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Caught: Local murder suspect arrested in St. Joseph

NEW INFO: A Wayne County man being sought for a murder there over the weekend is in custody. Michael Burkman, 47, was arrested near St. Joseph, Mo. following a police chase and crash.

Burkman is charged killing John C. Fowler, 57, by shooting him in the back with a shotgun as Fowler rode down a gravel road on an ATV. Charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action were filed by Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Jackson on Monday.

Sheriff Dean Finch, of Wayne County, said police captured Burkman after he crashed a stolen truck during the chase in St. Joseph. He reportedly hit an 18-wheeler. Burkham reportedly suffered little in the way of injuries and no one else was hurt.

According to authorities, Burkman had illegally entered a house earlier in the day Wednesday in Wayne County and stole a truck and a gun. He reportedly ate some food, drank some beer, took a shower and headed out with the stolen firearm and 2001 extended-cab GMC Sierra. It was the second house Burkman had burglarized since the weekend. He apparently burglarized a Bollinger County home on Tuesday, taking an ATV, guns and clothes.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department received a call for an ATV accident off County Road 224 Sunday at 11:15 a.m. Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch said when deputies arrived on scene the victim, John Michael Fowler, 57 of St. Peters was lying face down in the gravel road. He had been shot in the back.

“He was pronounced dead at the scene,” said Finch. “After further investigation they discovered that he had been shot in the back with a shotgun. After several interviews by the Wayne Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control it was determined that Michael Dewayne Burkman, 47, of Lowndes, was the main suspect.”

The sheriff’s department and the highway patrol conducted several investigations throughout the day and on Monday a warrant was applied for on Burkman.

According to the probable cause statement, an officer interviewed persons who stated that Burkman had been involved in an ongoing altercation with Fowler. Officers interviewed a witness who stated that they heard Burkman state that he was going to kill Fowler.

Also in the probable cause statement it notes that after Fowler’s body was found, Burkman told a relative that he stood on the side of a county gravel road near a tree and shot Fowler three times with a shotgun. It also states that items were located at the scene that indicated Fowler was shot with a shotgun.

The report also states that Burkman told the same relative that he knew law enforcement officers would be looking for him. The report also indicated Burkman told three separate people that he had killed Fowler.

Burkman should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. Charges are being sought for first-degree murder and armed criminal action and he also has a warrant out of Bollinger County for first-degree assault of a law enforcement officer.

Anyone with any information on Burkman’s whereabouts is asked to call the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department at 573-224-3219 or the highway patrol at 573-840-9500.

Michael D. Burkman

Michael D. Burkman

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or

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