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Started by Jeff1857, May 25, 2009, 01:21:09 AM
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May 25, 2009, 01:21:09 AM
: October 01, 2010, 03:33:01 PM by Jeff1857
Charles L. Mathenia
Decedents were Daisy Nash, 72, and her mentally impaired sister Louanna Bailey, 70. Mathenia had lived with Nash for some seven years prior to her death. At the time of the killings, Mathenia was 25 years old and still living with Nash. In September of 1983, Mathenia allegedly twice raped Louanna Bailey and in December of the year he was charged for those offenses upon her complaint. In February, Bailey dropped the charges, indicating she would refuse to testify against Mathenia. The evidence indicated that the murders were motivated by Mathenia's resentment at having been arrested and confined in connection with these charges. Mathenia vowed to take revenge on the two sisters. Sometime after midnight on April 24, 1984, Mathenia returned home after spending the day with his sister and brother-in -law. An argument began with Nash as soon as he entered the house. During the course of the argument, Mathenia hit the 72 year old woman in the face, knocking her to the floor. He then retrieved a butcher knife from the kitchen and after kicking and beating her, he stabbed her several times. Shortly thereafter, Mathenia rode his bicycle the two blocks to Bailey's home and told her he had killed Nash. While Bailey tried to call Nash, Mathenia got a butcher knife. When he returned, Bailey attempted to flee but Mathenia stabbed her fatally in the back. Mathenia was arrested the following day. He was convicted by a jury of two counts of capital murder and sentenced to death in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County.
Todd Franklin had been a witness against two members of McFadden's gang, the ``6 Deuces,' and they had gone to jail. On the evening of July 3, 2002, in the 6200 block of Lexington Avenue in Pine Lawn, a St. Louis suburb, two young men chased Franklin, 19, to a house where men were working. The suspects were later identified by the witnesses as McFadden and Michael Douglas, now serving a lengthy prison sentence. Witnesses said Douglas shot Franklin and then McFadden fired shots into the prone body of the victim after McFadden took the handgun from Douglas and complained that Franklin was still alive. On May 15, 2003, just a few blocks from the scene of Franklin's death 10 months earlier, Leslie Addison, 18, was fatally shot after an argument with McFadden in which he told her to get out of Pine Lawn. McFadden was the boyfriend of Leslie's sister, Eva Addison, with whom he had a child. Eva Addison was hiding in bushes when she saw her sister plead for her life and then saw McFadden shoot her. The victim had been shot under the chin and alongside the head.
When Beverly Guenther got off work on Nov. 20, 2003, she was attacked on her employer's parking lot in Earth City, a light industrial area across the Missouri River from St. Charles. Her assailant stabbed her, raped her, and took her body that night to a wooded area off South Broadway in St. Louis, near Bellerive Park. Before her death, Guenther, 45, of Moscow Mills, Mo., had filed written statements of domestic violence in Lincoln County against a former boyfriend with whom she had broken up that summer. She wrote that she had been repeatedly harassed by phone and in person by Scott McLaughlin, and at one point, she said, he had jumped out of bushes at her on the Earth City lot. A hearing on her domestic violence allegations was set for Nov. 21, 2003, the morning after her disappeance. On the night she disappeared, a worried neighbor at her mobile home park called her boss, who called police and they found Guenther's pickup truck on the parking lot where she worked, along with a trail of blood. Guenther was already dead when her killer raped her, an autopsy showed. McLaughlin, 33, of Wright City, admitted the murder in audiotaped and videotaped statements to police but never admitted the sexual assault on either an alive or dead victim. He led police to her corpse after his confessions.
John Middleton was a user and dealer of methamphetamine. On June 10, 1995, police arrested several people in Harrison County, Missouri, for possession and sale of the drug. Middleton was not one of the people arrested. About ten days after the Harrison County arrests, Middleton told a friend that "the snitches around here are going to start going down." Middleton stated that he had a "hit list" and that Alfred Pinegar was on it. Two days after making these statements, Middleton told the same friend that he was "on his way to Ridgeway, Missouri, to take Alfred Pinegar fishing."
Alfred Pinegar was also a dealer of methamphetamine and was associated with Middleton as a fellow drug dealer. Pinegar lived with his fiancÚ Priscilla Hobbs in Davis City, Iowa, just north of Harrison County, Missouri. On June 23, 1995, the day of Pinegar's murder, Hobbs was driving toward her home in Davis City when she saw Middleton and his girlfriend Maggie Hodges in a white Chevrolet 4x4 pickup traveling in the opposite direction. Hobbs noticed that Hodges was sitting in the middle of the truck seat instead of in the right passenger's seat. When Hobbs reached her home, Pinegar was not there and the yard had been partly mowed, as if Pinegar stopped in the middle of the job. Pinegar habitually carried a twelve-gauge shotgun, and that shotgun and about two hundred dollars were missing from the home. Around noon that same day, Wesley Booth was working in the sporting goods department of a Wal-Mart store in Bethany, Missouri. He was approached by Hodges, Middleton, and another man, presumably Pinegar. Middleton asked Booth for six boxes of nine-millimeter shells and two boxes of twelve-gauge "double-ought" buckshot. Middleton paid cash for the ammunition. During the entire transaction Middleton was standing at the counter across from Booth. Middleton, Hodges, and Pinegar left Wal-Mart and drove several miles northeast of Bethany near the town of Ridgeway where they parked in a field. Pinegar got out of the truck and began to run when he saw Middleton raise the twelve-gauge shotgun. Middleton shot Pinegar twice in the back. Middleton then delivered the fatal wound to Pinegar, shooting him in the face. Middleton dumped Pinegar's body over a fence. After committing the murder, Middleton and Hodges went back to the Wal-Mart store in Bethany to return the nine-millimeter ammunition.
