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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) - A suspect in the slaying of a Cape Girardeau tattoo artist whose body was found in a Bonne Terre septic tank has pleaded guilty to federal drug charges in a separate case.
 
Forty-three-year-old Brent Bouren of St. Louis faces state charges of second-degree murder, armed criminal action, witness tampering, second-degree assault and felonious restraint in connection with the death of Samuel "Tick" Francis.
 
Bouren is accused of watching another man attack Francis with a baseball bat, participating in the assault and threatening witnesses with similar treatment to keep them quiet.
 
The Southeast Missourian reports that Bouren pleaded guilty Monday to one count each of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. A sentencing hearing is set for early June.
Published in Local News

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - Justin Deryke, the man accused of murdering his 7-year-old niece last year, is headed to prison for the rest of his life.

 

Deryke pleaded guilty to the murder of Willow Long. On September 7 Deryke was watching Willow when he chased her out of the the house. Deryke claimed that Willow fell on a pile branches and one pierced her neck. An autopsy revealed she suffered stab wounds.

 

As part of the plea agreement, Deryke was sentenced to life in prison.

Published in Local News
St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - Hailey Owens was abducted and murdered in Springfield, Missouri last month.
 
Now her parents are suing Craig Michael Wood, the man accused of killing young Hailey. Stacey Barfield and Markus Owens filed a wrongful death lawsuit last week. The lawsuit seeks damages to cover the costs connected to Hailey's death as well as punitive damages.
 
Wood has been charged with first degree murder, armed criminal action, and child kidnapping. 
 
Published in Local News

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) — An East St. Louis man is jailed on $1 million bond after being accused in a shooting death last month.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that St. Clair County prosecutors charged 20-year-old Montrell Spencer this week with first-degree murder.

Authorities say 49-year-old Leon Lucas Junior of East St. Louis was killed February 22nd during an altercation.

Spencer was arrested Monday by officers who responded to a home in connection with a reported domestic dispute. Police say that after being arrested on suspicion of domestic battery, investigators learned he was suspected in Lucas' death.

Online court records don't show whether he has an attorney. He has an unlisted home telephone number.

Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A judge has denied a new trial for a young Missouri woman who pleaded guilty to murder for the slaying of a 9-year-old neighbor girl.
 
Alyssa Bustamante was 15 years old in 2009 when she killed Elizabeth Olten and buried her in a wooded area near Jefferson City. Bustamante wrote in her diary that it was an "ahmazing" and "pretty enjoyable" experience.
 
Bustamante originally was charged with first-degree murder. That would have carried a mandatory life sentence without parole. She pleaded guilty to a second degree murder and was sentenced to life with the chance of parole.
 
Several months after her plea, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled juveniles cannot face automatic life sentences.
 
Bustamante claimed she would not have pleaded guilty if she had known that case was pending.
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Police say they have found child pornography at the southwest Missouri home of a middle-school football coach accused in the kidnapping and killing of a 10-year-old girl.

Search warrants released Friday by Springfield police say they found a three-ring binder containing pornographic photos of young children at the home of 45-year-old Craig Michael Wood.

Officers also seized computers, cameras, 15 guns, 30 video recordings and a hat believed to have been worn by fourth-grader Hailey Owens.

Wood is accused of snatching the child as she walked home from her best friend's house this week. Neighbors said they watched in horror and unsuccessfully gave chase as Hailey was pulled into a pickup truck that quickly sped away.

At his brief Friday morning arraignment, public defender Chris Hatley said Wood plans to contest the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action in the fourth-grader's death.

Wood appeared via video from the Greene County Jail, where he is being held without bond.

Published in Local News

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - A man accused of taking part in a deadly robbery in the Central West End, is set to appear in court today.

 

Johnathan Perkins is charged with second-degree murder connected to the shooting death of Megan Boken. Keith Esters pleaded guilty in November and was given life in prison.

 

Prosecutors say the two tried to steal Boken's cell phone in 2012 and ended up shooting and killing her.

Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - The lawyer for a middle-school football coach who's accused of kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old girl in Missouri says Craig Wood is planning to plead not guilty. The public defender's announcement came during a brief hearing today.
 
Wood is accused of snatching Hailey Owens as she walked home from a friend's house Tuesday evening in Springfield. Court records indicate her body was found in Wood's basement. Prosecutors say she was shot in the back of the head and that she had ligature marks on her wrists, suggesting she was tied up.
 
