Increasingly, violent crime in St. Louis is spilling over into the Metro East region — representing a growing threat in both rural and urban areas of Southwestern Illinois, according to Madison County law enforcement officials.
“Madison County is now starting to feel the effects of being in such close proximity to one of the most dangerous cities in the United States,” Madison County Sheriff John Lakin told reporters during a Feb. 20 news conference.
In the latest instance, a trio of St. Louis-area men has been charged with the murder of a fourth just outside Glen Carbon.
Brothers Julius D. Evans, 32, and Ralph J. Evans, Jr., 29, both of St. Louis County, were each charged Feb. 20 with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the death of fellow St. Louisan Tyrone Grady and a potentially related death.
A third subject, Dana A. Stone, 47, of St. Louis County, was similarly charged with two counts of first-degree murder on Feb. 22.
Grady’s body was found shortly after 8 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 8. in the middle of Chaparral Lane near the Glen Carbon village limits. The discovery came shortly after authorities found the body of a deceased woman outside Grady’s St. Louis home.
The Evans brothers and Stone are all being held in the Madison County Courthouse. Bails for each has been set at $2 million.
Madison County sheriff’s deputies say Grandy and the Evans brothers were acquainted. Deputies have not indicated how Stone might be linked to Grandy or the Evanses.
“Based on the information we have from the investigation there is no connection to Madison County, other than the fact that the crime occurred here,” Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said, during last week’s press conference.
Having no known affiliations in Metro East, the Evans brothers apparently traveled from Missouri to Illinois simply to find an isolated location at which to commit a crime, Madison County Sheriff John Lakin told reporters.
“At this point, we have every reason to believe this is a random location. This wasn’t a predetermined location,” Madison County Sheriff Major Jeff Connor concurred.
“Once again, we have seen how individuals from St. Louis are bringing violent crime to Madison County, and I am enormously proud to stand up — along with Lakin and Connor and members of local law enforcement – to individuals who are bringing violent crime to Madison County,” Gibbons said.
The comments appear to reflect a growing change in public opinion regarding crime and safety in the St. Louis region.
Traditionally, many on the Missouri side of the region have viewed Metro East — with its history of high-profile mob bosses, openly available gambling (prior to legalization) and high crime rates in the East St. Louis area — as a place to be avoided.
However, with FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Data last year showing St. Louis to be the second most violent city in America (behind only Detroit), according to a Forbes magazine tally, such perceptions now may be changing.
Updated FBI data released Jan. 23, shows St. Louis has the highest murder rate of any major city in the nation. The city had 205 homicides over the of course of 2017; through its population is now less than 315,000. City officials acknowledge “epidemic” carjacking — with more than 250 reported across St. Louis and adjacent St. Louis County during 2017; roughly double the number during the previous year.
By comparison, last month’s homicide near Glen Carbon was only the second handled by the Sheriff’s Department in Madison County (population: 266,209) in four years.
The Madison County sheriff handled just three carjackings last year — and those are believed to have been perpetrated by a criminal “element” in St. Louis County, law enforcement officials say.
And the trend toward St. Louis-linked crime in Metro East appears to be growing, Madison County officials said last week.
Police believe three carjackings in Granite City and Pontoon Beach late last year were perpetrated by a St. Louis County-based ring that was also responsible for a string of armed carjackings — one committed with the aid of an AR-15-style assault rifle – during January of this year in Granite City and Alton.
At least two Metro East vehicle thefts in January resulted in lengthy, high-speed police pursuits across the Missouri and Illinois sides of the St. Louis area.
Both appear to be the work of St. Louis auto thieves who crossed into Illinois to target vehicles, police say. In one case police used a cell phone, left in a truck that was stolen from an Alton convenience store, to track the vehicle to a location in St. Louis County.
“The message you should receive today is that if you come to Madison County, you will get Madison County justice,” State’s Attorney Gibbons told a recent press conference. “If you take a trip to Madison County, we will assure you that if you commit violent crimes here, your next stop on your travels will be the Department of Corrections. We intend to prosecute these cases vigorously.”
—St. Louis crime spilling into region, officials say–