In late August 1994, Dennis Skillicorn, Allen Nicklasson, and Tim DeGraffenreid headed east from Kansas City to obtain illegal drugs. On August 23, 1994, during their return trip to Kansas City, the 1983 Chevrolet Caprice in which they were traveling broke down twenty-two miles east of the Kingdom City exit on I-70. An offer of assistance by a state trooper was refused. The next day they traveled 17 miles to the JJ overpass. They burglarized the nearby home of Merlin Smith, stole some guns and money, and used the stolen money to pay for a tow to Kingdom City. A garage in Kingdom City was unable to repair the extensive mechanical problems. They drove back toward the site of the robbery and the car stalled again. Between 4 and 5 p.m., Richard Drummond, a technical support supervisor for AT & T saw the stranded motorists and offered to take them to use a phone. He was driving a white company car. Skillicorn and Nicklasson were both armed. They loaded the booty from the Smith burglary into the trunk of Drummond's car. While Nicklasson held a gun to Drummond's head, Skillicorn asked Drummond questions in order to calm him down, including whether Drummond's "old lady" was going to miss him. As Drummond drove east, Skillicorn "got to thinking...if we let this guy off, he's got this car phone." So they disabled the car phone. Skillicorn stated that he later determined they would have to "lose" Drummond in the woods. At some point during this time, Nicklasson and Skillicorn discussed what they should do with Drummond. Skillicorn, in his sworn statement, claimed that Nicklasson said "he was going to, you know, do something to this guy. I tell him -you know, now, we're trying to talk on the pretenses that-that, uh, this guy in the front seat don't hear us too. Right? Right. 'Cause, uh, I didn't want him panicking." They directed Drummond to exit I-70 at the Highway T exit. They proceeded four miles on to County Road 202 to a secluded area where they ordered Drummond to stop his vehicle. As Nicklasson prepared to take Drummond through a field toward a wooded area, Skillicorn demanded Drummond's wallet. Knowing Nicklasson had no rope or other means by which to restrain Drummond and that Nicklasson carried a loaded .22 caliber pistol, Skillicorn watched as Nicklasson lead Drummond toward a wooded area. There, Nicklasson shot Drummond twice in the head. Skillicorn acknowledged hearing two shots from the woods and that Nicklasson returned having "already done what he had to do." Drummond's remains were found eight days later. Note: Skillicorn has been Executed.
After using drugs, Roderick Nunley and Michael Taylor stole a car. While driving the car, the two men spotted a fifteen-year old girl waiting for her school bus. Taylor allegedly stated he wanted to steal the girl's purse, and Nunley, who was driving, stopped the car. Taylor spoke to the girl and then grabbed her and forced her into the car. Nunley then drove to his mother's house. The girl was taken out of the car and forced to crawl down to the basement. Taylor then raped the girl. At some point, Nunley gave Taylor some lubricant to facilitate the forced sexual intercourse. After the assault, the two men forced the girl into the trunk of the stolen car and tied her up. After Taylor stated he was afraid the girl would identify him, the two men decided to kill the girl. Nunley retrieved two knives from the kitchen and both men stabbed the girl. Nunley knew the girl was going to die from her wounds. (The former county medical examiner testified the victim was stabbed ten times and she died approximately thirty minutes later.) The men drove to a nearby neighborhood and parked the car, leaving the girl in the trunk. Nunley gave a videotaped confession to the police.
On the morning of December 12, 1985, Pollard had decided to visit relatives in Arkansas. Pollard, accompanied by Maurice Alexander, Michael Hammon, and Robert Sands drove south from St. Louis on Interstate 55 in Pollards car. While driving, the battery went dead. Pollard removed a .22 caliber automatic rifle from his truck and loaded it with ammunition. Pollard brought the loaded rifle with him while he and Hammon sought another battery. They found a battery in a car at a nearby farm. They got the battery and brought it back to his car. Pollard returned the rifle to his car and they took off down Interstate 55 again. Later, one of the tires went flat and he exited the highway at the rest area near Steele, Missouri. Having no spare tire, Alexander and Hammom went with Howard Henry, the rest area maintenance person, to a nearby service station to purchase a new tire.
Shortly after Alexander and Hammon left for a new tire, the victim, Richard Alford, drove into the rest area in his new 1984 Pontiac Bonneville and parked on one spot away from Pollard's car. Pollard told Sands that he wanted that car and he was going to get it. Pollard removed the loaded rifle from the car and waited for Alford to return to his car. Pollard stood in the space between the two cars and shot Alford through the window, turned and looked at Sands, then turned back and shot Alford two more times. Pollard moved Alford's body from the driver's seat, got into the car, and drove off with the body. Twelve to thirteen minutes later, Pollard returned to see if his friends had made it back with the new tire. They had not, so Pollard left again in Alford's car and left it at the rest area on the northbound side of Interstate 55. Pollard and his friends left and stopped in Blytheville, Arkansas to spend the night. Pollard had stolen a ring from the victims finger and was wiping the blood from it. He later sold it in a pawn shop. The body of Alford was found near the rest area in a drainage ditch under an Interstate 55 overpass.
Note: Pollard has been declared unexecutable due to retardation.
