The plane on the runway of the St George Municipal Airport
A pilot suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend is believed to have killed himself after he stole an empty plane from a small airport in Utah and crashed it as he drove near the terminal building.
Brian Hedglin was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the 50-seat aircraft after a police officer found it idling at St George Municipal Airport, reports Sky News.
The 40-year-old pilot had been on administrative leave since last Friday after the body of his former partner, 39-year-old Christina Cornejo, was found in the city of Colorado Springs in neighbouring Colorado State.
Authorities said she had been stabbed multiple times.
Hedglin was able to scramble over St George airport's perimeter fence by placing a rug over the razor wire, city spokesman Marc Mortenson explained.
After gaining access to the parked jet, the pilot drove off with it - but clipped the wing on the terminal and crashed into several cars in a parking lot. The plane never left the ground.
Mortenson said a policeman making rounds found a motorcycle with the engine running just outside the airport's fence in the early hours of Tuesday morning (local time).
As he searched the grounds for the owner, the officer discovered the crashed plane. An employee of the airline, SkyWest, was sent to turn off the engine and found Hedglin's body inside.
Authorities are investigating the security breach at the small southern Utah airport about 120 miles (190km) northeast of Las Vegas.
Mortenson said the perimeter fence is not monitored at all times, "and I would dare say it isn't at any airport in the country".
A spokeswoman for SkyWest said Hedglin had been a pilot with the airline since 2005.
Newspaper reports in Colorado Springs, citing court records, said he had dated Ms Cornejo for four years but was arrested in March after allegedly harassing her.
The records show a restraining order was issued against Hedglin in March, and he was free on bail while he waited for his trial, which was set for August.
Ms Cornejo was a full-time soldier in the Colorado Army National Guard's 100th Missile Defence Brigade in Colorado Springs.
Hedglin had also been a member of the Colorado National Guard, where he was a part-time soldier who worked as a cook. He had no specialised military training and was never deployed, according to officials.