By Jasmine Huda
KSDK -- Imagine sitting at a bar and the person next to you bears a striking resemblance to the man whose picture has been plastered all over the news, connected to a number of murders. For customers at Bindy's Bar in Granite City, there was no imagining.
Tuesday evening, customers did a double take when a man with blond hair and tattoos entered the establishment on Nameoki Road. That man was 28-year-old murder suspect Nicholas Sheley.
"I was looking, because I thought, I sort of had the image ingrained in my mind, of what this guy looked like, you know, and more and more, I thought, 'this really is him,'" said customer Gary Range.
Range and others had just watched the evening news at Bindy's when Sheley entered. At least two customers called police.
Authorities believe Sheley may be connected to eight recent murders in Missouri and Illinois.
Sheley is suspected in the murder of an elderly man in Whiteside, Illinois; the murder of Little Rock, Arkansas, couple Tom and Jill Estes in Festus, Missouri; the murder of Ronald Randall in Galesburg, Illinois; and the murder of three adults and one child in Rock Falls, Illinois, the FBI said. All eight victims were killed by blunt force trauma to the head.
Sheley is also wanted for home invasion in Sterling, Illinois, and on federal charges for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Earlier Tuesday, the Major Case Squad said up to 100 detectives were looking for Sheley.
For Samantha Butler, it was an "open mouth, insert foot" moment at Bindy's.
"I walked into the bar, and I said, 'They're really searching for that serial killer,"' she said. "And the bartender said, 'What does he look like?' And I said, 'Well, he's got blonde hair, and tattoos.' And I looked over, and he kept staring at me, and looked away and looking at his surroundings."
Sheley was arrested and taken to the Granite City Jail Tuesday evening.
Authorities said he will be incarcerated on a $1 million bond.
NewsChannel 5 spoke with a Washington, Missouri man who police think not only talked to him, but lent Sheley his cell phone.
The man said he and friends left the Cards-Mets game Monday night and went outside to tailgate.
"This guy walked up and he started talking to us," said the witness, who asked to remain anonymous. "He then he asked to borrow a cell phone so we gave him one."
The man made a call for 15 minutes.
"He gave the phone back and asked if we'd delete the phone numbers, so we did," the witness said. "We got in the truck and left."
But when the witness got home, there were four deputies waiting for him.
"The phone call that he made was to a drug house in the Kirkwood area," he said. "They had been watching that house, so they traced the phone call back to the cell phone that he had used and that's how they got my address."
Then the officers explained why they were trying to track Sheley down.
"They said that he's killed eight people," the witness said. "They didn't say how they knew that it was him that made the phone call, but they asked me what he looked like and I explained it to him and they said that I was dead on."
The witness' friend also identified Sheley, picking his mugshot from a line-up.
Timeline According to the Galesburg Police Department
Tuesday, July 1, 1:30 p.m.
Knox County Prosecutors charged Nicholas Troy Sheley, 28, with first-degree murder, aggravated battery, aggravated vehicular hijacking and two counts of theft in connection to the death of Ronald Randall from Galesburg, Illinois.
Monday, July 1, 9:30 a.m.
An autopsy positively identified a body found behind a grocery store in Galesburg as Randall. Pathology reports listed the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head.
Monday, June 30, 12:15 p.m.
Galesburg Police found a man's body behind a grocery store in Galesburg.
Monday, June 30, 9:33 a.m.
The Galesburg Police Department said On-Star helped they them find Randall's 2007 pick-up truck at Cherokee and 2nd St. in St. Louis. Police said no one was with the vehicle when it was found.
Monday, June 30, 8:38 a.m.
Family members told Galesburg Police Department they had not seen or spoken to Randall since Saturday. They filed a missing persons report with the department. Neighbors told police Randall was last seen driving a pick-up truck sometime Saturday evening.
Sunday, June 29, unknown time
Galesburg police found a stolen pick-up truck at a car wash in Galesburg. They said it had been taken during a burglary at a Rock Island, Illinois business.
Friday, June 26, unknown time
Illinois State Police and the Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center issued a warrant bulletin for Nicholas Sheley in connection to a home invasion. He was believed to be driving a stolen red Jeep.