Elroy Preston had been living temporarily with his brother Ervin in the downstairs portion of his house. Ervin was a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. Pee Wee Richardson and Betty Klien lived together upstairs. All were present in Ervin's quarters for an evening of heavy drinking. During the course of the night, frequent alcohol-related verbal disputes were exchanged between the three men over petty issues, including who was to sleep where and whether some chicken which had been purchased was to be shared with Pee Wee Richardson. Pee Wee and Betty eventually went upstairs to bed, with Elroy Preston from time to time interrupting their slumber with trips to their room. Angry for a continuing assortment of reasons, Preston made a final trip upstairs and ordered Pee Wee and Betty to come back downstairs. In the presence of Ervin and Sherry Brown (Preston's girlfriend), Preston announced to Pee Wee and Betty that he would kill them just as soon as he removed his clothes. The idea behind the clothes removal was to keep splattered blood off of them. True to his word, Preston removed his clothes and proceeded to stab and critically wound Pee Wee with a hunting knife. Then with a single swipe of the knife he severed Betty's spinal cord at the neck, killing her instantly. He immediately returned his attention to Pee Wee and stabbed him several more times in the chest and abdomen. Pee Wee died as a result of five stab wounds to the body, face and hands, the latter coming as he tried to ward off the lethal blows. He also absorbed four incised wounds. The killings complete, Preston took some left over fried chicken and dipped it in the victims' blood and ate it with relish, all the while aiming deprecatory remarks at his stone dead victims. With this bizarre bit of action completed, Preston and Sherry Brown dragged the bodies to a back alley and left them there to be discovered by the neighbors. He and Ms. Brown then made some effort to clean the blood spattered house. Elroy Preston was convicted of the capital murder of Pee Wee Richardson and sentenced to death. He was also convicted of second degree murder for the killing of Betty Klein and given a consecutive life sentence.
Earl Ringo Jr.
On July 3, 1998, defendant and a friend, Quentin Jones, were traveling to Columbia, Missouri, in a rented U-Haul truck. Defendant rented the truck to move his belongings from Columbia to Jeffersonville, Indiana. During the trip, defendant concocted a plan to commit an early morning robbery of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Columbia where he had formerly been employed. From that employment, defendant recalled the early morning routine. He explained the two men could wear Ruby Tuesday T-shirts, go to the back door at an early hour, and trick the manager into letting them inside. At that time of day, the manager would be the only person in the building. Defendant believed that the cash proceeds from the previous day's operation would be left in a safe and that their take could amount to several thousand dollars. On arrival in Columbia, the two went to defendant's former residence and began packing his possessions in the truck. During the process, defendant opened a backpack inside the truck, revealing a bulletproof vest and some gloves. He also displayed two ski masks, two Ruby Tuesday T-shirts, and some jeans that Jones could wear to look more like an employee. After loading the truck, Jones went to sleep. However, defendant did not sleep. He remained awake, cleaning a 9 millimeter pistol. At about 4:30 a.m. on July 4, defendant woke Jones. They then drove to a Radio Shack store within walking distance of the restaurant. At that point, Jones expressed reluctance to go inside the restaurant. Defendant responded by chastising Jones, telling him to "Stop being a bitch and come on." The two then walked toward the restaurant, defendant carrying the backpack. Once there, the men, already wearing the T-shirts supplied by defendant, approached the restaurant from the rear and walked through an unlocked gateway guarding the back of the restaurant. Defendant closed the gates behind him. Since they had seen no vehicles in the parking lot, they remained within the gated area, waiting for a manager or another employee to arrive. Defendant indicated to Jones that when another employee arrived, they would knock on the back door in the hope of being let inside. At 5:55 a.m., a delivery truck driven by Dennis Poyser arrived. Jones panicked and attempted to flee by climbing the wall, but defendant instructed him to hide. Jones complied and located a hiding place between a trash dumpster and a "grease pit." The two put on the ski masks. Next, Joanna Baysinger, a manager in training, opened the rear door of the building, and Poyser opened the outer gates. Baysinger came out to the gateway and spoke with Poyser. Then, Baysinger returned to the building along with Poyser. Carrying his pistol, defendant ran in after them. Once inside, defendant shot Poyser in the face from a distance of about six inches. Poyser fell to the floor. Hearing the gunshot, Jones entered the building and found Poyser on the floor and Baysinger screaming. She had blood on her hand and ankle. Then defendant grabbed Baysinger, forced her into the restaurant office, and demanded that she open the safe. While in the office with Baysinger, defendant directed Jones to go to the front of the restaurant and make sure no one else had arrived. Jones did so and, seeing no one else, returned to the office. When Jones returned, he found defendant and Baysinger next to the safe. Defendant filled the backpack with cash from the petty cash and cash drawers located in the top part of the safe as Baysinger tried to open the bottom part containing the cash proceeds from the previous day's business. Defendant told Jones to make certain the back door was closed. Jones closed the door and returned to see Baysinger struggling with the bottom part of the safe while defendant became increasingly frustrated with her. He demanded that Baysinger "hurry up" as Jones knocked the telephone to the floor in order to scare her. Suddenly, another employee arrived and knocked on the back door. Defendant responded by handing Jones the gun and his right glove. Defendant said, "If she moves, shoot her." He left Jones in charge of controlling Baysinger, and despite the employee knocking on the door, dragged Poyser's body into the walk-in cooler by the legs. Meanwhile, the employee became discouraged and left the restaurant in order to try calling from a nearby McDonald's restaurant. Baysinger continued having difficulty in opening the lower part of the safe, and finally asked Jones if he would try. Jones refused. Then he became uncomfortable holding the gun used to kill Poyser, so he set it on the floor. Defendant returned to the office, no longer wearing the ski mask, and asked Jones why the gun was on the floor. Jones picked up the gun and handed it back to defendant, who promptly fired a shot at the floor beside Baysinger to hasten her. Baysinger stood, covered her ears with her hands and screamed. After collecting herself, she again tried unsuccessfully to open the lower portion of the safe. At one point, defendant also tried. As before, this final attempt to open the lower part failed, and defendant gave up. Frustrated, defendant asked Baysinger how much money she had, seized her purse, and emptied it onto a table. Then, he instructed her to find a piece of paper and write a note saying "I'm sorry." As she wrote, defendant took Jones aside and asked him if he wanted to kill Baysinger. Jones shrugged his shoulders and shook his head but took the gun from defendant nevertheless. Baysinger announced she had finished writing the note. Jones pointed the gun at her head and looked at defendant, who encouraged him to quit stalling and shoot her. Finally, Jones squeezed the trigger, shooting her in the head. Baysinger fell to the floor. Jones picked up the backpack and placed the gun inside. The two men then left Ruby Tuesday through the front door and walked back to the truck. They fled the scene in the truck, heading east on Interstate Highway 70.
