Squad still working on deaths that inspired its creation

Monday, November 12, 2001

BENTON, Mo. -- Three cases that motivated the creation, in June, of the first major case squad in Scott and New Madrid counties remain unsolved.

Although the idea had been discussed for several years, law enforcement officers in Scott and New Madrid counties, the Sikeston Department of Public Safety and the state highway patrol combined investigative forces after the bodies of three residents of Sikeston's West End were discovered in a six-month period.

The deaths, believed to be homicides, of Russel Montjoy, Andreas Nabors and Jason M. Robinson are still active cases.

The problem, investigators say, is time.

When the Scott County-New Madrid Major Case Squad was first created, the three suspicious deaths came under joint investigation. Each member agency committed detectives to work solely on the cases.

But the leads were cold.

"Time works against you on a homicide," said Sgt. Jerry Bledsoe, a Scott County sheriff's deputy in charge of investigations.

In the Nabors case, the victim had been presumed a missing person for a year until his body was found Dec. 1, 2000, near a grain bin on County Road 480. It required an anthropologist to identify the remains and suggest that his death was a homicide.

Montjoy, 45, who had been working as confidential drug informant, had been missing since Thanksgiving.

His badly decomposed body was found May 13 by a farmer working near a Little River Drainage District ditch about a half-mile south of U.S. 62 in New Madrid County.

About a week later, Robinson's body was found hours after he died of a gunshot wound to the chest. His body was discovered on Scott County off County Road 480.

Meets once a month

Investigator Bobby Sullivan with the Scott County Sheriff's Department said officers are still working on the cases. Each officer has been assigned leads, and the squad meets about once a month.

The fledgling squad hasn't been assigned to any new cases.

"But that's a good thing," Bledsoe said. "It means things have been quiet."

Sullivan agreed. But he said the major case squad has opened the door to better communications between departments, erasing some of the hidden turf lines that used to get in the way.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Bud Cooper said bridges built through the major case squad have been invaluable.

"If you got to work an old investigation alone, it's tough," he said. "But with several people from different areas, there's a lot greater chance for new ideas. I'm confident we'll solve these cases."

The increased communication between departments forged by the major case squad has crossed over into other investigations too, Cooper said.

"We've worked informally together on other cases and combining resources has helped us solve crimes a lot more quickly," he said. Having that cohesiveness to the group is apparent in "our ability to respond to the more serious crimes in the Bootheel," he said.

"It's made everybody a lot more accessible," Sullivan agreed. "The more communication between departments, the more successful we are," he said.

abuchanan@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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