Suspect in Mo. church shooting charged with rape

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- A man accused of opening fire inside a southwest Missouri church was charged Tuesday in the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl two days before the deadly shooting spree.

Eiken Elam Saimon, 52, is charged with one count of second-degree statutory rape and one count of second-degree statutory sodomy, both felonies.

Saimon already was being held without bond on three counts of murder and related charges for the Aug. 12 shooting in the small town of Neosho at a church service of South Pacific immigrants from Micronesia. Saimon is also Micronesian.

In court papers, a sheriff's department investigator said the teenage girl alleged that Saimon was mad at her for stealing his car and wrecking it. The girl said Saimon attacked her as punishment.

The alleged assault happened at Saimon's home two days before the church shooting.

Prosecutors have declined to discuss Saimon's motive in the shooting, but family members of the victims have said Saimon was jealous of their standing in the community and feared he might be outcast after the 14-year-old girl made the rape allegation.

Killed in the church shooting were Kernal Rehobson, 43; his uncle, Intenson Rehobson, 44; and family friend Kuhpes Jesse Ikosia, 53. All three were leaders of a local immigrant community from Micronesia, many of whom arrived in the area in the 1980s and early 1990s looking for better education for their children and work in local poultry and other industries.

All three men were pastors or associate pastors of the Micronesian congregation that met for services in their native languages in Neosho's First Congregational Church.

Saimon allegedly stormed into the service and shot the men, then briefly held the congregation hostage before surrendering to police.

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