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Trooper- Grandmother wanted to purchase gun 'to get rid of...

Saturday, September 21, 2002

A nearly fatal family drama played out in court Friday as investigators testified about an Illinois grandmother allegedly trying to buy a gun last month in a Cape Girardeau mall parking lot in order to kill her son-in-law.

The grandmother, Linda L. Myers, 49, of Jonesboro, Ill., and her mother, Helen A. Severs, 65, of Ullin, Ill., are both charged with conspiracy to commit murder and are in custody on $100,000 bond each.

A sting operation to arrest the women conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol started with a tip from what investigators called a "cooperating citizen," Sgt. Terry Mills said.

Mills phoned Myers, who offered to pay $75 to purchase a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun "to get rid of something," Mills said during Friday's hearing in Jackson.

Later in the conversation, Myers said her mother supplied the money and would use the gun to kill Myers' son-in-law, Michael Ravallette, 28, of Jonesboro, Ill. She claimed Ravallette had molested Myers' 3-year-old granddaughter, Mills said.

Ravallette's wife, Ashley Ravallette, said the Division of Family Services in Illinois has investigated the claims and no sex-related charges have been filed.

Mills arranged a meeting between an undercover officer and Myers for the gun sale. She met with the officer at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 in the parking lot at Westfield Shoppingtown West Park. The undercover officer, who recorded the conversation, sold Myers a gun and she was arrested. After Myers' arrest, Mills phoned Severs and told her the sale had not happened as planned, he said.

"I told her Linda had not met up with me, and she told me Linda was nervous and that the money was hers," Mills said. "She said she should have gone and done it herself."

Severs also asked Mills about the use of a homemade silencer for the handgun because Ravallette lived near the courthouse and police station in Jonesboro.

After her arrest, Severs also told Mills that Ravallette sexually abused his 3-year-old daughter. Severs claimed the girl's mother, Ashley, let the sexual abuse continue, the investigator said.

"She said they did not have a specific plan, but knew they needed to get the gun first," Mills said. "... She said she and Linda had been talking about this for over a year. They discussed a drive-by shooting or catching him in the yard. She said they were 'supposing' and not 'planning.'"

Cpl. Scott Rawson testified about his interview with Myers, in which she allegedly described how the women planned to dispose of Ravallette's body.

"She said either way they did it -- shooting him at the house or taking him to the river -- they'd throw him in the river along with the gun."

After the hearing, the two women were led through the courthouse to be returned to the jail. A shackled Severs turned to face Ravallette and glared at him with an abrupt, teeth-baring smile before continuing down the courthouse steps.

Ravallette took a step back in reaction, before shrugging off the incident.

His wife, Ashley Ravallette, is disturbed by her mother's and grandmother's alleged plot to kill her husband, the allegations of sexual abuse and what she called their repeated attempts to take her child.

"The only people who ever accused Michael of abusing our daughter were Helen and Linda," Ashley Ravallette said of her mother and grandmother.

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160


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