09/19/2007

Dallas police arrest triple-slaying suspect after massive manhunt

Police say man stole van, fired shots during chase through Oak Cliff

By SCOTT GOLDSTEIN
The Dallas Morning News

A days-long hunt for a man suspected of fatally stabbing his wife and her two young sons ended with his arrest Tuesday night after police said he stole a van and fired several shots as they chased him through Oak Cliff.

Robert Sparks, 33, was arrested about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday on a dead end in the 3500 block of Mundy Circle as stunned residents poured into their front yards.

As police escorted a bloodied Mr. Sparks away Tuesday night, he blamed the victims for what had happened to them, saying that his wife had been trying to kill him with her sons' help.

"She tried to poison me," he said. "She put them in the grown folks' business. She had them helping."

Mr. Sparks was being sought in the killings of his 30-year-old wife, Chare Agnew, and her sons, 9-year-old Harold Sublet and 10-year-old Raeqwon Agnew. Their bodies were found Saturday morning in southeast Dallas.

Ms. Agnew's two teenage daughters were found bound and gagged in a closet. The boys and girls were Mr. Sparks' stepchildren.

Mr. Sparks faces three counts of capital murder and two counts of aggravated sexual assault. He was taken to the Lew Sterrett Justice Center late Tuesday.

After the arrest, Police Chief David Kunkle praised several officers who played key roles in capturing Mr. Sparks.

"This was a great team effort to track and apprehend Robert Sparks," Chief Kunkle said.

Tuesday's dramatic chase began shortly after Mr. Sparks stole a burgundy van about 5:30 p.m. from a friend's home in the 900 block of East Woodin Boulevard, police said.

Police in the area were alerted to the description and license plate of the stolen vehicle, and an officer spotted the van at Lamar and Hatcher streets about 8 p.m.

Officer Christopher Wood tailed Mr. Sparks as dozens of squad cars converged on Oak Cliff and a police helicopter hovered overhead. At one point during the chase, the suspect fired several gunshots, but no officers were hurt.

Mr. Sparks eventually turned into a dead-end street and was captured.

The van he was driving belongs to Aaron Jackson, who said Mr. Sparks showed up at his home unannounced and flashed a handgun in his waistband. Mr. Jackson, who is paralyzed from the neck down, said in an interview from his bed that he had no intention of helping Mr. Sparks elude police.

"I was just praying that from him knowing me so long he wouldn't kill me," said Mr. Jackson, 33, who said he served prison time with Mr. Sparks in the 1990s for an aggravated robbery they committed together.

"He kept saying, 'Aaron, I flipped out, but all that stuff they're saying, I didn't do,' " Mr. Jackson said.

In the days after the killings, police chased several tips that led back to the scene of the crime.

On Sunday, police surrounded the home where Ms. Agnew and her sons were found dead a day earlier in the 200 block of Ezekial Avenue. A caller had told police that Mr. Sparks was inside.

Police found the door kicked in, but when SWAT officers entered four hours later, they found no one inside.

Even afterward, some in the southeast Dallas neighborhood worried that Mr. Sparks might return. His dead wife's relatives told police Monday that threats from Mr. Sparks had filtered back and that they feared for their safety.

Ms. Agnew's cousin, Kim Noble, said she was relieved Mr. Sparks was no longer on the run.

"I'm just glad they caught him because he was a threat to me and my family," she said.

This is not the first time Mr. Sparks has been in trouble with the law.

Dallas County records show that he served 12 years in prison on a 1991 conviction for aggravated robbery and evading arrest.

More recently, he was charged with assault in a domestic case. He was last arrested Feb. 12 and was released from the Dallas County Jail the same day, jail officials said. It's unclear why he was arrested then.


Staff writers Blanca Cantú and Jenni Beauchamp and Rebecca Lopez of WFAA-TV (Channel 8) contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 The Dallas Morning News

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