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Coroner: McKnights’ murder suspect intoxicated at time of death

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office ruled that Antwan Anderson was legally intoxicated when he shot himself in the head during a shootout with Dayton police.

An autopsy obtained by this newspaper showed that Anderson, 26, had a blood-alcohol level of .087 and also had marijuana and cough syrup in his system when he died April 7. Anderson, who also had a gunshot wound to the left calf from a bullet fragment, was the key suspect in the disappearance and death of 25-year-old Nichelle McKnight, whose body was found April 11 near the banks of the Stillwater River.

Police say Anderson also was the key suspect in the disappearance and presumed death of McKnight’s 4-year-old son, Zaden, whose body has not been located despite many police and volunteer searches. Both McKnight and her son had been missing since March 25.

The coroner’s report mirrors Dayton police’s version of events the day of the shootout. Detectives with the Southern Ohio Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team (SOFAST) were monitoring a home on Birchwood Avenue when police spotted Anderson leaving the home in a car. Police followed Anderson and tried to pull him over at North Main Street and Burton Avenue. Officers said Anderson sped away, then bailed out of the car and ran into a wooded area near Viola and West Mumma avenues.

Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl said Officer Lucas Rose fired at Anderson six times but did not hit him. Biehl said one of Rose’s slugs struck Anderson’s handgun and that Anderson killed himself.

The autopsy written by Dr. Lee D. Lehman states that a “contact-range gunshot wound of the head” entered above and to the anterior to Anderson’s right ear. The report shows the bullet traveled through Anderson’s skull and brain and out above his left ear.

A police affidavit first obtained by the Dayton Daily News indicated the McKnights may have been killed in the basement of a house at 23 Birchwood Ave., which was the home of 29-year-old Tonisha Harris.

Harris, who had a Thursday morning hearing continued until next month, has been indicted in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on charges related to McKnight’s disappearance. The charges include six counts of receiving stolen property and one count each of theft by deception and misuse of a credit card, all fifth-degree felonies. McKnight bonded out of jail May 28, but is being electronically monitored.

Dayton police said the McKnight homicides are open investigations and that more charges are possible. Anyone with information on the case can call police using their anonymous tip line at (937) 222-7867.

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