Eleven days after the killing, Preston Higgs’ mobile phone was found in the back of a pickup truck in Farmington, a town of fewer than 1,000 people in southeast Iowa, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office said. The vehicle’s owner, who makes deliveries throughout the region, had no idea how or when the phone landed in his truckbed, a deputy sheriff said. Higgs, 36, remains at large.
A welder, Higgs did not show up for work on March 3. That was the day Quackenbush, 39, a beloved chemistry teacher at New Harmony High School, was found dead in their house in the 1200 block of Desire Street. The New Orleans Police Department obtained an arrest warrant for Higgs and said he was likely driving a silver Chevrolet Impala with a Louisiana license plate.
Both Higgs and Quackenbush grew up in Minnesota. They dated in Rochester before Quackenbush moved to New Orleans in 2019. Higgs followed a year later.
Because of Higgs’ background, law enforcement officers along the Interstate 55 corridor paid close attention to his fugitive status. Northbound I-55 crosses to the east bank of the Mississippi River at St. Louis. Farmington is west of the river, on a more direct route to Minnesota.
“We are certain that Higgs was in the area,” the Van Buren Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post after the phone’s recovery. It said Higgs might still be driving the Impala but that it might now have a Minnesota license plate.
In Donnellson, Iowa, 10 miles east of Farmington, police chased a white Impala but found the driver was a local man. In Fort Madison, Iowa, a Mississippi River town 35 miles east of Donnellson, the Lee County sheriff said authorities investigated multiple calls about a local homeless man who resembled Higgs.
Authorities are searching for a man accused of fatally stabbing a New Orleans teacher in the St. Claude neighborhood this week.
On Tuesday, as students entered the halls of New Harmony High School to begin the year’s fourth quarter, they passed a heartfelt shrine of car…