State digest 08/17/02

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Two men charged in ex-alderman's murder

ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- Two St. Charles men were accused Friday in the robbery slaying of a former Wentzville alderman, four days after police found his tape-bound body in his home.

St. Charles County prosecutors charged Jon D. Conderman, 18, and Jonathan M. Riggs, 21, with second-degree murder, first-degree burglary and second-degree robbery in the death of Joseph Edward Walsh.

Riggs is in police custody in Wentzville. Conderman is at large.

On Monday, after police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson found an abandoned van belonging to Walsh, they directed Wentzville police to check on Walsh's well-being. They found Walsh's body in his bedroom, his legs, arm and face bound with tape. An autopsy concluded he died of suffocation.

Investigation continues after boy drowns in toilet

POTOSI, Mo. -- An investigation continued into the death of a 10-month-old boy who drowned in the toilet of his home, a prosecutor said Friday.

Justin Whipple died Tuesday night. The child and his three sisters, ages 2, 3 and 7, were being watched by a 19-year-old baby sitter at the family's mobile home near Potosi.

The sitter, Jaime Wise, told KSDK-TV in St. Louis that she and the 7-year-old went to the kitchen to get a soda, then returned to a bedroom where the younger children were playing to find Justin missing. She found him face-down in the toilet.

"All I can say is I am sorry," Wise told the TV station. "I can't believe something like that would happen that quick."

An official at the Washington County Sheriff's Department would not discuss the case. But assistant prosecutor Dan James said Justin could not yet walk and apparently crawled to the toilet and pulled himself up.

James said prosecutors have not yet decided whether charges will be filed.

Governor names new communications director

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The top spokeswoman for Attorney General Jay Nixon is moving into a similar job for Gov. Bob Holden.

Holden said Friday that Mary Still would be his new director of communications.

Still, 48, of Columbia has been director of communications and policy for Nixon since 1993. Before that, she was director of the news bureau at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the university.

Holden has been without a chief spokesperson since Jerry Nachtigal resigned about a month and a half ago.

Still said she will start work in Holden's office Sept. 3 and will earn $90,000 annually. She made $84,000 as Nixon's communications director.

Ex-officer gets probation for sodomizing boys

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A former police officer was placed on probation for five years Friday for sexually assaulting three boys nearly a decade ago.

The decision to suspend Jerry E. Davis' concurrent 10-year sentence was opposed by Assistant Greene County Prosecutor Cindy Rushefsky.

"He's done a tremendous amount of damage to his family, to the victims," Rushefsky said.

Davis, 50, pleaded guilty in June to two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy. He was arrested in December 2001 and charged with assaulting three boys beginning in the late 1980s and continuing through 2001.

Davis had worked for the city of Republic since 1995, first as a public assistance officer and most recently as a police officer.

-- From wire reports

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