Public defender Chris Hatley said Wood plans to contest the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action.
 
Wood appeared by video from a jail where he is being held without bond. He spoke only briefly to answer several questions from the judge. Hailey's parents, older brother and five other family members attended the hearing.
 
A prosecutor challenged Wood's use of a public defender, saying police found evidence of a $1 million trust in Wood's name. He said, "I think he can afford his own attorney." The defense attorney replied that "it's frankly none of his business." The judge said he would consider the matter.
Published in Local News
   ST. LOUIS (AP) — Neighbors watched in horror as a 10-year-old southwest Missouri girl was snatched off the street just blocks from her home.
   Some had spotted a man in a gold Ford Ranger pickup truck driving down the road in Springfield several times before taking off with the girl, investigators said. The residents even called 911 to report the truck's license number.
   But the vehicle moved too quickly. And Hailey Owens was gone.
   Now prosecutors have charged Craig Michael Wood with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action. In filing the charges Wednesday, they alleged that the 45-year-old middle school football coach and teacher's aide abducted Hailey as she walked home from a friend's house Tuesday.
   A probable cause statement said the fourth-grader's body was found stuffed in two trash bags inside plastic storage containers in the basement of Wood's Springfield home. She had been shot in the head, according to Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson.
   The basement floor was still damp from bleach, according to the probable cause statement.
   Authorities won't officially confirm that the body is Hailey's until after an autopsy, but Springfield Police Paul Williams said "we have a high degree of confidence" in the preliminary identification, which indicates that it is the girl.
   According to the probable cause statement, resident Michelle Edwards told police she and her husband were in their garage when saw a pickup truck approach the girl, who was holding a cellphone. She said the driver asked the girl for directions before he grabbed her with one hand and threw her into the truck "like a rag doll."
   Another resident, Ricky Riggins, told the Springfield News-Leader that he chased the fleeing pickup in his car after a neighbor tried to pull the girl away.
   "I couldn't keep up," Riggins said. "He was probably five to six cars ahead of me. ... It was so fast."
   Wood was inside a truck parked outside his home when police arrested him Tuesday night. The probable cause statement said he was holding a roll of duct tape when officers arrived.
   The truck is registered to Wood's father, Jim Wood, who told police he loaned the vehicle to his son. The father, who lives in nearby Ash Grove, declined an interview request from The Associated Press.
   He and the girl apparently didn't know each other. Hailey attended Westport Elementary School; Wood worked at Pleasant View School.
   "There's no connection that we've been able to determine at this time between the victim and the suspect," Williams said.
   Springfield school officials said Wood is a seventh-grade football coach and teacher's aide who supervises in-school suspensions at Pleasant View, which has students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
   Norm Ridder, the Springfield district's superintendent, said in a statement Wednesday that Wood began working for the district in August 1998. He said Wood has been suspended since his arrest.
   Wood was initially hired as a temporary employee who worked as a substitute teacher before he was hired full time in 2006, school district spokeswoman Teresa Bledsoe said later Wednesday. He has coached football at Pleasant View since 1998 and was also an assistant boys' basketball coach.
   "He met all of our qualifications for employment," Bledsoe said, noting that the Springfield district has a more rigorous background check requirement than state law, with an additional screening designed to detect substantiated allegations of child abuse or neglect as well as any past criminal violations.
   Online court records show Wood had little criminal history. He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance in 1990 in Greene County and was fined $100. Wood also was convicted in 2001 for illegal taking of wildlife, a misdemeanor.
   Williams said police have no idea of a motive for the killing. He said Wood has not talked to investigators since his arrest.
   Joe Bridges, a local music promoter who organized a candlelight vigil for Hailey scheduled for Saturday, told The Associated Press that residents in the city of 162,000 are collectively mourning the child's abduction and death.
   "The community is walking around right now with a very heavy heart," said Bridges, who described himself as a distant relative of Hailey but said he didn't know her well. "Everybody is just speechless."
Published in Local News

A total of three people are in custody connected the murder of Belleville man.

 

Anthony Allen and Amanda Kent are charged with first degree murder, and another suspect, Brittney Moore is accused of lying to investigators. On Sunday, police were called to a Belleville apartment and found Darrin Hayes with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

 

Police say a tip about a getaway vehicle, and they found Moore driving the car. Police say the killing wasn't random, but would not release additional details on the investigation.

Published in Local News
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