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Suspect In 3 Deaths Set For Return To Texas

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SHERMAN (AP) – A man suspected in the shooting deaths of three people whose bodies were found behind a North Texas barn was expected Monday to be returned to the state after his arrest in neighboring Louisiana, authorities said.

Thomas L. Taunton was arrested last week near Shreveport in connection with the deaths of Harold Harpst, 73, Sue Harpst, 79, and Regina Taunton, 48. Regina Taunton is Sue Harpst’s daughter. Authorities have not said whether Thomas Taunton is related to the three dead.

Autopsies showed all three victims died of gunshot wounds. They were found Saturday near Sherman, about 30 miles from their home near rural Leonard.

Thomas Taunton was arrested Thursday after authorities found his pickup truck at a repair shop in Stonewall, La., DeSoto Parish Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle said. Taunton had stopped there because his truck had broken down, authorities said.

Louisiana investigators would turn over evidence from Taunton’s trailer and car to Texas investigators, Arbuckle said. He declined to say if a gun was found inside the vehicles.

Taunton, 52, was still being held at the DeSoto Parish Jail Monday afternoon. Arbuckle said Taunton had signed paperwork to allow his extradition to Texas. He expected Taunton to be transferred Monday night.

Taunton’s attorney in Louisiana, Angela Waltman of Shreveport, declined to comment.

Neighbors in Leonard last saw the three victims more than a week ago at Sunday church services in Leonard, the (Sherman) Herald Democrat reported.

The Fannin County Sheriff’s Office did not release new details Monday. The Texas Rangers declined to comment.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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