Christopher Newcomb charged in separate murder, assault cases

9:50 PM, Jun 2, 2011   |    comments
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  • Christopher Newcomb
  • Christopher Newcomb

Centralia, IL (KSDK) - Investigators in Centralia, Illinois said they've arrested the man responsible for a day-long crime spree that ended in the murder of a businessman and the assault of an elderly woman.

According to Centralia Police Chief Larry Evans, officers were called to the 600 block of N. Walnut around 9:40 a.m. on June 1 in response to a report of a battered elderly woman. Upon their arrival, police found the victim, Kathryn Beard, had been stabbed a number of times and suffered a shoulder injury.

During the course of their investigation, police identified a tenant of the victim, 22-year-old Christopher Newcomb, as a possible suspect. However, attempts to locate Newcomb were unsuccessful.

Evans said later that day, around 5:25 p.m., police were called to a FOTOZ Color Lab in the 1200 block of N. Elm after somebody reported finding a body inside the business. The body of 65-year-old Frank Augustine was transported to St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital to have an autopsy to determine an official cause of death. However, detectives suspected the possibility of foul play.

"By 5:30 when his father had not arrived, his son walked over to check to find out if there was a problem and discovered his father had been killed," Evans said.

Around 7:50 a.m. Thursday, police located Newcomb at the America's Best Inn in the 200 block of E. Noleman, Evans said. Newcomb resisted being taken into custody and attempted to flee, but he was eventually subdued and arrested.

Once at the Centralia Police Department, Newcomb allegedly admitted his involvement in the attack on Kathryn Beard and also admitted to attacking Frank Augustine.

Neighbors tell NewsChannel 5 Newcomb became upset with his landlord after she served him with an eviction notice Wednesday because of damage he had done to the apartment.

Newcomb was transported to the Madison County Jail, where he was charged with murder, aggravated assault against an elderly person, aggravated battery to a police officer and resisting arrest.  He's being jailed without bond.

"It's obvious that Mr. Newcomb does have some mental issues that will have to be evaluated," Evans said.

Officers said Newcomb has a long wrap sheet of run-ins with police in Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and even California.

Newcomb's landlord remains in critical condition at St. Louis University Hospital fighting for her life, while Augustine's family is dealing with a sudden and painful loss.

Tamara Baker is numb.  It was Wednesday evening when she found out her brother, 64-year-old Frank Augustine, had been killed while working inside his Centralia photo shop.

Baker said she last spoke with her brother, Wednesday around noon, a part of her daily routine.

"Every time you saw him, you saw me," Baker said.


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