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Cape Girardeau man's body found in septic tank; homicide suspected
FARMINGTON, Mo. -- A body found Thursday in a St. Francois County, Mo., septic tank was identified Friday as a Cape Girardeau man who had been missing since December.
St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock said the remains are those of 38-year-old Samuel Francis, a tattoo artist who lived in Cape Girardeau at the time of his disappearance.
A news release from the St. Francois County Sheriff's Department stated a forensic pathologist in Farmington made the identification of the remains through dental records Friday morning.
Francis had been dead for several months, St. Francois County Coroner James Coplin said earlier Friday, but he could not pinpoint a time of death as of Friday afternoon.
No cause of death has been confirmed, he said. Results for a cause of death could take up to eight weeks to come back from a pathologist.
Human remains were found in a septic tank Thursday in rural St. Francois County northeast of Bonne Terre, the sheriff's department reported Thursday. The department called the discovery "the culmination of a seven-month missing person investigation involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies."
Francis' disappearance and death are being investigated as a homicide by federal, state and local agencies.
Francis was last seen Dec. 17 at a residence outside Desloge, Mo. He was reported missing Dec. 23, according to the sheriff's department.
In an interview with the Southeast Missourian in February, his adoptive father, Gary Francis, speculated his son may have been killed by a member of a motorcycle gang he had been hanging out with. Samuel Francis left to go to Cedar Lake in St. Francois County with several members of the gang to do some tattoo work for them, his father said.
"He told me he had to," Gary Francis said in the February interview. "He told me if he ran from them, they'd kill him."
Gary Francis on Friday said he and his family had dreamed of different ways "Sam" could be missing; maybe he was involved in the federal Witness Protection Program.
"It's never what you want -- to bury a child," he said. "We was hoping that there was a different outcome."
Gary Francis said authorities told him Samuel Francis had no broken bones. They thought he had been suffocated, and his body then was hidden in the septic tank.
The investigation is ongoing, and authorities are working toward issuing warrants for anyone involved in his son's death, Gary Francis said.
"I would hope that anyone who had anything to do with the crime would be brought to justice," he said.
Gary Francis has his suspicions as to how his son died. He believes it had to do with a man his son mentioned to him two days before he disappeared. A man, Samuel Francis told his father, who would probably shoot him.
Gary Francis said his son was an outgoing person who wasn't the best at following rules.
"Most everyone who had dealings with him liked him," he said. "He definitely had personality ... very bight ... very talented ... didn't always make best decisions for himself. There's a lot of people who cared for him and loved him. And he will be missed very much."
The sheriff's department release said suspects have been identified, and charges are expected.
Although the outcome of his son's disappearance is not what his family had hoped, Gary Francis was thankful for the one thing: "We now have closure. It's not the closure we wanted but, we have closure."
Visitation for Samuel Francis will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday at Morgan Funeral Home in Advance, Mo., with a funeral at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. A private family burial will be at Morgan Memorial Park in Advance.
Bonne Terre, MO