How a Bungled Police Investigation Led to a Possible Rape Victim's Shaming

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/KOMU News
Brittany Burke called Jefferson City Police Department because she feared she'd been assaulted. Things only got worse from there.

One sexual-assault kit. Clothing — underwear, dress pants, sport jacket, white shirt and shoes. Four vials of blood. One container of urine. Photos of bruises and abrasions on the woman's body. Dried secretions, soil and debris, suspected semen and saliva. Matted hair cuttings. The Jefferson City Police Department gathered all these things from a young woman named Brittany Burke after she called them to report a possible sexual assault on April 9.

She had been in a blackout, and wasn't sure what had happened, but a three-hour invasive exam by a sexual-assault nurse examiner found vaginal abrasions consistent with assault. The nurse also noted on her report that suspected semen was present.

Under Missouri law, because the victim was blacked out, she was unable to consent. Under Missouri law, it seemed likely that a crime had occurred.

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Cherokee Geyser Draws City Attention, Concern

Image courtesy of Thomas Eversmann
Another view of the Cherokee geyser
In the past week, the Metropolitan Sewer District has welded down sewer grates and is actively trying to fix the so-called "Cherokee Geyser," according to developer Jason Deem. "They've been very helpful and responsive in investigating the problem," says Deem, who owns property at all four corners of the intersection at Cherokee Street and Texas Avenue, where the geyser blew its top last week.

The Metropolitan Sewer District told Riverfront Times on Monday that the geyser appears to be caused by an unusually high Mississippi River on one side and a rush of rain water on the other, creating pressure that drives the water in underground pipes upward -- and erupting onto Cherokee Street.

Sewer district spokesman Sean Hadley did not know whether the eruption happens by design to relieve pressure, or whether it's a design flaw that can be repaired; the district is "investigating the matter."

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Uber Dispute Leads to Nasty Words, "Douche" Allegation From Taxi Commission Chair

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Scott L
Taxi drivers in Chicago protest Uber.

Last night, St. Louis Metropolitan Taxi Commission Chairman Lou Hamilton sniped on Twitter that fellow commissioner Chris Sommers was "an insufferable douche" and suggested Sommers should go to work as a lobbyist for Uber.

Sommers, in response, jabbed at Hamilton for his affiliation with Jeff Roorda, the former police union honcho, Darren Wilson apologist and failed candidate for state senate. Oh, and he made fun of Hamilton's previously reported affinity for outfitting his SUV with red lights and a siren.

This, apparently, is what Twitter does to grown men -- Twitter, and a high-stakes battle over whether Uber can enter the St. Louis market.

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Who's at Eat-Rite In the Middle of the Night?

Photo by Nicholas Phillips
An overnight shift at the Eat-Rite Diner downtown can be, let's say, anthropologically rich, an idea we explored in this week's feature about the three nights at the St. Louis mainstay.

Not surprisingly, after pulling three all-nighters, we had more material than we could possibly use. Here are some sentence fragments we jotted down, and some mugshots we managed to snap.

(Note: The people in these photos do not necessarily have any connection to the quotations we've included here. Although some of them do ....)

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Trooper Who Blew the Whistle in Ozarks Drowning Case Demoted, Transferred

Brandon Ellingson (left, with friend Brody Baumann) at the Lake of the Ozarks in 2012, two years before his tragic drowning death.
Courtesy Brody Baumann

The Missouri Highway Patrol sergeant who spoke out in the case of an Arizona State student who drowned in May 2014 while handcuffed and in his department's custody at the Lake of the Ozarks has been demoted and transferred. Sergeant Randy Henry is a veteran of the department with more than 29 years of experience, says his attorney, Chet Pleban, and no history of serious infractions. But on June 10, just one week after being deposed in a civil case filed by the dead man's family against the highway patrol, Henry was informed that he was being demoted to corporal.

Henry was also told he'd be transferred to the Truman Lake area -- an hour-and-a-half drive from his family's home.