Along the way, they disassembled the gun and discarded the parts and the T-shirts at various points. Once in Indiana, they split the $1,400 obtained from the robbery. Following a police investigation, defendant was arrested nine days later. Jones turned himself in the same day. Jones pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action. In order to avoid the death penalty, Jones agreed to testify for the state against defendant. The jury found defendant guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and recommended that he be sentenced to death for each.
On September 21, 1993, Rousan , Rousan's son Brent Rousan, and Rousan's brother, Robert Rousan, met and discussed stealing cattle from Charles and Grace Lewis. Charles Lewis, sixty-seven, and his wife Grace, sixty-two, lived near the farm where Rousan resided. Having devised a plan, the Rousans's set out for the Lewis farm. On the way, they discussed killing Mr. and Mrs. Lewis. They agreed that "if it had to be done it had to be done." As the three drove past the Lewis farm, William Rousan pointed out the cattle they would be stealing. He parked the truck approximately two miles from the farm. He got out of the truck and removed a .22 caliber rifle that belonged to his girlfriend, Mary Lambing. He loaded the rifle for use in the crime "in case anyone was home." Rousan and his son then argued over who would carry the gun, Brent, the son, said that he was "man enough to do whatever needed to be done and that he would use the weapon." Rousan at first stated that Brent was not man enough, but eventually gave him the gun. He warned Brent that if they were caught, they would "fry." The three men then hiked through the woods to the Lewis farm where they waited under cover behind a fallen tree. Between 3-4 p.m. that afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis returned home. Mr. Lewis began to mow the lawn. Mrs. Lewis spoke on the phone to the couple's oldest daughter, who called at approximately 4:00 p.m. Brent grew tired of waiting and exclaimed that he wanted to "do it." Rousan told Brent to wait until he and Robert had secured the house. Rousan headed for the front door and Robert made his way to the back door. Before they arrived at the home, Mr. Lewis saw Brent and called out. Brent fired at least six shots from the rifle, all of which struck Mr. Lewis. He died as a result of those gunshot wounds. Mrs. Lewis, speaking by telephone with her daughter, told her daughter that she heard gunfire and hung up the telephone. As Mrs. Lewis exited the house through the front door, Brent shot her several times. Although the bullets fractured both of Mrs. Lewis's arms, the wounds were not fatal. Mrs. Lewis ran back into the house. Rousan followed her, removed a garment bag from a coat rack, and placed the bag over Mrs. Lewis's head and the upper part of her body, picked her up and carried her outside. When Rousan placed Mrs. Lewis on the ground, she was alive. Rousan turned to Brent and instructed him to "finish her off." Brent fired one shot into the left side of Mrs. Lewis's head. The shot killed her. The three men wrapped the bodies in a tarpaulin and tied it with a rope. Rousan instructed that they should pick up the shell casings and clean up the blood stains. After doing so, the men deposited the bodies near a shed and left, planning to return later to get the bodies and the cattle. The three men, along with Jerry Rousan, another of Rousan's brothers, returned to the Lewis farm that night. There they loaded the bodies into Mr. Lewis's truck. They took two cows, a VCR, jewelry, soda, two gas cans, and a saddle. The four men then returned to Mary Lambing's farm, where Rousan lived. On the return trip, Brent bragged about the murders. At the Lambing farm, the men buried Mr. and Mrs. Lewis in a shallow grave by the barn. After digging the grave and placing the bodies in it, the men poured concrete over the bodies. They covered the grave with a pile of manure. They burned rags used to clean the blood from the Lewis house. The men disposed of the Lewises' property in various ways. On the night of the murders, the men consumed the soda. The cows were later sold at auction. Robert gave the VCR to his sister and brother-in-law, Barbara and Bruce Williams, on the day following the murders. Mr. and Mrs. Williams sold the VCR to a local pawn broker approximately eight months later. Rousan buried the couple's personal items. He gave the remainder of the jewelry to Mary Lambing on special occasions during the following year. The four men hid and later burned Mr. Lewis's truck.
When the Lewises' daughter could not reach her parents the following day, she became concerned. She called the police, who undertook an investigation into the Lewises' disappearance. The police investigation continued for nearly a year without an arrest. On September 20, 1994 Rousan was arrested.
Shockley, 32, of Van Buren sentenced to death for the murder of Highway patrol Sgt. Carl Dewayne Graham Jr. outside of Graham's Van Buren home on March 20, 2005.
Stephen and Florence Honickman owned and operated a jewelry store. Typically, customers would make an appointment to examine the jewelry for sale. In early July 1991, a person identifying himself as "Jeffrey Taylor" called the Honickmans and made an appointment to buy a diamond. "Jeffrey Taylor" was later identified as Herbert Smulls. On July 22, 1991, Smulls and Norman Brown went to the Honickmans' store. After viewing several diamonds, Smulls and Brown left the store without making a purchase. On the afternoon of July 27, 1991, Smulls and Brown followed another customer into the store. Florence Honickman was unable to show any jewelry at that time but suggested she might be able to help them later. Smulls and Brown returned to the store that evening. After viewing some diamonds, Smulls and Brown went into a hallway, purportedly to discuss the diamond prices. A short time later, Florence looked up and saw Smulls aiming a pistol at her. She then ran and hid behind a door. Smulls fired three shots at her, striking her arm and side. Smulls then fired several shots at Stephen Honickman, who was struck three times. Smulls and Brown stole jewelry worn by Florence and other items in the store. After the two men left the store, Florence contacted the police. Stephen died from his wounds and Florence suffered permanent injuries from the attack.
