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Byers' Beat: Alleged serial killer doesn't want notoriety for his acts

The fallout from the confession to five killings extends beyond one man's cell.

ST. LOUIS — Guilt. Rage. Pain. Sorrow. Grief. Closure.

All are words family members of slain prostitutes gave me to describe their feelings this week upon learning the identity of an alleged serial killer who took their lives more than three decades ago.

He’s a man who has sat in prison for an unrelated murder since 1993 — all the while knowing he was hiding the answers those family members were seeking for 32 years.

In response to my request for an interview with him, he told prison officials he did not confess “for notoriety” but only “to bring closure to the families.”

Actually, he only confessed because he got caught.

And confessing was the only way he could avoid the death penalty.

O’Fallon Police Detective Sgt. Jodi Webber had him dead to rights.

A piece of evidence from the first victim police found yielded a full DNA profile of the suspect.

The chances that the DNA came from anyone else were astronomical.

Sure he could have said the encounter he had with Robyn Mihan, 19, was consensual and he didn’t know who killed her.

She had just given birth to her second child two weeks before her body was found stuffed between two mattresses along a highway in Lincoln County in 1990.

But his DNA was found on an object police found with Mihan’s body.

He would have a hard time explaining that away.

Even though the families I talked to are grateful to have answers, the news has ripped open a wound in their lives that has never healed.

Guilt some of them feel for not doing enough for their loved one who was making money on the streets.

Rage for the man who did this and left them without answers for so long as well as frustration over why it took so long for police to solve the crimes.

Pain for all of the children that grew up without their mothers.

Sorrow for all of the relatives who died before ever getting answers to what happened to the victims in their lives.

Grief over all of the memories they never got to make with their loved ones.

Closure, finally knowing who tore their lives apart all those years ago and who, arguably, will continue to as long as he is alive.

He tore apart his own family, too.

His sister has talked to him regularly since his 1993 conviction, and is too distraught to talk to me about the new revelations about her brother.

His only surviving child, a son, said he barely knew his father and only talked to him a few times on the phone.

He had two other children from a different marriage.

His son from that marriage died from an overdose and his daughter died about a week before prosecutors charged her father with four first-degree murder counts.

She refused to speak to him right up until her death.

The ripple effects of this man’s heinous acts extend for miles, and I’ve only covered a few.

There is also a fifth victim he confessed to killing, but all he says he remembers was putting her body in a metal barrel and leaving it outside a self-serve car wash somewhere along Kingshighway Boulevard near the innerbelt in 1991.

Webber believes the car wash was actually in Pagedale, and she can't find any reports matching the details he gave. She's tracked down the former name of the car wash, Ram Jet. The owner's son said he remembered his father being upset about a body being found there years ago.

The alleged killer claims he can't remember anything more about that crime.

Webber doesn't believe him.

She thinks he is holding back more information because he doesn't want to be portrayed as a monster.

So, another family waits.

I won’t be naming him in this column.

After all, he doesn’t want the notoriety.

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