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Police hunt Mississippi man accused of strangling girlfriend

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. marshals and local police are continuing to hunt for a man suspected of killing his girlfriend at her apartment and shooting and wounding a woman jogging in a nearby park in Mississippi, a law enforcement official said on Tuesday

Alex Deaton, 28, is accused of killing his 30-year-old girlfriend in Brandon, a small city near Jackson, then stealing her white sports utility vehicle, according to a statement by the Rankin County sheriff's office. Police found her body in her apartment on Friday.

Early that morning, another woman called police saying she had been shot while jogging in a nearby park by a man in a white sports utility vehicle that would match Deaton's description.

The U.S. Marshals' Fugitive Task Force is helping in the manhunt, which has expanded beyond state borders, according to David Gelement, the chief inspector for the task force in the Gulf Coast area.

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Michael Guest, the county's district attorney, told reporters at a Monday news conference that Heather Robinson, Deaton's girlfriend, was strangled, possibly a day or two before her body was found. Guest said Deaton was armed with guns.

"We don't know the frame of mind he's in," Guest said, according to video of the news conference. "But we do know that he has killed one person. He has shot a second person."

The sheriff in nearby Neshoba County has said Deaton is also "a person of great interest" in their investigation into the fatal shooting of a woman the previous day at Dixon Baptist Church, according to Mississippi News Now. A white sports utility vehicle was seen in the church's parking area for several minutes around the time of the woman's death, the news channel reported.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by James Dalgleish)