- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A West Virginia man was charged with murder Monday in the shooting of another motorist on Interstate 81 in Pennsylvania in what state police said appeared to be a case of mistaken identity.

John Wayne Strawser Jr., 38, of Terra Alta, West Virginia, is in jail in his home state, where he faces a separate murder charge in the slaying of a woman earlier this year.

The Pennsylvania complaint accuses Strawser of chasing down and shooting 28-year-old Timothy Davison, an apparent stranger from Poland, Maine, along I-81 in the predawn darkness of Jan. 4, 2014.

The case against Strawser is built on interviews with people who know him, cellphone records and physical evidence, Trooper Jason Cashara said in affidavit. A shell casing from the scene matched a casing from Strawser’s .44-caliber lever-action pistol and his pickup truck had been painted a different color since the killing, he said.

Davison was driving home after visiting family members in Florida when the driver of a pickup truck started firing at him as the two vehicles crossed from Maryland into Pennsylvania.

The truck rammed Davison’s SUV, forcing it onto the snow-covered median. The driver circled back minutes later, as Davison was talking on the phone to a state police dispatcher, and shot him several times in the head, leg and foot before fleeing in the southbound lanes, the affidavit says. Davison died shortly afterward at York Hospital.

A major break in the investigation came from Jamie and Courtney Breese, a couple who described themselves as former friends of Strawser. They came forward in April after Strawser was charged with the second killing.

Before that, “they didn’t think he was capable of doing this,” Lt. Jonathan Mays, head of the criminal section at the Harrisburg state police barracks, said at a news briefing Monday.

The Breeses said they were traveling north on I-81 at around the same time and vicinity that Davison was killed and that Strawser had been threatening them in cellphone calls and text messages. The couple discussed the possibility that Strawser was looking for them and mistook Davison’s silver Mitsubishi Montero for their silver Honda Pilot, Cashara wrote.

Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal said there is strong evidence Strawser was stalking the couple on the night Davison was shot and that it is “fair to conclude that at least the initial attack by Strawser was specifically intended for someone else.”

Strawser had relationships with numerous women, including the West Virginia woman he is charged with killing, and was very controlling in those relationships, Mays said.

“Once those other parties decided to go away from him, then he ratcheted up and we saw things like we saw in this case,” he said.

Davison’s mother said she was relieved that a suspect was in custody.

“Obviously, there’s a sense of relief that they got the guy and he’s not going to hurt anyone else, but sadness at why are we even going through this,” Theresa Allocca, Davison’s mother, told the Portland Press Herald. “There’s also a little bit of anger and frustration that no one came forward until another person had to die.”

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