A North Carolina man suspected in a Southern crime spree that included a double slaying is dead after a warrant for a hitchhiker he and his girlfriend picked up led police to the motel where they were holed up in suburban Philadelphia.
The sheriff's office in Davidson County, North Carolina, identified the couple as Lloyd Wayne Franklin, 34, and Jennifer Michelle Lanning, 38. Officials in Pennsylvania said Franklin was found dead in the motel room and Lanning surrendered to police.
The two fugitives have been on the run since Oct. 29, when police found the bodies of Davie Lee McSwain, 82, and his wife, Joan McSwain, 78, in their Thomasville home and their minivan missing.
Authorities believe Davie McSwain shot Franklin before he died. After he fled with a gun stolen from the home, police said, he picked up Lanning and the two stole prescription painkillers during pharmacy robberies in Aberdeen and Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, and Georgetown, South Carolina, before apparently heading north.
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The McSwains' son found the bodies of his parents, police said. The home had been ransacked, so police believe it was a home-invasion robbery.
The pharmacy robberies netted Franklin 1,800 tablets of the painkiller Opana and patches of fentanyl, Davidson County Sheriff David Grice said.
Fred Harran, public safety director for Bensalem, Pennsylvania, said that along the way the couple picked up a hitchhiker identified as James Miller who turned out to be wanted for a parole violation for an auto theft conviction.
"They picked up the wrong hitchhiker," Harran said. "Criminals picking up criminals ... bad luck for all of them."
When officers found out Miller was in the area, they knocked on the door of the Knights Inn motel room, on Route 1 in Trevose, at about 3 p.m. Saturday, Harran said. Franklin answered and apparently assumed police were after him for the homicides.
He opened fire on the officers, who weren't hit and didn't return fire because they knew other people were in the room, Harran said.
Lanning then surrendered and told police Franklin, who was suffering from a gunshot wound, and Miller were in the room. Miller held police at bay for about 2 1/2 hours but also surrendered, police said.
A chaotic scene unfolded at the motel during the barricade as SWAT teams surrounded the building and locked it down. One guest told NBC10 he was stuck outside during the barricade while his wife and children were inside.
"I wish I could be with them to protect them at the moment," James Sweet said as he waited outside.
When the standoff finally ended, Franklin was found dead in the room of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. Lanning and Miller were both taken into custody.
"The danger to the community is over," Harran said after the incident. "We have two people that [North Carolina] was looking for for homicide. One will go to jail and one will go to the grave. So the threat to the community from these two undesirables is now over."
Police continue to investigate the incident and are cooperating with authorities in North Carolina. Both Lanning and Miller will be sent to the Bucks County Correctional Facility.