CLAYTON, MO. - At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, family, police and community leaders pressed the public for information that could help solve a quadruple homicide.
"This could be your family. You could be in this very situation just as I say it," said Carmen Steward, a relative of three of the victims and self-proclaimed nonviolence advocate.
Steward joined St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar and others in pleading for anyone with information about the crime to come forward immediately.
Stenger said no tip was too small. "Even if it does not seem important to you, it may prove critical in solving this crime," he said.
The calls for help follow the discovery of four bodies inside a home in the 10400 block of Balmoral Drive late last Thursday.
Steward said the family asked police to stop by for a welfare check because they had not heard from their loved ones in a few days.
"What was most unusual was that she didn't go to work, and there was a no call, no show. That's when we became concerned," she said.
Tragically, inside the home were Patricia Steward, 56, and her two sons, Joseph Corely, 20, and Terrence Dehart, 10, and a visitor at the house, Deandre Kelley Jr., 18.
According to county police, all four were innocent victims who appear to have been shot to death and located in separate rooms of the house.
Police have declined to say publicly if there were any signs of forced entry, but did say the house appeared to be "in order" when the victims were found.
"They were true victims. We don't believe any of them saw this coming. None of them had any significant criminal record," said Lt. Col. Ken Gregory, the commanding officer of criminal investigation for county police.
Steward added that she wasn't aware of any enemies her relatives might've had.
"My sister-in-law was very fun-loving, loved her family. My nephew, both of them, were very funny. The always laughed and always joked," she said.
So far, investigators have been stumped by the gruesome crime, saying they haven't had very many leads to act on yet.
That's one reason why St. Louis Regional Crimestoppers decided to increase the reward amount in the case again.
"We are upping the reward not once, but a second time to $15,000," said Ofc. Lisa Pisciotta with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Dept.
That money is available, she said, to anyone who comes forward with information that leads to an arrest. A person can report a tip anonymous, as well.
The hope for Steward is the cash will motivate someone to help take a killer off the streets.
"We wouldn't want someone that has done something so horrific out on the streets to potentially do something else like this again," she said.
The number to call if you know anything is 1-866-371-TIPS.
The family of the victims has started a GoFundMe page to help pay for their funerals.
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