St. Louis Police Have Used StingRay Technology for Years -- They Just Won't Talk About It

Categories: Longform, Police

Illustration by Noah MacMillan

There were some very bad vibes in downtown St. Louis on the night of October 28, 2013. The Cardinals had just lost Game 5 in the World Series, and the Rams had a pathetic showing against the Seahawks at Edward Jones Stadium. The streets were jammed bumper to bumper with disgruntled fans trying to make it home, and so Brandon Pavelich and Julia Fischer — two college friends on a kinda-sorta first date — decided to walk around a bit before attempting to leave the area.

Then they heard fast footsteps, and the next thing they knew, two men had guns pointed at their heads. They demanded money and cell phones.

Pavelich paused.

"Show him we're serious and shoot him," he remembers one of the men saying.

Instead, a gun smashed into Pavelich's face, opening a gash in his forehead and chin, and chipping a tooth. One of the men reached into Pavelich's pockets as he was reeling, and grabbed his iPhone and cash. They took Fischer's iPhone as well, and ran.

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Keith Esters, Megan Boken's Killer, Has Nothing to Say About Cornell McKay

Categories: News

Keith Esters was sentenced to 50 years for killing Megan Boken.
What secrets does Keith Esters still hold?

Sentenced to life in prison, the 21-year-old inmate has plenty of time to think about the steps that led him to a cellblock in the South Central Correctional Center. The key date in Esters' story? August 18, 2012, the day he pointed a gun at Megan Boken, announced he was robbing her, and found himself scuffling with the former Saint Louis University volleyball player over a cell phone. Then Esters shot Boken in the head and chest, killing her. He would later plead guilty to her murder.

Prison life, he says, is something he can handle.

"I ain't just sitting in here, but for right now I'm just doing me, just doing this bid," Esters said when reached by phone. "It's alright. It feel like I'm at the crib, for real. I don't really trip off this shit."

But Esters' history of violence contains a mystery: Did he rob another woman eight days before the Boken murder? It's a question that weighs heavily on Cornell McKay, who spent nearly three years in prison for the August 10 robbery, even as his lawyers argued that Esters was actually the perpetrator.

While the victim of that robbery identified McKay as the perpetrator, all available physical evidence -- such as the victim's stolen phone -- pointed to Esters, as we detailed in our cover story last week. McKay's lawyers have argued that if police had apprehended the right man for the August 10 robbery, Boken might still be alive today.

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Someone is Stealing "Black Lives Matter" Signs From Churches and Homes

Categories: Ferguson

Jessica Lussenhop
First Congregational United Church of Christ in Clayton.

When Reverend Mary Gene Boteler of Second Presbyterian Church first noticed that a small yard sign saying "Black Lives Matter" was missing from one of the church's green spaces, she had several thoughts. The first was that someone in the neighborhood hadn't agreed with the phrase's political sentiment -- "Black Lives Matter" has become an iconic message against police brutality, emblazoned on signs at marches around the country. The second was more optimistic -- someone had stolen it in order to put it up in his own yard.

But then she started hearing from other church leaders.

"As I hear others having their signs stolen, it seems it may be a concerted effort for folks to drive through areas and pick up the signs," she says. "A concerted effort by people to end the conversation."

The person who wrenched down the sign at First Congregational Church of St. Louis in Clayton had to put even more work into it -- theirs was tethered to a metal readerboard on the corner of Wydown and University Lane in Clayton.

"We do get mail complaining about the banner, saying 'Black Lives Matter is not saying all lives matter, so it's against Jesus,'" says Reverend Heather Arcovitch.

The third church that's been hit is First Unitarian Church of St. Louis on the corner of Waterman and Kingshighway. The signs began disappearing sometime last week.

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Cop Who Shot VonDerrit Myers Jr. in Shaw Last Fall Won't Face Charges

VonDeritt Myers Jr. was shot by an officer in Shaw in October 2014. One month later, when prosecutors declined to charge the officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, protests erupted near the scene of Myers' shooting, as well as in Ferguson.
Photo by Theo Welling
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer who shot VonDerrit Myers Jr. last October while working a private security job in the Shaw neighborhood will not face criminal charges, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce announced this afternoon.

In a 51-page report, Joyce closed out her office's "independent and thorough review" of the October 8 shooting, which led to angry protests and calls of a cover-up just two months after Michael Brown was shot by an officer in suburban Ferguson.

The officer has said that Myers shot first -- and while no eyewitnesses to the entire incident could be found, the Circuit Attorney's investigators found numerous people in the Shaw neighborhood that evening who distinctly recalled hearing fire from two guns. Ballistics reports also concluded that a Smith and Wesson found near Myers' body matched three bullets and four cartridge casings on the scene, while a witness identified Myers -- a.k.a. "Droop" -- as the man who'd stolen the Smith and Wesson from him in the previous month.

A number of witnesses who might have provided a different story refused to cooperate with the investigation, the report notes.

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So You Want to Sext Your Intern: A Guide For Horny Missouri Lawmakers

Categories: Politics

Missouri News Horizon
Speaker John Diehl in 2010.
It's hard to describe the final week of Missouri's legislative session, which ended Friday, without profanity. Boondoggle? Quagmire? A parade of oopsies?

Not good enough. The scandalous weight of Republican Speaker of the House John Diehl Jr.'s resignation -- which followed revelations that he'd been sexting a 19-year-old intern -- can't be contained by the bounds of civil discourse. If we're being honest, Diehl's downfall feels more like a moral clusterfuck, or at best a contemptible outbreak of corruptive shitbaggery.

Which is why we want to take this opportunity to reach out to you, Male* Missouri Legislator. We know these recent events have complicated your already challenging job: From choosing a lobbyist to pay your lunch bill to determining how best to regulate Missouri vaginas, you've got enough to worry about without wondering how you're going to continue exchanging sex-drenched messages with your nubile college-aged intern.

Indeed, it's a complicated world out there for a horny legislator. But if you follow this handy guide, you'll be happily banging away on that, um, touchscreen in no time.

[*Sure, women are no less capable than men of political corruption. But let's not kid ourselves here. If you're a politician chasing a younger intern, we're betting you're a dude.]

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Missouri's "Most Distinctive" Cause of Death Is Highly Contagious and Really Scary

Courtesy of the CDC
The new map from the Centers for Disease Control. See below for a version with key.
Odds are likely that most of us will die of heart disease or cancer. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that far more Americans die of those two maladies than the next eight combined.

So that's the big picture. But when the CDC drilled down in a brand-new analysis, it found that far less prevalent causes of death were distinctive to certain states.

And in Missouri, the most distinctive cause of death is an incredibly scary one: meningococcal infection.

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RFT Seeks Web-Savvy Freelance Editor for 6-Week Position

Categories: Arts, Media

Photo by Corey Woodruff
Come assist us with our coverage of the city's food and drink scene.
The Riverfront Times has a summer opening for a freelance editor to assist with its online food coverage and overall web presence. The position is temporary -- we're looking for someone to help out for approximately six weeks from mid-July to late August to cover an editor's maternity leave.

The ideal candidate will be a strong writer and quick editor who knows how to craft a story that will pop online. He or she should have some familiarity with St. Louis' food and cocktail scene, be comfortable using Facebook and Twitter and be prepared to learn the paper's incredibly clunky blogging software. The ability to take your own photographs, upload them, and crop them is essential.

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John Diehl Replaced As Speaker, Intern Katie Graham Goes Public

Categories: Politics

Missouri Division of Tourism via Flickr

Last night, after former speaker John Diehl Jr. announced his resignation, the Republican caucus gathered to select a new Speaker of the House.

Earlier, Diehl had indicated he would not vacate his post -- even after the Kansas City Star busted him for sexting with a 19-year-old college intern. But yesterday afternoon he sent out an announcement that he is resigning "for the good of my party, the caucus, and the state."

The caucus emerged from their discussions to announce that House Majority Leader Todd Richardson will take Diehl's place as speaker. A formal vote will take place today, the last day of the session.

But it was the intern who stole the spotlight last night -- she went public with her first statement about the incident and identified herself. She's Katie Graham, a Missouri Southern State University student originally from Olathe, Kansas.

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7 Fun Things to Do in St. Louis This Week

Categories: Arts

Photo by Denise Truscello
The Chippendales. Yes, this is still a thing.
The Chippendales are coming! The Chippendales are coming! And if that makes you think of Chris Farley gyrating on Saturday Night Live rather than a fun night out on the town, don't despair -- there are lots of other things happening this week in St. Louis, too.

From a documentary about how MTV shaped R.E.M. to the St. Louis Renaissance Faire, trust us when we say there is something in this list for just about everyone, no matter how random their tastes. Here are our picks for the week's seven most interesting.

1. See Some Beefcake in Lemay
Ladies, let's be real: If your last encounter with a bulging package was an ill-shipped Amazon delivery, you owe it to yourself to see the Chippendales at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (May 15 and 16) at River City Casino (777 River City Casino Drive, Lemay; 888-578-7289 or Tasteful enough to avoid total NSFW status, yet saucy enough to take the top spot on any girls-night-out bucket list, this event features a variety of song-and-dance numbers that showcase the handsome lads'...skill set. Be prepared to fan yourself as this legendary troupe demonstrates the meaning of "intimate fan participation." Mercy! Tickets are $22.50 to $67.50. mdash; Brooke Foster

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Missouri House Speaker John Diehl Resigns After Sexting Scandal

Categories: Politics, Sex

Missouri News Horizon
Speaker John Diehl in 2010.

One day after the Kansas City Star published pages of sexual texts between Republican House Speaker John Diehl and a college intern, Diehl has resigned.

This is an about-face from the St. Louis-area representative's attitude last night, when he hid out in his office for nine hours and finally emerged only to deny that he had sex with the intern. At the time, he apologized again, but said he had the support of the caucus despite the scandal.

In a new statement released today, Diehl formally acknowledges that he sent the texts and says he is stepping down.

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