HAZELWOOD, Mo. — After several hours on the run, police confirmed early Monday morning that 40-year-old Gregory Smith III was in custody and now faces charges for his wife's murder.
From the outside, Lightwood Drive in Hazelwood appears to be a pleasant place to live.
"This is a very quiet neighborhood, surrounded by very nice people," Rhonda Veverka, who is a neighbor, said.
"We all kind of know each other even just a little bit," Dora Chini, another neighbor, said.
"There was cops on my street, the street next door, and then the adjoining street," Veverka said. "There was a fire truck they all just had a line.
"I actually thought my house was on fire, or something so I jumped out of bed," Chini said.
Hazelwood police got a call just after 4 a.m. on Sunday from a child at 801 Lightwood Drive that his mother was dead.
Officers found two children and the homicide victim, 37-year-old Cristina Smith.
"It's terrible. We didn't realize they had children," Chini said.
Police say Smith allegedly beat, stomped and then used a knife to kill his wife.
After pouring gasoline in the house, he left the scene. Investigators said his wife's death was a result of domestic violence.
"I just knew he was a bad person from what my experience with him just the one time," Chini said.
Chini said she has kept her distance from the family after an altercation a year ago when Smith's dog was loose.
"He came over this way holding what I thought was an AK-47 or some sort of assault rifle, and I got up and he started asking me where's my dog," Chini said.
She said the neighbor's got him and he said somebody better bring it back to him.
"We really feel sorry for both families...her family, especially, and the children," Chini said. "This is probably going to affect them for the rest of their lives, now they've lost their mom and their dad."
Police took Smith in custody early Monday morning.
The St. Louis prosecuting attorney's office is charging Smith with first degree murder, armed criminal action and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Smith is being held at the St. Louis County Justice Center without bond.