11:13 AM
Mark David Simmons mug shot

A capital murder suspect wanted in Texas is in a stand-off with authorities in Branson.

Jerry Adams, spokesman for the City of Branson says "Early this morning (06-29-10) a police officer was conducting routine license plate checks at area hotels looking for a car believed used in a pair of motel robberies in Branson on Sunday."

The officer located a stolen vehicle believed used in the robberies at the Walnut Lane Motel on Highway 76 and learned that Mark David Simmons, 51, Rockport, Texas, was wanted on a capital murder warrant there. The Hyundai Sonata was reported stolen to authorities in Rockport by Simmons mother. "The officer made contact with Simmons inside his room at the motel and he has refused to come out," Adams says.

As a result of the stand-off police have barricaded a two block stretch of Highway 76, and motorists have been advised to find alternate routes.

Branson police chief Carroll McCollough says negotiations to get Simmons to surrender, "Have been up and down."

The motel has been evacuated of all guests and workers as a precaution because authorities believe that Simmons is armed and dangerous after talks with detectives in Texas.

Adams says, "Communication is open and ongoing, which is always a good sign."

When asked if authorities were prepared to turn off power to the motel in an effort to get Simmons to come out, Adams said, "We haven't talked about that. You're the first person to ask that."

According to the Hays Free Press, authorities in Buda, Texas, found the decomposing body of Steven Wayne Woelfel, 55, in detached garage that had been set on fire on April 17th. Sources say that Simmon's lived with Woelfel's decaying body for a week then moved it to the garage and set it on fire in an attempt to cover-up the crime. Sources close to the investigation say that Woelfel was shot at least five times execution style.

About five minutes after fire crews arrived on the scene an explosion from inside the house blew out the windows and back and front walls of the residence. Investigators say the explosion was rigged by a lit candle that was left near a disconnected gas line to the stove.

Buda firefighters on scene of April 17 fire/explosion that destroyed home of Steven Wayne Woelfel. (photo by Sean Kimmons/Hays Free Press)

Authorities had been contacted by an ex girlfriend of Woelfel's who told them that a man named Mark, who had been in trouble with the law for selling guns to drug dealers in the past, had been staying with Woelfel.

A guest bedroom and bathroom in Woelfel’s house had been wiped clean with a chemical and the bedding stripped from the bed, as if the person living with him wanted to hide their identity, the affidavit says. Investigators say the bedding was located inside the burnt garage along with a torn-up note, matching Simmons’ handwriting, on how to clean up a crime scene.

In 2008, Simmons completed 10 years probation for prohibited 1997 weapons charges out of College Station, Texas.

According to published reports, in the early morning hours of May 2, 1997, a police officer in an unmarked patrol car on burglary detail witnessed Simmons carrying a duffel bag into a wooded area. They later stopped him and noticed a 9mm Glock pistol and a .32 caliber Beretta automatic Tomcat pistol in his wristband and on his ankle, court records say. Simmons told cops that he was a racist who does not like black people.

An investigator says that in 2009 Simmons was being investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety for allegedly leaving several racial messages to state senators on their answering machines after hours.

On Feb. 11, 2010, Simmons was busted and charged with illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He failed to appear for his court date, and an active warrant for his arrest was issued.

Simmons' mother, Wanda Simmons, says that her son is a paranoid schizophrenic who she believes is not taking his medication. She says investigators that her son was employed as a ceramic tile worker. Woelfel, owned Precision Tile, a business he operated out of his home.

UPDATE @ 3:24 p.m:

photo courtesy of Hometown Radio

Branson City spokesman Jerry Adams says the standoff with Simmons was resolved peacefully about 3:04 p.m. "He had just one condition, he asked that he not be thrown to the ground and handcuffed when he was arrested." Once the man was assured that he would not be thrown to the ground after exiting the room, he walked out with his hands on his top his head.

photo courtesy of Hometown Radio

Police Chief Carroll McCullough agreed to the demand and handcuffed Simmons as he exited the room with his hands on top his head. Officers outfitted in SWAT gear hastily enetered the room to gather evidence. McCollough says authorities recovered a rifle and two handguns.

photo courtesy of Hometown Radio

Simmons has been transfered to the custody of U-S Marshals, and will be extradited back to Texas to face murder and weapons charges.