities. An autopsy conducted Wednesday afternoon revealed a bullet consistent with a .38 caliber was found in the victim's head, according to Barry County Coroner Skip White.
"We also found head wounds consistent with some sort of round-type object, which would be consistent with a hammer," White said.
Evidence was recovered from New Madrid County and believed to be connected to the homicide.
At approximately midnight Tuesday, Bisher was arrested in Hollister by local police investigating a suspicious vehicle. Bisher was brought to the Barry County Sheriff's Department where he is being held on a stealing charge with bond set at $75,000. Bisher is also considered a "person of interest" in the murder, according to the Sheriff's Department.
According to Missouri's CASE Net, Bisher had recently been released from the Missouri Department of Corrections after serving a two-year sentence for driving while intoxicated (persistent offender).
Assisting Barry County Sheriff's Office in the investigation are the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri State Fire Marshal's Office as well as law enforcement authorities in Mississippi, New Madrid and Scott counties.