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'She was savagely beaten': Berkeley man charged with violent murder of neighbor

Neighbors said the victim, Eileen Schnitker, was a sweet woman and a retired nurse.

BERKELEY, Mo. — A man is facing charges after he was accused of beating his neighbor to death in Berkeley, Missouri, Wednesday morning.

Isaac Heath, 31, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder, a class-A felony, and armed criminal action. 

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said there was some type of disturbance outside a home on Kathlyn Drive Wednesday morning. The victim, Eileen Schnitker, went outside to check out what was going on and Bell said that's when the woman was attacked.

According to the Berkeley Police Department, the defendant was seen standing on the victim's porch, swinging a bat and striking an object. A witness also reports hearing the defendant say, "that felt good," after he stopped swinging the bat.

Family members tell 5 On Your Side, the suspect tossed a miniature statue through Schnitker's back windows.

Schnitker was found dead on her porch with injuries to her face and head.

The police department said the victim also suffered stab wounds to the stomach area. 

Neighbors said Schnitker was a sweet woman and a retired nurse. 

Family members say in two weeks, Schnitker was looking forward to traveling to Florida for a relative's wedding.

They're now planning her memorial.

Schnitker was born and raised in St. Louis. Her family said most recently, she lived in this house on Kathlyn Drive in Berkeley for more than 10 years with her two dogs.

"My aunt Eileen was the most down-to-earth, real person I ever knew,” said Schnitker's nephew Randall Benson.

Now, they're struggling with their loved one's tragic death.

"It's beyond comprehension that this would happen to her, someone we all loved so dearly,” said Cheryl Benson Kaufman, the victims niece.

Neighbors said they believe the suspect may have mental health issues.

However, Bell said he's waiting to see. 

"I’m not going to speculate on this mental health. What we do know is this individual brutally assaulted and killed an innocent person," he adds.

The defendant was arrested at the scene of the crime in the 8800 block of Kathlyn Avenue.

"The fact patterns of some crimes leave you speechless, and this is one of those," said St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell. "We’re not talking about a shoot-out. This is a neighbor checking on her home and she was savagely beaten."

Heath's bond was set at $750,000.

The mandatory sentence for first-degree murder, if convicted, is life in prison without the eligibility for parole.

Credit: St. Louis Co. Justice Services

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.

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."

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

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 watch 5 On Your Side broadcasts or reports 24/7, 5 On Your Side is always streaming on 5+. Download for free on Roku or Amazon Fire TV.

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