Two charged in restaurant slayings near St. Louis

Friday, November 14, 2008 | 5:00 p.m. CST

CLAYTON — Two Illinois brothers were charged Thursday in the shooting deaths of a waitress and cook at a Steak 'n Shake restaurant where the suspects had worked, authorities said.

Anthony Akins Jr., 20, and Oundr'e Akins, 19, were each charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree robbery and three counts of armed criminal action.

Akins Jr., initially just taken in for questioning, was arrested Wednesday night. Oundr'e Akins was apprehended Thursday morning during a police raid on his father's home in Cahokia, Ill., where the brothers lived about a 20-minute drive from the restaurant.

Waitress Tammy Cantrell, 44, and cook Mark Gerstner, 24, were found shot to death early Monday at the Steak 'n Shake restaurant in south St. Louis County, about 10 miles outside St. Louis' city limits.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said the "horrible murders'' were part of a robbery that yielded less than $200 for the suspects. He said both men, who are being held without bond, were familiar with the restaurant and its procedures.

"They just walked in,'' he said, and swiped a key card belonging to one of the victims to open the cash register. The charges said the crimes occurred at 3:30 a.m., a little more than an hour before the victims' bodies were discovered.

 On Wednesday, the Indianapolis-based fast food chain offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution. McCulloch said it was not the reward money offered that led to the arrests. He credited "outstanding police work.''

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