Walter Timothy Storey
On Friday, February 2, 1990, Storey became upset over his pending divorce. After finishing all of his beer, he decided to steal money for more beer from Ms. Frey, a special education teacher, who lived in a neighboring apartment. He climbed her balcony and entered an unlocked sliding glass door. He stole her car keys, entered her bedroom, and, in his words, "struggled" with her. Ms. Frey died of blood loss and asphyxiation from two neck wounds, which cut through both of her jugular veins, her airway, her esophagus, and into her spine. Before she lost consciousness, she had her eyelid torn off and suffered injuries to her forehead, nose, cheeks, scalp, lips, and tongue. She also had defensive wounds to her arms and hand. Ms. Frey suffered an abrasion on her right knee, a six-inch stab wound to her abdomen, four internal impact injuries to her head, and five fractured ribs. Storey struck Ms. Frey a minimum of twenty times before cutting her throat to the spine. The next day he returned to her apartment, wiped it down, scrubbed Ms. Frey's fingernails, and attempted to remove any other incriminating evidence. When her body was found, she was lying face down in a pool of blood, naked below the waist, with her arms behind her back. The walls were splattered with blood, and her shirt had a tennis shoe imprint on it. The police found Storey's bloody palm print in the room. After searching the dumpster, the police also found Ms. Frey's briefcase along with a paper bag containing a bloody t-shirt, a tank-top, and a pair of white gloves. Ms. Frey's blood was on the gloves, and Storey's blood was on the t-shirt. Storey's sneakers also had blood on them.
St. Ann police received a 911 call on October 23, 2000, at 3:30 p.m. The call was immediately disconnected. The dispatcher replayed the call and heard a scream. The dispatcher tried to redial the number repeatedly until officers arrived at the source of the call approximately two minutes later. The call originated from the apartment where Eva lived with her two daughters. The older daughter, Zandrea Thomas, was two years old. Strong is the father of the other girl, who was three months old.
When officers arrived at the apartment and knocked, initially there was no answer at the front or back door. They continued to knock and shouted, and Strong eventually came to the back door. Upon inquiries by the police, Strong initially told them Eva and the kids were sleeping. Strong meanwhile stepped outside and closed the door behind him. The police again asked about Eva, and Strong told them she had gone to work. Because this was an inconsistent response, the police asked about the children, and Strong told them the kids were inside. The officers asked if they could check on the children, and Strong told them he had locked himself out. Strong knocked on the door and called for someone to open it. Officers noted that Strong was sweating profusely, had dark stains on the knees of his jeans, and had blood on his left hand. They ordered Strong to step aside and kicked in the door. Strong ran. When the officers chased him, Strong told them, "Just shoot me; just shoot me." After he was handcuffed, he told the officers, "I killed them." Inside the apartment, police found the dead bodies of Eva and Zandrea in a back bedroom. They had been stabbed repeatedly with a knife. On the bed, one of the officers found a large butcher knife and a three-month-old baby sitting next to a pool of blood. An autopsy revealed that Eva had been stabbed 21 times, with five slash wounds, and the tip of the knife used to stab her was embedded in her skull. The autopsy of two-year-old Zandrea showed she had been stabbed nine times and had 12 slash wounds. Strong was charged with both murders. After a trial in St. Louis County, a jury returned a guilty verdict. At the penalty phase trial, the jury found the existence of two statutory aggravators for each murder and recommended a death sentence for Strong. The trial court sentenced Strong accordingly.
On April 14, 1994, Taylor, his half-brother Willie Owens, and his half-sister Tina Owens were driving Tina's car discussing various robbery possibilities. Taylor suggested a gas station in Independence where only one person would be working. The trio went to the station and purchased some gasoline. Taylor asked whether they were going to rob it. Tina Owens said no because a little girl was inside. Sarah Yates, an eight-year-old, was keeping company with Robert Newton, her stepfather and the gas station manager. The three left the station, only to return a few moments later after the oil light came on. Willie Owens went into the station and asked for some oil. Taylor next entered the store and stated they needed a different weight of oil. Taylor then drew a pistol and stated that he would shoot Newton unless he gave them the money. Newton complied, handing Owens approximately $400 in a bank money bag. Owens took the money and returned to the car. Taylor directed Newton and the child to the station's back room. Taylor shot Newton once in the head, killing him. Taylor then pointed the gun at the child. Taylor pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed and did not discharge. Frustrated, Taylor locked the child in the back room and returned to the car. Taylor told Willie and Tina Owens that he had shot the man and that he had to go back inside and get the little girl. However, because Willie and Tina wanted to leave, they then drove away.
On Dec. 3, 2004, a police officer in Jennings, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, responded to calls from relatives worried that they had not heard from Angela Rowe or her children for several days. The officer went to the home where Rowe lived with her boyfriend, Leonard Taylor.
The officer found the bodies of Rowe, 28, and her three children, daughters: Alexus Conley, 10, and AcQreya Conley, 6; and her son, Tyrese Conley, 5. They had been shot. Taylor had boarded a Southwest Airlines flight from Lambert International Field to Ontario, Calif., on the morning of Nov. 26, 2004. He claimed the victims were still alive when he left. Witnesses and phone records indicated Taylor had already murdered them before his departure. From California, Taylor had traveled to Texas, Alabama and Kentucky before police and federal marshals caught him in the back of a car in Madisonville. A speck of blood on one of three pair of Taylor's specatacles police found in his luggage matched Rowe's blood, a DNA test later revealed.
