MONTICELLO — Charges against a northeast Missouri man accused of killing his wife and young son have been upgraded to first-degree murder following a preliminary hearing that included gruesome details about the crime.
Christopher Piersee, 24, of LaGrange, originally was charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of Patricia Yarbrough Piersee, 21, and their 5-month-old son, Landon. The hearing was Tuesday.
Police found the bodies Feb. 3 at the family's home in LaGrange, a small Mississippi River town about 30 miles south of the Iowa border. Patricia Piersee was shot in the head; Landon was beaten to death.
Lewis County chief deputy Rob Power testified that he entered the home to find a pool of blood near the door. Power said Christopher Piersee was naked and covered in blood, the bodies of his wife and son nearby.
"There appeared to be a red cross drawn in blood on his forehead," Power said of Landon. Coroner Larry Arnold said a similar cross written in blood was found later on Patricia Piersee's chest.
Power said that Piersee called himself the archangel Michael and referred to his wife as "Lucifer" and his son as the Antichrist, then disavowed any responsibility for the deaths. Power said the words "Lucifer" and "Michael" had been scrawled on the walls in blood.
Power testified that a bloodstained handgun was recovered from Piersee's bed. A hunting knife was found in the dining room. He said a friend of the family told him the couple had arguments about credit card spending.
The Piersees were married in 2007 in Burlington, Iowa, and moved to LaGrange last year.
Piersee will be arraigned May 7. He has not yet entered a plea, and remains jailed without bond.
Prosecutors have not said whether they will seek the death penalty.