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Texas Ranger Shot To Death In Gunbattle with Kidnap Suspect

January 23, 1987 GMT

HORSESHOE BAY, Texas (AP) _ A suspect in two kidnappings who discovered two Texas Rangers hiding in the back seat of his car shot one of the officers to death before the other killed him, a spokesman said.

The ranger who survived the Thursday night shootout grabbed a 2-year-old kidnap victim from the car’s front seat and shielded her with his body before opening fire, said David Wells of the Department of Public Safety.

Authorities later discovered the body of the other abductee, a live-in maid at the girl’s house here, in a boat house in this resort community along Lake Lyndon B. Johnson northeast of Austin, Wells said.

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Ranger Stan Guffey, 40, of Brady was pronounced dead at a hospital in nearby Burnet late Thursday night, Wells. Guffey was the first ranger killed in the line of duty since 1978.

The suspect, whose name authorities did not know, died at the scene, said Wells.

The 22-year-old maid, Denise Johnson, had been missing about a week. The girl, Kara Lee Whitehead, was kidnapped earlier Thursday. She was unharmed, said Wells.

There had been telephone calls demanding ransom in kidnapping of the child, he said. Further details about ransom demands were not released.

Guffey and Ranger John Aycock, 39, had been part of a stakeout with other oficers near a home. They hid in the car, which the suspect was about to use for a getaway, Wells said.

The suspect put the child in the front seat, then apparently saw the rangers and fired at Guffey, hitting him in the head, the spokesman said.

Aycock grabbed the child, placed her behind him, then returned fire, hitting the man, said Wells. It was not immediately known how many shots were fired.

Authorities estimated that the maid, whose body was found in the boat house behind the home, had been dead about two days.

The kidnap investigation, which began when the maid was kidnapped, also involved the FBI, state and local officers.

Guffey, a ranger since 1979, also served with the Department of Public Safety and the Highway Patrol.

The last ranger death in the line of duty occurred during a 1978 drug raid, said Wells.