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Rape suspect charged in young mother's killing

Rape suspect charged in young mother's killing

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- A man already jailed on rape charges has now been accused of kidnapping and killing a young mother.

Dale Lash, 36, was charged Friday with killing 25-year-old Lori Hayes of Auburn. Bond was set at $5 million.

Authorities began investigating the case Aug. 1 when a screaming baby was found in a Jeep left in a Springfield theater's parking lot. The vehicle's rear bumper appeared to be smeared with blood.

The 9-month-old baby turned out to be Hayes' daughter, Alexis. A search for the mother soon turned up her body. She had been shot in the back of the head and left in a cornfield.

Sangamon County State's Attorney John Schmidt would not discuss what evidence led authorities to charge Lash with Hayes' killing.

``It is my job ... to see that Mr. Lash is brought to trial fairly,'' Schmidt said. ``I won't even speak in general terms about my evidence.''

The State Journal-Register of Springfield, citing anonymous sources, has reported that genetic evidence ties Lash to Hayes and the rape with which he already has been charged -- a Nov. 2 attack on a Springfield real estate agent.

Lash is being held on $1 million bond in that rape.

Authorities also charged him with a third rape Friday, a 1995 incident that Schmidt refused to discuss. The charge identifies the victim only by initials and says Lash used a knife.

Schmidt said he had not decided whether to seek the death penalty in the Hayes case.

``I will give that decision the great deliberation and thought it deserves,'' Schmidt said. ``At this point, I cannot tell you.''

A hearing on the new charges against Lash -- which include murder, kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and endangering the health of a child -- was set for Oct. 14.


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