FAIR GROVE, Mo. -- A car chase ended in the capture of the man wanted for the murder of a girl from the Willard area. Anthony Balbirnie, 47, was arrested on Monday in Fair Grove. He's the prime suspect for the death of 15-year-old Khighla Parks.
He was involved in two car chases. The first started on Division Street just east of Kansas Expressway and ended west of Kansas Expressway on Brown Avenue in Springfield. The second chase began at Highway CC at U.S. 65 and went north to the 76 mile marker on U.S. 65 in Fair Grove. That's where Balbirnie's car gave out.
Deputies say he threw something out of his vehicle during the chase but they don't know what or where.
Parks left her home south of Willard on Sept. 20. A weighted-down body was discovered by a boater in Lake Truman ten days later. Last Friday DNA confirmed it was Parks, and now police may have her killer.
"I believe that she is still out there, somewhere. I hope we find her," Donald Yates, Parks' best friend, told us last week.
What a quick and tragic turn her story has taken. Two weeks after her disappearance and just days after this interview with Yates, Parks was confirmed dead. The search turns to her killer.
"We are pleading with anybody, any amount of information. Pick up the phone and give us a call," Major Phil Corcoran with the Greene County Sheriff's Office said later last week.
Just days after that interview, a man is in custody. Springfield police lost him in a car chase earlier Monday afternoon but Greene County deputies caught him in a second chase on Monday evening. Balbirnie has a long arrest record for crimes from drug possession to resisting arrest. In 2010, he was sentenced to a stint in a drug treatment program and then probation, but this past April that probation was revoked. His original sentence was seven years in the Department of Corrections.
We don't know if he ever did time, but we do know this: a little girl is gone, and a family is in mourning Monday night.
"She was always a good person. She was always out riding her horses. She was probably one of the best singers that I know," Yates said.
We do not know the connection between Anthony Balbirnie and Khighla Parks. According to Casenet, Balbirnie has had a number of Springfield addresses and Parks lived near Willard, but Monday the investigation had shifted to the Buffalo area. The two were Facebook friends though.
Balbirnie has not been charged with anything related to Parks' death on Monday, and the cause of her death has not been released. All we know is she didn't drown.