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Missing Overland Park woman found dead hours after husband fatally shot by police

Husband's note led authorities to Arkansas
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Country Inn and Suites surveillance-2
Posted at 1:02 PM, Aug 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-14 19:03:49-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A missing Overland Park woman was found dead Tuesday evening in Benton County, Arkansas, hours after her husband walked into a hotel near the Legends Outlets in Kansas City, Kansas, and said he had killed her, according to authorities.

Police reported Sylvia Ussery-Pearson, 49, as missing on Tuesday morning. She was last seen Monday morning leaving her home willingly with her estranged husband, but she did not return. Family filed the missing person report Monday afternoon.

Overland Park police said the woman's phone last pinged in Cass County, Missouri, which led several agencies to conduct a search in the area on Tuesday afternoon.

The search was called off after police found a note in 51-year-old Charles Pearson's Lenexa home that indicated her body might be found in Arkansas.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office and FBI conducted a search at the Lost Bridge Area of Garfield, Arkansas, near a lodge on Whitney Mountain, where they found her body.

Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez said Wednesday that officers met with Pearson on Monday evening, after Sylvia's family had reported her missing. Pearson was cooperative and consented to a search of his home and car, Donchez said.

The next morning, around 9:30 a.m., Pearson walked into a hotel in Kansas City, Kansas, and told staff he had killed his wife. He also said he was heavily armed and headed to the Legends Outlets.

Prior to that, Pearson had reached out to family and friends, telling them that he was suicidal, Donchez said.

Police intercepted Pearson around 9:55 a.m. at State Avenue and Village West Parkway. He fired five or six shots at police before officers returned fire, killing him.

No cause of death has been determined for Ussery-Pearson, and police said they are still investigating where she died. An autopsy has not been scheduled.

Donchez said police were not looking at any other suspects in connection with her death.

Charles and Sylvia were married but separated, according to police. Donchez said that Sylvia had moved out of their shared Lenexa home to Overland Park within the last couple of months.

Pearson was a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army and served two combat tours in Iraq, Donchez said. Neighbors told 41 Action News that Pearson suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Friends of Pearson said he was a music manager and fairly new to the industry. Grammy-nominated music producer Joe Macklin said he met Pearson, who went by Chuck Diesel, more than a year ago. Macklin said Pearson was eager to learn the industry and had an eye for local talent.

“When we talked, he would tell me that music was something that was a love of his, and I think when he got to Kansas City he could see there was a wide opening for artists to be developed and be helped out," Macklin said. "He took a love to that and just loved the music and the art of music."

Donchez, the police chief, said Wednesday that he had "two takeaways from this tragic case."

"Domestic violence continues to be a problem in this country. It’s a problem that we face as a society and as law enforcement and we need to continue to work on that problem," Donchez said at the news conference. "But I also think that in the tragic ending of Mr. Pearson, I think that we need to do more for our veterans that return from combat, because I know that there are quite a few that are in crisis."

Pearson had a previous charge of criminal damage to property stemming from an October 2018 incident in which he allegedly broke a mirror in Johnson County, according to court records.