Michael A. Taylor
On the evening of March 21, 1989, Michael Taylor and companion Roderick Nunley stole a car and used drugs. At about 7:00 a.m. on Mach 22, they saw 15-year-old Ann Harrison waiting for the school bus at the end of her driveway. Taylor allegedly stated he wanted to steal the girl's purse, and Nunley, who was driving, stopped the car. Taylor spoke to the girl and then grabbed her and forced her into the car. Nunley then drove to this mother's house where the girl was taken out of the car and forced to crawl down to the basement. Taylor then raped the girl. After the assault, the two men forced the girl into the trunk of the stolen car and tied her up. After Taylor stated he was afraid the girl would identify him, the two men decided to kill the girl Nunley retreived two knives from the kitchen and both men stabbed the girl. Nunley knew the girl was going to die from her wounds. (The former county medical examiner testified the victim was stabbed 10 times and she died approximately 30 minutes later). The men drove to a nearby neighborhood and parked the car, leaving the girl in the turnk. Nunley gave a videotaped conffession to the police.
In early June of 2000, Michael A. Tisius and Roy Vance were cellmates at the Randolph County Jail in Huntsville, Missouri. Tisius's sentence lasted thirty days, and Vance told Tisius he would be in jail for some fifty years. As such, Tisius and Vance discussed various schemes where Tisius would return to jail to help Vance escape. In one of those plans, Tisius was to return to the jail with a firearm, force the guards into a cell, and give the gun to Vance, who would then take charge and release all of the inmates. The Randolph County Jail was a two-story brick building that had been converted from a house. The front door of the jail was kept locked, and the officers could remotely open the door when visitors rang a doorbell. Inside the front door was a small foyer, and to the right behind a counter was the dispatch area where the officers were stationed. A hall led from the dispatch area to the jail cells in the rear of the building.
Tisius was released on June 13, 2000. Shortly after his release, Tisius contacted Vance's girlfriend, Tracie Bulington, who said that she wanted to go through with the escape plan. Four days later, Bulington drove from Macon to Columbia with a woman named Heather Douglas to pick up Tisius and drive him back to Macon; Tisius and Bulington stayed at Douglas' home for four or five days. During the ride to Columbia, Douglas heard the two discuss various ways of breaking Vance out of jail, including the idea of locking the jailers in a cell. They told Douglas they were joking. Douglas testified that over the days to follow, she heard Tisius and Bulington say that they were "on a mission," but they would not elaborate. Tisius and Bulington also described taking cigarettes to Vance at the jail and of having gotten information from a "stupid deputy." At other times they would stop talking when Douglas entered the room. Douglas also testified that Tisius and Bulington kept a stereo, clothing and camping gear in Bulington's car and that she also saw a pistol in Bulington's car. Beginning June 17, 2000, and continuing over several days, Tisius and Bulington visited the jail several times. At or around 1:30 a.m. or 2 a.m. one of those mornings, they were admitted in the front door and delivered a pack of cigarettes to an on-duty officer, requesting that it be given to Vance. A day or two later, Tisius and Bulington returned to the jail with a pair of socks for Vance and asked questions about his upcoming court date. Bulington testified that each delivery signified to Vance certain facts, such as that Tisius had made it to town or that the jail break would not occur the night of the delivery. During some of those visits, Tisius kept a .22 caliber pistol that Bulington had taken from her parents' home in the front of his pants. Tisius had tried to acquire a bigger gun than the one Bulington took. On the night of one of their visits, one officer testified that the Tisius and Bulington were acting "real funny," nervous and erratic, such that he wrote a police report about the visit. Tisius tested the gun by firing it outside of Bulington's car window while the two were driving on country roads on June 21, 2000. Later that evening, Tisius and Bulington drove around listening to a song with the refrain "mo murda" (more murder) as they prepared to get Vance out of jail. Tisius rewound the cassette and played the "mo murda" song over and over. Tisius told Bulington "it was getting about time" and that "he was going to go in and just start shooting and that he had to do what he had to do." Tisius also said he would go "in with a blaze of glory." At 12:15 a.m. on June 22, Tisius and Bulington returned to the Randolph County Jail, rang the doorbell and were admitted. Tisius again carried the pistol in his pants. Tisius and Bulington told the officers they were delivering cigarettes to Vance. The two officers present were Leon Egley and Jason Acton. Tisius made small talk with one of the officers for about ten minutes, discussing what Tisius was planning to do with his life and how Tisius was doing. Bulington testified that at that point, she was about to tell Tisius she was ready to leave but froze as she noticed Tisius had the gun drawn beside his leg. Tisius then raised his arm with the pistol drawn and, from a distance of two to four feet, shot Acton in the forehead above his left eye, killing him instantly. Egley began to approach Tisius, and about ten seconds after he killed Acton, Tisius shot Egley one or more times from a distance of four or five feet, until Egley fell to the ground. Both officers were unarmed. Tisius then took some keys from the dispatch area and went to Vance's cell. Tisius could not open the cell, so he returned to the dispatch area to search for more keys. While Tisius was in the dispatch area, Egley grabbed Bulington's legs from where he was lying on the floor, and Tisius shot him several more times at a distance of two or three feet. Egley suffered five gunshot wounds, three to the forehead, a graze wound to the right cheek and a wound to the upper right shoulder. Not long afterwards, police found Egley gasping for air and a heard gurgling sound; he was surrounded by a pool of blood. Egley died shortly afterward. Tisius and Bulington fled in her automobile. Tisius threw the keys from the dispatch area out of the car window on the way out of town. Bulington threw the pistol from the car window while crossing a bridge on Highway 36. After the two had passed through St. Joseph and crossed the Kansas state line, Bulington's car broke down. Later that day, the two were apprehended by the police, and the keys and gun were recovered. After having waived his Miranda rights, Tisius gave oral and written confessions to the murders. Tisius's theory at trial was that he was guilty at most of second-degree murder because although he admits that he shot and killed the two officers, he argues that he did so without deliberation.
Resentenced to Death 9/27/10.
