Officials: Child custody battle at center of killings

This weekend’s killing of two Dent County residents apparently had its roots in a child custody battle.

The Missouri Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control unit based in Rolla “determined that there were reportedly ongoing custody issues between Marvin Rice and Annette Durham involving the custody of their 2-year-old child,” the patrol’s probable cause statement said.

The statement was filed Monday along with the Dent County prosecutor’s two-count murder charge against Rice, a former Dent County sheriff’s deputy, for killing Annette M. Durham, 32 — the boy’s mother — and her current boyfriend, Steven W. Strotkamp.

Some early news reports said Durham was Rice’s ex-wife, but Dent County Sheriff Rick Stallings said Monday the two were never married.

The killings occurred at Strotkamp’s home in rural Dent County, north of Salem, where Rice apparently had demanded that the boy be turned over to him. Rice produced a gun during the argument.

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