A day after witnesses saw Julie Hanes taken from her hair salon at gunpoint, the Lincoln woman emerged from a cornfield in southwest Nebraska on Sunday dressed in work boots but unharmed.
Her alleged kidnapper and estranged husband, Dwayne Lawrence, 38, of Lincoln was found dead a short time later of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
The search for the couple centered on row after row of irrigated cornfields north and west of Imperial, a nearly 300-mile drive along U.S. 6 from Lincoln, where the kidnapping had been reported at about noon Saturday.
Law enforcement teams spent hours searching the area after a vehicle believed driven by Lawrence was spotted early Sunday in Imperial.
The car, a gold 1998 Chrysler Concorde, sped off but later was found abandoned on a driveway at the end of an irrigated farm field outside the town of 2,000.
A local motorist also reported seeing a couple walking along a county road in the area, the Imperial Republican reported.
With authorities confident the couple was on foot, a perimeter was established and officers from the Nebraska State Patrol, Imperial Police Department and Chase County Sheriff's Office began to search the eight-mile area with assistance from a law enforcement helicopter and K-9 units.
At 6:17 p.m. MDT, Lincoln police said Hanes walked from a cornfield onto 331 Avenue approximately 2 1/2 miles northwest of Imperial. She emerged not far from where police had discovered tracks entering the field.
A little more than an hour later, officers heard a gunshot and authorities located the body of Lawrence approximately 130 yards into the same field.
At a news conference late Sunday, Imperial Police Chief Rob Browning said after Lawrence decided to let Hanes go, he gave her his socks and boots.
Upon exiting the cornfield, Hanes -- carrying flip-flops -- asked for water and told authorities Lawrence had said he planned to kill himself.
A photograph showed Hanes walking into a police staging area before being taken to Chase County Community Hospital for observation. Authorities couldn't yet say what all had happened in the hours since the kidnapping occurred.
Presumably because Hanes' parents and brother live there, authorities had listed Imperial as a possible destination for the couple after Saturday's incident in which witnesses reported seeing Lawrence take Hanes at gunpoint from Audacious Hair Salon & Massage at 27th and O streets.
Events earlier in the summer made the search appear all the more desperate.
In documents filed in Lancaster County District Court in July, Hanes described being terrorized repeatedly by her husband, whom she married in Jamaica in 2001.
A judge granted Hanes a protection order against Lawrence on July 16 after she filed a three-page affidavit recounting multiple incidents in which he threatened her or himself with a gun.
Standoffs between the pair would last for hours, she wrote, with her telling him “everything he wanted to hear” until he backed down.
On July 8, three days before she sought the protection order, Lawrence fired a gunshot into their bedroom wall at 33rd and Dudley streets, Hanes wrote. He then threatened to kill himself in front of her in hopes that she would take her own life.
“Finally, around 2 or 3 a.m. he said if I stayed with him, he would stop,” she wrote. “So I said yes and he finally took the magazine out and put the gun down.”
Police arrested Lawrence in connection to the incident July 12, and he since had been charged with false imprisonment, making terroristic threats and using a weapon to commit a felony. He posted 10 percent of a $250,000 bond and was released July 16 on the condition that he stay away from Hanes, their home and any firearms, and that he remain in Lancaster County.
Hanes filed for divorce July 30.
State Patrol Capt. Jim Parrish said an autopsy would be scheduled and a grand jury convened to look into Lawrence's death.
Authorities praised cooperation among the law enforcement agencies, which conducted rural house-to-house checks in the area as the search continued.
Sunday's high temperature reached 101 in Imperial, and the density of the irrigated cornfields complicated search efforts.