Dozens of officers searched farmland in central Missouri on Tuesday for a man suspected of killing a person at a nearby house just hours after fatally shooting four others at his neighbour's home about 270 kilometres away in Kansas.

Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino was arrested in Montgomery County, Mo. The suspect was found lying on a hill just north of Interstate 70 and no shots were fired, the Kansas City Star reported.

"He looked exhausted," Sgt. James Hedrick said.

The Star reported the area where Serrano-Vitorino was apprehended is near a McDonald's restaurant and several motels.

Two helicopters, police dogs and at least one SWAT team had been employed to look for Vitorino. The patrol said he was considered dangerous and may be armed with an AK-47.

Several schools were placed on lockdown, with officers stationed at the buildings.

Serrano-Vitorino, a Mexican national who had lived in Kansas City, Kansas, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder late Tuesday afternoon in the Kansas killings. Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman's office listed Serrano-Vitorino's age as 40, while police said he was 36.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement Tuesday night that Serrano-Vitorino, of Mexico, had been deported from the U.S. in April 2004 and illegally re-entered "on an unknown date." ICE said it would place a detainer on Serrano-Vitorino if he is taken into custody.

The search for him began late Monday when four men were shot at the home in Kansas City, Kansas. One of the men managed to call police before he died, but it's unclear how the men knew each other or what may have prompted the shooting, Kansas City police officer Thomas Tomasic said.

The manhunt shifted Tuesday, when a truck Serrano-Vitorino was believed to be driving was found about 7 a.m. abandoned along Interstate 70 in central Missouri, about 120 kilometres west of St. Louis.

About 25 minutes later, sheriff's deputies responded to a shooting about eight kilometres away at a Montgomery County home along an I-70 outer road and found the body of 49-year-old occupant Randy J. Nordman, according to the patrol. Highway Patrol Lt. Paul Reinsch said a witness who called 911 reported seeing a man running from Nordman's property, launching a manhunt of that area.

Reinsch said investigators weren't aware of any connection between Serrano-Vitorino and Nordman, whose home is near his family's campground and a racetrack for remote-controlled cars.

A neighbour of Nordman's, Genevieve Kelly, said she didn't know anything had happened until she saw helicopters circling overhead. She said she didn't know Nordman well, but that she would occasionally help him with sewing.

The owner of the Kansas City home where the four men were shot said he received a call from a tenant at a neighbouring house Monday night about a person lying on the porch as if he were dead. Steve Manthe said that when he was allowed into the rental home after 6 a.m. Tuesday, he saw blood on the living room couch and throughout that room, and the television still on.

"It looked like he just stepped in the door and blew them away," said Manthe, 61, who is retired from the Army.

Manthe's family spent part of Tuesday morning scrubbing blood off the front porch with bleach. Manthe, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 25 years, said he wasn't aware of any tension between the victims and neighbours.

Authorities haven't released the names of the four Kansas victims. Neighbours who live near the small, yellow one-story home where those men were shot described the area as quiet. They said they hadn't heard gunshots the night before.

Al VanBebber, a 54-year-old mechanic who lives a few blocks away, said he knew at least one of the home's residents and described him as a "nice guy" whom he helped with car repairs and upgrades.

"It's sick," VanBebber said. "I don't know how anybody could do that, with people as nice as could be."

Audrey Ragan said one of the men who died lived across the street from her mother and always went out of his way to help neighbours. She said the man was married with a two-year-old daughter.

"I thought, 'My God, who could do something like this?' I'm just in shock," Ragan said of the shootings. "He's going to be truly, truly missed."