Man charged for 2011 Howard County murder

Zachary Jefferson is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

Update: March 13, 2014, 5:15 p.m.

Court documents show Zach Jefferson shot and killed Jon Spurling 3 years ago with a possible motive of jealousy.

Prosecutors charged Jefferson with first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the 2011 shooting death of Spurling. Bill Spires was Spurlingâ??s best friend and lead a Facebook campaign and held fundraisers for the reward to find Spurlingâ??s killer.

Spires said, â??Iâ??m just real happy they caught the killer. I really am. I will sleep better at night and I know a lot of other people will. Iâ??ve been getting leads for about the past 2 and half years practically on and off. We forwarded them off to the highway patrol. Iâ??m glad that actually did some good.â??

This was a 2 year old murder case when Howard County Sheriff Mike Neal first took office. The sheriff immediately made Spurlingâ??s murder his top priority. Sheriff Neal said it took 3 years for authorities to solve the murder case because deputies didnâ??t work full time on the investigation until he assigned Captain Jeff Glandon to it. Glandon said he didnâ??t work alone.

Glandon said, â??I want to say there were at least 25 other investigators on the Major Case Squad. There were numerous interviews, well over 50 people interviewed, easily.â??

Sheriff Neal said, â??This was somebodyâ??s father and this was somebodyâ??s son. This was a person. This was human being. I made it a priority. I would want somebody to do that for me if I had a family member that was killed.â??

Court documents show detectives interviewed Spurlingâ??s ex-wife who said her estranged husband, Jefferson, was very jealous of Spurling. According to the probable cause statement, she described Jefferson as controlling and possessive. Witnesses said they saw Jeffersonâ??s car near the crime scene on the night of the murder. Investigators said this case is ongoing as they continue to gather more evidence.

Jefferson was arraigned Thursday afternoon and remains in the Howard County Jail without bond.

Original Story:

Three years after the murder of a Harrisburg man, an Excello man is charged with his murder.

On Wednesday, the Howard County prosecutor charged Zachary Jefferson with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

On the evening of Aug. 16, 2011, Harold Spurling found his son, Jon, dead inside his home on County Road 117.

Harold went to check on Jon after he didn't show up to work earlier that day. According to court records, Jon was seen Aug. 15 on surveillance video at a Columbia Hy-Vee.

After leaving the store, Spurling went to his parents' home in Sturgeon and was last seen that evening driving on County Road 117. Around that time, the neighbor who last saw Spurling told investigators they heard gunshots nearby.

Investigators determined Spurling had been shot twice in the early afternoon/evening of Aug. 15.

After Spurling was found, authorities searched the area and spoke with three people who told them they saw a blue Pontiac near the home around 5 p.m.

During the investigation, detectives interviewed Spurling's ex-wife who said her estranged husband, Zachary Jefferson, was very jealous of Spurling. According to court records, she described Jefferson as controlling and possessive.

She also told authorities about a blue Grand Prix, which Jefferson had at the time of the murder.

Investigators interviewed a friend of Jefferson's, who said he asked for help with his car on Aug. 15. The friend also said Jefferson made comments about being worried his DNA would be found at the crime scene. Jefferson was reportedly concerned his phones were being tapped by authorities.

According to the friend, Jefferson showed up at her house the next day offering to loan her the Grand Prix, which had been detailed and cleaned.

Jefferson was re-interviewed on March 12, 2014. He provided conflicting stories to the ones he told investigators in August of 2011.