On July 8, 1987, Charles Taylor was supposed to appear in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to testify against Charles Shurn, whom authorities considered an area drug dealer. It never happened. On the morning of July 6, two men confronted Taylor, 48, outside his home in the Mansion Hills Condominiums in Normandy, a St. Louis suburb; chased him across a putting green and shot him. Witnesses said the pair got into a car but the car stopped and one of its occupants got out and shot Taylor again. The victim was shot six times in the head and once each in the stomach and arm. Police caught one man, Daryl Shurn, nearby and a second suspect, William Weaver, running in neighboring Pasadena Hills, about a mile from Taylor's murder. Daryl Shurn is Charles Shurn's brother. Daryl Shurn is serving a life sentence after his death penalty conviction was set aside. Authorities said Weaver was a hitman hired by the Shurns to silence a federal witness. Weaver claimed he was out jogging and exercising the morning of his arrest. He was shoeless. Tennis shoes were found at the crime scene.
On August 11, 1998, Williams drove his grandfather's Buick LeSabre to a bus stop and caught a bus to University City. Once there, he began looking for a house to break into. Williams came across the home of Felicia Gayle. He knocked on the front door but no one answered. Williams then knocked out a window pane near the door, reached in, unlocked the door, and entered Gayle's home. He went to the second floor and heard water running in the shower. It was Gayle. Williams went back downstairs, rummaged through the kitchen, found a large butcher knife, and waited. Gayle left the shower and called out, asking if anyone was there. She came down the stairs. Williams attacked, stabbing and cutting Gayle forty-three times, inflicting seven fatal wounds. Afterwards, Williams went to an upstairs bathroom and washed off. He took a jacket and put it on to conceal the blood on his shirt. Before leaving, Williams placed Gayle's purse and her husband's laptop computer and black carrying case in his backpack. The purse contained, among other things, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch ruler and a calculator. Williams left out the front door and caught a bus back to the Buick. After returning to the car, Williams picked up his girlfriend, Laura Asaro. Asaro noticed that, despite the summer heat, Williams was wearing a jacket. When he removed the jacket, Asaro noticed that Williams' shirt was bloody and that he had scratches on his neck. Williams claimed he had been in a fight. Later in the day, Williams put his bloody clothes in his backpack and threw them into a sewer drain, claiming he no longer wanted them. Asaro also saw a laptop computer in the car. A day or two after the murder, Williams sold the laptop to Glenn Roberts. The next day, Asaro went to retrieve some clothes from the trunk of the car. Williams did not want her to look in the trunk and tried to push her away. Before he could, Asaro snatched a purse from the trunk. She looked inside and found Gayle's Missouri state identification card and a black coin purse. Asaro demanded that Williams explain why he had Gayle's purse. Williams then confessed that the purse belonged to a woman he had killed. He explained in detail how he went into the kitchen, found a butcher knife, and waited for the woman to get out of the shower. He further explained that when the woman came downstairs from the shower, he stabbed her in the arm and then put his hand over her mouth and stabbed her in the neck, twisting the knife as he went. After relaying the details of the murder, Williams grabbed Asaro by the throat and threatened to kill her, her children and her mother if she told anyone. On August 31, 1998, Williams was arrested on unrelated charges and incarcerated at the St. Louis City workhouse. From April until June 1999, Williams shared a room with Henry Cole. One evening in May, Cole and Williams were watching television and saw a news report about Gayle's murder. Shortly after the news report, Williams told Cole that he had committed the crime. Over the next few weeks, Cole and Williams had several conversations about the murder. As he had done with Laura Asaro, Williams went into considerable detail about how he broke into the house and killed Gayle. After Cole was released from jail in June 1999, he went to the University City police and told them about Williams' involvement in Gayle's murder. He reported details of the crime that had never been publicly reported. In November of 1999, University City police approached Asaro to speak with her about the murder. Asaro told the police that Williams admitted to her that he had killed Gayle. The next day, the police searched the Buick LeSabre and found the Post-Dispatch ruler and calculator belonging to Gayle. The police also recovered the laptop computer from Glenn Roberts. The laptop was identified as the one stolen from Gayle's residence. Williams was tried for Gayle's murder and convicted.
John E. Winfield
In September 1996, John E. Winfield lived in a St. Louis County home one block from a second floor apartment where his ex-girlfriend and mother of his children, Carmelita Donald, lived. Living with Carmelita and her children were Carmelita's sister, Melody Donald, and friend Arthea Sanders. In the apartment below them lived their friend, Shawnee Murphy, and her three children. Winfield began dating Carmelita in 1989 and continued to have an on-and-off relationship with her through the spring of 1996. During that time, they had two children over whom they shared physical custody. In the late summer of 1996, Carmelita began dating Tony Reynolds. They succeeded in keeping that relationship a secret from Winfield for about a month. On the night of September 9, 1996, Carmelita went out for the evening with Reynolds. Meanwhile, Winfield began making a series of calls to Carmelita's apartment asking Melody about her sister's whereabouts and instructing her to have Carmelita call him when she returned home. Melody told Winfield that she did not know where Carmelita was.
Around midnight, Carmelita returned to the apartment with Tony Reynolds. They saw Winfield's white Cadillac parked in front. To avoid trouble with Winfield, they drove to Reynolds' female cousin's house. There they persuaded her to drive Carmelita home. When the two women arrived back at Carmelita's apartment, Winfield's car was still there. As Carmelita started to climb the stairs to her apartment, Winfield came down, said he needed a word, and pushed her down the stairs. They walked outside, and Winfield asked Carmelita about her relationship with Tony Reynolds. Meanwhile, Arthea walked outside and slashed the tires on Winfield's car. Upon her return to the downstairs apartment, Arthea told Melody to call the police and yelled outside, asking Carmelita if she was alright. Carmelita said she was fine. Despite Arthea's request, Melody did not call the police. A car door "slammed" shut. Melody assumed it was Winfield leaving. However, Winfield had run into the downstairs apartment, Carmelita in pursuit. From outside, she warned Arthea to run because Winfield was armed and coming to get her. Winfield entered Shawnee's downstairs apartment and began chastising Arthea. He then shot her in the head. Then he walked outside and pointed the gun at Carmelita. Carmelita pleaded with him to no avail; he shot her several times. Although permanently blinded, Carmelita survived. Meanwhile, Melody and James ran into Shawnee's kitchen, hoping to escape through the back door. The door was jammed and would not open. Shawnee, while attempting to collect her children, began pleading with Winfield. Winfield shot her in the head. Next, Winfield turned and pointed the gun at Melody. She fell to the floor. Winfield pointed the gun at James and said, "[Y]ou next." James grabbed the gun, and he began wrestling with Winfield. During this time, James heard the gun "click." Winfield broke free and struck James with the gun. Winfield fled, and James attempted to follow. Melody escaped while James struggled with Winfield and ran to a neighbor's house to call the police. An officer with the University City Police Department arrested Winfield at his home. Both Arthea Sanders and Shawnee Murphy died as a result of their wounds.