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Dog Killed in South County SWAT Raid Was "Charging to Attack," Police Report Claims

Image via
One of Angela Zorich's sons relaxing with Kiya the pit bull
Here's an update on the lawsuit filed last week by Angela Zorich, the South County woman who claims tactical police killed her dog when they raided her home in 2014 to investigate building code violations.

Daily RFT has obtained documents that appear to be the police's own incident reports. They tell the cops' side of the story, which boils down to this: The family was considered "a nuisance" by neighbors, and during the raid, Kiya, the four-year-old pit bull, was "charging to attack" as they shot her.

See also: St. Louis County SWAT Team Killed Family Dog Over Code Violation, Suit Says

Zorich insists in her suit that, on the contrary, Kiya didn't even have time to bark before being killed.

And interestingly, by the cops' own telling, the dog was 12 feet from the officers when they opened fire and killed her. They also acknowledge in the report that they'd entered the home without knocking, even though they were investigating code violations. Their justification: They believed the residents had "extensive violent history" and were known to be armed.

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Whistleblowers Fight Back Against Pastor Steve Wingfield's Lawsuit

Courtesy of Facebook
Steve Wingfield, left, is suing some members and former members of First Christian Church of Florissant, where he serves as lead pastor.
Two people being sued by First Christian Church of Florissant and its pastor, Steve Wingfield, are firing back, with motions to dismiss the church's lawsuit and a press release challenging the pastor's claims.

As this week's Riverfront Times cover story detailed, Dawn Varvil met with Wingfield in 2012 and shared her concerns about a youth minister at the church named Brandon Milburn.

Two years later, Milburn was arrested for molesting two boys he had met through the church -- and a church member named Doug Lay prepared a report questioning what Wingfield knew about Milburn and whether he took appropriate action. The report focused in part on what happened at Varvil's meeting with Wingfield.

Wingfield responded by suing both Lay and Varvil, as well as former members Titus and Kari Benton, who'd criticized him on Facebook.

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Star Clipper Blasts Off in Downtown St. Louis

Photo by Jeremy Essig
Star Clipper opened for business Saturday under new ownership, but with many of its Delmar Loop employees.
By Jeremy Essig

It's fitting that the story that rebooted some of history's most famous superheroes also began a new era for St. Louis' bestl-known comic-book shop.

Star Clipper Comics relaunched from its new downtown location under cloudy skies Saturday morning. In a moment of beautiful synchronicity, Flashpoint, a 2011 comic-book series that began anew the histories of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, among others, was the first item rung through new store's till.

See also: Star Clipper Returns: Comic Book Shop to Resurrect with New Owners, Location

Much as Flashpoint made some dramatic alterations to comic history even while maintaining some continuity, the new Star Clipper location was also a distinct mix of old and new. The smell of fresh paint and new fixtures combined with recognizable signage and some familiar faces from the store's old Delmar location to begin the store's next chapter.

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Charles Manson's St. Louis-Area Fiancée Is Marrying Him For His Corpse: Report

Charles Manson's booking photo.
Charles Manson's 27-year-old fiancée wants to marry the notorious mass murderer so she'll have legal claim to his body when he dies, according to the New York Post.

Manson's bride-to-be Afton Elaine Burton -- who goes by Star, the nickname Manson gave her -- wants to keep his body on display in a glass case and charge visitors to see it, says journalist Daniel Simone, who is looking to publish a book called The Retrial of Charles Manson.

Star grew up 40 miles north of St. Louis in Bunker Hill, Illinois, and moved to California as a teenager to be near Manson.

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De Smet Grad Killed in Downtown Purse-Snatching Was Trying to Stop Robber: Police

Google Maps
The 700 block of N. 15th Street, where an eighteen-year-old gunman shot Robert Christman during a robbery. The building on the right is the City Museum.
The purse-snatching robber who shot and killed a De Smet Jesuit High School graduate near the City Museum downtown last month now faces murder, robbery and gun charges.

The circuit attorney's office charged Christopher Grant, eighteen, of Collinsville, Illinois, Wednesday with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted robbery, unlawful use of a weapon and three counts of armed criminal action. Grant is in custody in St. Clair County on unrelated charges of battery and alcohol possession.

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