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Teen charged with murder
BENTON, Mo. -- The earth over Stanley Frank Hagan's grave in Scott City's Lightner Cemetery is still fresh enough to have no grass growing on it.
But Hagan died more than three months ago, and during that time Scott City police were quietly investigating the cause of the head injuries that led to his death in late September.
On Thursday morning, a Scott County grand jury determined there was probable cause to believe Hagan was murdered by 18-year-old Marcus A. Bowers of Scott City. The indictment alleges that Bowers murdered Hagan at an undisclosed Scott County address by slamming his head into a mobile home tie-down stake.
Bowers was already in the Scott County Jail on charges of child molestation for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. He is now charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in Hagan's death.
The incident that led to Hagan's death occurred Sept. 23. Hagan died five days later at Saint Francis Medical Center after two emergency surgeries. Hagan's sister, Susan Koerber, said his death was a direct result of the head injuries he sustained.
The act that caused his death occurred in Scott City, though police are not releasing many details, including the address where the death happened and the identity of anyone present beside Hagan and Bowers.
Scott City police initially treated the death as accidental and reported the death as such to the Southeast Missourian. They later started investigating it as a murder after Sheriff Rick Walter reviewed the incident and suggested foul play, said Scott City police chief Don Cobb.
"Every unaccompanied death is considered a homicide until such time as it can be proven otherwise," Cobb said in a written statement. "Our initial investigation included the possibility that the subjects involved were telling the truth and this was simply a slip and fall accident. On further review by the Sheriff there were some issues raised. Then the story concocted by the subjects on site began to fall apart. Once there was a breach in those stories it became obvious that this was something much more sinister than a man falling down some steps."
Walter downplayed his role, saying he acted as a "sounding board" for Cobb but that the Scott City police were responsible for the investigation and securing evidence needed for the indictment. He defended the secrecy of the investigation, saying "I know there's some question about why he was not arrested immediately, but on a case like this, it's better to have all your ducks in a row for the prosecutor to do his job."
Cobb said the investigation was kept from the public to preserve the secrecy needed to protect witnesses and prevent Bowers from knowing the investigation was in progress while police gathered evidence against him.
"Any investigation of this magnitude requires a great deal of attention to detail and that takes time," Cobb said in his statement. "We don't want suspects to leave the area or intimidate or endanger our witnesses so it is extremely important to not allow information into the community."
Authorities are being tight-lipped about the events that led to Hagan's death even after the indictment has been secured.
Police and prosecutors are only releasing information contained in the murder and armed criminal action indictments against Bowers. Even the time of the incident and the address haven't been released to the public.
Two Scott City residents, who say they're familiar with the situation but wish to remain anonymous, said the alleged murder occurred in a trailer park on Crites Street in Scott City.
One anonymous source close to people who live in the trailer where the alleged murder took place said Bowers brought Hagan to the home, and after an altercation inside, Hagan was kicked out. The source said Bowers then followed Hagan outside the mobile home, where the alleged murder occurred. Neither Hagan nor Bowers lived at the home, but they had acquaintances who did, the source said.
Leo Beauchamp, owner of the property where the anonymous sources say the alleged murder happened, said he'd heard talk that a violent crime might have happened at one of his trailers but that police never approached him about the situation.
Because Bowers was indicted by a grand jury instead of the more common method of charges by a felony complaint, there is no public record of probable cause that led to the arrest. The grand jury indicts people based on evidence it sees and testimony it hears in closed proceedings. In felony complaint charges, a prosecutor must submit a probable-cause affidavit to a judge giving an account of events leading up to the crime, and the judge then decides whether there's enough evidence to file charges. The probable-cause affidavit is public record.
Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd said only that he sought the grand jury indictment because the county already had an active grand jury and indicting a suspect expedites the trial process because the defendant's case goes straight to the circuit court level instead of starting at the associate circuit level.
The last murder case in Scott City was in July 2002, according to Southeast Missourian records. John David Mayabb was stabbed to death by his stepson, Christopher Lance Jones, in his home on Olive Street. Two years later Jones was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
In 2004, 23-year-old Chad L. Chaney was fatally stabbed in a fight in a rural area near Scott City at an area called "Red Gate." Robert L. Grant Jr. of Scott City pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in that case in 2005.
Bowers' bond is set at $250,000. His next court appearance will likely be Jan. 10 before Scott County Circuit Judge David Dolan.
335-6611, extension 182