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Historic Scott Joplin House vandalized in St. Louis

Witnesses say a man was breaking windows and throwing out museum artifacts.

ST. LOUIS — The Scott Joplin historic home in St. Louis is closed to the public while crews clean up and catalog the damage after a break-in Sunday.

"It was jaw-dropping," Missouri State Parks's Brian Stith said. "It was very upsetting [and] very concerning."

Stith said he arrived Sunday morning to see the second-story windows broken with some of the museum's artifacts busted in the streets below.

Stith says it was in a second-floor apartment that Scott Joplin wrote ragtime classics like "The Entertainer" more than a hundred years ago.

But the historic home now sits silent. It is closed to visitors after the weekend burglary.

"Paperwork, there was a fire extinguisher, he had tools out here that he was throwing out the window," Shannon Williams said, pointing to the second floor.

Williams said he was the first person to call 911 about the burglary because he saw the debris littering Delmar Sunday morning. At the time, he was unaware that a man was still inside.

When police arrived, Williams said the man started throwing things downstairs and yelling out a phone number, asking officers to call his uncle.

"He was saying, 'Why do I have to die today? Can you please call my relatives?' and he was throwing out numbers and stuff. He was saying 'I need my medicine,'" Williams said.

Williams said the suspected burglar was taken away from the area in an ambulance.

On Tuesday, St. Louis police said 38-year-old Kevin Daley-Bey was charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage. He is currently in custody. 

Credit: SLMPD
Kevin Daley-Bey

Staff members are still totaling the damage, even bringing in staff from other State Parks sites to help.

"Old artifacts that were here for years, and now they're just gone,' Williams said.

Scott Joplin House State Historic Site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

If you would like to support the Joplin House restoration, you can submit donations on the museum's website.

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