Ten Worst St. Louis Crimes of 2013
7. John Paulsen: Hotel Employee Shot Dead While Driving Home
John Paulsen, the popular and charismatic catering director at the Chase Park Plaza, was driving home from work early in the morning of July 21 when he pulled over in south St. Louis to put the roof up on his convertible. That's when prosecutors say 22-year-old Lorenzo Earl Milton came up to Paulsen and demanded his personal property before fatally shooting him in the chest and arm. Milton wouldn't be caught for another three months. Milton's older brother is also wrapped up in the crime. According to police Ronald Milton, 29, tried to stop a witness from "snitching" on his brother by pulling out a gun and wondering aloud if he should kill the informant.
John Paulsen's parents believe their son (left) was simply in the "wrong place" at the "wrong time" when he came across Lorenzo Milton.
6. Mother Posts Facebook Warning Before Being Stabbed to Death
When Michelle Rowling heard her abusive on-again-off-again boyfriend was being released from jail, she posted to Facebook a terrifyingly accurate warning: "So if anything happens to me tonight, just let my kids know I loved them dearly and tell my momma I love her," she wrote online. Five days later police found the 25-year-old mother stabbed to death in her East St. Louis, Illinois, apartment, adding a new level of horror to her final Facebook premonition: "The police....LOL I'm [going to be] gone 'bout the time they come." Her boyfriend, Montrell Cooper, turned himself in a few days later. Police say Cooper slit Rowling's throat and beat her up on a previous occasion, but the Illinois attorney's office couldn't lock him up when Rowling testified on his behalf and chose not to cooperate with law enforcement.
Michelle Rowling had a bad premonition about her ex's release from jail. Unfortunately, she was right.
5. James Crocker: Landowner Kills Canoer For Peeing on His Property
James Crocker: Don't piss him off.
Cue the banjo-picking tune from Deliverance. A float trip on the Meramec River took a tragic turn in July when a property owner -- allegedly angry about a man urinating on his shoreline -- pulled out a gun and shot the alleged trespasser in the head. The suspect, 59-year-old Steelville resident James Crocker, told cops, "It's my property, and I was going to protect it." But Loretta Dart, the widow of victim Paul Dart, told media that her husband was just trying to defuse the situation. "My husband tried to calm the guy down," she told reporters. "He went to the guy's arm to try to stop him, but the guy jerked back and popped him in the face." She added: "I hope he rots in Hell. I hope the man that did this to my husband rots in Hell."
4. Justin DeRyke: Uncle Murders Niece After She "Scratched" Him
Willow Long disappeared from her Matson, Illinois, home on September 7. Days later the seven-year-old's body was found wrapped in plastic under a bridge, her throat slashed and her hands covered in defensive wounds. Her uncle, Justin DeRyke, had acted strangely from the moment the girl went missing. Ultimately the 22-year-old DeRyke gave police a bizarre and disturbing confession in which he admitted to stabbing the little girl while claiming it began as an accident. DeRyke told authorities that he chased Willow outside their house after she had scratched him, drawing blood. During the chase the girl tripped and fell, causing a stick to impale her neck. He said that "he had to end her suffering," according to a probable-cause report. DeRyke then allegedly got a knife, slashed her throat and stabbed her in the heart about five times.
Justin DeRyke had acted suspiciously ever since his niece's disappearance.