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Standoff ends when suspect kills himself

Stuarts Draft incident began over lost child
5-25-2007 Virginia:
STUARTS DRAFT — A convicted violent sex offender, who authorities said lured a neighbor into his home Wednesday night and tried to sexually assault her, killed himself during an armed standoff, the Augusta County Sheriff's Office said.

Shortly before midnight, the sheriff's office SWAT Team fired tear gas canisters into the home at 169 Sherwood Drive. Authorities found the body of John Aubrey Lee, 45, under the sink in a bathroom located in the rear of the one-story home. Capt. Dwight Wood said Lee killed himself as the SWAT team moved in. Lee died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Wood said.

The sheriff's office said the incident began when a mother looking for her 6-year-old daughter went to Lee's home. He told the woman the child was in a playroom. When the woman checked the room, the daughter wasn't there. An argument ensued and Lee reportedly told the woman the girl was in his bedroom. Upon entering the room, the woman said a pornographic movie was playing on the television. The daughter was not in the room.

Lee, listed as a violent sex offender by Virginia State Police after being convicted of attempted rape in 1992 in Orange County, locked the bedroom door, according to the sheriff's office. He ordered the woman on the bed. The woman managed to escape to her home, where she found her daughter. She called 911.

The sheriff's office said it appears the child was never at Lee's home.

When Lee's girlfriend arrived at the house late Wednesday afternoon, she reportedly found a high-powered rifle missing along with 20 rounds of ammunition. Lee ordered her out of the home. The sheriff's office said Lee pressed the rifle to his chin and threatened to kill himself before the woman left.

The sheriff's office, who deployed snipers around the home, said the standoff began about 6 p.m. For hours, authorities tried to make contact with Lee. At various times, police played what appeared to be a recording on a loudspeaker. One of the messages was from an unidentified woman who pleaded with Lee to give himself up.

"You have so much to live for," the woman said. "We are all here supporting you, John." The woman went on to say, "This is not the end of the road."

Wood said law enforcement never established verbal contact with Lee.

The incident drew dozens of onlookers from the neighborhood, located in the Augusta Farms subdivision, who were kept at least 150 yards from the standoff site. Neighbors living closer to Lee's home were ordered by authorities to stay indoors.

Before taking his life, county authorities had charged Lee with felony abduction with intent to defile and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Waynesboro police, Virginia State Police and Staunton officers also responded.

Lee's body has been sent to the Medical Examiner's Office in Roanoke for an autopsy. ..more.. by Brad Zinn / staff

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