When he ran from his apartment, Hanks steered his Nissan onto the 101 Freeway, the roaring Mississippi of rush hour traffic cutting through much of Southern California. By 7:30 a.m., the LAPD had alerted the California Highway Patrol that the suspect was running. He was quickly located heading northbound on the freeway in Ventura County, the Star reported. Hanks did not stop when officers flashed their lights. For six miles, as the freeway skirted past palm-studded foothills under a postcard sunny blue sky, police pursued the Nissan.
“Our primary officer observed him drinking something out of a large container,” CHP investigator Christopher Terry told NBC4 News. “He started driving a little erratically.”
Hanks’s Nissan, which had been motoring up the 101’s right-hand lane, then drifted across two lanes of traffic before bumping to a stop at the median dividing north and southbound traffic. Police and emergency crews surrounded the car, spotting Hanks slumped over in the driver’s seat.
According to the Star, one of the responding officers smashed open the Nissan’s passenger window, pulling the suspect out of the vehicle. Hanks, however, was already dead. Inside the car, police discovered the container from which he had been drinking.
“It was tested by Ventura City Fire Department, their hazmat team,” Terry told NBC4. “It was confirmed as sodium chloride and potassium cyanide.”
Following the chase, the busy freeway snagged as investigators closed lanes in both directions, the Associated Press reported. Hanks’s body, lying under a blanket, was visible to the news helicopters overhead.
Authorities have not revealed how Hanks was tipped off that police were set to make an arrest Wednesday morning. According to the Star, the rape investigation began last month, when the mother of a 14-year-old girl contacted police after her daughter said Hanks had been communicating with her on Snapchat and lured her to a motel in the Reseda neighborhood of Los Angeles. He allegedly raped the girl there, police said.
“There was physical evidence on her to substantiate the allegation,” Toosbuy, the LAPD sex crimes supervisor, told the paper. Hanks had no prior criminal record.
More from Morning Mix: