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

Categories: News

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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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Pastor Drops Lawsuit Against First Christian Church of Florissant Whistleblowers

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Brandon Milburn preyed on children at First Christian Church of Florissant.
The senior pastor of a North County St. Louis megachurch has dropped his lawsuit against the four former congregants who publicly criticized him in the aftermath of serial child molester Brandon Milburn's 2014 arrest.

As described in a Riverfront Times investigation published last week, Milburn worked at First Christian Church of Florissant, or FCCF, as a paid intern and volunteer youth minister at various times from 2005 to 2012. County prosecutors charged Milburn last year with seven counts of statutory sodomy.

The charges came after two men accused Milburn of abusing them numerous times between 2007 and 2009. Both victims met Milburn through their family's ties to the church. Both were eleven years old when Milburn began molesting them.

However, questions arose about what FCCF senior pastor Steve Wingfield knew about Milburn back in 2012. A publicly disseminated "case study" written by an FCCF Sunday School teacher accused Wingfield of ignoring multiple warnings about Milburn's behavior around young boys and teens; in response, Wingfield sued the case study's author, as well as three other former FCCF members, for defamation.

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Robbery Charges Dropped Against Cornell McKay, Prosecutor Says Witness Won't Testify

Categories: News

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Lawyers for Cornell McKay (left) say cops mistakenly suspected him of an August 10 robbery, ignoring evidence that pointed to convicted murderer Keith Esters (right).
Nearly three years have passed since Cornell McKay was locked up for an armed robbery that he says he did not commit. That crime -- which netted a woman's cellphone and $50 -- hung over McKay's head through a hotly contested trial and multiple appeals. All the while, McKay and his lawyers pleaded for the opportunity to prove that a different man, a convicted murderer with a history of similar robberies, was the true culprit.

But McKay, now 23, won't be getting a chance to prove his innocence in court. He won't need to.

On Wednesday, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce announced that her office was dropping all charges against McKay, thus ending a convoluted legal drama that came to include allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, a botched police investigation and the high-profile murder of former St. Louis University volleyball player Megan Boken.

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St. Louis County Takes Down Anti-Smoking Website With Porn Link to "Hot Blonde MILF"

Categories: News

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modi via flickr
On Monday, St. Louisans seeking local resources to help them finally stop smoking would have found some questionable advice on the website LetsFaceItSTL.org, run by the St. Louis County Health Department.

Right up top was a link stating: "Hot Blonde Milf Does Housework And Fucks Her Broom."

Strangely (or disappointingly, depending on your interest in broom-fucking), the porn-y link itself is non-functional, though the link address includes the URL to the homepage of a Chicago-based manufacturer of restaurant furniture.

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Inconceivable! Cary Elwes Cancels Book Tour

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Miranda Penn Turin
Tough break for all fans of The Princess Bride and professionally handsome man Cary Elwes: Elwes has canceled his Monday, May 4, appearance at Webster University's Moore Auditorum.

The actor was touring to promote his book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, which is packed with behind-the-scenes details about the making of the fan-favorite film. Emphasis on was.

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A Former Banking CEO Wants to Solve Prison Recidivism in St. Louis -- and the Entire Country

Categories: News

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Jessica Lussenhop
Danny Ludeman

"The purpose of the group in terms of the strategic plan is really just to answer one question, and that was, 'With proper resources and evidence-based practices could we dramatically lower re-incarceration rates and do it in a scaleable fashion?'....We concluded the answer to this question was a resounding, 'Yes.'"

That's what former Wells Fargo Advisors CEO Danny Ludeman told a well-heeled crowd of about 200 yesterday at the Missouri History Museum. Ludeman surprised many when he retired in 2013, leaving his powerful post at the helm of a brokerage firm that managed $1 trillion in assets. At the time, he told the press he was doing it to "be selfless."

Years later, that promise has finally taken shape with the launch of the Concordance Academy and Concordance Institute, two arms of a new nonprofit organization whose goal is to end prison recidivism and dramatically reduce crime in St. Louis.

But Ludeman's vision does not end there. He wants to expand to the entire country eventually, changing the culture of prisoner reentry into society nationwide.

"Today is about introducing something that has never been done before," he told the room of businesspeople, attorneys, nonprofit workers and politicians. "A holistic, evidence-based set of solutions."

