ST. LOUIS — A man police believe is a serial killer responsible for six murders and several shootings around St. Louis and Kansas City, Kansas, was charged with arson in 2016, but a judge dismissed the case due to failure to prosecute.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch's office charged Perez Reed with first-degree arson, a class B felony punishable by five to 15 years in prison, following an arson in Ferguson on August 2, 2016, according to sources familiar with the case.
Prosecutors accused Reed, then 20, of trying to set an apartment on fire while people were inside, according to the sources.
A bench trial was scheduled for December 9, 2019, before Judge Nancy Watkins McLaughlin, but the judge dismissed the case for “failure to prosecute,” according to sources.
A spokesman for McCulloch's successor, Wesley Bell, wrote: “It was filed in 2016 but dismissed in 2019 when the witnesses, all family members of the defendant, would not cooperate with the prosecution despite extensive efforts on the part of our trial attorney and investigators.”
In late 2017, Reed filed a federal lawsuit accusing a public defender of deprivation of rights while he was incarcerated at the St. Louis County Justice Center in Clayton for the arson charges.
In the suit, he said he was being falsely imprisoned and said he wanted the public defender to "stop harassing" him about undergoing a mental health exam before his trial, claiming he was "mentally fine."
Reed asked the court for $50,000 and for his release from custody because his family had left him, he lost his job and he was traumatized from being in a violent environment.
A U.S. district judge dismissed the suit in early 2018.
This week, Bell’s office charged Reed with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first degree assault along with three armed criminal action charges related to the murders of a 16-year-old girl in St. Louis County and a 40-year-old man in Ferguson along with the shooting of another man that left him with a permanent disability.
Police sources have told the I-Team Reed has been connected to two homicides and one shooting in St. Louis as well as two murders in Kansas City, Kansas.
All of the killings and shootings happened in September and October.
Bell along with representatives from the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, St. Louis City and County police are expected to attend a 2 p.m. news conference Monday.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect identity of the prosecutor who charged Reed with arson.