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Man Wanted For Michigan Murder, Featured On TV, Dies During Shootout

March 21, 1991

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) _ A Michigan man accused of killing his wife apparently took his own life during a gun battle with police today only hours after his case was featured on a nationally televised crime program.

Dennis Depue, 47, was found slumped behind the wheel of his van about 4 a.m., only moments after he had fired a .357-caliber Magnum at Warren County deputies and Vicksburg police during a chase that began in Louisiana, Sheriff Paul Barrett said.

″My wife and I had watched the TV program about him and the next morning I am with other officers firing into his van,″ said Barrett. ″I’d say that’s not going to happen every day.″

In Branch County, Mich., Undersheriff Gary Abbott said Depue was wanted in the abduction and killing of his wife on Easter Sunday, 1990, in Algansee township, near the Indiana border.

Abbott said Depue’s case was featured on the NBC weekly program ″Unsolved Mysteries″ Wednesday night and we ″are following very closely what happened down there.″

Barrett said a preliminary examination indicated Depue had died of a bullet wound that entered his mouth and came out the back of his head.

″That means it was a suicide because our bullets would not have gone in that direction,″ he said.

Barrett said Mississippi authorities were alerted by Louisiana officials about 3:15 a.m. that they were in pursuit of a van with a stolen Texas tag. They said the driver of the van refused police orders to stop.

″We set up a roadblock with police and deputies at the end of the Interstate 20 bridge over the Mississippi River,″ Barrett said. ″I told them not to shoot him but to shoot out the tires on his van.″

Barrett said that while officers awaited the arrival of the van, his office was informed by the FBI that the driver of the vehicle was wanted for murder.

″He drove right through the roadblock but officers managed to shoot out a tire,″ the sheriff said. ″We then shot out another tire and he kept going.″ He said the van turned off the interstate and sped down several Vicksburg streets with officers close behind.

″He rammed one police car with his van and then rammed one of my deputies’ cars,″ Barrett said. ″At that point he fired two shots through the windshield at Deputy Sheriff Bubba Comans and then fired one or more shots out of the van’s side window at police officer Mark Morgan.

″By that time I was within a quarter of a mile of the van, and after hearing that he was shooting at us, I told them to take him out,″ Barrett said.

Barrett said he pulled up behind the van and fired his machine gun into the rear of the vehicle as other officers exchanged fire with the driver.

″The van was full of clothes and boxes and our bullets were not getting to him,″ the sheriff said.

He said an officer rushed the van when the shooting stopped and opened the driver’s side door, only to find Depue dead ″with the .357 in his left hand and his thumb on the trigger.″

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