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MetroLink Passengers Stuck on Train with Belligerent Drunk (UPDATED)

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Photo courtesy of a MetroLink passenger
Above, a man suspected of drunkenly causing an altercation on the Blue Line is finally taken away by EMS at the Shrewsbury station.
UPDATE: We updated this post around 1:50 p.m. with new info from the St. Louis County Police Department. See update at the bottom of the post. We also updated around 6:45 p.m. with additional eyewitness information about the fight.

Original story follows....

An incident on MetroLink's Blue Line turned ugly last week, when a drunk man making racial slurs apparently hassled a woman exiting the train at its Brentwood station. She whacked him with her purse, a witness tells Daily RFT, and made it off the train.

But another passenger was fed up with the man's belligerence, says the witness. That passenger clocked the intoxicated man.

And that's when things got really screwy.

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St. Louis Room Escape Taps Overseas Demand for Brain-Bending Puzzle Designs

Categories: News

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Danny Wicentowski
Enigma Productions' Nir Chezrony displays an unfinished (and giant) cryptex.
There's a lot of work that goes into trapping ten people in a room for an hour.

Much of that work happens in a suburban garage, where Nir Chezrony, the brains behind Enigma Productions, hefts a four-foot-long pole that's been threaded through ten wooden dials -- once complete, these will serve as tumblers for a supersized cryptex.

"We are building, essentially, a giant combination lock," Chezrony says, describing what he calls the "master piece" of Trapped: A St. Louis Room Escape Volume 4, which will run May 27 to June 7.

For more than a year, Chezrony, an engineer, and his partners -- two fellow engineers and a high school English teacher -- have enjoyed notoriety as St. Louis' only room escape operation. To date, more than 600 people have tried tackling Chezrony's devious mind traps, aiming to escape a locked room before the time limit expires. That number is set to grow significantly with Enigma Productions' latest venture: selling custom escape room designs at thousands of dollars a pop.

"I've had people contact me from around the world," Chezrony says. "Australia, British Columbia, England, Spain, Egypt, Greece. What we're finding is no else has these kinds elements that we're doing."

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Pine Lawn Trainwreck Continues, Mayor Pleads Guilty on Extortion Charges and Resigns

Categories: News

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Sylvester Caldwell used this obviously Photoshopped portrait of himself sitting in the Oval Office as his official picture on the Pine Lawn city website.
Oh, Sylvester.

The saga of Pine Lawn and its mayor, Sylvester Caldwell, reads like cautionary tale of corruption and petty tyranny in St. Louis' north county. Though the municipality is tiny -- just six-tenths of a square mile -- Pine Lawn's track record of official misconduct has given it a toxic reputation among many residents and neighboring towns. It's a reputation Caldwell has nurtured during his nearly ten-year run as mayor.

On Monday, Caldwell interrupted his own trial in federal court to plead guilty on separate counts of extortion and attempted extortion. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Caldwell's guilty plea came days after a jury saw a recording of him shaking down Eduard Shapshovich, owner of Eddie's Towing in Wellston, by demanding a series of payouts via coded messages about "green Mountain Dew in a cup."


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How Rumors of Jewishness Clouded Jay Kanzler's 2002 Campaign

Categories: News

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Best of the STL via YouTube
Jay Kanzler.
Jay Kanzler was on the campaign trail when he first heard the rumors.

It was the summer of 2002, and Kanzler, a St. Louis lawyer and aspiring filmmaker, had driven the 180-plus miles from St. Louis to the town of Willow Springs, deep in the southern of part of the state. He was chasing the GOP nomination for state auditor, and he liked his chances: He had the full backing of the Missouri Republican Party, and eventually he would attract more than $100,000 to his campaign coffers. Kanzler's only opponent in the primary was a joke, an ornery septuagenarian with a criminal record.

Still, the budding politician needed advice, so Kanzler made the pilgrimage to the home of Wendell Bailey, a fixture of Missouri Republican politics since the '70s who served four terms as state representative and two terms as treasurer. Kanzler remembers how they sat on the front porch of Bailey's home, drinking iced tea and talking shop.

"It was the perfect portrait of politics," Kanzler says. "We were just talking, and I was telling him about myself. At the time, I was pursuing becoming an Episcopal priest, and he said, 'That's funny, I've heard people around here think you're Jewish.'"


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