Feds searched murder suspect's home the day before body was found

Thursday, August 8, 2013
Melvin Scherrer

BONNE TERRE, Mo. -- The day before the body of a Cape Girardeau tattoo artist was found in a septic tank in rural St. Francois County, federal investigators executed a search warrant on the home of the man accused of killing him.

Melvin Scherrer, 49, of Bonne Terre faces five felony charges, including first-degree murder and felonious restraint, in connection with the death of 38-year-old Samuel Francis, who was last seen Dec. 17 at a residence outside Desloge, Mo.

Francis' remains were found July 25 in a septic tank northeast of Bonne Terre.

On July 24, a federal prosecutor charged Scherrer with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and possession of a firearm by a felon after federal agents executed a search warrant at his Bonne Terre home.

"During the past two and a half years, investigators have received information that Melvin Scherrer is distributing large quantities of methamphetamine within the Eastern District of Missouri," FBI agent Michael Christian wrote in an affidavit filed July 24 in federal court.

Authorities tracked Scherrer's activities and determined he was buying methamphetamine from a supplier in Texas, then distributing it in Missouri, Christian wrote.

Agents used GPS surveillance to track Scherrer's supplier from Texas to Bonne Terre and believe, based on intercepted telephone conversations, that the supplier delivered a load of methamphetamine to Scherrer's home in May, Christian wrote.

According to the affidavit, investigators executed a search warrant at Scherrer's home July 24 and found two large packages of methamphetamine and a .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun.

The next day, Francis' remains were found.

It was not immediately clear whether the federal investigation led to the discovery of Francis' body or whether authorities believe his death was related to Scherrer's alleged drug activity.

The FBI does not comment on investigations, and St. Francois County deputies did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.

Francis' adoptive father, Gary Francis, told the Southeast Missourian in February he feared his son had been killed by a member of a motorcycle gang.

The night before he disappeared, Samuel Francis sent his father a message saying if he turned up missing, he likely had been shot, Gary Francis said.

Over his father's objections, Samuel Francis went to Cedar Lake in St. Francois County with some gang members to do tattoo work for them, saying he was afraid they would kill him if he ran from them, Gary Francis said in February.

epriddy@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Bonne Terre, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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