One in murder-for-hire case out on bond; intended victim angry

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Learning Monday that one of the two women charged with conspiring to kill him was released Friday from Cape Girardeau County Jail has Michael Ravallette steaming mad.

Ravallette and his wife, Ashley, of Weir, Ill., are angry at law enforcement officials for not informing them of the release of Helen A. Severs, 65, of Ullin, Ill.

Severs and her daughter, Linda L. Myers, 49, of Jonesboro, Ill., are both charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Investigators say the women plotted to buy a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun to kill Ravallette, Myers' son-in-law.

Presiding Circuit Judge John Grimm granted a motion Thursday to lower their individual bonds from $100,000 to $25,000. A surety bond was posted for Severs on Friday by Todd Rowland of Bankers Insurance. Myers remains in custody at the county jail.

Several letters of character reference for Severs were included in her court file, many of which cited her role as a former Sunday school teacher at her church.

The Ravallettes said they were aware the two women's bonds were lowered, but they were not told Severs had posted bond and was released.

"Me and my wife are outraged that Morley Swingle and the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department didn't notify us when she was released," Ravallette said.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said his office is not always informed when a suspect makes bond.

"Our office doesn't always know when a suspect makes a bond, so sometimes the victim won't know because we haven't been told," Swingle said. "If we truly think someone is in danger, then we make the effort. But generally, the prosecutor's office isn't told when a suspect makes bond."

The women were arrested in late August after a sting operation was conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, following a tip from a concerned citizen. An undercover patrol officer phoned Myers, who offered to pay $75 to purchase the handgun, investigators said. Myers was arrested Aug. 26 in the parking lot of the Westfield Shoppingtown West Park.

Severs allegedly supplied the money. She was arrested shortly afterward in Ullin after a phone conversation with the undercover officer, in which asked about using a silencer on the gun, investigators said.

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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