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Man charged after woman strangled to death inside south St. Louis home

Police said the woman broke into Samuel Williams' apartment and that he admitted to strangling her while two young children were inside the residence.

ST. LOUIS — A man has been charged after police said he strangled the mother of their child to death in what was initially classified as a burglary in south St. Louis.

St. Louis police initially got a call for a burglary at about 6:20 p.m. Sunday at a home on the 3900 block of Dunnica Avenue, which is in the city’s Dutchtown neighborhood.

According to court records, the 34-year-old woman kicked in the door of Samuel Williams' apartment. Police investigators believe Williams held her in a chokehold and called 911 to report she broke into his home. 

While he was on the phone with dispatchers, the victim could be heard screaming in pain, gasping for air and pleading that she wouldn't do it again, according to charging documents.

Officers arrived and found the woman inside the apartment. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Williams, 46, was taken into custody at the scene.

Credit: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department

Police said during an interview with detectives, Williams admitted to strangling the woman after she hit him. He said he was worried about what she might do to the two children who were in the home at the time.

Williams and the woman have a son together.

The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office charged Williams with one count of first-degree involuntary manslaughter. A judge denied him bond, according to online court records.

The woman's identity has not been released, but her father identified her as 38-year-old Anitra Whitehead.

“Anitra was a really decent person and she was always smiling. I had several siblings, but she was the one who was with me all the time,” Randy Whitehead said about his daughter.

Whitehead said Anitra went to the suspect’s home to pick up her 2- and 7-year-old daughters.

“I talked to him on Sunday right before all this happened. I told him man just gone and give the girl her babies. I mean I was just wondering what’s the issue and he said okay she can come get it,” said Whitehead.

Whitehead cannot believe he must now prepare to bury his daughter.

“I absolutely believe it could have been avoided,” said Jessica Woolbright, the Executive Director of Saint Martha’s Hall, a St. Louis area domestic violence provider.

Woolbright said there are warning signs people can look for if they believe someone they know is a victim of domestic violence.

“The signs include not allowing her to have time with her friends or family or being extremely jealous when she does and wanting to isolate her from anyone considered to be a support system,” said Woolbright.

“I never saw any of those signs with this man,” said Randy Whitehead.

Her family said next month Anitra Whitehead was looking forward to celebrating her baby’s first birthday.

"I am not surprised the victim's family was not aware because abusers can hide their behaviors, " said Woolbright.

Anyone with questions or needing help can reach Saint Martha’s Hall at 314-533-1313.

According to court records, Williams pleaded guilty in October 2007 to second-degree murder and felonious restraint in connection with an incident in January 2004.

Williams and another man, Reginald Thimes, beat Donnie Stewart to death in a fight over drugs. The beating happened inside Williams’ apartment in the Walnut Park West neighborhood.

Stewart was found unconscious and tied with a strand of Christmas tree lights in an alley in the 5700 block of Mimika Avenue. He died about a year later.

Williams was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Thimes pleaded guilty in January 2008 to first-degree involuntary manslaughter and received five years of probation.

Resources for crime victims:

If you have been a victim of a crime or know someone who has been, 5 On Your Side has compiled a list of resources.

Better Family Life is a nonprofit community development organization working to “stabilize inner-city neighborhoods.” One aspect of its mission is a gun violence de-escalation program.

To learn more, call 314-381-8200 or visit https://www.betterfamilylife.org/

Life Outside of Violence “helps those harmed by stabbing, gunshot or assault receive the treatment, support and resources they need to find alternatives to end the cycle of violence.”

To learn more, call 314-327-6697 or email: ProjectLOV@WUSTL.edu

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has an anti-crime program called “Safety Net for Youth Initiative,” which is a joint partnership between and Saint Louis Public Schools to provide services to at-risk youth.

To learn more, visit https://www.ulstl.com/anti-crime-initiative.html

Cure Violence is an international organization that has recently launched in a handful of St. Louis neighborhoods. Violence interrupters are trained to deescalate violent situations within their own communities. To learn more, visit https://cvg.org/

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