Man Charged in Killing, Sexual Assaults at Spiritual Retailer

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A suburban St. Louis man has been charged with killing one lady and sexually assaulting two others after herding them at gunpoint into the again room of a spiritual provides store.

The arrest of 53-year-old Thomas Bruce ended a two-day manhunt that adopted the brazen Monday afternoon assault at a Catholic Provide retailer within the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin. The assault frightened the area and led some faculties, church buildings and companies to shut.

Bruce, of Imperial, was charged Wednesday with 17 counts, together with first-degree homicide, sodomy and tried sodomy, kidnapping and different crimes. He’s jailed with out bond. It wasn’t but clear if he had an lawyer who may converse on his behalf.

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At a information convention saying the arrest, St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch known as the crime “heartbreaking,” a sentiment that was echoed by the county’s police chief, Jon Belmar.

“It shocked the senses,” a somber Belmar stated.

Authorities allege that Bruce entered the shop and stated he was purchasing, then left briefly earlier than returning with a handgun. He compelled the three girls into the again room, instructed them to strip, uncovered himself and ordered them to “carry out deviant sexual acts on him,” detectives wrote within the prison criticism.

Two of the ladies complied however the third, 53-year-old Jamie Schmidt of close by Home Springs, refused, so he shot her within the head, they wrote. The attacker ordered the opposite girls to proceed performing the sexual acts on him, and he later fled, apparently capable of mix in alongside the busy road in broad daylight.

McCulloch stated there was no indication the shop was focused due to its spiritual affiliation.

“It appears to me a man like this noticed a chance — three girls within the retailer alone,” McCulloch stated.

A Missouri pastor stated Bruce used to work as a pastor in southeast Missouri. Pastor David Fitzgerald at Calvary Chapel in Maryland Heights instructed The St. Louis Publish-Dispatch that Bruce was a pastor at Calvary Chapel of Cape Girardeau from about 2003 into 2007.

The Missouri secretary of state’s workplace identifies Bruce because the operator of a nonprofit church shaped in 2003 and dissolved in 2007.

Bruce, who claimed to be a Navy veteran on his LinkedIn web page, had no earlier prison document in Missouri past a site visitors ticket in 2001. McCulloch stated his workplace is checking with different states.

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Belmar stated ideas from the general public helped result in Bruce’s arrest, although he declined to elaborate.

McCulloch stated the irritating circumstances make the crime eligible for the demise penalty, however he stated that call can be as much as the person who replaces him in January. McCulloch, the county’s prosecutor for practically three many years, misplaced to Wesley Bell of Ferguson within the August Democratic main. Bell ran unopposed within the November basic election.

Dan Stutte, president of Catholic Provide retailer, which operates three shops within the St. Louis space, stated the corporate was “deeply relieved” by the arrest.

Schmidt, of Home Springs, was a married mom of three who labored as a secretarial assistant at St. Louis Neighborhood School’s campus in Wildwood, Missouri. Two of her youngsters are adults and the third is in highschool.

A number of members of her parish, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Excessive Ridge, gathered for a memorial service Tuesday to recollect Schmidt, who sang within the church choir. A buddy instructed the St. Louis Publish-Dispatch that Schmidt could have been on the retailer to purchase provides to make rosaries for fellow parishioners.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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