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Cash box recovered in shooting investigation

The cash box that was taken in the Friday morning armed robberyand murder of convenience store owner John Deere has beenrecovered, but Lincoln County authorities reported little otherprogress in their ongoing investigation.

“We’re at a standstill,” said Sheriff Wiley CalcoteSaturday.

Authorities believe the shooting happened between 4:30 and 4:45a.m. Friday shortly after Deere, 55, arrived at the Airport Pik& Pak on Old Highway 51. Deere’s body was found in the storeparking lot after the sheriff’s department received a 911 callaround 5 a.m.

Deere, who had been shot three times, was officially pronounceddeath at 6:35 a.m., said Coroner Medical Examiner Clay McMorris.Results from an autopsy done Friday night are pending.

Calcote said investigators are searching for one and possiblytwo suspects.

Calcote said the store’s stolen cash box was recovered Fridaynear the Dixie Springs exit off Interstate 55 north. The box hadbeen burned and it appeared checks from the box had been used tostart the fire.

“It’s being sent to the crime lab to see if any fingerprints canbe lifted off of it,” Calcote said.

The cash box was found after volunteer firefighters extinguisheda small fire around 6:30 a.m. Friday. Calcote said investigatorsretrieved the box around noon and Shirley Deere, Deere’s wife, wasable to positively identify it.

The sheriff said it was not known how much in cash and checksthe box contained.

Investigators continued to work on the case Saturday, Calcotesaid.

“We’ve got some new leads, but we haven’t been able to followthem to the fullest,” Calcote said.

Calcote encouraged anyone with information about the shooting tocontact Crime Stoppers at 823-0150.

The sheriff said a cash award is available for tips that lead toan arrest. He said the department had received four or five tips,but those had not yielded any new information.

“It’s information we already had and checked out,” Calcotesaid.

Funeral services for John Deere are Monday at 11 a.m. at theBrookhaven Funeral Home Chapel, with burial in the Mount ZionBaptist Church cemetery. Visitation is Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. andMonday from 8 a.m. until service time at the funeral home.

McMorris, who lives on Old Highway 51 north of the conveniencestore, said he is among many people who pass or stop by the storeon their way to work every morning. He said John and Shirley Deereloved the store and their community.

“John and Shirley were a loved couple,” said McMorris, a fellowmember of Clear Branch Baptist Church. “John is going to bemissed.”

McMorris also commented on John Deere’s faithfulness to thechurch and his love for the Lord.

“It’s a sad time for this community and our county,” McMorrissaid.