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Now that the multistate manhunt has ended, legal wrangling has begun over an ex-convict suspected in a killing spree that left eight people dead in Illinois and Missouri.

Nicholas T. Sheley appeared at a brief court hearing Wednesday via a video feed from a jail in southwestern Illinois, not far from where he'd been captured a day earlier as he smoked a cigarette outside a bar.

Judge Edward Ferguson read Sheley the first-degree murder, aggravated battery and vehicular hijacking charges that accuse him of the beating death of 65-year-old Ronald Randall. Randall's body was found Monday behind a grocery store in Knox County in the northwestern part of the state.

Sheley, 28, said he understood the charges and could not afford the $100,000 necessary to post his $1 million bail. The judge then ordered Sheley held until Knox County authorities could pick him up.

Authorities believe Sheley, 28, killed seven other people in the past week, including a 93-year-old man and a 2-year-old child. He is charged in only two of the eight deaths, but authorities say evidence links him to each crime scene.

Sheley has had several brushes with the law, including a pending home invasion case, and has spent time in jail. But investigators said the brutality of the killings — the victims were bashed with blunt objects — has left them puzzled about Sheley's motives.

They said they're not ruling out drug abuse as a possible factor, though Sheley had no drugs on him when he was captured.


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