On September 29, 1995, appellant, Worthington, and a friend from work, Jill Morehead, were at his condominium in Lake St. Louis, watching television. At about 4:00 p.m., they left to pick up their paychecks from their employer, a local supermarket. They returned to the condo and had dinner and drinks. They then went to a nightclub where each had three drinks. After about two hours, Worthington and Morehead drove to Jennings where Worthington told Morehead he had to pick up money owed to him by a friend. Worthington testified he actually went to pick up drugs. Morehead stayed in her vehicle, while Worthington was in the house for about 15 minutes. They drove back to his condo where he left Morehead. Morehead left the condo when Worthington did not return after about 45 minutes.Later that night, Worthington saw that the kitchen window was open in the condominium of his neighbor, Melinda Griffin. Worthington had seen Ms. Griffin around the condominium complex. He got a razor blade and gloves, and when he returned to her condo, he saw that a bathroom light had been turned on. Worthington cut through the screen. He confronted Ms. Griffin in the bedroom. He covered her mouth to stop her screams and strangled her until she became unconscious. Worthington began to rape her and she regained consciousness. Ms. Griffin fought Worthington, and he beat her and strangled her to death. The wounds on her neck showed that Worthington used a rope or cord in addition to his hands to strangle her. He stole her jewelry, credit cards, mobile phone, keys, and her car.
The next morning, September 30, 1995, a police officer pulled Worthington over. Worthington was driving Ms. Griffin's car. The officer noticed a woman's items in the car such as make-up and shoes, but the car had not been reported stolen. The next day, October 1, a neighbor discovered Ms. Griffin's body. When police arrived, they found the screen in the kitchen window had been cut to gain entry. They found Ms. Griffin's body lying bruised, bloody, and unclothed at the foot of the bed, with a lace stocking draped across it. All the bedroom drawers had been pulled open. DNA testing later established that semen found on Ms. Griffin's body came from Worthington. Police officers found Worthington that evening, but when he saw the police, he pulled out a knife, held it to his throat, and threatened to commit suicide. Police officers convinced him to put the knife down and brought him into custody. Worthington was wearing a fanny pack containing jewelry and keys belonging to Ms. Griffin. At the police station, Worthington relayed his story of four days of drinking and getting high. After being presented with the evidence against him, Worthington confessed to the killing but could not remember the details since, he said, he was prone to blackouts when using alcohol and cocaine. At the time the offenses occurred, Worthington said he was extremely high on Prozac, cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol. Worthington also said that two friends, Darick and Anthony, helped him with the burglary. However, this story was inconsistent with the physical evidence and with subsequent statements made by Worthington. Worthington pleaded guilty to the crimes charged. The judge imposed the death penalty for the murder conviction, as well as the prison terms for the other offenses. Worthington does not challenge the plea and sentences on the other offenses; his appeal here concerns only the death penalty.
In the early morning hours of July 12, 2001, police responded to the report of a traffic accident near Stafford. On their arrival, they found the victim's car abandoned with the keys in the ignition and the engine running, the headlights and hazard lights on, and the driver's window down. Police found the victim's personal items in the vehicle, including her purse, credit card and medication. After the evening news broadcast the victim's disappearance, the owner of a motel near Camdenton recognized the victim's picture as the woman who checked into a room with Mr. Zink. The motel owner provided the police with Mr. Zink's motel registration card, and, using this information, the police apprehended Mr. Zink at his home. After police showed him evidence that placed him near the scene of the abduction, Mr. Zink waived his rights under Miranda v. Arizona,1 and confessed to killing and burying the victim. He led police straight to the spot in a cemetery where he said he buried the victim's body, and the police discovered the body positioned just as Mr. Zink had described. Pathologists found that the victim's neck was broken, she sustained injuries consistent with strangulation and being tied up, and she had eight broken ribs and between 50 and 100 blunt force injuries. Semen found in the victim's anus matched Mr. Zink's DNA, hair samples taken from Mr. Zink's truck matched the victim's hair, and paint left on the victim's car from the accident matched paint from Mr. Zink's truck.
In two videotaped confessions, Mr. Zink described the murder in detail. He said that he rear-ended the victim's car on an exit ramp. In one confession, Mr. Zink told police that the victim voluntarily left the accident scene with him in his truck but later threatened to call police if he did not return her to her vehicle. In another confession, he said that he gave the victim no choice but to get in his truck, but that she willingly went with him after she was in the truck.
After he drove the victim around in his truck, they stayed for a short time at the motel near Camdenton. Mr. Zink then decided to kill the victim because he was worried he would go back to prison if she called the police. He took her to the cemetery and tied her to a tree. He told her to look-up, and then he broke her neck. He strangled her with his hands, and then with a rope, and stuffed her mouth with mud and leaves. He looked for a spot to bury her and then dragged her body to that spot with the rope. Because he was worried that she might revive, he stated that he stabbed the back of her neck with a knife to cut her spinal cord. He then covered the body with leaves, went home to get a shovel, and came back to the cemetery and covered the body with dirt.
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